We’ve all learned a lot about virtual events over the last two years. But over and over, one important pain point keeps popping up: How do you create an immersive, engaging virtual environment that your attendees actually want to spend time in?
After all, attention spans are shorter than ever as attendees are busy multitasking with remote work or family obligations. It’s all-too easy for virtual events to become more of a passive viewing experience, rather than something your attendees find themselves fully engaged with for the duration.
To create an immersive IRL event, planners have long relied on the idea of engaging their attendees’ five senses. When you’re interacting with guests through a computer screen, sure, some of those traditional methods of engagement go out the window. But with some intentional planning, out-of-the-box thinking and cool new technology, it’s more than possible to keep attendees invested and engaged throughout your entire online gathering—which will allow you to effectively deliver your key messages and ultimately, achieve your all-important event ROI.
To build an effective immersive experience for virtual attendees, look to the three Cs.
Content is indisputably king when it comes to virtual events. Focus on creating unforgettable content that will resonate with your specific guests, whether your goal is to educate them, entertain them or inspire them (or all three!). But take steps to be sure your attendees don’t feel like they’re sitting back and watching TV. Be sure to carefully train your speakers, presenters and hosts, giving them tips and best practices on how to best engage with a virtual audience.
And don’t forget to lean on your tech platform, and fully understand all the features it offers. The best session content includes a level of direct interaction—and most leading virtual event platforms offer a slew of options to get attendees talking with each other and the speakers, whether that’s a chat function, polls or quizzes.
Want to take that interaction to the next level? Work with an advanced platform like Hubilo, which allows integration of third-party apps. Hubilo’s new Embed Your App feature lets planners connect third-party apps for engagement, gamification, virtual photo booths, social media and more to their events and sessions—ensuring the audience can be engaged via as many touch points as possible. It’s all about creating that sense of belonging and community that makes events of any kind so special.
When attendees walk into an IRL event, you want them to feel like they’re surrounded by a physical manifestation of your brand and its goals. So why would virtual be any different? Work with your tech platform to make sure the virtual setting is a true reflection of your brand, and that the attendee experience is personalized every step of the way.
Put yourself in the attendee’s shoes. What do you want them to think and feel from the initial invite, during the initial log-in, while clicking around the space? Really think through the attendee journey through the online gathering, and build touch points and interactions based on your guests’ personas and interests.
This is another area where new technological advancements—and the wisdom of a good tech partner—can really come into play. Hubilo, for example, offers a downloadable e-book that explains the concept of a “virtual stage” and how to build one that can effectively transform your events into experiences.
Through it all, never forget the power of connection and community-building. Sure, attendees might not be bumping into each other at the coffee bar—but that doesn’t mean you can neglect the networking aspects that help truly make an event feel immersive.
Virtual networking may look different, but it can be just as powerful when done correctly. Working with your platform partner, aim to offer multiple formats of networking—like virtual lounges, breakout rooms, one-on-one video calls or chats, etc.—so attendees can opt for the ones that they are most comfortable with.
Another tip? Since attendees won’t have the spontaneous networking moments that come with a live event, make sure to schedule structured networking time into the agenda—but don’t forget to offer fun sessions where attendees can bond in a more informal way.
Want to learn how to create immersive experiences first-hand? Watch Hubilo’s Mastering Immersive Experiences on-demand now.