Nine ways to improve audience engagement during a virtual event

April 16, 2021
Posted in News
April 16, 2021 virtuopo

Engagement is a key factor in measuring virtual event success and with remote audiences facing a whole host of distractions, keeping their attention can often be a challenge for event organisers.

In our experience, introducing interactive elements can really help to build a better connection between presenters and remote audiences. Giving attendees an opportunity to feel part of a virtual event makes a huge difference to the audience experience, which can have a real impact on over all event success. There are many ways to improve engagement during a virtual conference or event. Here are a few tried and tested techniques:

A Great Line Up of Speakers

It goes without saying that having interesting speakers on the bill at a virtual event is a surefire way to keep attendees engaged. We recently delivered a virtual conference featuring a keynote address from Nando Perrado, survivor of the 1972 Andes plane crash. His fascinating story kept the audience captivated and attendees left the virtual conference feeling motivated and inspired after his closing speech.

Event Polls

Live polls are a simple, yet effective way to drive audience participation, with more than 80 percent of virtual event organisers using polls to increase interaction*. Encouraging attendees to complete a survey before and after an event can also help to build ongoing engagement, while generating valuable data.

*According to a recent industry survey by Markletic


Incentivising engagement through gamification can help remote audiences to feel more connected, as they interact with each other to complete virtual tasks and earn rewards. Participants can pick up points or virtual prizes, based on their level of interaction, with rewards given for activities such as answering quiz questions correctly, attending key sessions and responding to surveys.

Rewards could include digital perks such as a new avatar or virtual background or more substantial prizes such as online gift cards. Creating a leader board is a fun way to engage attendees by appealing to their competitive nature.

Why not consider incorporating virtual escape rooms or treasure hunts into a virtual conference as a digital team building activity?

Create Networking Opportunities

Networking opportunities are an important part of any event and it is becoming much easier to network and build new relationships virtually, as conference platforms evolve. Many virtual conference platforms are designed to facilitate networking, enabling attendees to go to breakout rooms, join discussions and chat to each other at virtual tables.

Live Q&A

Whether you’re organising a virtual conference, a webinar or a virtual round table discussion, it is crucial to give the audience an opportunity to participate. Incorporating a live Q&A session is an easy way to encourage attendees to interact with speakers.

Virtual Swag Bags

Providing attendees with a virtual swag bag can help generate interest and talkability around your event. Virtual swag bags, which could include anything from discounts and giveaways to access to virtual training courses and online yoga sessions, can be shared with attendees by email. It is also a good idea to invite event partners to contribute virtual swag, as a way to leverage sponsorship.

Deliver Goodie Bags

Sending a goodie bag to attendees ahead of your virtual event is a great way to create hype in advance. Who doesn’t enjoy a surprise delivery of goodies landing on the doorstep? Consider including useful branded gifts such as earbuds, a mug or a water bottle or even tasty snacks to enjoy during the event.

As with virtual swag bags, physical goodie bags provide another opportunity for event partners to leverage sponsorship. SXSW delivered cheese to attendees of this year’s virtual event, courtesy of sponsor Wisconsin Cheese, which went down a storm.

Why not consider incorporating an activity such as a virtual wine tasting or an online cookery masterclass into your virtual conference by sending wines or ingredients in advance?

Include an Element of Surprise

Surprising your audience with the unexpected is guaranteed to grab their attention and make your virtual event more memorable. Bringing in a special guest or introducing a live performer or comedian out of the blue, is a great way to create the ‘wow’ factor. Try to link the surprise special guest to the over-arching theme of the event.

Digital Live-Scribing

Commissioning a talented artist to create real time illustrations during presentations and discussions can be an effective way to encourage remote audiences to stay focused. The illustrations can be shared afterwards as a visual representation to sum up key points and takeaways from the event.

If you’re planning a virtual conference, why not contact our team for advice on how to build an engaging event?

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