Virtual Events: 6 Ways to Captivate Your Audience

Oct 5, 2020

Are you Zoomed out?  Had your fill of webinars?  Fed up with hanging out on Google Hangouts? Well, you’re not alone.

Since the Covid-19 lockdown, I’ve attended several virtual events (as an audience member) and, well…  let’s just say there’s plenty of room to improve the customer experience for everyone attending them.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has meant many meetings, workshops, training, events and much more are being moved to an online, virtual setup.

Most of the events I have attended were marked by technical glitches that should have been prevented with good, thorough pre-event preparation.

There were awkward webcam angles and distracting backgrounds, with speakers presenting in front of everything from cluttered home offices to Zoom-generated tropical islands.

“If virtual events are to be successful (and I think they can be), then the organisers and speakers need to approach them less like a Zoom call and more like a TED talk.”

People routinely watch TED talks online and they love them.  They’re engaging, they’re polished, and they don’t bear any resemblance whatsoever to a boring Zoom slides show.

Make Your Next Virtual Event a Success by Captivating Your Audience

According to Albert Mehrabian, what you say to an audience isn’t nearly as important as how you say it. Studies suggest that effective presentations are 38% your voice, 55% non-verbal communication, and only 7% your content. That means that you should spend even more time preparing your delivery than you do developing awesome content.

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As a Customer Experience speaker who’s headlined both live and virtual events for over 15 years, here are my secrets that I’ve learned about how to make digital events successful, and more engaging for your audience.

1. Plan for Technical Issues

 I recently attended a virtual driving awareness course and I was really impressed with how they were prepared for the technical cliches.  All attendees had to attend 30 mins prior to the course where each received individual technical support to ensure there would be no delays in the start of the course.

Make sure you’re prepared and create contingency plans for whatever technical issues might crop up during the session (lets face it, this is inevitable!). 

2. Zoom Out and Remove Any Distractions

Part of the energy that’s conveyed by a live, onstage speaker comes from their body language.  If you have your camera or webcam set for what is essentially a headshot, then the audience loses the opportunity to see hand gestures and other physical movements that help engage viewers.

If you can and have the option to then stand up when you’re talking. When you are standing up you show more energy – your body is a communication tool too, so use it.

Watch out for any distracting backgrounds – you want to keep the focus on you and not what’s going on behind you.

 

3, Make it Interactive and Engage Your Audience

Improve engagement by making the sessions interaction.  Research suggests that if a presenter does all the talking without giving the audience an opportunity to participate, then audience engagement drops by 14%.

Therefore take time to Involve the audience.  Ask questions, use online audience polling features, play games, live tweeting – there are many ways that you can make the audience feel involved, you just need to be creative.

Try not to speak for more than ten minutes without some sort of audience engagement.

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4. Keep Sessions Short In Length

It is far more difficult to hold audience attention in a virtual event, compared to a live event.  Consider shortening the time slots you would use for a physical event by 15 or 30 minutes. If your event is long then offer breaks often

5. Do A Sound Check

If your sound is garbled, people will tune out. While people may forgive less than perfect video, if they can’t clearly hear you, they will leave. Practice with someone on the other end of the presentation platform. Make sure your sound emits clearly.

Sometimes headphones or external microphones work better than the computer audio, sometimes not. Every platform is different, so make sure your sound quality is excellent every time. And again, you should practice with the same technical configurations and location that you will use for your presentation.

 

6, Adding Facts & Figures to Your Presentation Will Increase Audience Retention by 20%.

Delivering information to your audience is one thing; ensuring they remember that information is quite another. If you want your audience to retain your content, then you should definitely include facts and figures to back up your claims.

Just be sure those facts and figures are presented in a way that’s engaging and visually compelling

And finally, remember to be yourself!

Virtual Events: 6 Ways to Captivate Your Audience 2
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Just like in face-to-face presentations, audiences connect to authenticity, so be yourself! Let your personality show through. Have fun. If you look like you’re enjoying the presentation so will others.
Research shows that happy people retain information better than bored or disinterested people, so model the energy that you want to create. The audience takes its cue from you.

If properly executed, virtual events can be just as successful and engaging as live, in-person events.  The key is to relentlessly focus on the quality of your customers’ experience and make it engaging.

With the right content, and the right delivery, you can create a great virtual event that is not only engaging and informative, it can be done in the comfort of the customer’s own home!

Limarah Crathorne
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Limarah Crathorne

Customer Experience Consultant

Limarah is an inspiring public speaker and consultant on delivering excellent Customer Experience online.

She helps companies to deliver memorable experiences online that will drive customer loyalty and a frictionless service which will leave customers feeling positive about their purchase.

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