Make Virtual Events a Success With Better Attendee Engagement

(4 min read)

In the world of COVID-19, your company probably doesn't have many corporate events scheduled.  But if you want to hold those events in a safe and secure way you can make them virtual. That's an excellent way to get information across and also practice social distancing.

It also puts your event speaker in a more complex position because they need to keep a virtual audience engaged. The energy is very different when people are all together in a room, versus when they are watching their computer screens from different locations. But there are some great ways for you to improve engagement in virtual events. Here are some tips to consider.

The Tech Isn't Really the Issue

For a lot of event planners and companies that want to bring in speakers for virtual events, the often-mentioned concern is technology. They're worried that they don't have the right tech to make the event happen, or that it's too complicated to use. They also worry about whether the speaker will use the technology adequately, and if the audience members all have what they need to attend the event with ease and convenience.

Those are understandable concerns, but they're also excuses to some degree. Because it's not really about the technology when it comes to the major issue being faced by companies and event planners. Instead, it's about engagement. People “check out” in virtual meetings and during events where they aren't physically present. To reduce the chances of that, the tech that's being used has to have its value maximized.

That can be done through ideas like surveys, question-and-answer sessions, and other ways that speakers use to draw in audience members and get them participating in the event. Just asking your conference attendees to sit and watch someone speak – either virtually or onsite – can quickly become boring for them. But the right level of interactive tech can make an event more enjoyable for everyone.

The Right Speaker Can Mean Better Engagement

When attending a virtual event, it's important for everyone in the audience to feel like they can interact with the speaker. That level of interaction is a big part of engagement, and will give your attendees a reason to pay attention. For example, don't choose a speaker who's just going to read from slides. Really, anyone could do that. You want someone who's engaging with the audience and focused on them, and who has a good message and a high level of energy.

Also look for someone who's non-promotional, and who will end their speech on time so the attendees know what to expect. You want a speaker who can take your audience on a journey that gets their minds away from the coronavirus and onto topics that are happier and easier to deal with. You need your audience to get a benefit from what they're being told, and they'll get a lot more of that benefit when they aren't bored or distracted. Eloquent, high-quality speakers can hold audience engagement, even in a virtual gathering.

Keep in mind that onsite meetings are also starting to resume at companies around the country and the world. Many upcoming meetings are live or onsite, instead of virtual. Even if you're not ready to go live at your company just yet, finding quality speakers who can easily move between the virtual and onsite event worlds can help your company and your attendees by providing options for events that are coming up soon along with those that are scheduled further into the future.

Don't Settle for a Re-Heated Agenda

One of the biggest engagement barriers is the agenda.  If your speaker's presenting content that's dull, tired, or overused, your audience is going to be bored. The same is true if your speaker is engaging but they're still talking about things your audience already knows. Not only does the speaker need to be interesting, but they also need to talk about topics that haven't been talked to death – or that can be presented in a new way. Thinking outside the box (or finding a speaker who will) is the way to go.

One of the hot topics you may want your speaker to talk about is burnout, and a related topic is work-life balance. The more your audience feels like your speaker understands them and what they're going through, the more the audience can relate to everything the speaker has to say. Balancing work with the rest of life, and avoiding burnout, can be stressful and difficult during the best of times. With the pandemic on top of everything else, finding real, healthy ways to reduce the risk of burnout and balance the various parts of life can be extremely important to your audience.

Don't settle for less than a quality speaker who's going to present a new agenda and keep your audience interested. Doing that, and combining it with trusted technology that can give your audience what they need to conveniently attend the event, is the way to go. That can help when you want to increase attendance numbers and keep people coming back for your virtual or onsite events in the future.


Scott Foster is CEO of Wellco. Scott is a frequently-invited expert and speaker regarding well-being, engagement, & leadership.  Wellco provides award-winning solutions to measurably improve health experiences & outcomes. For more information, contact Wellco. 

Free eBook

How to Select Your Next Conference Speaker

Top Considerations & Pitfalls 

This guide covers basic considerations, including costs and capabilities, and highlights the four most common mistakes conference organizers make when selecting a speaker.

Rave Reviews

Scott is an engaging speaker that connects well with attendees. He invests time and effort into fully understanding who his audience will be and designs content that is relevant and impactful. I have been hiring speakers for many years and Scott is the only I have hired more than 3 times!

Shawn Premer Chief Human Resources Officer, Consumers Credit Union

Wellco is a wonderful wellness partner. Scott Foster and Wellco are easy to work with and provide fantastic outcomes. We had positive comments from employees as well as outstanding data for our management team - a great combination. Be ready for phenomenal engagement and feedback when you book them. They are a standout among the masses.

JoAnn Koenig Human Resource Manager, Electro-Matic Ventures

Permission to Reprint
You may reprint any items from this blog in your own print or electronic newsletter. When you do, please include the following paragraph: Reprinted from Wellco. Free, proven healthcare & leadership market intelligence from Scott Foster, Wellco CEO.  Learn more at Copyright (c) by Wellco.