As an event planner, you know how important it is to have your finger on the pulse of attendee engagement tactics and tools. After all, you always want to produce an noteworthy event with content to remember. Now we are facing a new landscape in the post-pandemic world and may need to craft a hybrid event that features both in-person and virtual attendance. So, how can you make sure that you achieve your programmatic objectives on one-hand, while also ensuring that attendee’s feel connected, engaged and satisfied with their experience? How can you take advantage of some of the best tools in the marketplace today so that you leave nothing to chance?
Do Your Research
Before you begin to draw up your plans, gather as much feedback as you can. You may need to ask more pointed questions than you may be used to, and bear in mind that those who attend virtually may have different objectives than those who come along in person. Also, get into the habit of asking leading questions.
- Ideally, you would have a survey at the end of each event to help you prepare for the next while memories are sharpest. Otherwise, schedule a discovery call with some key prospects so that you are aware of their expectations and can tailor accordingly.
- You need to get a clear picture of your audience demographic. This can help you craft those different “avatars” that symbolize each type of attendee and can tailor your approach and content.
- If you need to deal with different levels of experience, drill into each carefully. You may need to compromise in certain areas or generate backup collateral to help bring newcomers up to speed.
- Do your attendees prefer to be led by the hand, or can you get away with a less formal presentation? The answer to this question will help you determine whether you need a workshop-style event or need to bring in some keynote speakers instead.
Remember, the more information you gather at this early stage, the better. Choose a broad cross-section of potential attendees, virtual and “live,” so you know what is likely to engage people and plan your event accordingly.
When it comes to the type of presentation, you have several different formats to choose from.
You can create a hybrid conference and mix several hundred live attendees with, potentially, thousands of virtual participants.
- Make sure that you bring in interesting, expert speakers who can provide in-depth material for all involved.
- By all means, schedule some breakout sessions but plan these carefully so that virtual attendees can still engage.
- If need be, create separate online sessions that will run simultaneously alongside your live breakouts.
- Remember, it is far harder to hold the attention of a virtual attendee as they may have many other distractions that you cannot control.
- Your schedule must be as flexible as possible so that attendees can show up for the sessions that mean the most to them.
Networking is, of course, a key component of any live event, but there is no reason why you should leave your virtual attendees in the wilderness. Use the latest tools so that they can engage with other attendees online or at the venue. Allow them to connect with speakers or do business with exhibitors, and remember, some speakers and exhibitors can be virtual themselves and may work alongside those attending the event “live.”
If your primary goal is to educate, you can establish a training session that is both live and virtual.
- Ensure that each session is as engaging or interactive as possible and guard against boredom.
- Your approach will be essential if your content tends to be relatively dry, so choose your trainers carefully.
- Presenters need to know the topic inside out, but they must be highly personable and connect well with remote attendees.
If you are planning an exhibition or tradeshow, you need to take a different approach.
- You may be dealing with a large audience, and some people may be at various stages of the buying experience.
- Try to make your virtual attendees feel that they are part of the action, so create an experiential or immersive event.
- Ramp up your efforts to connect attendees through robust tools that enable networking and interaction at every stage.
- If some of your attendees are exhibitors and their primary goal is to generate sales, integrate e-commerce facilities to make this as simple as possible.
Working with Tools
In today’s highly connected world, you do not need to work alone anymore. Industry experts like eShow have a range of products that can make it easy for you to connect with your attendees, whether virtual or in person. You’ll be able to gather data from these sessions so that you can analyze behavior and understand attendee objectives. You’ll also be able to integrate your own tools and services so that you always pull accurate data and push enriched data back to your platforms for the best effect.
Provide your attendees with mobile apps to refine their experience. They can download your app to their favorite device to help them find exhibitors, view interactive floor plans, and review session information. They’ll be able to read up about all of your speakers or take notes as they network with other attendees.
If you want to ensure that you provide your attendees (whether virtual or in-person) with the full event experience, consider eShow’s Virtual Event Management platform. You’ll be able to introduce a seamless registration experience where you can collect all of the information about your attendees while processing payments. You can open up your platform to virtual exhibitors and sponsors who can design a customized virtual booth to converse with attendees. Make it easy for attendees to interact with exhibitors through discount coupons, brochures, and video chats.
If your event is webinar-based, eShow has that covered as well. The Webinar Event Management platform enables you to stream live or on-demand sessions through various presentation options to your virtual audience, so they do not miss out on anything. You can also engage your online attendees through interactive polls or chat boxes.
Plan Carefully and Choose Your Partners Well
Before you start planning your event, make sure that you fully understand what your attendees are looking to gain from attending your event. Gather as much intelligence as you can ahead of time, and work with companies like eShow to help you plan it all out from registration to execution.