Virtual events are popular and in-demand during this COVID-19 pandemic spike that we saw in 2020 to 2021. In 2020, the number of organisations planning virtual events doubled.
The biggest challenge to conducting virtual events (according to those who’ve already run their event) is that too many other events and participants are sick of online calls, with “our supporters aren’t technologically savvy” as a close second.
People tend to feel tired of the same old encounters at virtual events. Virtual event organisers are struggling to find fresh ideas and concrete tips for putting on an unforgettable experience.
Here are 40 ideas that will make your virtual event exciting.
Common ideas for all virtual events
Get the community excited before the event
Gamification is a great idea for online events during lockdown to engage your audience. A leaderboard challenge is a great way to boost engagement and encourage attendees to experience many parts of your event.
Attendees can earn points by visiting your site, checking out keynotes, or even viewing sponsor videos. To incentivize attendees, the top winners receive prizes for participating.
Visualise the learner’s journey
To attract virtual attendees, it is important to help them by visualising the journey. Virtual learners will appreciate and know where they are heading next.
They would not be miserable while going through their virtual event journey. Virtual event management systems play an important role to let attendees feel great throughout the virtual journey.
Choose your virtual platform carefully
The platform you use to stream your event will rely entirely on what you are providing.
Hosting a webinar and want to moderate attendee participants?
Zoom will be a good option.
Looking for filming live streams?
Vimeo offers password-protected streams, so you need to make sure only ticket holders can attend.
There are dozens more to choose from. Make sure you pick the perfect virtual platform.
Make the platform welcoming
When it comes to virtual events, it’s so important to make your platform welcoming.
Do not forget that virtual participants are still real people, who want to be involved and engage with your event rather than being passive recipients of your information.
Construct an event help desk to respond to questions and comments, think about extra content for virtual attendees to fill coffee breaks, networking sessions, or other situations where they cannot participate.
This will be a virtual event centre to let attendees stay and get engaged.
Divide the sessions into multiple tracks
If your virtual event has a content-heavy schedule, is great to divide your sessions into multiple tracks.
Think of tracks like TV-channels. They run concurrently, cater to different types of audience needs and they can focus on a specific theme or format.
Giving online attendees options for how they consume your content makes them feel in control and catered to. Remember to make sure there are virtual support staff around to guide attendees if any of them ‘trapped’ at any point.
Keep the content valuable
Put your participant value first. Give them something of value that makes them want more. Easy content sharing to generate buzz for a public event.
Plan exclusive content with a timeframe for a private event. This can take the form of a short video, a downloadable presentation, or a deep background on a keynote speaker.
Inserting some fun virtual event ideas will be good to let your attendees have a memorable one.
Provide virtual tours for attendees
One of the best virtual event ideas for a company is having a virtual tour or launch tour. Give your audience a sense of travelling far away from their home or office.
You can have 360-degree virtual visits to factories, farms, galleries or unique spots. During this pandemic, we are still unable to travel and virtual provides a fun way to feel transported for a brief moment.
Be transparent with your audience
Let them know how you will use their data as well as other plans to protect them. Do not do anything without having a cybersecurity plan in place.
Choose a virtual event platform carefully, and put a security plan in place to protect the event’s integrity. Hosting a digital event without secure software and a platform is like holding a high-profile event in a building without security.
Go mobile (plan a mobile app with your virtual event platform)
Going mobile gives flexibility to busy attendees by letting them follow the conference using their phone on the go. This avoids keeping your attendees chained to their computers all day long.
Attendees can participate from their car, during their jog or even when out for groceries. Find a virtual event platform that can go mobile.
Don’t forget social media marketing
Remember that engagement does not only happen on the virtual platform itself. Social media with an official event #hashtag helps to boost your virtual event.
Get attendees to share event experiences on their respective social media like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc with your hashtag. Like and share the best posts from your organizer accounts to give attendees a VIP feeling.
Offer customisable virtual booths
Customizable booths for exhibitors and sponsors give them visibility. Allow exhibitors to add videos, branded backgrounds, logos, links to their website, upload product catalogue, and live stream demo sessions.
Attendees visit a fully branded booth, they will feel like they are stepping into a different “room” or “lounge” and enjoy their exhibitor’s world. You may choose the best virtual fair platform to fit your needs and results.
Use branded virtual backgrounds
In the process of virtual event planning, using branded virtual backgrounds is a way to bring cohesiveness to the virtual event. All attendees come from different areas of the world, using the same backgrounds it gives a cohesive look.
Organisers should create virtual backgrounds for speakers and hosts to use during the show. The result will be a well-branded and unified experience.
Fun virtual event ideas
Online game nights
Hosting an online game night for employees or students will be great. Trivia is to find one that is easy to do virtually. Healthy competition is always fun and people like showing off their random knowledge.
Have a theme and set up a “stage”, in order to build excitement around it. Divide participants into teams ahead, so they know who they are playing with- and against.
Virtual music concerts
People are missing concerts. Virtual online concerts are not like a replay from YouTube.
While planning a virtual concert, it’s important to produce it in a way that works well in the virtual world. A real concert stage with LED screens will bring your audience ‘there’. Add in a fun element, chat function and help keep the audience engaged.
Include star hosts, speakers and moderators
For a very content-heavy virtual event, the delivery needs to be an 11 out of 10.
Get star hosts, moderators, and speakers that can own the virtual stage. They can encourage engagement throughout the event. Do not forget to do research to optimize who is delivering your content and how to energize the audience and create an exciting atmosphere.
Get a virtual DJ
Get a Virtual DJ to give your attendees a music break. Music is a very strong tool to boost the mood and ambience of your event. An immersive experience that evokes emotion in your audience, schedule a musical break for them!
Invite the DJ to play a set, and let them know this is a moment where they can just enjoy and relax for a while.
Include a virtual photo booth
A virtual photo booth is one of the best virtual engagement ideas to make your audience feel like they are part of a community by giving them an opportunity to share a piece of themselves with their peers.
Online attendees can take snapshots of themselves with their pets, kids, or event swag. They can post and share to social media with your event hashtag. It will serve as a free marketing tool for a wider audience.
Gamification based learning (including leaderboard challenges)
Gamification based on learning is a great way to engage attendees digitally. It leads attendees to join and complete the syllabus or task. The more valuable the action you want your attendees to perform, the more valuable prize you can offer.
Give away awards or badges to people who pay full attention throughout the online event.
Include a virtual library
Including a virtual library for your online participants is a good way to keep them coming back for more.
All your event products, services, tools, demos, resources, books, slides, vouchers and every other document available on your event platform. Best to create filters for users to search by category. A great way to display exhibitor content and to give them networking opportunities.
Host a post-event virtual cocktail party
After a long day where everyone learned, networked and shared your online attendees are generally tired of concentrating too hard. Slot in a virtual cocktail party or host a virtual gala dinner.
Bring a DJ onboard, dancers or singers and get your community moving and dancing! You can also create a small networking room with fun topics to get people to relax and chat about something other than work.
Invite families of the attendees
People are working from home nowadays, family members are more likely to be close by and it’s not restricted to only humans. Pets are part of them! Create a session that invites families of the attendees to join in. You can also have a movie-watching party or “Do My Pet Looks Like Me?” photo contest.
Virtual social event ideas
Going to the cinema for movies is difficult and is not impossible due to the pandemic.
Get your coworkers or students to vote on a selection of movies and watch it at the same time. Have everyone join a conference call from which you’ll be streaming the movie, or simply have everyone start at the same time and join a group chat to discuss as they watch.
Online mysteries with the team
Boost your employees or students’ moods by bringing in online mystery games.
Each of them will attend as different characters and must work to reveal the murderer among them. This is not only a fun game, but it also forces players to work together, so it can be ideal for team building.
Sometimes this game takes place over months, which can be a great way to keep employees connected during long stretches of remote work.
Virtual hobby classes for the team
Virtual hobby classes for your team would be great. Activities like art latte crafting, cooking class, yoga, dance class, etc. Hire a chef to give a cooking lesson during a virtual conference.
It can be done during lunch break or at the end of the day. Send attendees a recipe ahead of time and maybe a gift card for groceries or a little swag bag, and have them tune in to follow along with the real pro.
Include MCs as the face of your event
It is advisable to have MCs for your virtual event. Let them be the face of your event. Not only do they create a sense of familiarity that makes your audience feel comfortable and engaged.
They will react and discuss the event among themselves in a very relatable way. Make sure your MC is trained to think on their feet.
Invite an inspirational storyteller
Get a speaker that wouldn’t normally be available. Finding someone that is famous in your industry is worth the often large budget.
Attention-grabbing keynote speakers can have a positive impact on registration. Ensure that the speaker’s talk goes hand-in-hand with your event’s storytelling and give it an inspirational, motivational spin.
Virtual networking event ideas
Gamification based connections
Get sponsors to pledge prizes and encourage attendees to schedule meetings with exhibitors, connect with other attendees and reach out to speakers. Understand that you are opening themselves up to a whole group of people who could turn into business leads.
Speed networking allows attendees to meet each other for a short amount of time in order to make connections.
This allows attendees to easily meet people at an online event and has the added benefit of being quick-therefore more engaging.
Many virtual event platforms now use artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to run their matchmaking and breakout rooms.
Pre-event networking rooms
Letting your online attendees start networking before the event helps them to build a community around the event and make them feel more comfortable with the ecosystem and their peers before it goes live.
Host a pre-event fireside chat on your platform, run Clubhouse rooms or LinkedIn live streams, schedule a webinar or a Q&A session.
Use this opportunity to create buzz around the schedule, introduce speakers or get attendees acquainted with the virtual platform by showing them how to use it.
Audio-only discussions are now in demand and they allow people to have a conversation while they are walking the dog or taking care of kids.
It happens in an ambient way. Currently, people have Zoom fatigue. Imagine a virtual event running for five days with scattered keynotes throughout, but the audio rooms are open all the time for people to have chats.
It’s a lower-cost and easier way to get people engaged.
Create online roundtables for networking
Create an online roundtable for an authentic networking experience. Attendees have the opportunity to show their face and have their ideas heard after a day of listening to experts speak.
It will be a more lucrative opportunity if the expert speakers are in the meeting room. Roundtable events can be done in video or audio-only format. Participants can have in-depth question and answer periods with experts, share their experiences and meet new people.
Select the right tools and features
Tool for audience engagement for a virtual event is crucial.
After nearly a year of virtual-only content and webinars, these features are still not being used to their full potential. Live discussions are where many natural and authentic connections are made between audience members.
Live questions allow attendees to use voice and feel acknowledged when speakers answer their questions.
Polls are helpful, yet underused features that allow speakers to test waters with their audience and see what’s in their mind before launching into their content.
Provide group chat options
Providing a group chat option creates a sense of transparency and trust, and shows your audience that your team is open to hearing what they have to say.
To engage with online attendees, you can think of creative subject lines to bring people together around a common theme or specifically for feedback about the event.
Bonus points if you respond quickly and make suggested improvements during your event!
Virtual event bags
Plan swag bags for different competitions
Prepare swag bags that contain different exhibitors and sponsor items in them. Award your attendees when they win the competition for certain games, completed their CPD hours, completed their attendance rate, etc.
It boosts the joining rate & helps sponsors or exhibitors to promote their product and services.
Offer a surprise home delivery to the team
You want the guests to have everything they need to maximize their experience.
Offer surprise home delivery to the team!
Or send them guests communication kits to enhance their senses.
You can send out event information and swag bags, but also include items such as aromatherapy roller balls to invoke feelings, healthy snacks or even a lunch.
Delivering these directly is the key and it elevates the overall experience, increasing engagement within your event and alignment with the brand.
Offer gifts with registrations
Offering gifts or swag to register for your event can help boost early registrations. Everyone loves free stuff, and the promise of a gift can help prompt people to register for your event as well as share the opportunity with their network.
Advertise your swag and specify that those are only for a limited number of people to encourage early registrations.
Offer thank you gift after the event
To acknowledge your attendees and ensure that your brand stays top-of-mind a little longer, offer a post-event gift that includes a thank you note, a link to download on-demand content, branded materials and any information on upcoming events, including a discount if applicable.
Offer incentives on attendee networking
It is not easy to encourage networking when it’s all happening over video.
Offer incentives on attendee networking, help break the ice by offering a reason for attendees to start chatting.
Organisers and sponsors can offer special giveaways for those who attend networking. A good book from the keynote speaker, a product sample from the exhibitor, a voucher or gift card are some great value items for attendees and encourage them to join the crowd.
Immersive virtual event ideas
Use custom avatars
In a virtual world, people can’t get to see each other in person. Letting attendees create and personalize their own avatars would be fun and would make them feel present and engaged in a virtual space.
They can choose their hair, outfits and their look. Participants can interact and see themselves via the avatar on-screen. It will be one of the fun parts of your virtual event.
Provide a 3D immersive virtual environment
Providing a 3D immersive virtual environment that includes some gamification features will be a big move to attract attendees engagement. This type of virtual event idea will work well for brand activations and product launches.
It’s an effective and memorable way to create a great ‘in-person’ experience at online events.
The sky’s the limit for your next virtual or online event.
Virtual events will become more prevalent in 2021 as organisations reconcile with the impacts of Covid-19 on events.
There is no limit on what you can do at virtual events to engage and entertain your attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors. As you plan your next online event, be ready to push past what you’re used to doing and embrace new virtual technologies to create your best virtual event.
When you are ready to get started, reach out to DOREMi-Virtual Event Made Easy and allow us to plan and host your virtual event to a successful outcome!