Virtual event engagement: Four strategies for the workplace

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Written by Amber Winter on 28 August 2020 in Features
Features

A few simple tips to improve your virtual events from Amber Winter.

For many businesses, events are an essential component of your organisation’s employee engagement and development strategies. Even if you hold them less frequently, events can connect your team members, disseminate key information, and build a stronger internal culture.

Whether you’re planning a critical training session or launching a product, your event strategy needs a makeover to better fit in today’s digital workplace. But how can you captivate your audience successfully when you are limited to a virtual setting?

With strong virtual event strategies, you can encourage positive and productive professional interactions even in a remote environment. To boost engagement, you should:

  • Communicate clear instructions and expectations.
  • Incorporate a variety of content.
  • Facilitate connection and collaboration.
  • Consider creative scheduling tactics.

Read on for these top tips to create an effective and immersive virtual event.

Communicate clear instructions and expectations

Nobody wants to walk into a meeting room uncertain or unprepared, and this holds true in virtual spaces as well. Poor communication and confusion can decrease engagement, or worse, decrease attendance. 

Strategies like discussion questions and live polling are easy ways to get the ball rolling.

With so many virtual event platforms out there, the tech you’re using may be new and unfamiliar to you and your team. This guide to virtual events for associations offers some key points to consider here, like creating an email or live chat to specifically address technical issues.

Before event day, you’ll want to confirm all employees understand how things will run. You should provide detailed instructions on both how to enter the event and how to navigate and interact once activity is underway.

Additionally, you should provide structured opportunities for conversation rather than simply expecting people to chime in on their own. Strategies like discussion questions and live polling are easy ways to get the ball rolling.

Incorporate a variety of content

Providing a wide spectrum of content and media can help establish a fast-paced environment for your event and promote deeper engagement.

When planning a virtual event, you always have to contend with the all-too-short attention span of today’s internet users. When you move the venue online, you have the entire internet of new tabs to compete with, not to mention at-home distractions like children or pets.

Combining multiple, engaging media types makes it tougher to tune out your event. And not only does this break up long chunks of time—it has the added benefit of enhancing educational outcomes. Luckily, virtual events are compatible with countless content options, including:

  • Video demonstrations
  • Virtual panels
  • Transcripts
  • Social media interaction
  • Worksheets
  • Additional educational content
  • Keynote speakers

Researching more ideas for virtual events can help if you’re feeling stuck, and remember that the sky’s the limit!  Challenge yourself to see the environment as a new realm of possibility rather than as a restraint.

Facilitate connection and collaboration

When possible, encourage your employees to act as participants rather than audience members. The best events generate a sense of community and connectivity, and you should aim to translate this to a virtual setting as much as you can. 

Although the setup is different with a virtual event, you can still implement many of the same collaborative elements you would in person. Choose a virtual conference software that integrates messaging tools within the platform so that everyone has easy access.

Activities like networking, breakout sessions, and unstructured conversation can help take an event from mediocre to meaningful. Even larger collaborative events like virtual conferences for associations are feasible with the right strategy.

Consider creative scheduling tactics

Scheduling an event poses challenges even in the best of circumstances, and with a virtual event comes a new list of considerations. Think about what works best for the majority of your employees or attendees, and if you don’t know, ask. A pre-event survey can help boost engagement even before an event kicks off.

When deciding your event’s length, don’t fall into the trap of mirroring an in-person event. Remote attendees have shorter attention spans, and an event that’s too long will lead to zoning out and multitasking, decreasing overall engagement.

Depending on the nature of the event, you also may want to consider an asynchronous approach to interaction. If the goal is to provide training or share information, the flexibility of asynchronous content could facilitate more engagement than requiring busy employees to adhere to a single schedule. 

Being unable to hold a workplace event in person may seem like an insurmountable obstacle, but a virtual event is a fresh opportunity to connect and communicate with your organisation in new and innovative ways.

The need for online options isn’t going anywhere, but with these tips, your virtual events will still be able to generate the engagement you need to meet your organisation’s goals. 

 

About the author

Amber Winter is director of sales and marketing for Web Courseworks.

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