Over the past 20 months, as the COVID-19 pandemic upended many of our in-person events and celebration plans, we all found new ways to keep celebrating all of life’s special moments virtually.
We cheered on graduates as they walked the virtual stage, raised our glasses to our favorite newlyweds as they said their “I Do’s,” and even took our careers to the next level at virtual conferences, hybrid industry events, and online trade shows.
At Social hour, as we partnered with people across the globe on a range of events, at a time when human connection was more necessary than ever. We gained a deep understanding of what attendees expect at a hybrid or virtual event. It may surprise you, but we’ve found it all boils down to just five elements that are essential for your event success, regardless of what type of gathering you’re hosting.
Five Must-Have Elements for Any Type of Virtual or Hybrid Event
Event planners can transition almost any traditional event component online. In some cases, the online environment may even enhance the experience for everyone involved.
However, many event planners are still stuck on the idea of replicating their in-person event exactly as it was—just now in an online setting. This results in one-time talks streamed from the keynote stage, leaving attendees lost in a sea of webcam streams without a way to connect meaningfully with those around them.
When planning your next event, I challenge you to focus on enabling attendee engagement throughout the entire experience as your most important element. Engagement is the single most crucial factor that determines your event’s success.
So how can event planners guarantee engagement at their next virtual or hybrid event? We’ve found these four elements are essential to your success, and they all help drive attendee engagement, too:
- Limit the number of participants in each session or room
- Ensure an equitable talk-to-listen ratio to help avoid listening fatigue
- Give attendees opportunities to take breaks
- Track metrics and analytics that help you assess engagement disconnects at your event
Enabling Virtual or Hybrid Event Engagement
In my recent article on Trade Show News Network, you can learn more about how each of the five elements we introduced above can affect engagement at your next event. I also share my advice on how to ensure a cohesive hybrid event experience (hint: you want to focus on virtual first).
What questions do you have about virtual event engagement? Tweet me @AARiggs.