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11 Virtual Conference Engagement Ideas to Boost Online Attendance

Chati Team
June 21, 2022

Virtual conferences allow event organizers to utilize new technology and to reach a larger audience. While virtual conferences open the door to exciting technological possibilities, a poorly executed event can leave participants feeling less engaged that an in-person event. Here are eleven tips for engaging your audience and boosting online attendance:

1.) Invest in an event website
Invest in an event website that highlights the conference’s content and events. This website will act as the main hub for attendees to learn about the conference and navigate to events. A strong foundation is crucial to keep guests engaged and in the loop.

2.) Tease the content
In most cases, the expectation of high-quality content is the main reason guests are attending your event. One way of indicating to participants that the content will be high quality is by giving them a glimpse of the content beforehand. Hosting exclusive written interviews with event speakers on the event website or linking to a recording of their previous talks will get attendees excited about attending the event.  

3.) Ensure the conference goes off without a hitch
Given the number of virtual meetings and events in the last few years, audiences have high standards when it comes to the technical aspect of a virtual conference. Preparation is key in ensuring there are no technical difficulties or distracting background noises. Work with speakers to make sure they have a distraction-free location for their events. Event planners can also work with an IT professional to do a dry-run of the event and check that there are no issues with internet connectivity.

4.) Plan industry announcements around the event
Conference attendees want to feel that an event is in touch with their industry. If there are exciting new technologies, re-organizations, or news affecting the industry, save these announcements for the conference. This will create a feeling of industry relevance and will make your conference feel like the place to be.  

5.) Give guests a platform to interact with each other
At an in-person conference, attendees can discuss the event in real time and have organic conversations about panels. To recreate the experience virtually, Slack and other communications platforms allow guests to interact with each other in an environment only open to attendees. These platforms facilitate networking between event attendees and help to replicate the in-person experience.

6.) Provide real-time updates on social media
Using Twitter and the event website, provide updates on what is happening at the conference. Having a dedicated employee or team to cover the main talking points of the conference will help with visibility among conference attendees and among those not attending.

7.) Use an event hashtag
Whether on Twitter or Instagram, using a hashtag for the event will allow related posts to be aggregated in one location. Attendees will receive more views and engagement on their posts by using the event’s hashtag. Event organizers can interact with the crowd by re-tweeting posts related to their takeaways from the event.

8.) Allow guests to interact with speakers
Using a virtual Q&A allows guests to ask questions or comment on an event. This is a great way to boost engagement by allowing attendees to interact directly with speakers.

9.) Provide networking opportunities
Networking is one of the biggest draws of an in-person conference. Facilitate virtual networking by hosting introductory events and breakout sessions for participants. Depending on the size of the conference, local in-person popup events can also be planned in areas where many attendees work.

10.) Consider interactive sponsorships
Engaging conference attendees and sponsors is a win-win: it allows guests to feel like sponsors are contributing to the event in a meaningful way and increases the likelihood that sponsors will return for future events. Create engaging sponsorships by sending guests sponsored swag items before the event, hosting exclusive events for sponsors, or included curated content related to sponsors on the event website.

11.) Follow up after the event
After the event is complete, ask attendees to provide feedback. This can be a valuable learning experience for event organizers to see which areas of the event provided the most engagement.

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