There are many reasons why virtual events are here to stay – not only because they have kept businesses buoyed during the pandemic, but also because they have introduced a way for businesses and organisations to reach wider audiences, create more accessible event lists, and engage target audiences in different ways.
With the businesses, media channels and the wider events world currently wrapped up in the rise of virtual and hybrid events, this article looks at audience participation, and how we can implement various technologies to make the audience feel as if they are right there in the room with you.
Why is audience participation so important when it comes to virtual events?
When your guests and attendees are logging into your event or conference from home, there is no end to the potential for distraction and disruption. Throughout the pandemic, the world witnessed a multitude of high profile examples, from the news interviewee who was interrupted by his toddler, to the renowned lawyer who accidentally set his zoom background to a cat filter. While these examples simply served to provide comedy value to the situation, the reality can sometimes be problematic for those who are looking to share valuable messages or tap into meaningful topics through their virtual events.
1. Invite them to join in with an activity
Here at Wise Productions, we’ve worked on a number of high end, online fundraisers which are designed to educate, inform, and ultimately draw the audience into donating from the comfort of their own home. For instance, we invited viewers to engage in a cook-a-long with chef Olly Smith, and dance along to the DJ tunes of EmmaB – where they could tune in from her very own living room. Far from creating a removal between guests and celebrity appearances, the unique set up gave the entire event a humbling sense of togetherness, ultimately encouraging the audience to donate and be a part of what became a unique experience for all involved. You can find out more about hosting a virtual charity event at our blog here.
2. Voting and Polls
Sticking with the engaging and entertaining virtual event examples, voting and polls have become a huge part of virtual events – though when you think about it, they’re nothing new on the events scene! Every time you tune in to a Saturday night gameshow or talent contest, you are exercising audience participation by voting for your favourites – virtual events simply take this one step further and add live voting to more event styles. We tend to find that this is a great solution for organisations who want their event to be audience-led, with the viewers selecting the kinds of content they want to see and the way they want things to be run.
The Q&A concept is a fundamental part of any conference – physical or virtual. In fact, physical conferences have already been engaging in Q&A technology to streamline the event process, encouraging guests to submit their questions through social media or specific apps such as Slido. This is a fantastic innovation, as this allows you to vet the questions asked and ensure that as many as covered as possible – without the event descending into an “everyone talking at once” free for all.
4. Social Media
Social media really is a goldmine of participation and interaction, if you use it correctly. The fact is, guests and audience members will be sharing photos and comments from your event on social media anyway, so you might as well draw all those interactions together with an easy-to-remember hashtag. You can incentivise the usage of this hashtag by offering giveaways that are announced at the end of the show, for example. This will also give you genuine and authentic content to retweet and share across future posts, and will keep your brand or company name in the forefront of your audiences’ minds.
This is one for charity, client, and corporate events alike. Auctions are not just good for raising funds, but can also be a fun way of getting your audience participating – with both silent auctions and live auctions offering their own benefits. Best of all, they are fairly easy to replicate on a virtual platform, with participants receiving notifications when they have been outbid or of course if they have won!
In short, a virtual event is not an obstacle to audience participation. Provided you have the right technology behind the scenes, there are a multitude of ways of encouraging your audience to get involved, regardless of their location.
For information on how we can support your next virtual event, get in touch with our team today!