Virtual Events and the Attendee Experience: 4 Ideas

Colleen Bottorff, Inbound Marketing Specialist, MemberClicks

As event planners start tackling their first all-virtual event, one crossroad they tend to come
to do I engage my attendees and give them an energetic experience 
without being able to see them??

It’s true that some of the activities you would normally execute in-person just aren’t possible with a virtual event. That said, there are a ton of ways to translate those activities into a virtual experience, or execute something completely different!

Here are a few ways we tackled attendee engagement at MC Thrive. Could any of these work for your virtual event?

1. Giveaways
This idea helps with TWO virtual event needs: engaging attendees and sponsors. Ask your sponsors to provide prizes (whether it’s a gift card or a physical item) to raffle off. We held our raffle at the very end of the day.

We also did a Grand Prize Giveaway — a $500 donation to the charity of the winner’s choice, provided by MemberClicks, and a $100 gift card for them! For the Grand Prize giveaway, we gave attendees ways they could earn multiple entries throughout the day. Once those activities were all tallied up, we drew a winner and alerted all attendees via email.

Who was our winner?? Doreen Kleinman with the Eastern Contractors Association! And she actually chose TWO charities to receive a $250 donation each:

  • The International Myeloma Foundation in memory of her dad, Robert Kleinman.
  • The Food Pantries for the Capital District, which Eastern Contractors Association supports: “For the past couple of years, when we hold our annual all member Holiday Open House event, we ask attendees to bring items for the Food Pantry. With it being a local charity, all of the money goes directly back to serving our community. I learned (recently) from them that due to the current situation, they have received 10 times the volume of calls from locals seeking food assistance from the same time as last year.”

Talk about not only engaging but MEANINGFUL!

2. Trivia
Trivia is a great virtual engagement go-to — it’s easy to execute, fun for attendees to participate in, and it’s a great way to work in more sponsor engagement (let them submit questions) and/or educate your audience on your organization.

There are a lot of trivia platforms out there — we recommend finding one that makes it easy for attendees to join from their phone so they can continue viewing the live stream (presumably, with the trivia questions being shown) while they play along. Kahoot and Crowdpurr are two platforms worth checking out. 

3. Social Media Contest
Like with any event, you want to encourage your virtual event attendees to share their experience and takeaways on social media. (Great for attendee engagement and demonstrating just what non-attendees are missing out on!)

Take it up a notch by creating a contest around posting about something specific. For MC Thrive, we asked attendees to share what makes them thrive — morning coffee, afternoon walks, petting your dog, etc. — and, needless to say, we had a TON of great submissions:

Search the hashtag #MCThrive on Twitter to see more!

4. In-session chat
Using a live stream provider that includes chat is a MUST. (And thankfully, most of them do!) This was ultimately our favorite part of the day during MC Thrive — it was so fun to watch attendees interact, and get to interact ourselves!

The best part is, allowing attendees to interact during sessions isn’t disruptive in a virtual environment like it would be if you were together in person. Prepare staff with some ways they can kick off conversations and keep attendees engaged.

We learned (and tried) a LOT when we hosted MC Thrive. So much, in fact, that we put together an entire guide! Download your copy of the Virtual Event Playbook to get checklists that’ll help you strategically develop your virtual experience, and tips for how to execute it.

Virtual Event Playbook

Tactical checklists and tips for executing a virtual event

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