Making the Most out of Your Virtual Events - Calabrio
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Making the Most out of Your Virtual Events

I was really excited about 2020. I planned for several speaking appearances, multiple business trips and new connections with customers, partners and leaders in our space. Lots of hand shaking, group pictures, happy hours and just connecting. You know — all of the things we aren’t allowed to do anymore! The pivot from in-person events to virtual events was FAST, and we had to make the best of it.

Here are a few things that we have learned in our recent transition that may be of benefit to others:

  • Signing up is easy, but attending is hard. For a virtual event, clicking the link in the email takes but a few seconds, but when the actual event comes around, priorities tend to shift. On average, Calabrio noticed about a 35-40% attendance to signup ratio. Anything better than that was a huge plus. There has to be a compelling reason to show up, and not just “view the recording later”. Give access to “live only” perks, such as live Q&A sessions, instant response to consulting questions, or even drawings. The actual number of people that go back to view the recording is pretty small in most cases, so getting them live should be a big priority.
  • Live Peer Connections – One of the biggest reasons people attend live events is to meet peers in their industry. People that they can connect with, discuss issues, and get solutions. Virtual events make that pretty difficult, so there needs to be an outlet. Audience polls are good, but soliciting advice, anecdotes and responses from the attendees are better.
  • Give everyone a voice – If someone takes the time to respond in an event, give them the attention they deserve. Never ignore a response or question. Take the time to read their question or comment to the group, and say who they are. People love to have their name called out in a group setting, even if it is a simple “Jenna has a great question”. Make them feel like part of the presentation and your engagement will go up.
  • Video is the secret sauce – I hesitate to say this one, because it is has been my secret weapon for years, but I think the word is out: people like to see the presenter. Video via webcam really increases engagement. Bonus points if the presenter is entertaining, but even highly technical events can see a boost in engagement by sharing video.
  • Stories, Stories, Stories – This holds true for in-person events too, but is even more important for virtual events: tell stories! Give anecdotes that reinforce your message. Analysis of attention spans has shown that when a presenter starts to tell a story, attention jumps significantly. Our job as presenters is to give good information in a way that people will retain it, and stories are the best way to do it. Bullet points are good, but stories have a much better success rate.
  • Finally, try to have fun – This is what will separate your event presentation from the pack. Enjoy yourself, and throw in a dash of levity. If you have fun, your attendees will follow, and everyone needs a little fun in their lives. Even just having a few humorous pictures in your presentation can be enough, but adding some jokes and observational humor will turn your presentation from normal to special. Think about how it feels to be part of a boring presentation in person…it is even worse virtually! Spice things up by adding some fun to your event, and watch the positive attendee surveys grow!

All in all, virtual events can be a very rewarding experience, but it takes a different approach. Remember, events are not just a great way to share information and network, but they are also a chance to let your hair down and enjoy yourself for a couple of days. Try to give the same experience virtually, and your attendees will respond.

I’ll be putting these lessons to good use myself. I have an upcoming virtual event during the SWPP Annual Conference in August. If you’d like to join, feel free to register here!

Dave Hoekstra
Dave Hoekstra has spent his entire professional career in customer service, but it wasn’t until he found WFM that he found his true passion. With over 20 years in WFM, Dave has gained insight into the real world challenges of working in today’s customer service. He is one of the few people who truly gets excited when someone wants to talk about Real Time Adherence or Net Staffing reports.
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