8 Great Virtual Event Engagement Ideas

Post by
Gaybrelle Rhodes
8 Great Virtual Event Engagement Ideas

As a speaker, getting your audience engaged might be your most important job. When you're remote or speaking at a virtual event, this gets ten times harder. But there are so many ways to match — and surpass — in-person engagement when you're virtual.

With years of experience, we've put together a list of activities and methods you can use to engage your virtual event attendees. Each of these is selected for being excellent at getting your group participating in fun, pro-social ways (that leave them excited to engage with your event).

1. Run Live Polls 

What questions do you have for your audience? If you have subject-specific polls that you want to run, this is a great opportunity to involve and engage your attendees (while also collecting data). If you want to get real-time answers and feedback from your group, you can use specific tools to run interactive live polls.

There are lots of options, from Slido to Slides With Friends. But Slides With Friends has easy pre-made templates you can start from—here's one you can use right away and make changes to, and it requires no code or tech skills:

How to play:

  1. Create a slide deck the same way you would a PowerPoint, or copy one like the template above. Add in your poll questions!
  2. Start your presentation and share your screen. You audience can join in with a simple QR code scan.
  3. Run your live polls! See immediate feedback and live audience responses displayed in graphs, charts, and more.

It's the perfect way to start your discussion to check the pulse of your audience and see how they're feeling or what they already know about your topic. However, you can also run a live poll mid-way through your event to re-engage your attendees and test what they've learned so far!

2. Give Swag Bags

Most people love free gifts—they're the easiest way to attract your audience's attention. But if you want to increase your virtual event engagement, you need to hand out swag bags strategically. 

Don't give gifts to any and everyone. Instead, give free swag bags to attendees who answer questions correctly, ask good questions during Q&As, or win games. Doing this will ensure your audience stays tuned into your event and actively listens and participates. After all, they're competing for free swag!

Also, if you need ideas on virtual gift ideas, here are some gift cards that anyone would love: 

Make sure to let attendees know what gift cards they could receive before you hand anything out—that way, they know what's at stake and become more likely to listen and engage!

3. Allow Networking Throughout the Event 

Let's be honest. People want to know the attendees at your virtual event, so encourage and provide a chance for your audience to network before, during, and after! 

For easy ways to facilitate this event engagement idea, here are three options: 

  • Encourage attendees to use live chat: The live chat feature isn't there for you to ignore. It's there to attract audience interaction and boot engagement! During your virtual event, tell attendees to use the live chat to briefly introduce themselves, ask questions, or repeat a good point they've learned. When people are active in the chat, they'll start to notice each other and connect. 
  • Host a virtual roundtable: To help attendees meet like-minded people virtually, have a roundtable on a topic that matters to your audience. To implement this idea, find great, relevant speakers to participate in the roundtable. Get an engaging moderator who knows how to steer a conversation without controlling it. During the event, have the moderator solicit questions from your audience via live chat to keep attendees engaged and part of the conversation. 
  • Have a virtual happy hour: Invite attendees to join a virtual happy hour to connect and hang in a chill environment. You can also spice things up to increase interaction by playing easy, fun online happy hour games or doing something unique like a virtual beer tasting!

With all these ideas, the objective is to give attendees an outlet to talk and connect. No one should feel like they're attending an event alone just because it's remote, so make sure there are ample ways for listeners to network. 

4. Play a Whole-Audience Icebreaker 

When you have a virtual event where attendees are tuning in from anywhere and completely unaware of who's on Zoom, warm up your audience and foster interaction with an icebreaker. 

With this activity, you can nail event engagement at the very beginning of your discussion, especially if you have a fun, interactive icebreaker game for large groups that goes beyond the mundane questions like "what's your favorite color or food."

For an icebreaker template that's packed with fun features and easy to customize, check out this Large Group Icebreaker Template: 

How to customize the deck: 

  1. Access the template by creating a free account here:  
  2. Click the template and copy it (press "Copy and Use this Slide Deck"). 
  3. On slides 1, 2, 3, and 8, personalize the copy and any images.
  4. Create new questions and answer options on slides 4-7 (if you want them to be relevant to your audience and topic). 
  5. Make additional customizations by using the navigation menu at the top of the template.

How to play: 

  1. Once you're ready to play the game at your virtual event, log into your account. Click your game. 
  2. Press "Start Event" (located in the top right corner of your game). 
  3. Share your screen with your audience. 
  4. Tell your attendees to join the fun. They don't have to download anything—players just need to scan the QR code. 
  5. Start playing! Go through each slide and tell attendees to use their mobile devices to submit answers. 

This game is free for ten players but can accommodate up to 250 people. It only takes about 10-15 minutes to play and has fun features to keep your audience engaged, like word clouds, poll slides, and ratings.

Also, if you need help thinking of good questions to include in your game, here's a list of 60+ virtual icebreaker questions!  

5. Include Live Entertainment 

This list wouldn't be good if it didn't suggest live entertainment! One of the most promising virtual event engagement ideas is providing great live performances, and it's super easy to do even at a virtual event.

Today, there are virtual concerts and comedians, magicians, and digital artists who will perform in a virtual setting. If you need ideas on who to book, Funny Business Agency lists many entertainers that you can hire for your event!

6. Incorporate Fun Breakout Rooms

To increase connection at your virtual event, creating small groups for people to chat, learn, network, and engage is a good idea! There's no better way to do that than with breakout rooms, which are easy to launch on Zoom. You only have to take a handful of steps

Step 1: During your Zoom event, click "Breakout Rooms." 

Step 2: Determine the number of rooms you would like to create. Then, select how you'd like to assign attendees to each room. There are four different options: 

  • Assign Automatically: Zoom will split your group up evenly and put each attendee into a breakout room. You may prefer this option if you have a large audience. 
  • Assign Manually: You can choose where each of your participants will go. This option is good if you have a smaller event.
  • Let Attendees Choose: Give your event guests the opportunity to choose which breakout room they want to join. 
  • Load Pre-Assigned Rooms: If you have previously saved assignments for each attendee, you can use those to put people in their usual breakout rooms. But if your group has never met before, this option won't be available. 

Step 3: Click "create" to develop your breakout rooms. 

Step 4: After you create your breakout rooms, click the gear icon (on macOS) or "options" (on Windows) to see more information about the breakout rooms. 

Step 5: Select any options you'd like to implement for your breakout rooms. For example, you can choose to do the following: 

  • Let participants select and enter rooms by themselves once you've launched them. 
  • Allow participants to rejoin the main session at any point. 
  • Automatically move attendees to their breakout rooms. If you leave this option unchecked, your attendees must press "join" to go to their breakout room. 
  • Automatically move all attendees from their breakout rooms to the main meeting. With this option, audience members will return to the main session when their breakout is closed. The alternative to this option is choosing to give attendees 60 seconds to finish their conversations before returning to the main session.
  • Close breakout rooms after a predetermined time (that you set).
  • Give each breakout room a countdown timer so that attendees know how much time they have before they must return to the main session. 

Step 6: When you're ready, press "open all rooms" to start your breakout rooms!

You can create up to 50 breakout rooms and have up to 200 attendees assigned to them. So, it doesn't matter how big or small your virtual event is—this activity can work for groups of all sizes to enhance engagement! 

7. Have a Live Q&A Session

Another great way to increase engagement at your virtual event is to host a live Q&A session! This opportunity will allow attendees to interact with you and ask questions that matter to them. But to make sure everything stays organized and people don't unmute themselves at once to speak, gather questions from attendees before the session.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Send an email promoting the live Q&A session and ask attendees to respond with the questions they want to ask.
  2. Pick the best ones and answer them during the Q&A.
  3. Let attendees know they can include questions in the live chat in case there's time to answer more. 

8. Run a Trivia Competition

Everyone loves a good trivia game, which is why you should play one at your virtual event! This activity is sure to get audience members excited and interacting so that your event engagement goes off without a hitch. 

For a ready-to-play trivia game that's fun, quick, and super interactive, play Mini Activity: Trivia Game.

How to play: 

  1. Create a free account to access the game: 
  2. Click the trivia game and press "Copy and Use This Slide Deck." 
  3. Look in the top right corner and click "Start Event." 
  4. Share your screen with your virtual audience.
  5. Tell everyone to play—they only need to scan the QR code. 
  6. Enjoy the trivia game! Go through each slide one by one and have everyone provide answers using their mobile devices. 

If you have a large audience, this is one of the best event engagement ideas to implement! This trivia game can accommodate up to 1,000 players. It also has plenty of fun features to keep your audience amped, including:

  • User voting
  • Live polls
  • Multiple choice 
  • Text answer questions
  • Leaderboard slides 

The last feature is especially great because you won't need to manually track who's in the lead. This game automatically does it and shows the top scorers at the end of the activity! Also, this virtual game comes with a tie-breaker question and is completely customizable. 

Virtual Events Are The New Norm

Virtual events are becoming more popular and will continue to gain traction as people connect remotely and increasingly rely on the Internet. In fact, research shows the virtual event space could surpass $300 billion in 2027. 

In 2021, the global virtual events market was valued at $114 billion, and experts estimate that it will grow to approximately $366 billion by 2027. One major factor in its growth is the prevalence of Internet usage globally. With the Internet, more people around the world are able to connect and work with each other remotely. - Geri Mileva, The Ultimate Virtual Events Statistics You Need To Know in 2023

If you want to take advantage of this growing market, you need to ensure your virtual events are a hit so that people keep coming back! That means you need to implement fun, interactive virtual event engagement ideas to keep your audience excited, focused, and eager to connect. For proven ideas that work, use the suggestions on our list and watch your remote speaking engagements be the best ones your audiences have ever attended!

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