You’ve selected your format. You’ve gotten stakeholder buy-in. You’ve chosen the right technology. Now comes the pressure of putting it all together.
You’ve got one shot to keep your audience engaged and focused. Your potential enemies are digital distraction/attendee multi-tasking, death by PowerPoint, and ultimately, failure to meet your event goals.
It’s time to make the leap from technology to engagement.
How can you to keep virtual participants from becoming distracted, multitasking or losing interest? Here are some effective strategies:
Boost anticipation with pre-meeting surveys
Send a short but highly relevant pre-meeting survey (something they really want to know) to participants and share the results with your audience at the start of the meeting.
Gain your audience’s attention with a fun, icebreaker poll.
Use snap polls and sentiment polls to quickly capture your audience’s attention. Remember, any content that solicits and emotional response (funny, happy, astonishing) can elevate your meeting from mediocre to memorable.
Have your presenters tell a relevant story and then utilize polling to ask the audience what they think will happen next or how they would like to see the story end.
Add compelling visuals
Visuals accomplish three things:
- They boost long-term memory of key concepts. One study found that after three days, users retain 65% of visual info. Compared to 10-20% of written or spoken information.
- Your attendees can process visuals faster. In fact, visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.
- Improve learning. Visuals have been shown to improve learning up to 400%.
What kinds of visuals should you add? Video, visual polls, infographics, and any other visuals that will reinforce the content presented are effective. Adding a tactile component along with engaging visuals can amplify the visual benefit.
Watch as Jenn Tontini, virtual meetings expert and VP of Global Business Development for Educational Measures, offers her savvy advice for event planners:
“The key is ‘engagement’, but really, what you’re striving for is ‘meaningful engagement’. You’ll want to make sure that all of your audience’s interactions, whether in-room or remote, are purposeful and lend themselves to the greater goals and objectives of the program.” Tontini continues, “If you have something important that you want participants to remember, ensure that there is a visual component to reinforce it in their minds, like using a video or changing up the screen they’re viewing. Use an assessment like a polling question or survey before you present the information, ask them to read and answer it using technology like Educational Measures’ Virtual Array interactive meeting technology. That way, you reinforce the message through the tactile engagement of using their hands. Then, share the correct answer visually and use the presenter’s voice to share the reasoning behind why it’s the correct answer as part of the presentation. It’s the example from the best courses and meetings that you attended in college and paid the most attention to since. It’s the recipe for engagement.”
Generate excitement with gamification
Use gamification to create better experiences for everyone, in-person or virtual. Gamification introduces game-like experiences into situations or experiences not usually associated with playing a game. Adults, like children, can use games to build bonds, engage in healthy competition, learn new concepts and earn rewards.
There are three types of gamification you can incorporate into your meeting:
- Live gamification. The entire audience (in room and virtual attendees) participates in a moderator-hosted game during a live meeting
- Self-paced gamification. Each individual audience member plays at their own pace at any time
- In-app gamification. Incentive-driven engagement happens within the second screen or participants are motivated by rewards or recognition to engage.
If you’re hosting a meeting for highly competitive types, gamification is a great way to spur some healthy competition There are many approaches to gamifying your meetings using interactive meeting technology like Array. Here are a few examples:
- Use leaderboards to engage in Jeopardy-like competitions with real-time results.
- Interactive surveys that let people earn points not only for answering questions correctly but also by indicating their confidence level in their response.
- Address down time during breaks by allowing users to participate in one of the 25 options for audience interaction.
Highlight audience members’ location during Q&A
One of the biggest complaints by remote participants of virtual and hybrid events is that they feel isolated. During Q&A, it’s critical that presenters address the senders of questions by name and note the person’s location. This will help them feel important, included, and part of the conversation.
Incorporating these best practices at virtual and hybrid meetings will go a long way in extending in-person engagement to remote audiences.