Jul 1, 2022

How to Keep your Virtual Audience Engaged at a Hybrid Event

virtual audience

When you’re hosting a hybrid event for your organization, getting your virtual audience as engaged as your in-person guests is essential. Fortunately, engaging virtual guests is simple. Keep reading to learn more about how you can accomplish virtual audience engagement and why it matters.

Your Virtual Audience Matters

Whether you’ve hosted numerous events or are preparing to put on your first one, you probably already know that audience engagement is fundamental to your event’s success. Engagement matters, even more, today when virtual guests have become just as common as in-person attendees. Focusing specifically on how your virtual audience will participate in your fundraiser should be part of planning any hybrid event.

Having a virtual audience for your events can significantly contribute to your organization’s impact and return on investment. When you open up your events to supporters beyond your geographic location, you have a chance to reach people worldwide. The result is a new audience of passionate contributors who can spread the word about your nonprofit.

The reality is that both physical and virtual audiences will be present in different ways, affecting how you engage with them. Using the same tactics when speaking to both your virtual and in-person guests may make it more challenging to achieve your intended results. Creating a dedicated approach to engaging with virtual attendees at hybrid events is a crucial part of planning your event.

Elements of Engagement

Understanding these elements of engagement will help you and your organization put on more effective events for hybrid audiences:

  • Topic: Every event you host should have a topic that’s important and relevant in the eyes of your audience. When the topic is one people feel they can benefit from learning about, they’re more likely to engage with the speakers and activities.
  • Speakers: A successful event has speakers who are experts on the topic at hand. The audience will be able to learn directly from them, asking questions and presenting comments that help them gain valuable insight.
  • Interactivity: While speakers are essential for an event’s success, it’s not enough to just have them speak to the audience. Offer ways for attendees to participate by responding to polls, asking questions, and talking with fellow audience members. If you can plan options for interactivity, you’ll see much higher levels of engagement.
  • Technology: Always make sure you know the ins and outs of the technology you’re using for your event. Test it with your team before the day of your event to ensure you iron out any errors. Additionally, check that it’s easy for your virtual audience to use on their devices. 
  • Visuals: Including visuals in each presentation will help guests stay interested in what’s happening. Featuring graphics, videos, and other components is especially important for virtual guests, giving them more to look at than speakers on a static screen.

Consider the points above whenever you’re planning an event so you can implement the basics of engagement.

How to Engage Virtual Event Attendees

While engaging virtual audiences takes a slightly different approach than capturing the attention of in-person attendees, you’ll find it’s still easy when you use the right tools. Here are several virtual event engagement ideas:

1. Build hype

Getting your attendees excited about the event before it begins is crucial. Encourage them to talk about it on social media, share posts with co-workers and friends and use a custom hashtag to promote it. Building hype helps point attention to the event and encourages attendees to get to know each other beforehand.

2. Have everyone check in

As the event begins, give both virtual and in-person attendees enough time to check in. Make sure your technical support team is available to assist anyone having trouble with the platform. Ask people to log on as early as possible, so they have time to tackle any issues that arise.

3. Acknowledge virtual attendees early

When people begin to trickle in, have your chat moderator welcome them. This approach will warm the conversation up, so attendees feel ready for the event. Remember that your goal is to recreate the in-person experience for your virtual attendees.

4. Use chat boxes and polls

As we mentioned earlier, supplying interactive ways for your virtual guests to engage with the speakers and in-person guests is the perfect way to increase engagement levels. Incorporate interactive virtual components that make participating as a virtual attendee fun and informative.

5. Add gamification

Take interactions to the next level with games and contests. Have virtual attendees complete scavenger hunts, earn points for completing specific tasks, and get rewards for doing polls and other activities. Assess the goal of your event and how you can use gamification to meet that goal while engaging attendees.

6. Make eye contact

One of the most proven ways to engage audience members is to have speakers make eye contact with guests. How do you achieve that for virtual attendees? Train presenters to speak to the camera on occasion so that anyone tuning in virtually feels included. 

7. Send out swag bags

Swag bags are a great way to make your virtual attendees feel like they’re at your event in person. Put together a few items that represent your nonprofit, like a branded hat and a few locally-made treats. Hand the bags out to your in-person guests and mail them to virtual attendees so everyone can enjoy them.

If gathering addresses is unfeasible or if you’re expecting too many attendees to make physical swag practical, try virtual swag bags instead! Consider including things like:

  • Gift cards
  • E-books
  • Discount codes
  • Special offers from event sponsors

8. Use social media

If you aren’t already ten steps ahead on this one, start promoting your event on social media. Whether you use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other platforms, be sure to advertise your events a few weeks before they happen. This way, people will learn about the event and start talking about it, building awareness and hype.

Posting on social media is also helpful after events. You can ask attendees what they thought about the event with links to polls or feedback forms that capture their responses. Do so immediately after the event ends, directing guests to your social media pages so they can give you fresh feedback to help shape future events.

virtual attendees

Engage your Virtual Attendees with GiveSmart

GiveSmart is a comprehensive fundraising platform that gives organizations a straightforward way to fundraise online. From virtual and hybrid fundraising to ticketing and guest management, our solutions provide nonprofits a go-to option for managing events and campaigns with ease. No matter where your supporters are, we can help you maximize your impact.

Are you ready to get started? Request a demo today!


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