In this blog, we discuss some tools and approaches to ensure that your virtual audience stays for the duration of your event’s session.
1. In-event polling
Asking your audience what they think about a particular subject can help add colour to the talk and break up the presentation into bitesize points. It can also mean that you can glean some opinions from your audience to use in future content forms. There are a number of tools out there that work well for polling; a key point is to make it easy for them to interact. Zoom, for example, offers pop-up polling, but if you’re streaming in a microsite, ensure you design the page so they can both watch and interact at the same time.
2. Intersperse video and graphics
Sometimes presentations with lots of content can turn into a sort of Powerpoint Karaoke. To sustain interest, it might be worth thinking about mixing in some moving content with gifs, mpgs and slide transitions. These can help to illustrate and emphasise some of the more important slides and enough virtual viewers to stay with the presentation. A word of warning with visuals, though – make them simple and quick. For simple and strong presentations – consider inviting your speakers to use the PechaKucha approach – this offers speakers the option of creating 20 slides for and speaking for 20 seconds each slide (400 seconds total to tell their story). It can hone presentations – creating impactful short talks.
3. Q & A areas
Another way to keep audiences tuned in during and after talks is by adding a Q&A area where they can ask questions (usually best to do this anonymously). This can be inviting to ask a question live, but using a text-based Q&A tool is much easier. Remember to leave enough time for a good Q&A session – interesting speakers mean lots of interesting questions! Q&A doesn’t only have to be in this section; with text-based questions, your speakers and audience can be interacting throughout the session, discussing topics whilst other talks are happening.
4. Chat function
During sessions, you might allow delegates to chat on a dialogue box on the side of the talk. This can be good as it’s an opportunity to network. However, chat screens can sometimes hijack the talk, and people might spend more time exchanging messages than watching the talk. You may want to disable chat at the start of the presentation or moderate so that the talk isn’t overshadowed. For both chat and Q&A’s, you will need to consider how best to moderate the discussions – whether that’s someone approving messages before they go onto the platform or being on hand to delete unwanted/spam/unsavoury messages, if any are posted.
5. ‘Ask an expert’ session
With packed agendas, often, there isn’t much time to ask questions. If speakers are willing, events managers could create dedicated sessions when experts can have questions put to them (that have either been sent and pre-approved or are put live to the speaker). This event can occur as an interview or simply an online chat and can be particularly popular for prestigious keynote speakers.
6. Panel discussions
Sessions with two or more speakers could take the form of a panel discussion, and during these, you could take questions throughout to help encourage lively sessions. Panel discussions can help pull in speakers from different industries and disciplines, generating some really great insights.
7. Point scoring
You could consider doing matinee and evening presentations so that two audience regions can livestream at a time that suits them. This can only be done with the agreement of the speakers to do more than one slot. This approach is suitable for an audience that is split across two very different time zones.
A conference with presentation after presentation can feel a bit tiring. It might be worth considering a workshop stream with your speakers and a handful of delegates participating in very niche discussions and skill-sharing sessions. For many delegates, the reason to attend conferences is to expand their knowledge base and network – small, intimate workshops tick both of these boxes.
9. Post-event sessions/breakouts
Your audience might wish to network or continue the conversation after the session or event. For this purpose, you could develop breakout rooms in Zoom, MS Teams or other video conferencing tools. This would allow large or small groups to get together. This can be as simple as launching a separate unmoderated zoom call or having an area manager on the call – to keep things moving and on topic.
As virtual and hybrid events are set to stay for the near future, they must keep the audience engaged and offer the same (or more) value than a face-to-face event. In addition to this, your speaker needs to engage their audience with a professional and polished presentation. GoRemote delivers virtual and hybrid speaker onboarding services that help your event shine. These approaches will ensure audience retention and interaction. Talk to stage managers at firstname.lastname@example.org.