10 Virtual Conference Engagement Ideas in 2023
If you had a choice to attend a conference from the comfort of your own home AND get all of the benefits such as networking, great lectures and meetups, would you do it? Probably.
Virtual events have become even more popular due to the pandemic, when it was impossible to physically move. They were easier to organize logistically and included people from all over the world.
However, they came with their own set of challenges. How to engage attendees? How to keep their attention, especially if they turn their camera off? How to make them participate in surveys and discussions?
Gamification is an excellent idea to engage attendees because everyone loves interactive games, no matter their age. It also introduces the element of competition that motivates attendees to participate during a virtual event.
Whether you like them or not, it seems that virtual conferences are here to stay. You should ensure attendees are having an exceptional experience and being engaged in a way that they want to come back again.
In this article, we bring you 10 virtual conference engagement ideas to try at your next conference.
Characteristics of virtual conferences
There’s a big difference between virtual and in-person conferences, but that doesn’t mean that one is better than another. Event content can be the same, but the question is—how do you deliver it?
We’ve seen the rise of virtual events starting in 2020. Experts from Duke University believe that virtual conferences are here to stay. Here are some of the main findings:
- virtual events remove barriers related to time and money
- they are more accessible because one doesn’t have to travel in order to participate and it’s easier to fit them into our busy schedules
- with the rise of virtual conferences, there are low chances that we will ever return to the old model—offline events
- the future is a mix of virtual and hybrid events where attendees get to choose how they want to participate
In that case, it’s essential to ensure that remote attendees have the same level of experience as those that are participating in person. Here are some of the main characteristics of virtual conferences:
- Virtual events allow you to host more attendees with little to no additional costs. It’s also easier to organize international keynote sessions because speakers no longer have to travel from one continent to another unless they want to.
- You don’t need event planners to pick a physical venue for you because everything is happening in your virtual booths. However, you may need virtual assistants and moderators, especially if you have multiple sessions going on at the same time.
- When it comes to virtual events, networking often doesn’t happen naturally, like during an in-person event. It has to be planned in advance, but it doesn’t mean that virtual events can’t offer networking opportunities.
- Networking happens in between the sessions in breakout rooms and chat feature, but it can be a good idea to prepare some prompts and activities to encourage attendees to get to know each other.
- Another big benefit of virtual events is that they allow you to gather more data on your attendees and their behavior – when they were most engaged, what they liked the most, which activities encouraged audience engagement the most, and so on.
You can use these insights for your next virtual event, to improve the experience of the attendees. Or you can also use them to create more effective marketing campaigns in the future.
Challenges with engaging virtual conference attendees
Due to the specific nature of virtual events, it can be hard to keep your audiences engaged at all times. Virtual events make it easier for attendees to tune out both literally and figuratively.
The biggest challenges are:
- Attention span – human attention span is getting shorter each year, and it’s generally getting more challenging to organize an event that will keep attendees engaged
- Distractions – virtual event attendees are joining from their homes, and you can’t control their environment and distractions (whether it’s someone from their household talking to them, or online distractions like notifications and social media)
Unfortunately, event hosts don’t have control over virtual event engagement because participants can leave the conference turned on, but their attention may go elsewhere or they may go to do something else. As a host, the only thing you can do is do everything you can to encourage engagement by creating an interactive environment.
Thankfully, you can find many interactive conference ideas online and your job is to adapt them to the interests and age of event attendees (there’s a big difference between organizing a student virtual conference and a virtual event for professionals in a certain field).
10 virtual conference engagement ideas to try
With our gamification software, you can create 30+ interactive games that can be used during a virtual event or conference. Our games can be played on multiple devices: desktop, laptop or mobile event app. Here’s our selection of the top 10 interactive conference ideas.
1. Gamified surveys
You can use surveys both at the beginning and at the end of your virtual event. In the beginning, gamified surveys act as an ice-breaker and you can encourage attendees to share their expectations of the event or their opinion about some topic.
In the end, ask event attendees for post-event feedback that you can use to improve your next virtual conference.
Many event organizers struggle to gather feedback and that’s why you should make it as easy as possible for attendees to review the event. With Adact.me you can create gamified surveys with a custom background that can be completed in seconds.
2. Swipe polls
If you want to do a quick survey, there’s an even better way to get attendees engaged. For example, if you’re organizing a virtual conference on SEO, you may want to check your audience’s SEO knowledge.
We suggest turning simple Yes/No questions into a swiping contest, as a fast and interactive way to check their knowledge in real time. Our template looks a bit like a dating app, where people have to swipe right if they agree and swipe left if they don’t agree.
You can also use live polling to invite your attendees to choose the activities they want to participate in. This is a good option if you have more live sessions at the same time, so they can choose where they want to participate.
3. Multiplayer trivia
Is there anyone who doesn’t like trivia? Especially when you get to play with other attendees and potentially win a prize!
You can use our template to create trivia on any topic you like, by simply adding multiple-choice questions.
Multiplayer trivia is a great way to engage attendees because it adds a sense of urgency and competition.
If you want to make it even more challenging, you can set the option that one wrong answer leads to the end of the game. This is a great way to keep your attendees highly engaged during the entire event. Only attendees that answer all the questions correctly can get the prize.
There’s also the option to create video trivia! You can add pre-recorded videos and then ask attendees to watch them and answer the questions based on the video.
Can’t decide between two options or need something to boost engagement? Ask your virtual attendees to help you make the right choice! People love when you ask them to share their opinions because it makes them feel important.
With our template, you can create a battle where people get to decide between two things. It could be anything: your slogan, the color of your next product, their favorite movie, and so on.
The best thing is that everyone can follow the results of live polling in real-time and cheer for their preferred option.
This activity will keep your audience engaged because it requires fast actions and boosts dopamine.
5. Open the box
If you want to add a sense of mystery to your virtual event, this is something for you. Yes, in-person events may offer more room for surprises, but with a bit of creativity, you can create the same experience in your virtual event as well.
You can use this activity in many ways. If you want to boost attendee engagement, you may ask them to open the box where they will find the question they have to answer.
Finally, you can place some gifts and vouchers in this virtual box and share them with attendees at the end of the event.
6. Wheel of fortune
Wheel of fortune is an ideal game if you want to boost communication and networking opportunities among virtual participants.
You can use it at the beginning to provide attendees with an opportunity to get to know each other. All you have to do is add some questions to the wheel of fortune before the event and then ask your virtual guests to spin the wheel and answer the question.
Of course, this game can also be used if you’ve prepared different gifts and rewards, and everyone gets to spin the wheel and discover their prize.
Plinko is a fun and simple game attendees can play to get a prize. All they have to do is drop the ball from high up the pegs and see on which prize it lands.
It can also be used as a promotion strategy, to promote the sponsors of your virtual event. The prizes could be discounts, coupons, vouchers, and so on.
You can create a custom Wordle game where virtual attendees have to guess the word that answers your question. Here are three ideas on how to use Wordle during a virtual event:
- Create a game where your attendees have to guess a discount code
- Make your attendees guess the name of your most popular product
- Test their knowledge by asking some industry-related questions
9. Personality test
With Adact.me you can create personality tests on any topic you want. Here’s why we believe personality tests can be a win-win idea:
- Most people love personality tests and they’re a proven way to generate interest in your audience.
- These tests can help you learn more about your attendees and gather valuable data that will serve to make your next event even better. Also, when creating a game on Adact.me you will know exactly what each person answered. This can help you for qualifying leads post-event.
- Finally, personality tests can also help you determine the compatibility of your event attendees, so you can group them in breakout sessions according to their interests. As we already said, as a virtual host one of your tasks is to promote networking, because there are fewer chances for networking compared to an in-person event.
Another virtual event engagement idea is to keep score of audience engagement during the whole event and promise awards for those that participated the most.
You can do so with a fun leaderboard, that’s automatically updating in real-time.
You can either track the engagement of attendees during a virtual conference (do they participate, do they answer the questions, etc.) or their performance in various games and quizzes.
It adds an element of healthy competition that can motivate attendees to participate more.
Adact.me offers you a selection of more than 10 competitive games like Candy Crush, Drop Game, Endless Runner and many more.
Final tip: Our experience shows that virtual attendees are more motivated to engage in your games if each game has a small prize. It’s not about the value of the prize, it’s about the feeling that they’re getting something in return.
Case studies of conference gamification
Here are two examples to show you how you can use gamification during a virtual or hybrid event. Both companies used game templates from Adact.me website and customized them according to their needs.
Checkout.com - digital payment solutions
Checkout.com is a global payments solution provider that helps businesses and their communities thrive in the digital economy. They offer innovative solutions that flex to your needs, valuable insights that help you get smart about your payments’ performance, and expertise you can count on as you navigate the complexities of an ever-shifting world.
Their team knew that they needed a way to engage with sTARTUpday attendees and make it difficult for people to not stop at their demo booth. So, instead of just having one employee giving out freebies all day long (which would be pretty boring), the company came up with an idea: what if we gamified our booth?
They chose one the most popular games in the world: Wordle. They game became a huge success! Checkout emplyees weren’t expecting that many people to come and play! They printed out QR codes and laid them out in our demo area to redirect them to the game site. This was enough to catch attention as QR code always raises curiosity. When people started playing, Checkout employees always interacted with them and gave hints about what the answer might be. This way of connecting with the exhibition visitors made it very non-intrusive and fun. There were even a couple of people who asked if they could play again with different questions.
Astro Baltics - IT services
Astro Baltics is an Estonian based IT-company with 24 years of experience. They possess a strong competency in both software and hardware, allowing them to combine the two even in the most complicated cases.
Their goal was to have something fun and eye-catching in their sTARTUp day booth, but also to collect emails for further hiring purposes. Since they have a lot of sports people among their staff, they chose basketball. The game was easy and fun, and it appealed to both younger and older visitors.
The game was a big hit among the visitors and it brought a lot of people to our booth. Younger visitors enjoyed the game as it was something age-appropriate for them to do while their parents were doing “business”. Other visitors took the game as a nice little break from their workday, including ourselves. And of course, there were people who were there just to win prizes.
They turned a big touchscreen vertically and added a frame to the screen that resembled a smartphone. This way it looked like you were using a giant mobile app. It looked fantastic and it definitely got people to check it out more than it would have with just a regular screen. And of course, the prizes were shown on the front page, so they just had to come and try.
While a virtual conference may have some downsides in comparison to in-person events, new technologies open up the room to create an exceptional experience for virtual event attendees.
Gamification is one of the most popular virtual engagement ideas, because everyone loves interactive games, both kids and adults.
There’s no limit on what you can do during a virtual conference with a bit of creativity and planning in advance. We hope our virtual event engagement ideas inspired you to create something similar.
Sign up today and get ready for your next virtual event with more than 40 games you can find on our platform. The best thing is that all games are highly-customizable and no coding skills are required, you can create a custom game in just a few minutes!
How do you make virtual conferences engaging?
You can use some of our virtual conference engagement ideas: add online games during breakout sessions, encourage attendees to produce user-generated content, share photos on virtual photo booths. It’s important to follow the reactions of your attendees so you can see which activities they enjoyed the most.
How do you keep your audience engaged virtually?
The best way to do so is by using interactive activities such as games, polls, trivia and leaderboards to keep score of their performance. Don’t forget to schedule frequent pauses so that people can relax and refresh and connect with other attendees in breakout rooms.
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Many companies struggle with how to create an engaging environment for their booth visitors. Who says that an IT company’s exhibition booth can’t be highly engaging? Astro Baltics found the perfect solution in a basketball game. What does Astro Baltics do? Astro Baltics is an Estonian based IT-company with 24 years of experience. They possess a
Checkout.com is a global payments solution provider that helps businesses and their communities thrive in the digital economy. They offer innovative solutions that flex to your needs, valuable insights that help you get smart about your payments’ performance, and expertise you can count on as you navigate further in the complexities of an ever-shifting world.