The rules of engagement in a virtual world

As a lot more events move to the virtual world and as a lot more connections and transactions happening online, it becomes imperative for us to align with this reality. A lot of times we make the mistake of transposing real interactions and live meetings and translate this as is, into the virtual world. 

But this virtual world is different. It connects differently and engages differently. What people want to take away from a virtual engagement is very different from that of a real one. 

Now let’s look at why the virtual world is different from the real one and why the rules of engagement are hence different too. 

While there are a lot of merits to hosting virtual events from access to geographies and to speakers to savings hey and having a more sustainable approach, nothing can replace real in person experiences. 

Everything that happens in a real event can be replicated in a virtual event hey from networking rooms, to experience zones and exhibition areas, it is fairly simple today hey to translate all of this on to a virtual medium. 

Where virtual mediums begin to start diluting is in the audience engagement segment. Because of an overkill of webinars in the last 6 months, there is a certain amount of fatigue that is setting in and to counter this, the best way is to work on the format to ensure it is packaged in the best form possible. 

Start with knowing that human attention spans have come down and hour-long sessions are not entirely useful. The best bet is to structure sessions in the time range of half an hour to 45 minutes. 

The content must always be on point you can have the best platform and the best technology but if your content is weak the event will not fly. Focus on building robust content which is relevant and has value for the audience that you want attending. 

The next thing to do is to select impactful and articulate speakers who are subject matter experts but at the same time can also hold an audience. The speakers will also add value to the content and vice versa hey making it a lot more compelling for those attending and listening in. 

Try and play around with formats as the same kind of format back to back can be draining. Mix up formats with fireside chats, keynote addresses, panel discussions and other forms of audience engagement including surveys, contests, and the like. 

Do not plan for long days are long hours at a stretch. It is always good to have a greater number of breaks and giving them flexibility to choose sessions that they would like to attend rather than keeping them engaged for a long duration. 

Plan for areas of engagement and getting the audiences involved for all sessions as this sparks more conversations and helps keep them engaged. 

Plan and run the event as close to a live event as possible. This helps engagement organically. Networking, chat rooms and all these elements help. 

Most importantly, promote the event right. Showcase your highlight sessions, your star speakers, get them hooked so they would want to attend and stay… 

Let’s be honest hey this may be a reality for some time to come and if that is going to be the case we might as well change and play with the new rules of engagement. 

Happy virtual event planning!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Shreya Krishnan
Vice President - Marketing and Communications at Aon India Insurance Brokers
Shreya is a CSR Specialist and Corporate Grooming Consultant. Her interests lie in Activism, Dance, Theatre, Poetry, Blogging, Modelling, Acting. She considers herself an Earth Warrior and is an Event Anchor and Trainer. She is a Pageant Winner and public speaker.

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