With the rise of virtual and hybrid events, audience engagement has become paramount for determining the overall impact and success of your event. But finding frequent and meaningful ways to personally engage with event attendees becomes more complex for the very fact that we are navigating virtual settings.
Read on to learn the ins and outs of audience engagement and how to master its implementation for your next event.
Related: 10 Ways To Differentiate Your Hybrid Event & Keep Virtual Event Engagement
What is Audience Engagement & Why Is It Essential?
Audience engagement is the degree to which attendees are interested and actively participating in your event. Participant engagement can be measured in various ways- from how many sessions they attended, to chat room activity and poll participation, among many others.
Keeping attendees present and engaged throughout the entire event experience is paramount to your overall success. But in a virtual environment, finding intriguing and effective ways to do this can be extra challenging.
Add in the extra layer of entertaining a live and online audience in a hybrid event, and things get really interesting…as they should be. Because an engaged attendee equals a satisfying experience equals a memorable event. And our whole point in event marketing is to leave an impression so we may follow up easily.
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What is a Q&A Session?
Q&A sessions offer question-and-answer formats that encourage live, organic interactions between speakers and participants. With the surge in virtual events, Q&As are becoming increasingly popular to generate increased connection and engagement across screens.
Typically held at the end of a session, Q&As can also be integrated throughout to keep attendees present and encourage their input and questions. Brands and industry experts are now adopting Q&A formats as standalone informational or “ask me anything” platforms to better serve their following.
Regardless of format, a successful Q&A will only be successful with the right combination of preparation, technology, skilled facilitation, and an interested audience.
Why Are Q&A Sessions Important?
Q&A sessions create an environment that helps build rapport between the experts leading the discussion and those on the receiving end. By inviting feedback, input, and inquiries, presenters open real-time communication channels that promote inclusivity and personal connection. This is especially important in a post-pandemic virtual world where live interactions have become scarce to none.
Q&As also offer a chance for participants to get clarity on session topics and related issues while they are still fresh in their minds, as well as provide a forum for all to share insights and resources in a shared setting.
Related: How to Hybrid: 2021 Guide to Post Pandemic Event Production
What Are The Benefits of Q & A Sessions?
Beyond enhancing engagement and connection with participants, here are additional benefits question and answer segments can add to your virtual event:
Boosts Energy Levels
After a long session or series of them, it’s common for the energy “in the room” (or behind the screen) to begin to fade. But when you invite viewers to ask questions or contribute their thoughts and opinions, you will see an immediate increase in energy and interest in both your presenters and your participants.
Personalize Your Brand
Q&As are a powerful way for you to connect with your audience in a more personal and genuine way, building rapport and strengthening your customer relationships. These one-on-one interactions not only allow participants to put a face to your name, they also give you a chance to reveal the rich nuances of your brand’s personality.
Hold Attendee Interest
With all the distractions participants might have in their remote locations as well as at their fingertips, holding their attention can feel like an uphill climb. Opening up questions throughout your session can inspire listeners to lean in closer and longer for a chance to get their specific questions or issues addressed.
Q&A sections offer a more relaxed, organic setting to communicate your values and messaging. Instead of trying to hit all your speaking objectives, you can simply speak from a place of sharing what you know and love about your products and services vs. what you have practiced and memorized.
Strengthen Future Virtual Events
Fielding questions from your audience offers valuable insight into the topics and issues that interest potential clients and customers, as well as what confuses or frustrates them. You can funnel this information into your overall business strategy as well as use it to strengthen the content and delivery of your next presentation.
Related: 10 Strategies for Designing Your Event’s Content
Establish Industry Authority
Taking live questions from the audience is one of the best ways to boost brand credibility and establish trust in your credentials and expertise. Almost anyone can memorize a presentation. But it takes a true expert to have the poise and knowledge to provide thorough information and thoughtful answers to nuanced inquiries presented on the spot.
Opening vs Closing Attendance Numbers
An obvious but insightful indicator: Did a high percentage of participants who logged in at the start of the event still tuned in at the end?
Social Media Activity
Monitor your event-related social media activity across platforms, specifically the number of posts, event hashtags, and number of shares and retweets.
Polling is a powerful engagement tool, offering a fun way to encourage audience participation as well as measure it.
The best way to know what your audience liked and didn’t is to ask them directly with feedback surveys during and after your event.
Virtual and hybrid events are clearly here for the duration and creating ways to engage your audience throughout will determine whether yours makes an impression that lasts. Use this guide to help you implement quality Q&A sessions that will transform your online event into a rich, multi-dimensional experience your participants won’t soon forget.Reach out to us if you are looking for a creative partner to create a memorable hybrid event.