Consider your typical virtual event attendee. Having completed a morning of back-to-back Zoom meetings, they’ve only got 5 minutes to refill their coffee cup and respond to lingering Slack messages before settling back in their seat. Just in time for yet another virtual happening. In this case, a webinar they’d forgotten they’d signed up for weeks ago. Or maybe it’s the stale company all-hands meeting that occurs every seven days without fail.
In an ideal world, you’d have your attendee’s full and undivided attention: eyes directed straight toward the screen, ears absorbing every single word with vested interest. But more realistically, they might be toggling between tabs or mindlessly checking their LinkedIn notifications while checking back on the event from time to time. Zoom fatigue is real, after all. So what can you do to keep your attendee engaged?
A virtual gathering with zero interaction is a recipe for disaster—no different from an in-person event. After pouring countless hours into planning the heck out of your event and doing the hard work of getting your attendees there, it’s your job, now, to hold their attention. We’ve got a few ideas for how you can do just that. Here are some exercises you can use to inject energy during the right moments, depending on the kind of event you’re hosting.
All-hands & team meetings: Bring people closer together
There’s a reason why so many companies host regular employee-wide gatherings, commonly known as "all-hands" or "town halls." Even if every possible update could be distilled into a single email blast, there’s nothing quite like hearing directly from folks across the team to create a greater sense of connection to the company and mission. Turning your all-hands into an event that employees actually look forward to, however, requires a bit of extra thought and magic. Here are some of the activities we’ve done in our own weekly all-hands to shake things up.
Try these activities:
- Whose [blank] is this? — This one requires a bit of preparation before-hand. Before the meeting, ask team members to send you a picture of their work setup. Then pull the photos up on-screen and take turns guessing which workspace belongs to who. You could do the same thing with baby photos, pictures of pets, or even snapshots of your lunch.
- New hire intros — Have each new hire prep an answer to a fun question (e.g. “if you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?”), then bring them on stage during all-hands to share their response. If you’re at a larger company, ask new employees to send short videos with their answers then play the pre-recorded videos live during the meeting, just to make the process a little smoother. You could even play a game of "two truths and a lie" by putting up a poll and getting others to ferret out the lie.
- Dance break — At a recent Welcome all-hands, the marketing team decided to launch into a surprise flash mob at the close of their share and dance the Cupid Shuffle, encouraging everyone else to get up on their feet along with them. Take a page out of our book and dance it out! Get your blood flowing and snap your team out of drowsiness.
Conferences & summits: Keep up the energy
If you’re running a multi-session, hours-long event, it’s even more crucial to bake moments of connection and delight into your agenda. Otherwise, attendees will eventually drift away in search of more stimulation or leave feeling utterly drained.
Try these activities:
- Virtual jukebox — At the start of the event, set up a musical waiting room. Ask attendees to throw their song requests into the Q&A and tell them to upvote their favorite songs. Play the top-voted songs as the audience awaits the start of the event.
- Pop in a poll — Use polls to make sure attendees are actually paying attention and retaining your content. Ask questions that tie back to the content of the session, or throw on a fun trivia game to create a sense of light-hearted competition.
- Find some zen — This might be the easiest (and most appreciated) exercise of them all. Thread wellbeing and mindfulness into your event by leading attendees through a calming breathing exercise that helps relieve any stress or anxiety they might be holding onto. Here's a simple one: Start by sitting back in your seat and closing your eyes. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for five counts, then slowly exhale through the nose. Do this a few more times.
Workshops & trainings: Find common ground
Workshops are a great opportunity to stimulate minds, make things a little more hands-on, and even get introspective. Tap into those benefits by introducing energizers to break the ice and create connections between participants (whether they know each other or not).
Try these activities:
- GIF it up — Kick off the event by inviting participants to describe their current mood in the form of a GIF. Ask them to drop their GIF of choice into the chat.
- Show and tell — Get everyone to take a minute to find an object around them (could be anything from a book lying on their desk to a cool-looking vase) that represents them, in any capacity. Have participants go around explaining why they chose their artifact and how it reflects who they are.
- Speed drawing — Ask your participants to grab a pen and piece of paper. Then give them five minutes to draw a particular scene, whether it be an abstract depiction of themselves, their “happy place”, or a joyful moment from the weekend. Have them share their artistic creations with the group.
We hope you can put these exercises into action during your next virtual event to bring the energy to new levels. And remember: While fun and excitement are two qualities any attendee would eagerly seek in a virtual gathering, for an event to really stick, you need to tie the content back to the event’s purpose. Find ways to connect even the simplest warm-up activity to your main purpose to make the event truly meaningful.
From our interactive polling feature to our state-of-the-art production studio, each of Welcome’s features add up to provide a truly exceptional virtual experience platform. One that not only works seamlessly for an event of any size, but delivers meaningful engagement and data-backed results—all while looking stunningly beautiful. Find out more about the platform by booking a demo with us! We’d love to show you how it all works.