Now more than ever, it is vital to understand how to make virtual events more appealing to stakeholders, sponsors, and attendees. A recent poll from a Virtual Planner Master Class showed that 60% of planners are considering shifting their events to virtual or hybrid. With so many businesses temporarily closing or shifting to a remote workforce, there is a demand for fresh ideas that can take ordinary online events to interactive digital experiences for your attendees. Here are some ideas that can paint your virtual event red against a white background.


Don?t Lose Sight of the Physical Aspect

Tangibility is not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ?virtual? ? even more reason to utilize it. If you can manage to pull in a physical aspect, you will set your event apart from the rest.

Looking at a screen can be extremely 2 dimensional. To bring in that 3D element, you?ll have to get creative. If you are a baker, you may consider delivering a cookie kit to those who register for your cookie making tutorial event. That way, your consumers can physically follow along. Or, if you?re a librarian, you may consider delivering a physical copy of a book to your event goers, so your consumers can hold the book.?

There may not be many cookie-bakers and librarians reading this, but the same rule applies for your business?s virtual event. Give a tangible taste of your product or message. This creates value for consumers and adds an interactive element to your next virtual experience.??

Master Class tip: At the last virtual event we hosted, we delivered a tin of Garrett?s Popcorn to each panelist, which offered a positive incentive to the panelists while on the Zoom webinar.


Include Positive Incentives

Think about when you were in high school, around homecoming (I know, bear with me). You may have had spirit days, where you all wore hats to school or fashioned a crazy hairdo. It is likely that this made you more excited to come to school. Well, the same rule applies to virtual events.

Adding a twist to your event, like a virtual happy hour, gives people something to be more excited about. Therefore, people are more likely to express excitement for your event ? just like high school spirit week made you excited to come to school.

It would look something like this: you put together your event, you inform consumers that by attending your event, they will have both the event content and the positive incentive of your choice to look forward to. All of the people who tend to flake may say, ?hmmm? I don?t know if I?m up for it, but a virtual happy hour afterward is pretty cool ? can?t miss that. Alright, I?m in!?

Master Class tip: In order to encourage people in the industry to stay connected at this time, we?ve been offering an optional virtual happy hour at the end of each online event. We normally host monthly networking events and meet-ups, so it makes sense for us to continue to connect people virtually even during this time.?


Broadcasting a Virtual Experience?

Virtual experiences, like cooking demonstrations, comedy lessons, and cocktail demonstrations are all great tools to get your audience interested in attending your virtual event.?

Similar to positive incentives, virtual experiences add excitement and value to the event. With something like a virtual happy hour, the incentive is simply having fun. However, adding a virtual experience or lesson entices people by giving them the opportunity to learn something.?

You can market your virtual event by letting prospective attendees know that they will have knowledge of something new to take away afterward.?

Master Class tip: Master Class Tip: At our Virtual Planner Master Class, we partnered with Live Art International to create a unique virtual experience with DIY Wine Glass Painting Kits. Two days before the event, early registrants received a wine glass in the mail to self-decorate, along with painting materials and an instruction guide. Then, we encouraged everyone to bring their glass to our virtual happy hour. To take things to another level, we gathered selfies of everyone with their wine glasses and put them into a collage to be shared on social media.?


Use Small Group Interaction as a Deliverable

What sets an event apart from a lecture? The answer is simple: interaction. It is important to include small-group opportunities in your virtual event for consumers to see value in it. Speaking to other like-minded individuals makes consumers feel that they are a part of something, and that ?something? is your brand.

For optimal engagement, it is important to preload poll questions to captivate your audience and gather feedback. If you are looking to gather any poll feedback, you should launch the poll with at least 5 minutes of programming left.

Small groups will give your event the value of socialization, brainstorming, discussing, and more. This value is the perfect deliverable to market to consumers. Utilizing Zoom breakout rooms shifts the event from passive to active. Make it known that your event is different because it is not just a lecture, but a collaborative colloquy.

Master Class tip: To encourage small group interaction at our virtual events, we break the group into multiple smaller groups. We shuffle people around intermittently to offer maximum networking opportunities. Our timing formula changes based on the content and audience of the event, but we found moving people around keeps them engaged for much longer than a presentation format does.

Author: Emma McVady, Ateema