Virtual events have become the hot new way to connect and communicate. While COVID-19 has played a role in the growing popularity of virtual events, the pandemic is far from the only reason your school, organization, or company might consider going virtual. After all, virtual events are a fantastic way to reach a bigger, broader audience with their convenience, flexibility, and accessibility.
But keeping virtual event participants engaged requires commitment and creative thinking. From distractions at home to distractions online, keeping people focused on and engaged with your virtual event takes planning.
Luckily, we’ve got some great tips to help make your virtual event stand out – and keep your audience engaged – regardless of the event’s purpose or theme. We’ve organized the virtual event ideas below into themes to help you find what you need more easily, but don’t be afraid to explore all the categories. Even if your virtual event isn’t focused on entertainment, networking, or team-building, those categories – and others – may still apply to your organization’s needs.
- Education Events
- Corporate Events
- Tech Events
- Networking Events
- Teambuilding Events
- Entertainment Events
- Sponsorship and Swag At Events
Educational events – whether for educational institutions or focused on educating your attendees can be enhanced with fun takes on learning, knowledge, and understanding. Consider some of these virtual event ideas to further enhance your program.
Integrate quizzes into presented materials. These can be used to gauge understanding or get a sense of audience opinion on an issue. With the right virtual event platform, these quizzes – and their results — can be seamlessly embedded into your presentation.
While quizzing technology offers multiple-choice options, other aspects of virtual event solutions can provide a great format for trivia – about your institution, subject, or specialty. Trivia as part of a virtual event can also facilitate learning and promote teamwork.
How-to classes and seminars
If your virtual event is education-focused – then focus on education! Offering how-to classes and seminars, even if they aren’t directly related to the particular educational goals of your organization can be a fun way to bring people together and get them excited about the event. Consider ideas like cooking classes, art classes, or even a series of micro-lectures taught by volunteer participants! You can further enhance this element of your virtual event by highlighting the options provided by your virtual classroom solution – including whiteboards, videos, and breakout rooms.
Virtual events meant for your company, customers, or industry can be just as enjoyable and informative as traditional in-person events. Don’t be afraid to find ways to combine offline activities with virtual aspects.
Virtual cocktail hour
Consider sending attendees recipes and ingredients for alcohol-optional cocktails. Then invite them to enjoy a virtual cocktail hour including a mixology class and opportunities to virtually mingle, before the main event gets underway.
Just because your audience is connecting virtually, doesn’t mean you can’t give them a tour of your company’s physical space. 3D walk-throughs, virtual worlds, and other unique representations of your facilities are also an option.
Special event rooms hosted by departments
When designing a corporate virtual event, consider allowing each department a time to shine by providing their own virtual presentation as part of the event. This is a way to create more variety in your virtual event and give employees the reward of a spotlight.
In many ways tech events are where you should be showcasing the power of virtual events to the fullest, so be sure to check out some of the suggestions in other categories. But, also be sure to consider these particular ways of engaging your audience.
Debut new technology
Got a new technology to debut? Do it with a virtual event! Even better, allow your participants to sample the tech themselves, if relevant and possible. Virtual events showing off something for the first time are sure to draw a crowd.
Include social media
Encourage your participants to follow along with your virtual event not just in your dedicated space, but also on the wider internet. Establish clear hashtags so attendees can connect. This can also help to generate interest in your organization and its future events.
Is coding a relevant part of the technology aspects of your organization’s event? Consider hosting a coding competition of hackathon as a way to secure more participants and keep them engaged. Prizes from your organization or sponsors represent a positive promotional opportunity. Media coverage may also be obtainable based on this angle.
Networking events are a key part of why people go to conferences and events. When it comes to virtual events, making sure quality networking possibilities are available is one key way to boost registrations and build excitement. Since participants can’t random encounter each other on the floor of a dealer hall or in corridors between programming, establishing networking-specific activities for your virtual event is important.
Professional “speed dating”
Use your virtual environment to match small groups of individuals with similar interests for brief chats and connections. Tools like virtual breakout rooms, video chat, and text-based chat can all be used to help professionals make initial connections, all without the awkwardness of a cold approach.
Asynchronous networking opportunities
Provide your virtual event attendees with opportunities to network that don’t distract from your planned programming and allow participants to engage when convenient for them. Asynchronous discussion boards are a great way to generate discussion around your guest speakers and panelists and are highly convenient for participants – regardless of their schedule or time zone.
Text-based chat during keynotes
It’s been a long year of virtual activities. While many of us have gained practice at attending virtual events, sometimes the fatigue of not being able to meet in person is real. By using a virtual event solution that allows text-based chat to happen side-by-side with video presentations, members of the audience can connect. This will keep them engaged during speaker presentations without interrupting or distracting. Your virtual event attendees will be able to meet, network, and build relevant relationships, all in real-time.
As distributed teams and working-from-home have become the new normal, team-building events designed to help colleagues work more effectively together have become more important than ever. Team-building can be the main focus of your virtual event, or may just be a key component. For example, if you are holding a different type of virtual event, team-building exercises are still a great way to get your production team connected and ready to present. While in-person team-building exercises have often involved physical challenges, trust exercises, and problem-solving, many team-building exercises will also work well for virtual events.
Virtual Scavenger Hunts
Virtual Scavenger Hunts are a good way to get small groups to work together. From planning strategy in virtual breakout rooms to solving puzzles and executing plans, virtual scavenger hunts emphasize teamwork, creativity, and fun. Scavenger hunts can also be particularly beneficial to your event as they are a great way to get people to explore your virtual space. These relatively low-pressure activities can be spread out through the entirety of your virtual event. Scavenger hunts also represent an opportunity to promote your sponsors and vendors. Additionally, scavenger hunts can be a source of revenue for your virtual event, as advertisers can be charged for product placement within them.
Virtual Escape Rooms
Traditionally, an escape room is an in-person puzzle where a team of people has to solve a series of clues to escape a locked room before time runs out. Virtual escape rooms run on the same principle and offer a brief experience in fun, high-pressure, problem-solving. Escape rooms provide an opportunity for team-building amongst existing teams (e.g., a department), but teams can also be created on the fly to get relative strangers working together and getting to know each other. Like scavenger hunts, there are many excellent ways to integrate sponsors and vendors in this activity. And the relatively short duration (generally an hour) leaves plenty of opportunities for participants to be fully engaged in the rest of your virtual event.
This classic game, in which one person draws an image to help other players guess the secret word can easily be adapted to virtual events that are using solutions that include virtual whiteboards. Filled with creativity and silliness, this game can help improve teamwork by giving participants a better sense of how their colleagues think and encouraging them to be creative without self-consciousness.
Let’s face it. During the pandemic, many of us have missed going to theater, concerts, and movies. Luckily, entertainment can be virtual. Whether you are hosting a virtual event explicitly designed to provide entertainment or are looking to add entertainment elements to your corporate or educational virtual event, here are some ideas that are sure to be a hit with your audience.
Live performances are a great way to attract attention to your virtual event. And, because your performer will be able to participate without travel, costs to offering high-quality performance for a virtual event may be lower than would be the case for traditional, in-person offerings. Consider combining live events with Q&As with your performing artists; the access that is possible with virtual events can create memorable experiences for your attendees and media opportunities for your organization.
Performance Competition Reality Show
Interactivity is the key to engagement. Consider adding interactive elements to live performance activities at your virtual events. A reality show format where your audience can vote the winner could be entertaining, especially if performances are created by other staff and participants. Voting through virtual event solution tools like quizzes or chat rooms can also help your attendees learn about how to navigate the virtual event environment.
At in-person concerts, we often sing along. At magic shows, audience members are often invited up on stage. Find ways to make sure your virtual event performances recognize that human need to participate. Your virtual event audience will also be more attentive when they see one (or more!) of their own up on the virtual stage.
Karaoke is a long tradition of in-person conferences. An opportunity for colleagues to be more casual, show off, and let down their guard, there’s no reason this activity can’t also be a part of your virtual event. Long-time karaoke enthusiasts will be thrilled, and those who perhaps haven’t dared to sing in front of an in-person audience might be willing to take this opportunity to try.
Sponsorship and Swag At Events
Vendor areas and sponsorships are often an essential part of in-personal conferences, shows, and other events. They are often essential to networking and represent a revenue stream that makes the event possible. But finding effective ways to present vendors and sponsorships at virtual events can be challenging. Here are some ideas that will help you bring this often essential part of your virtual event to life.
Everyone loves — and expects — swag. There’s no reason that your virtual event can’t still have goodie bags. Goodie bags can involve either physical objects mailed to the participants in your virtual events, or you can make sure all the goodies are virtual too. Either way, a creative swag bag for a virtual event is an excellent media opportunity. If you send physical items to your attendees, you’re providing physical connection in an unusual time; if you go all virtual, there’s a positive environmental story.
Contests are a great way to incorporate sponsors and vendors into your virtual event. Significant prizes can boost brand awareness amongst all attendees. Depending on local laws and your virtual event’s themes, contests can be either random draws or relate to some sort of skill or vote. Remember those virtual event ideas around karaoke and hackathons? These are both great places to get sponsors and vendors involved beyond a virtual dealers’ area.
Pre- or post-event gifts
Gifts from sponsors and vendors are also an extremely valuable way to build and maintain excitement for your virtual event. This can represent high-value marketing for your sponsors and vendors, while also serving as a vital tool in keeping your event top of mind.
How to Choose Which Virtual Event Ideas Will Most Engage Your Audience
Ultimately, you know your audience best, but as you choose virtual event ideas to offer, remember that variety is essential. The goal isn’t to offer activities that every single participant is excited about, but to make sure that you have activities that will appeal to the range of participants in your virtual event. From the expected to the unexpected, virtual events are an opportunity to let your company or organization’s creativity shine.
How to Ensure Your Virtual Event Ideas Are Possible
To have the opportunity to present the widest variety of virtual events, you’ll want to work with a solutions provider that offers a proven track record, unique tools, and complete support.
Kaltura’s Virtual Events Platform has the features needed to execute every virtual event idea in this article — and more! With white-label branding, your organization will always be front and center. Interactive tools like quizzing and polling, virtual whiteboards and break-out rooms are just some of the features on hand to ensure a robust virtual event experience. The ability to share live and prerecorded content, host text and video-based discussion, and keep everyone on track and engaged through easy-to-use moderation tools, are also a part of the Kaltura platform. White glove services are available if you’re looking for help in bringing your virtual event to life. Meanwhile, finely-sliced and recently redesigned analytics can help you measure your event’s success in real-time, allowing you to adjust content on the fly to even better meet your audience’s needs.
With Kaltura’s Virtual Events Platform, a complete, thorough, and enjoyable event experience can reach your audience no matter where they are or what type of device they use.