Elyse Haines, Marketing Director  ●  9/3/2020

How to Create an Engaging Virtual Experience

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Virtual events are becoming increasingly common for obvious reasons. Concurrently, society has adopted the technology now necessary to keep us connected. Whether they intended it or not, your donors, event attendees, and volunteers (and literally everyone else) are becoming tech savvy in virtual meeting platforms.  

 

Whether you’re taking your annual gala online or hosting individual meetings with your top donors, here are 7 tips to engage donors when you can’t be face to face.

  1. Designate a point person. Your point person’s only job during the live event will be to moderate the meeting and run A/V. This person will not act as presenter or Powerpoint pilot. They have enough to focus on — especially if your technology hiccups or even fails.
  2. Practice within the system. Conduct your dress rehearsal on the same technology platform where you’ll host the live event. Webcasting platforms are not identical. This gives your presenters the chance to learn the unique characteristics of your system.
  3. Email reminders. For a single webinar, send out reminders 24 hours and one hour ahead of the event. For larger virtual events, you may be able to send out email reminders with new information in each one: download the event app, here’s how to network, don’t forget to sign up for the raffle, etc.
  4. Stick to the schedule. Respect your audience’s time! Deliver on what you promise. If you promoted a one hour event, it should last exactly an hour — no more, no less. (Of course, this goes for offline events, too!)
  5. Use live polls to engage your audience. Typically we see about 60% of our webinar attendees participate in the live polls. Not only will their poll responses give you more information about your audience, it’s also a great way to keep them focused on your content (and not multitasking).
  6. Ask for feedback. Many webinar and event platforms include a survey tool. If yours doesn’t, it’s worth the extra effort to create a survey in an app like Survey Monkey. Feedback from your virtual events is crucial to create future content that engages.
  7. Press the record button. No matter the event type, it’s worth the extra click to record it. This recording can help your presenters brush up on their skills, remind attendees what was discussed, and, most importantly, be shared with people you invited who weren’t able to join live, so they don’t miss out.

We hope these tips help you to keep your audiences engaged in the age of COVID-19. We cannot predict the popularity of virtual meetings and webinars in the post-pandemic era, but without doubt we will be reaching a far more experienced virtual audience than existed before the crisis disrupted our way of life. No doubt virtual engagement will play a new role for all of us.

 

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