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8 Tips for a Highly Engaging Virtual Event

 

Worrying is so last month. Making things happen is so this month! The virtual event world may be confusing and overwhelming for some, but never fear.

If you have a vision, amazing content, and a trusted event partner who knows virtual, you are ready to get started!

GET PEOPLE EXCITED PRIOR TO THE EVENT!

  • Promote Your event: You wouldn’t have a wedding without sending invites, would you? Same goes for the virtual world. Use a variety of techniques to build excitement:
    • Create a fun promo video targeting your audience on social media.
    • Post social media clips teasing who the keynote speakers are.
    • Tease out more and more information as the event draws closer.
    • Use direct mail, email, paid placements, network groups on LinkedIn, etc.
    • Don’t forget to utilize the “champions” on your team, to extend to their social/professional networks too.
  • Send a Swag Bag: Send a gift bag to each registered guest prior to the event with all the essentials, such as:
    • Resistance Bands (for pre-taped/live morning exercise session)
    • Starbucks Gift Card (for your guest to grab a beverage prior to the start of the event)
    • BINGO cards (for live BINGO later in the day)
    • A book (written by the keynote speaker)
    • “5-Steps to Success” postcard: showing how to get the most out of the event
    • Beverages: coffee/tea/wine/beer
    • Memorable gift item: non-spill mug, pen, notebook, t-shirt, etc.
    • Food: granola bar, gum, nuts, candy, chips, etc.
    • Postcard thanking/acknowledging any sponsors.

PRO TIP: During registration, ask your guests if they require gluten-free or allergy-friendly snacks and accommodate accordingly.

PRO TIP 2: Include a handwritten (or at least signed) note from the event organizer(s).

  • Make it Fun: Chances are, your guests will have a competitive side, and, if not, everyone likes to win free “stuff.” Once someone registers, send them the link to the “pre-event” platform with a few tasks.
    • For every task they accomplish, they get points.
    • The points will accumulate throughout the event to be redeemed in the “Prize Room.”
    • Keep your gamification fun, yet professional, easy to navigate, and include various difficulty levels.
    • Familiarizing your guests with the platform prior to the event will:
      • ensure your guest will be comfortable on “game day”
      • extend your “1-day event”
      • enhance brand recognition
  • Tie in a Charity: Not every company (or individual) is hurting financially during this time. Let those who are more fortunate help those who aren’t.
    • Charity ideas: Food pantries, No Kid Hungry, St. Jude, Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, etc.  How do donate:
      • The event donates $5.00 to the winning charity for each registrant. At registration, include a pull-down list of 5-7 charities for guests to vote on.
      • Add an open donation link (or links) on the registration page to donate any denomination. Most people have charities near-and-dear to their hearts and may want to donate more
      • Instead of guests earning prizes in the “Prize Room,” have “Points” equal real cash (dollars/quarters/dimes = depending on how quickly points add up). List 5-7 charities in the “prize room” for people to donate their winnings/points to.

PRO TIP: Announce the winning charity during the opening ceremony.

PRO TIP 2: In the “Prize Room,” allow people to donate to various charities instead of just one, in case they want to spread donations across multiple charities.

  • Pre-Party: Extend your event by throwing a “pre-party” the night before. This helps build excitement, relationships, and memories surrounding your event.
    • Live Music: Hire a highly sought-after musician/group. What about Carrie Underwood? KISS? Or Snoop Dogg? You can also hire an up-and-coming artist (like someone from The Voice). Make this engaging by letting your guests type in song requests. The timing of this event would be after most people eat dinner.
    • Happy Hour: Have various small (~10 people) breakout video chat rooms with pre-determined topics posted to each room, where people can join the intimate conversation and get to know each other before the start of the event. A moderator would be in each room to help facilitate the flow and keep the content moving and people engaged.

PRO TIP: Ask your artist to sign some autographed photos to use as prizes throughout your event.

  • Graphics: Resolution is key to clarity with your audience.
    • When printing: Pixelated graphics make you look unprofessional and lazy. Take time to find the best fitting image with the right amount of resolution.
    • In the virtual world: You’ll want your guests to be as immersed in your event as possible. Try using some of the following:
    • 3D Trade show booths (with hotspots for sponsors)
    • 3D Presentation rooms
    • Realistic characters in the “welcome lobby,” instead of low-quality characters.

PRO TIP: If your sponsor has a physical trade show booth, use the actual 3D model to help tie in brand recognition.

  • Tech Check, 1-2, 1-2: Be sure to test all equipment, technology, media content, and connections multiple times so the experience is not jeopardized.
    • Nothing is more frustrating than experiencing a “choppy” presentation, the sound cuts out, or you have to wait for something to “buffer.”
    • Have additional fail-safes in place such as: alternate internet sources, power generators, and the ability to shuffle the agenda
    • Talk through contingency plans for scenarios with all your IT, media content, and marketing teams, as well as any keynote speakers. If needed, the entire operation can pivot quickly without much disruption to your audience.
  • Reduce Screen Fatigue: The uniqueness of your platform will keep your audience engaged.
    • If you use a free, or common, meeting platform, you risk losing people’s attention due to burnout or boredom, from the likelihood they’ve been looking at the same program for other meetings or online events. It won’t feel like a “new” experience and won’t hold their attention.
    • People are naturally curious, and discovering the “unknown” keeps curiosity up, which keeps the brain stimulated and happy.

No matter what, your CONTENT is the star of the show. But in this day-and-age, your attendees will need help keeping their attention and energy level up. Let Skyline take you through the journey of your first virtual event and show you how beneficial and painless it really is.

Booth Staffing Tips & Tools for the Digital Era Reference Guide

Trade shows have been a consistent resource for generating leads and connecting with customers for many years. It’s one of the only ways to gain face-to-face access in one convenient location to a large proportion of your target clients.

This reference guide will provide insight into the changes in trade show booth staffing, what’s causing the shift, and how to best prepare your team. Your staffers – by engaging, qualifying and capturing potential customers – represent your best opportuntity for success on the trade show floor.

Heather Bundgaard
About the Author

Heather Bundgaard is a Custom Virtual Event and Trade Show Display Account Manager at Skyline TradeTec, located in Lombard, Illinois. Her marketing career started over 25 years ago with a focus on trade show planning and execution. Heather's current role allows her to work with various companies and industries on their custom virtual and physical trade show needs: from design, to implementation, to post-event analyzing, to asset management. Heather strives to provide supreme customer experience in order to relieve her clients of stress and wasted time.

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