In one way or another, virtual events often lack audience engagement, new human connections, or interactivity. First, you must shift your mindset regarding your virtual events, and then you should consider how you can leverage technology to provide a memorable and exciting experience.
Shift Your Mindset: Don’t Treat Your Event Like a Big Video Call
According to Jared Augustine, co-founder and CEO at Thuzio, a corporate event planning company, treating your virtual event like an event and not a video call is critical. He credits Thuzio’s doubling in size to focusing on an amazing event experience.
“I think very early on, we realized you had to treat the events as events and not video calls. You have to have a story, and you have to have great content. How can you create a virtual event that’s dinner table-worthy conversation?” Jared said.
Your primary goal is to get your audience to attend your event. Of course, you have business goals that the event is meant for you to achieve. But when it comes to planning your event, what your audience wants should be front and center.
Focus on how you can capture their interest through an amazing event agenda. What sparks your audience’s interest? What content would they consider “can’t miss”?
Create Space for Connections, Not Just Content
One of the biggest drawbacks to using video meeting software for your events is that it’s hard to connect with people you’re encountering for the first time. Sure, maybe you copy and save the chat and research every person, but that doesn’t really feel like networking, does it?
Most virtual events are a monologue of content, with human connections happening in the dark spaces of quiet private chats. But what if those connection conversations could happen audibly like they would at an in-person event?
“The future of virtual events is community engagement.” Hopin CMO, Dave Schools, told me.
Hopin often gets used for the big headline conferences, but Dave shared that Hopin is great for smaller workshops and webinar-type events as well. For workshop and webinar events, you can use the speaker’s stage, sessions areas, breakout rooms, and 1-to-1 networking.
You also have access to a massive amount of data for post-workshop evaluation.
“Besides basic user-analytics, you can see who connected, where they went, and how long they spent in each area. You can also download the chat area which may have great questions from your audience,” said Dave. “And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Hopin is definitely not the only online event platform boasting amazing features, but it’s one of the most well-known. The platform was also developed to compete with in-person events prior to 2020. As a result, the infrastructure is considered very reliable.
Using an event platform that allows your attendees to consume your content as well as develop new connections helps you become a power node in your network. And access to data means that you can create even better events in the future based on the stories the data tells you.
Create More Memorable Presentations
Sometimes slide presentations are unavoidable. But where you can avoid them, you probably should. How can you actually improve your virtual presentations?
For the most part, when people attend a webinar or event, they get slides with a small video stream of the speaker off to the side.
But what if speakers could share screen space with their content? “When you share the screen with your content, it’s more memorable, engaging, and persuasive.” Jim Szafranski, CEO of Prezi shared.
Prezi Video makes creating dynamic video more accessible to everyone, whether you’re doing live or recorded video. Dynamic video gives coaches and consultants a fantastic tool for captivating storytelling.
“Spoken word is more effective than a traditional bullet-pointed slide. That’s because you can’t listen and read at the same time. As the viewer, you’re context shifting constantly when presented with a wall of text and a presenter,” Jim explained.
Explore software that can help you create a virtual experience that’s different and exciting. You’ll capture your audience’s attention and they’ll retain more of your information.
Use Collaborative Technology To Span Any Distance
How can technology help you collaborate over large distances? This is an important question to answer if you hold workshops or team-building events as part of your business or for your company. Collaboration is hard over distance when you’re presenting your ideas as bullets on a slide. Those bullets seem so one way and hard and fast.
Have you heard of interactive whiteboards? Using a real-time interactive whiteboard bridges time and space to bring together groups of people who need to develop ideas together. MURAL is a top tool in this space.
“MURAL was designed to be collaborative in nature and to make you want to grab your mouse and lean in,” said Jim Kalbach, Chief Evangelist at MURAL.
For knowledge entrepreneurs who give workshops and other small group events, an interactive whiteboard makes fantastic sense. “What this tool allows workshop participants to do is actually have a visual conversation. People can participate and contribute, even if they’re not talking,” Jim explained.
When using video meeting tools, you run into the problem of people talking over each other. But using an interactive whiteboard means that everyone can put their ideas on notes simultaneously and offer feedback without fighting for the proverbial microphone.
With a digital-first mindset, a real-time digital whiteboard even brings together people participating in hybrid events. If an event is both in-person and online, the real-time capability means the facilitator doesn’t have to leave the virtual participants high and dry during teamwork.
“Besides all of that, there are things you can do digitally that you just can’t do with a physical whiteboard or poster board. Wider interaction, linking data and sources together, or putting a video into the workshop sessions are all possibilities,” Jim concluded.
Let The Audience Have A Voice During Your Workshops
Business presentations have been given in a particular way for a very long time. But what if you could have interactivity built into your presentation? What if that interactivity respected both the extroverts and introverts attending your event or webinar?
That’s exactly what a tool like Mentimeter does. Mentimeter is an interactive presentation builder that allows your audience to take part, whether they’re in the room with you or in the room across the world.
“My co-founder and I had just started to lead the one-sided meetings we spent years sitting through. But it was around 2012-2013 that we realized that with the quality of the internet, we could put the slide ‘clicker’ in the audience’s hands,” Johnny Warström, CEO at Mentimeter, said.
The “clicker” in this case is a smartphone. By entering a code in a web browser, attendees can interact with the slides, answering open-ended questions, vote in polls, and more.
Interactive slide software is built to create a two-sided conversation between the presenter and the audience. But this tool category can also provide a huge amount of data post-presentation. Not to mention the ability to segment the data depending on the questions you ask your audience.
“If the first question is ‘What department do you work in?’ Let’s say you have three options for attendees to pick from. You can segment all the other answers in the interactive presentation based on that first response,” Johnny explained.
Use Technology To Provide a Better Experience For Your Attendees
Having amazing content is always a critical part of creating a great presentation or workshop. But that’s not enough most of the time. Your audience is bombarded by the most common format for virtual events. The technology you need is out there and accessible. Explore what you can do differently to stand out and capture your audience’s attention.
*None of the companies mentioned are clients of the author.*