Online burnout. It’s been increasingly cropping up in casual conversation with colleagues and friends, in Forbes articles and LinkedIn thought pieces, to say nothing of Twitter. And it’s no surprise.
Ever since easing into a remote world of work and a virtual-first way of life, we are now all spending inordinate hours online, attending back-to-back meetings, replying to countless emails and messages, and jumping from tab to tab to tab. It can get overwhelming pretty quickly, leaving you exhausted and unable to focus. Everyone has had at least one of these days.
What does this have to do with virtual event attendees?
It’s the same principle.
Assuming your virtual event runs for 1-2 days, with each day filled with sessions and activities, there’s a high probability that your attendees too will experience online burnout. There’s no point in putting all that time and effort into organizing your virtual event only for your attendees to tune out and drop off during its run.
It’s clear that while well-meaning virtual event organizers are working hard to make their events unique and worth attending, not all understand that simply having a great line-up is enough; that’s only one part. The other is really paying attention to the attendee experience and doing whatever you can to make sure that they feel engaged and energized throughout the event.
Here’s how to make this happen:
To improve attendee engagement in events, prioritize creating memorable experiences over simply conveying information. Utilize virtual event platform tools and strategic planning to enhance the quality of engagement. Here are four simple suggestions to implement for better attendee engagement in your virtual event:
1. Vary your content strategy
A “one-size-fits-all” content strategy won’t work anymore given that people prefer to consume content in different ways at different times today. Attendees want to and will consume content in a format, time, and place of their choosing. Some learn by reading, others by listening, some by watching, and some by experiencing, so the content that you offer must be customized to engage this newly empowered attendee.
This can be accomplished by creatively using the features and capabilities of your virtual event platform. For example:
- Invite a guest speaker to lead a session on an important topic on a Stage
- Simultaneously set up Rooms in which small groups can watch the session on Stage whilst discussing it with other attendees
- Set up an Expo Booth with downloadable material such as PDFs, checklists, guides etc
- Make video recordings of the session accessible to attendees even after the event ends so they can watch whenever they want
This way, by creating different touchpoints and experiences around your content, your attendees will be able to actively engage in consuming your content according to their preferences.
2. Get attendees involved
Let’s be honest. How many times have you drifted off during an online meeting - checked your phone, browsed Netflix, or caught up on chores, etc.? We’re not judging.
As per the 2020 Amex report, around 54% of event planners have already shifted their focus to enhancing the attendee experience, against the backdrop of virtual fatigue. What this means is that given the tendency for people to disconnect one’s attention, especially when they aren’t speaking, it’s critical for organizers to make attendees still feel involved and integral to virtual event sessions.
This can be achieved by leveraging your virtual event platform’s engagement tools to turn them from passive viewers to active participants.
Zuddl, for instance, has a variety of tools designed to make attendees an active part of the conversations on Stage:
- Chat, Q&A, and Polls can make attendees feel like their voice is heard, especially if the questions, comments or results are incorporated into sessions.
- Raise Hands lets attendees talk face-to-face with speakers on stage
- Emoji reactions are an easy, quick, and fun way for attendees to indicate enthusiasm
The upshot is that these tools help attendees quickly feel like they're part of the proceedings and realize that their voices matter - a simple but powerful way to make them want to continue attending and engaging at your event.
3. Use gamification to the fullest
Improving attendee engagement in events goes beyond initial participation and requires maintaining their interest throughout the event. While attendee engagement tools facilitate participation, incorporating gamification can motivate attendees to remain engaged in your virtual event.
Organizers can set up a point system, wherein attendees can earn coins or points by completing actions or activities at the event, set up a leaderboard to encourage friendly competition, and award prizes to the top performers.
It’s an extraordinarily fun way to remove the drudgery that can come from attending many online sessions, and instead make your attendees feel excited and motivated to keep their focus on the event.
4. Give attendees downtime to recharge
It’s only natural for people to get a bit virtual-ed out so break up a packed day of long sessions with mini-breaks for attendees to recharge their bodies and minds. Not taking this into consideration is a virtual event planning mistake you’ll want to avoid.
- Use push notifications on the platform to remind attendees to get up, stretch their legs and make themselves a cup of coffee.
- Plan in micro self-care activities, such as yoga or meditation
- Set up gaming zones within the virtual venue
This will definitely earn you goodwill from your attendees and as an added bonus, it will also help to increase attentiveness after the break. Research shows that taking brief mental breaks when faced with long tasks can dramatically improve one’s focus.
To sum up…
In today's virtual event landscape, it's crucial for organizers to recognize that attendees are exposed to an overwhelming amount of monotonous programming. To improve attendee engagement in events, organizers must prioritize delivering an exciting and valuable experience that feels memorable and engaging.
A combination of the right strategy and the tools and features of a customizable virtual event platform can help you deliver a memorable attendee experience. Book a demo with Zuddl today to learn more.
Zuddl is a unified platform for events and webinars that helps event marketers plan and execute events that drive growth. The platform has clients across the globe, such as the United Nations, Kellogg’s, Microsoft, HSBC, VMware, Google, StackCommerce and Cipla amongst others. In January 2022, Zuddl announced that it closed $13.35 mn in Series A funding.