We have learned that virtual events are here to save the day when large in-person gatherings have not been possible. Skeptics may argue that people do not have the same attention span, nor can they capture the energy in virtual events as they can in in-person ones. Still, the experience from the last two years shows that virtual events are here to stay.
But how can you capture the energy and secure genuine engagement of an in-person event when people attend virtually? How can you facilitate a feeling of community?
Here are our best tips.
#1 Think of party/event ideas in advance
Whether you are planning a virtual event to celebrate personal or professional milestone moments, you need to have a preliminary list of virtual party ideas. Having a collection of party games, entertainment, and activities that work flawlessly for online gatherings in advance will help you determine the resources, budget, and helping hands you need to organize a successful and engaging virtual event.
For example, suppose you want to make a sophisticated wine tasting night. In that case, you need to hire an expert to guide your participants through the various varieties and get wine ordered to your team’s doors. Again, knowing the involved activities can help you better prepare time and money-wise.
#2 Involve people in planning
Some people think that organizing a virtual event means less work. But, if anything, the opposite is true, especially when you are a first-timer. So, you want to start preparing early.
Once you have chosen the party/theme idea, consider what needs to be done, who needs to get involved, and how they can help with specific tasks. More importantly, to make the organizing as effective as possible, give your team very specific roles.
Remember, you do not need to rope people in from beginning to end of planning. However, you need to have a detailed activity plan and know when someone will jump in the planning/executing activities.
#3 Choose the right platform and time to host your virtual event
Hosting good virtual events requires a more extensive skill set and learning to deal with technology in a new way. That being said, be mindful when you are choosing the platform and determining the time to host your virtual event.
Plenty of platforms offer different features, from co-hosting with another organization to advanced moderation tools. In addition, consider how many people will be attending, whether or not they are in different time zones, and so on.
#4 Build excitement around your virtual event
Do not assume that the audience will come to you. Be proactive and make sure you advertise your event well in advance so attendees know when and how they can participate. Start building excitement around your virtual event by giving people space to talk about your party or about the planned sessions they are excited about.
As the conversation grows, it creates more buzz around your event. And you want this since it creates a lot of good vibes, engagement, and energy around your event.
#5 Engage your audience
To keep people engaged you need to:
Plan activities that involve active participation.
Encourage your attendees to have conversations with one another — and to ask the hosts questions.
Assign a social chair to welcome people in the chat.
The goal of these actions is to get people talking and create enthusiasm and a feeling of connection. You do not want to end up with a gathering where people tune out after a while and start checking their social media.
#6 When interruptions happen, remain calm
Regardless of how well you plan, something can go wrong. Recognize that interruptions and setbacks, such as technical difficulties with your video or audio, can happen, and that’s okay.
Remember that if you panic, you can not solve the problems. Remember that people are not looking for perfection. They are craving something genuine. Without that, engagement and meaningful connections will not happen easily. It is more important to be relatable and honest.
#7 After the event, keep the conversation going
Be sure to communicate with your participants after the event. Ask their opinion about the format, used platform, topics, and overall organization. Showing that you care what they think about your event will help you plan and host virtual events better and encourage them to join again next time.
Virtual events have many benefits to offer. However, their most significant upside is that they are accessible to more people. This considerable advantage means that they are not just for the people who can afford the expenses and the days off. As a result, the events you organize can be remarkably enriched by allowing broader attendee perspectives.