10 Interactive Conference Ideas To Boost Engagement
Updated: Mar 29
The key to any successful event is keeping your audience engaged. Every communicator knows this, but the problem is it is often easier said than done. As times change, attendees’ preferences on conference formats also change. Online marketers have no choice but to adapt and come up with new hybrid solutions to reach their audience. This is where virtual conferences, online event launches, webinars, and live-streaming have become so popular in the past couple of years.
But as with any new technology, virtual conferences have their own set of challenges. Indeed, speaking in front of a camera is very different from speaking in front of a live audience where you get to see people’s faces and their reactions, and gauge their thoughts with their body language and demeanor. If you’re looking for ways to boost engagement in your online events, or make your online conference more engaging, then here are some virtual conference engagement ideas to get you started. Here's how to boost conference engagement in 2022 and beyond.
10 Virtual Conference Engagement Ideas
Have a clear plan for your conference
Be clear with your purpose for the event. Plan it thoroughly and have an outline, or if possible, prepare your script.
You can also use various elements to add zing to online conferences, such as polls, music, powerful short videos, special graphics, diverse speakers, or goody bags to add to the overall experience.
Have an agenda with inputs from your audience
When planning, include the agenda, and if possible, ask for inputs from your potential attendees. Figure out what they expect or want from you and deliver it. Obviously, you want to stick to the agenda. However, there will be times when you may get off topic a bit because of your attendees’ input. So don’t be afraid to entertain them, but make sure to circle around and get back to your agenda.
Keep it short to boost engagement
One of the most common complaints among employees in virtual conferences in their companies is online meetings that could’ve just been an email. Thus, make sure the conference is really important. Last thing you want is to waste your staff’s precious time they could have used to deliver their actual work.
More importantly, keep the meeting short and concise. Nothing is duller than sitting in front of your computer and being talked to for hours.
Concentrate on useful and relevant conversations
While it’s easy to get lost in speaking as you click and flip your slides, try to focus more on conversations with your attendees rather than your presentation. Your attendees may share relevant inputs, or even actionable business advice. So be open to their inputs. Think of your attendees as participants, and not just mere audiences.
Use pre-event and/o live event polling
Polls always get audience engagement. Pre-event polls, for example, make the audience feel the event is tailored to their needs, or at least relevant to their interests.
With polls, you can capture your target audience’s interest even before your virtual event. Thus, people are likely to show up to your event, decreasing your no-show rate.
Live-polling, on the other hand, is a great way to interact with your live audience.
A research study on virtual events in 2020 shows 81.8% of online event organizers use polls to improve audience engagement. Consequently, more than 71% of marketers use polls to keep their audience’s attention.
Obviously, the type of poll you use depends on the event and size of your audience. For small events with less than 20 people, word clouds are perfect. If you have a larger audience however, then questions with multiple-choice answers will work great.
The idea of a successful pre or live polling is to actually make use of the date you get. Make sure your audience feels they have actually contributed to something, and that you value their input.
Give out virtual event bags
People love freebies. How often do you get excited when a package arrives at your doorstep? Every time, right?
One great way to ensure interest and engagement for your online event is to send out event bags to your audience. Obviously, you want to fill the bag with items that can be used during the event as well.
Event bags are also great for building brand awareness. This is incredibly helpful if you’re introducing new products and items to the market that you want your audience to eventually use for a long period of time. This is actually pretty common among health and wellness brands.
You also can’t go wrong with baked goods or branded apparel. You can also create a better experience for your audience by theming the gift bags or personalizing them for each audience.
Event bags can be in digital form too. It can be a coffee gift card or food delivery voucher.
Incorporate games to boost engagement
Another surefire way to get your attendees engaged and connected is through games. Games can be in so many forms. You can give away points with corresponding prizes. It’s a fun and creative way to make your online conference interactive for your audience.
Use quizzes during your conference
As with games, you can use quizzes to keep your audience engaged. It doesn’t have to be on the topic or agenda. A general knowledge quiz can get people excited, especially if there are prizes.
Obviously, since people are online during the quiz, you don’t want to give out questions that are easily searchable.
There are actually great online services that can provide tools for your quizzes, such as Survey Monkey.
Get help from community ambassadors
Create anticipation and excitement from your virtual attendees by inviting community ambassadors to the event. Obviously, you want to invite people relevant to your niche and industry. These ambassadors can be guest speakers and can share their insights. This is a great way to set the tone for human experience in your virtual event as well.
Invest in entertainment
With everything that is happening in the world right now, everyone can use a little entertainment.
Entertainment can work for both small and large virtual events. Entertainers are naturally able to engage with audiences. It can be music, comedy, etc. And entertainment, whatever form it may be, can draw people in.
Make sure the entertainment contributes to the engagement. A sketch artist, for example, is great for round table discussions for small events. The artist can take notes in creative ways. The great thing about virtual artists is that you can use them to boost social media interactions later on.
For larger virtual events, you can’t go wrong with a magician. You can use their performances for your in-between sessions to avoid dead air.
The use of various techniques and virtual conference engagement ideas is the secret to a successful event. Pick out the strategies you wish to implement according to the type of event and audience that you have to keep them engaged from start to finish.