In just a matter of months, virtual conferences have transformed from seemingly strange social experiments to modern-day corporate necessities. Between huge at-home engagement, the ability to attend, watch, or read event content wherever and whenever it’s most convenient, and huge savings in company T+E expenses, virtual events are positioned to remain a corporate mainstay long after the pandemic passes.
So, now that virtual events have secured their place in today’s work zeitgeist, how can event planners continue to iterate, innovate, and create virtual experiences that will continue to excite attendees? Consider this your guide to creating a digital conference that leaves your attendees wowed.
Encourage an eager audience
Want to make your virtual conference more than a date on the calendar? Begin by engaging your community long before the program begins. Consider accepting questions for speakers in advance and plan email or SMS campaigns that tease your most compelling sessions. Craft vibrant social media squares and encourage speakers to spread the word on their platforms, then keep your eyes peeled for any and all inquiries, whether public or private.
Want to go the extra mile? Curate a gift box for registrants, complete with a program guide and branded merchandise like pens, notebooks, hats, and reusable bags. (We suggest items that come in handy during digital conferences, such as coffee mugs, earbuds, and healthy midday snacks.)
Make the most of your virtual platform
Once you choose a virtual event platform, you’ll want to assess the platform’s technological offerings. Take notes on your favorite features and invite a platform-savvy expert to help guide your programming. You’ll find support, receive expert input, and get any questions answered.
Feeling overwhelmed with options? Don’t shy away from a hands-on, white-glove partner who can produce a virtual event that truly immerses and surprises your audience. You’ll more than maximize return on your investment—without the experimentation and stress.
It's in the details
As with in-person events, attention to detail is key to elevating every attendee’s experience. Try these tactics to create a truly immersive digital environment. Your participants will appreciate the effort and feel validated by the smooth, fine-tuned experience.
Dedicate time and resources to Q+As toward the second half or closing minutes of each presentation. By encouraging two-way dialogue, you’ll foster attentiveness and allow attendees to network—even if it’s in a nontraditional manner. Often speakers will be willing to answer archived questions after a session ends, so be sure to request and promote this extra touch.
Create a hashtag
Build and track enthusiasm with a central event hashtag. Not only will you benefit from viral amplification, but you’ll also keep your finger on the pulse of sessions that generate authentic buzz. Keep the hashtag as short and memorable as possible, and be sure that it’s prominently displayed across the conference’s website and social platform bios. Don’t forget to encourage and monitor posts across all platforms, especially Twitter and LinkedIn.
Generate live polls
Another way to foster participation? Open live polls during sessions to encourage dialogue and gather data. There’s something to be said for demonstrating appreciation for your attendees’ own learnings and opinions. Speakers will also be excited to track responses and incorporate these findings into future presentations.
Encourage live chats
The secret sauce behind always dynamic platforms like Reddit and LinkedIn? Community discussion. Consider live chats your event’s virtual roundtables, happy hours, or proverbial watercoolers. Whether you tap a host to field virtual questions or open a thread for fruitful banter among participants, you’ll unlock another opportunity for networking and connection-building.
Host breakout sessions
Want to allow time for smaller, more intimate groups? Be sure to implement breakout rooms. Whether you assign a moderator to each room or ask speakers to provide discussion questions, attendees will appreciate the chance to debrief after an informative session or unwind among like-minded company.
Use a virtual venue
Atmosphere matters! Some platforms offer virtual theaters, arenas, and other venues so that your attendees feel truly in the moment. You can rent out a virtual venue or even create a digital twin of your own.
There’s nothing like positive feedback! Try simple surveys and post-presentation prompts to gather users’ favorite moments and sound bites from each unique module. (You’re likely to find user-generated highlights on social media with your event’s hashtag too.)
Show your appreciation for attendees’ attentiveness by hosting contests, sending out virtual Bingo cards, or incorporating game clues into different sessions. Offer rewards or raffle entries to participants who stand out in the crowd. While these extras aren’t necessary, activations and incentives will certainly encourage engagement—and leave attendees eager for future events.
Think long term
Even without the hassles of travel, some registrants may have scheduling conflicts or other commitments, so record all of the presentations. With Touchcast, in particular, all of your presentations will remain searchable and available for future viewing or reading, even after the event wraps.
Ready to put these tips into action? We’d love to help ensure that your next virtual event is one for the books. Request more information about Touchcast’s virtual events platform, and we’ll take it from there!