As stay-at-home orders press on and vaccines are still only available for frontline workers and the most vulnerable, the events industry continues to move ahead in the virtual realm.
While many attendees are now used to online events, they are also increasingly prone to burnout and fatigue given the amount of time spent in front of a computer these days.
So, how do you stop your audience from zoning out?
Until we can offer hybrid options or in-person events once again, here are some activities to keep virtual attendees attentive.
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to hold your audience’s attention is to engage in game play. While there are lots to choose from, virtual bingo, match games and trivia are guaranteed crowd-pleasers.
A successful virtual bingo game begins with a top-notch host that is an enthusiastic conversationalist. This adds a human element and helps keep everyone engaged. Consider utilizing custom bingo cards for your guests to mark. These can incorporate fun facts about your company, industry trends or even popular culture.
Match games have been around a long time and are constantly being reinvented (or reinvigorated). The game features ‘contestants’ trying to match answers given by panelists to fill-in-the-blank questions.
Virtual trivia is great for team building. Players can be randomly assigned to teams or put into ones of your choosing, providing the opportunity for people to better get to know each other. Teammates may confer on answers in private breakout rooms and then compete against opposing teams on game leaderboards. The game can be set up to include questions specifically curated around your event theme or brand, or to suit what your audience likes.
There are so many available entertainment options, from live performances and casino nights to virtual escape rooms and murder mysteries.
We’re almost a year into the pandemic, so it’s safe to say people are missing out on their favourite live events. While it may not be exactly the real thing, a virtual show is the closest to it at the moment. Plan an online concert, comedy night or even magic show. To encourage interaction, you may want to consider a karaoke, improv or dance party. Either way, send your guests a happy hour kit beforehand, which they can enjoy during the show.
Online casino nights are just like the in-person parties. Attendees can participate in the games they love, from slots to roulette and poker to blackjack. Use virtual chips to entice your guests to get involved in the games. Add a leaderboard as an incentive and let them cash in their virtual chips for prizes and/or swag at the end of the night.
Attendees that have a knack for puzzles and brainteasers will likely be game for a virtual escape room or murder mystery party. Of all virtual event options, this is an exceptional way to directly intrigue and involve attendees. It also never gets old as new rooms, stories and characters can always be created.
Food and Beverage
Some of the most memorable events I’ve ever attended have included something exciting to tantalize my taste buds. The same can be done for virtual events with a little creativity. Perhaps send your guests a surprise gift box full of goodies beforehand or a bottle of wine to enjoy during happy hour. Even better, combine food and drink and send a carefully curated box filled with drink samples that are paired with snacks.
Alternatively, get your attendees cooking, baking or mixing drinks during the event itself. This is a great way to keep people’s attention, as they won’t want to miss a step in the process, and it rewards them with a delicious meal, dessert or beverage when they’re done.
Other Inspiring Ideas
Looking to try something out of the ordinary?
Incorporate an industry influencer into your virtual event — someone in high-demand that guests would love to get some ‘face time’ with during a Q&A session or a ‘speed round’ one-on-one meet and greet.
If attendees like art, hire a visual artist to create fun sketches as a thank you that can be downloaded after the event. Or host a virtual art workshop like a paint night. It can be a digital art experience or you can ship attendees a kit in advance.
For more ideas, consider reaching out to a different vendor. They may be able to offer a fresh and exciting take to breathe more life into your guest experience.
Joanna Beaton is manager of marketing and sales at Tigris Events Inc., an award-winning brand experience agency specializing in dynamic staffing, event planning and marketing. Joanna can be reached at 416-283-9119, 1-844-484-4747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.