As attendees and event planners alike lean into the world of virtual and hybrid events, they’re looking for ways to build and maintain human connections from afar.
Attendees want a virtual event experience that mimics the in-person ones they’ve had in the past — all from behind a computer screen. Meanwhile, event hosts and sponsors want to deliver content in a fun and engaging environment that fosters real human connections.
The pre-event registration period is an exciting time for both event planners and future attendees. You’re busy promoting your event on social media and watching registration details fill your inbox. In the meantime, your attendees are likely getting a sneak peek into the content and activities they’ll experience.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of planning, outreach, and promotion, it’s also an important time to start building connections with and between your attendees.
Rather than simply following up with a confirmation email after registration, consider how you can foster connectivity and personalize content before your event takes place. For example, set up a string of interactive pre-event emails where registrants can vote on potential panel topics. You may also consider hosting those same polls in a private Facebook group where attendees can chat with each other and your event sponsors.
You can also leverage social media to humanize virtual events and encourage engagement with your pre-event content. Leading up to your virtual event, attendees can comment and share photo contests and interactive posts. Swag boxes are a great way to boost social shares and give your registered attendees a personalized experience from the first touch. Ask recipients to share a photo of their new mug or tee shirt with your branded hashtag and a few details about what they’re most looking forward to at the event.
Depending on your pre-event social outreach, some attendees may already know each other going into the live event. However, it’s still easy to feel isolated watching a long string of video presentations from behind a screen.
Standard virtual events don’t allow for as many organic social interactions as attendees and sponsors would like, but that doesn’t mean you should let these personal connections fall to the wayside.
Instead, build real-time networking and socialization activities into the heart of your virtual or hybrid event. Create interactive breakout rooms or even implement A.I.-based matchmaking to help your attendees connect with the right people during your event. These features help humanize virtual events and drive engagement in various contexts, such as:
You can also schedule coffee breaks and other content-free activities that give attendees, sponsors, and hosts a chance to connect on a personal level, rather than just on work- or school-related topics. Support these quick introductions by including live chat rooms and social forums directly in your virtual environment to keep the conversations flowing throughout the day.
There’s nothing less exciting than a promised virtual experience that turns out to be a set of pre-recorded presentations or one-sided content offers. While your sponsors and presenters will drive the conversation for most of the day, you should also be sure your attendees participate as much as possible.
Keep your event agenda fun and exciting with a mix of sessions. Switch between:
Even when you do schedule keynotes or longer presentations, you can let attendees weigh in with polls or chat forums throughout the session. This helps to humanize virtual events, giving everyone a bit of flexibility in their schedule and keeping them engaged, reminding them that they aren’t simply watching an event — they’re a part of the fun.
Even with interactive features, top-tier live streams, and built-in networking tools, virtual corporate or academic events still pack a ton of specialized content into a day or two — and this rapid-fire approach can get overwhelming quickly. While you’ll need to prioritize essential sessions and content offers, to humanize virtual events you should still work some fun relaxation time in your virtual event agenda.
For example, hosting a fun, non-work-related icebreaker the morning of day one can help attendees take a breather before the more intense activities begin. You could even bring in a live entertainer, like a comedian or musical group, to engage your attendees and give them a quick break in their long days.
Try to think outside of the box, and don’t give attendees all the details ahead of time. Adding a “mystery guest” or “surprise speaker” to your agenda gives everyone something to look forward to and helps recreate the excitement of traditional in-person entertainment.
Virtual events give attendees improved accessibility and flexibility in how they engage with content and build connections. Your ability to humanize virtual events by delivering an engaging, personal experience can make the difference between repeat guests and early sign-offs.
The right and most engaging virtual environment makes it easy to balance robust, high-value content with personal connections and fun, interactive experiences for your participants.
At 6Connex, we help organizations design virtual and hybrid events that deliver long-term value and drive personal connections across the globe, with an always-on platform that makes it easy to connect anywhere, anytime. Download our free e-book, The 6Connex Playbook to Planning Your Virtual Event, for more information on how you can leverage our platform.