7 ways to engage your audience on a Virtual event!
Having a lively and interactive audience whether you are doing a live, hybrid or virtual event will always make your session better! It will engage the audience, improve the Q&A and leave people with a positive experience of the speaker/speakers and the event overall. In my vast experience of events over different topics, industries, time zones and cultures - these are the 7 best practices I have seen from the speakers in their sessions.
1. A strong and clear introduction
I have watched a lot of sessions by a lot of speakers over my time as a Live Event Manager. The best sessions start well. They have an explanation of the session; the speaker greets the audience and they give proper introduction of themselves. It really does go a long way.
2. Being direct with the audience
As mentioned above with the introductions, explaining clearly what the session aims to achieve and what learning can be found from the session, giving the audience the proper expectations, if the session is clear and honest it also allows the audience a more genuine experience and the Q&A/Polling is better and clearer for everyone involved.
Polling gives people a reason to stay engaged in a session. It is important to not over utilise the product otherwise people will get fatigued by it.
3. Really engaging with the Q&A
A lot of sessions have Q&A this can be the best or the worst part of any session. It is always good to encourage Q&A from the beginning and to keep reminding people about the Q&A option on the platform. When you have questions inbound it is ok to select the good questions. Praise those questions and answer in detail. Saying you will answer in detail to one person after the session ends excludes the rest of the audience. If you run out of time, give people an option to follow up with you as they are engaged in your content.
4. Using Polling (but not too much)
Polling is a great tool and can be used in multiple different ways. It can be used to navigate a session, understand people’s opinions and check people’s learning in a session. Polling gives people a reason to stay engaged in a session. It is important to not over utilise the product otherwise people will get fatigued by it.
Rehearsal is so important when it comes to live speaking, it is obvious when people haven’t tested and gone through the content they are speaking about and it doesn’t come off as well as a rehearsed session would. This is particularly the case when doing a virtual session without checking how to use the platform you can seriously lose your flow and this can distract from your session.
6. Making sure you can be seen and heard
This sounds obvious, this is obviously also mostly based on virtual speakers. Being seen well is mostly down to lighting. Make sure you are well lit when speaking and ideally in an uncluttered environment, the main reason for this is that you are what people are coming to see not your surroundings, your pets or a silhouette of you! This is also the case with sound, make sure you can have a microphone or at least be in a quiet area to make sure you will be heard easily by any audience member.
7. Thinking about how the audience is consuming the content
We have had almost 2 years now being mainly virtual depending on where you are in the world. This means most people have been watching on a device in their home restricting some of the interactivity. More importantly with hybrid session you have people consuming differently – laptop screens and now live in person so it is important to remember to keep it interactive.