Six Planning Tips to Engage Your Virtual Audience

November 2, 2020

De-de Mulligan

De-de Mulligan is a digital marketer, blogger and President of Mulligan Management Group, a full-service, boutique marketing agency. A former meeting planner who received the MPI Ohio Chapter’s Planner of the Year award in 2006 and 2012, she brings a unique perspective to her blog posts, including for You can connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

COVID-19 has created an environment for many online opportunities to learn and network. However, after six months of Zooming and listening to the thirty-seventh webinar, are attendees at a breaking point?

Yes, some will say. So what can you do about it?

If your recent virtual events are real snoozers, you have an excellent opportunity to hit the pause button to make significant changes to your approach and appeal. Here are six concrete ideas that, if you put into practice, will genuinely work.

Make Your Meeting Their Meeting.

Rather than having a committee do all the work coming up with topics, why not shift the focus and ask your members for recommendations? Crowdsourcing is one way to make this shift. Once all ideas are shared via an online platform, give attendees many days to vote on the ones they want. The top vote-getters are the topics for your event.

Hire Top-Notch Speakers that can Simplify their Messages.

Once your crowdsourcing is complete, now it’s time to hire the right individuals to deliver the goods. While many planners prefer to hire free presenters to keep their budget lean, gratis speakers aren’t as refined as paid ones and can bore your audience in no time.

Keep Each Speaker’s Content Simple.

Complex content with over scripted PowerPoint slides will also cause attendees to drop out of the meeting. Determine what’s absolutely critical and, if necessary, give your presenters a template to follow that limits the number of words on a slide and the number of slides in a deck.  

Mix Up Your Agenda.

Shake things up! Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Hold your webinar to 20-minutes instead of one-hour
  • Take a 5-minute break to incorporate meditation if your meeting topic has to run long and is incredibly stressful
  • Break people into small virtual groups to encourage discussion and networking. It’s estimated that 70% of a person’s job is learned from their peers, so it is a natural extension for meeting attendees to teach and learn from each other.  
  • Have the presenter address all questions as they come in rather than waiting for Q&A.
  • Review a relevant case study and discuss the salient points.

Send out great swag packages.

Mail out a token of your appreciation for registering for your event (i.e., a gift card, bottled water, nuts and designer mask). Aim to get it to them to each attendee one day before your virtual meeting begins.

Show You Care by Publishing the Event Survey Results.

Send attendees a survey immediately following the program. Show all results within a week, along with the plan for immediate and long-term improvements. They must know you are listening to their suggestions to make the next virtual meeting even better!


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