At Redback Connect, we’re passionate about finding ways to make virtual events and meetings as engaging as possible. In fact, we’re so passionate about this topic, we took some of our own advice and asked attendees of digital events to give us their views as part of the Redback Report 2020: The New Virtual Normal
Every year, the respondents to the Redback Report provide wonderful insights on when, how often, and for how long they’re attending digital events.
Each time, we also include some open questions to find out what respondents really think — in their own words. This year, we asked attendees how organisers could make virtual events more engaging. Here’s what they said.
1. Easy-to-use technology with no glitches
“Ensure presenters are engaging, knowledgeable and there are no technical glitches.”
Tip: Broadband connectivity is critical for a smooth live stream. Test it prior to your event, particularly if you’re using remote presenters. Ask your presenters to connect directly to their modem, rather than relying on wifi. If video is glitchy, ditch it in favour of audio and slides. Crystal clear audio is the No.1 technical element that will keep viewers engaged in your event. Broadcasting your event from a studio-based technology provider that offers local support will ensure network redundancy and provide troubleshooting as required for attendees as well as remote presenters.
2. Relevant content
“Content is king. If it’s engaging, there is no reason that digital couldn’t replace physical events.”
Tip: Ask your attendees what they want to know about, either in pre-event surveys or post-event questionnaires, and ensure you make clear what you’ll be covering, as well as actually delivering what you promise.
There are many ways to ensure your marketing event content is highly engaging. Fortunately, the available presenter pool is bigger than it’s ever been, with experts around the world now familiar with webinar technology, experienced in remote delivery and accessible no matter where they’re located as long as they have a good internet connection. Check out our blog for more tips on how to come up with great content for your next event.
3. Engage the senses
“One advantage of live events is that you can really engage all of the senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste… A few virtual careers fairs that I have been to could definitely be lifted with a bit of ‘crowd sound’, to make it seem like you are there in real life.”
Tip: From virtual product launches and tastings to online lunch-and-learn presentations that come with an Uber Eats voucher, to virtual coffee chat-based networking where you bring your own coffee and even virtual awards nights where a bottle of your favourite tipple arrives in the post the day of the event, there are a multitude of ways to engage the senses when it comes to virtual events. Be creative and think about what additional elements would boost your own engagement.
4. Train presenters in virtual delivery
“Presenters need more information about the medium. Don’t just talk at the audience like you’re delivering a university lecture: keep it engaging, ask key questions of the audience and stimulate their thinking — don’t just present facts and figures.”
Tip: Research has shown that asking questions of your audience is a great way to improve learning and retention, so don’t be afraid to build Q&A sessions into your virtual event — whether you’re responding to audience questions, you’re giving them a pop quiz on the material you just covered, or your own variations on the above.
Illustrating key points with a visual, and reinforcing them throughout your presentation will also help your audience retain that information.
Don’t automatically settle for audio- or video-and-slide formats: explore your options for a more dynamic delivery of your digital event. This might include a different speaker set-up, such as an intimate fireside chat in comfy armchairs, a panel debate, live studio broadcast, judicious use of pre-recorded video clips, video questions from your audience, or green-screen technology. The options are almost limitless.
5. A more social experience
“I think the ability for attendees to interact with each other online is great – it would be fantastic to be able to interact further by liking, loving and smiling at individual attendee responses, like we can do on social media platforms.”
Tip: Invite your guests to interact on your preferred social channels using your unique event hashtag in the lead-up to, as well as during your event. Set up a virtual chat room for attendees to visit. Call for responses. Enable public chat features in your event platform if relevant so attendees can directly address each other. Explore the unique features of your video conferencing or webinar platform to make your event as social as possible.
6. Virtual reality
“Having virtual reality integration and/or holograms!”
Tip: Virtual reality and augmented reality are technologies that are on the horizon when it comes to virtual events. In some cases, such as virtual reality, it really depends on the user-end technology — do your attendees have VR headsets, or are you willing to supply and set them up? However, it’s encouraging that attendees are willing to consider cutting-edge technologies such as these when it comes to virtual events. The only real constraints are the event organiser’s imagination (and budget), the support your virtual event provider can offer, and your audience’s willingness to participate.
Redback offers managed digital events and conferencing solutions for customers, running more than 2500 events a year on our platform, from our studios or with our partners around Australia and NZ. Reach out if we can help you run your next virtual event.