15 Ideas to Boost Virtual Event Attendee Engagement

Banner Virtual Event Attendee Engagement

Virtual events have become increasingly popular as the world adapts to new ways of connecting and conducting business. The convenience of participating from anywhere makes them essential in today’s event industry.

However, maintaining virtual event attendee engagement in a virtual setting can be challenging.

Did you know that 80% of event professionals measure event success based on attendee engagement and satisfaction? Yet, over 68% of organizers report that engaging in virtual events is their biggest hurdle.

Engagement is more than just a buzzword; it’s the key to attendee participation, satisfaction, and the overall success of an event.

An engaged audience is more likely to participate, remember the content, and spread the word about your event. Whether you’re a seasoned event planner or new to the virtual space, we’ve got some exciting and effective strategies to keep your audience hooked from start to finish.

Importance of Virtual Event Attendee Engagement

Drives Participation: Engaged attendees actively participate in sessions and discussions. This active involvement can turn passive listeners into contributors, creating a dynamic and interactive environment. 

For example, live polls and Q&A sessions encourage virtual attendees to share their thoughts and questions, making them feel like a valuable part of the event.

Increases Satisfaction: When event attendees are engaged, they are more likely to leave a positive impression and share their experiences with others, potentially boosting word-of-mouth promotion.

Enhances Learning and Networking: Interaction boosts knowledge retention and facilitates meaningful connections. Engaged attendees are more likely to remember the content presented and apply it in their own contexts.

Moreover, features like breakout sessions and networking can help attendees connect with peers and industry leaders, fostering valuable professional relationships. As Jane Doe, an Event Specialist, puts it, “Interaction is key to transforming information into knowledge.”

Maximizes ROI: Higher engagement translates to better returns on investment through increased attendee satisfaction and retention. When attendees are engaged, they are more likely to return for future events and invest in your offerings.

15 Effective Audience Engagement Strategies for Virtual Events

Swag Bags, but Make It Digital

A hand holding a bag with a word #SWAG

Digital swag bags are a fantastic way to show appreciation to your virtual event attendees. Customize these bags based on attendees’ interests, roles, or industries to make them feel special.

For example, you can fill your virtual goody bags with treats like digital coupons, e-books, or exclusive content. In that way, it will make participants feel appreciated but also add a touch of luxury to their virtual event experience.

Unique Event Hashtag

Think about creating a special hashtag just for your event. It’s a simple trick but super effective. Attendees can use it to connect, share their thoughts, and post all those fun moments on social media. It’s not just about getting noticed—it really brings everyone together and makes the event feel like a community.

Photo/video Submission Contests

Spark some excitement with photo and video submission contests. Encouraging attendees to share their creativity — maybe crafting an event-themed outfit or showcasing their workspace — adds a layer of personal involvement and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a bit of friendly competition?

Virtual Photo Booths

Who doesn’t love a photo booth? Everyone does! As an event planner, setting up photo booths with fun, themed backgrounds for attendees to snap selfies is a fantastic way to infuse excitement into your event.

They’re not just for capturing memories—they also add a playful and lively atmosphere that everyone will enjoy.

To make the experience even better, offer interactive features like digital props and filters, and make it easy for attendees to share their photos on social media. Customize the booths to match your event’s theme, and gather insights on how they’re being used to optimize engagement.

Live Polls and Q&A Sessions

Adding live polls and Q&A sessions to your event can really amp up engagement. Make sure everything’s set up well ahead of time so discussions flow smoothly and technical issues don’t get in the way.

Also, encourage your virtual attendees to join in and share their thoughts to create an energetic atmosphere with a variety of viewpoints. Keeping things organized with good moderation and time management will boost virtual event engagement. 

Use the feedback and questions from these sessions to shape future events and keep the conversation going even after the event ends. 

Gamify Your Virtual Event

For virtual event attendees, adding a touch of gamification can really bring future events to life. Designate rooms for different activities such as team challenges, trivia competitions, or scavenger hunts.

Each room could have specific goals or tasks that participants need to complete, earning points or rewards along the way. For example, in virtual and hybrid events, you can integrate live leaderboards to track progress in real time or offer virtual badges and certificates to recognize achievements.

This will foster friendly competition and encourage ongoing engagement. While enhancing connections, learning, and collaboration in a more interactive manner. 

Use Breakout Rooms for Interaction

A group of individual having a virtual interaction in a break out room

Breakout rooms enhance your event’s interactive nature by facilitating smaller, focused group discussions and workshops. These dedicated spaces offer a personalized environment where event attendees engage in topics, share insights, and build meaningful connections.

To make the most of breakout rooms, plan specific activities or discussion prompts to guide the sessions. Use platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams that support easy setup and management of breakout sessions.

Assign a moderator or facilitator to each room to keep discussions on track and ensure everyone has a chance to contribute. Additionally, provide attendees with clear instructions on how to join and engage in breakout sessions to avoid any technical difficulties.

Leverage Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Enhance your virtual event engagement with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality features that give attendees immersive experiences. For example, use AR for participants to view 3D product models from home, or VR for virtual tours of historical sites and art galleries.

Before the event, clear tutorials and strong tech support to help attendees easily use these advanced features. This ensures they can fully enjoy the interactive content, enriching their event experience and will improve future events.

Interactive Hands-on Workshops

Make your workshops interactive and engaging by requiring active participation from your virtual attendees. For example, in a virtual event, you can host a cooking class where participants receive ingredients in advance, a DIY craft session with downloadable kits, or a coding workshop featuring live problem-solving. 

To ensure a successful workshop, clarity on objectives is essential. Clearly outline what participants will learn and achieve during the session. Select facilitators who are experts in their field and skilled at keeping a virtual audience engaged and enthusiastic.

Prepare participants by providing necessary materials or instructions well in advance. This could include downloadable templates, ingredient lists, or access to specific software or tools required for the workshop.

During the workshop, encourage ongoing interaction and feedback.

Transform Your Virtual Event with Live Performances and Refreshing Wellness Breaks

A man holding a guitar and talking to his co-worker in a virtual meeting

Who says you need live events to enjoy entertainment? Digital artists, comedians, magicians, and other performers can provide much-needed entertainment in virtual events.

To further encourage engagement, transform your virtual event with live performances and refreshing breakout sessions to keep attendees engaged and excited. Instead of a traditional schedule of sessions, consider injecting some excitement with virtual event engagement ideas.

For instance, host a virtual talent show where participants can showcase their skills. These will encourage audience participation and motivate attendees to participate actively.

Panel Discussion

Organize engaging round tables or panel discussions featuring experts or thought leaders who are well-versed in relevant topics. Encourage robust debate, facilitate the exchange of diverse ideas, and actively involve the audience through well-moderated Q&A sessions.

Ensure that the topics chosen resonate with the attendees’ interests and current trends in the industry to maximize virtual event engagement and relevance.

Social Media Integration

Bring the buzz of your virtual event by displaying real-time social media feeds or walls featuring posts, comments, and attendee interaction using your event hashtag. 

Also, engage your virtual attendees with questions or challenges. For example, encourage audience members to share photos of their virtual setup or to vote on their favorite session topic for an upcoming panel discussion.

This way, you can increase engagement and maintain attendee interest throughout the success of your virtual event. 

Virtual Exhibitors Booths

Keep the momentum going by ensuring virtual exhibitor booths remain accessible. Attendees can revisit booths to download additional resources, schedule follow-up meetings with exhibitors, and dive deeper into product offerings.

Also, encourage exhibitors to actively seek feedback and inquiries from attendees after the event. For example, exhibitors can invite attendees to share their thoughts on product experiences or participate in interactive polls to shape future developments.

This ongoing engagement not only strengthens connections but also opens up new business opportunities.

Session Recordings and Content Sharing

Provide access to recorded sessions, keynotes, and workshops post-event. This allows attendees to revisit content they may have missed or want to review in more detail. Host recorded sessions on a dedicated platform or via a content management system that facilitates easy navigation and searchability. 

Don’t forget to encourage your attendees to share this content with colleagues or friends who couldn’t attend. This not only extends the reach of your event but also keeps the conversation and learning going. Think of it as turning “You had to be there” into “Let me show you what you missed.”

Highlight Reels and Recap Videos

Don’t let your virtual event end like a boring one. Capture its essence with on-demand content or pre-recorded videos that bring your virtual event to life. Showcase valuable insights, memorable event interactions, and audience engagement in these videos. Also, you can share them enthusiastically on your social media platforms to keep the excitement going.

Use these videos not just to look back on a memorable event, but as a secret weapon to showcase what newcomers missed. It’s the perfect lure for drawing in fresh faces to your next virtual event, proving how impactful and unmissable your gatherings are.

Think of it as giving a taste of the experience, making it irresistible for others to want in on the action next time.

Best Practices for Hosting Virtual Events

Define Clear Objectives and Know Your Audience

When organizing your virtual event, start by defining clear objectives and getting to know your audience inside out. Clearly state what you want to achieve—whether it’s generating leads, educating participants, networking, or boosting brand awareness.

Additionally, conducting audience research helps you understand your attendees, who they are, what interests them, and what they expect from your event. 

This understanding will guide you in shaping your event content and engagement strategies to truly connect with your audience.

Choose the Right Virtual Event Platform

As you select a virtual event platform, consider several key factors. Evaluate platforms based on your event size, format, and technical needs. Look for features like video streaming, interactive tools (such as chat and polls), and attendee management functions.

Make sure the platform offers a smooth experience for both event organizers and attendees. This includes easy navigation and engagement options to keep participants involved.

Also, check if the platform allows customization to match your event’s branding. Look into its security measures, technical support availability, and integration capabilities with other tools you might use. Consider the platform’s scalability and pricing structure to ensure it meets your event budget and future event needs.

Plan and Organize a Detailed Agenda

When planning your online event, create a detailed agenda just like you would for an in-person event. Lay out your event format such as session topics, speakers, and timings carefully, and include break-out sessions and networking opportunities to avoid burnout.

Give participants plenty of notice about what’s coming up so they can decide which sessions they want to join.

Also, define goals for each session, and vary speakers for different viewpoints. Use interactive elements like polls and Q&A sessions and ask for valuable feedback to make your next event even better. 

And remember, stick to the schedule to keep things running smoothly throughout the event.

Promote and Generate Excitement

To grab and hold your audience’s attention for your next virtual event, you’ll need a solid promotional strategy. Use email marketing, get active on social media posts, send out press releases, and build some great partnerships.

Talk up the most exciting parts of your event—like your keynote speakers, the cool session topics, and any exclusive experiences you have lined up. This will spark interest and get people to sign up.

Also, if you’re new to event planning, consider partnering with an event planning platform like Event Espresso. Event planners say Espresso helps streamline the process by offering tools for online event registration, ticketing, and attendee management.

Additionally, build some pre-event buzz with teaser content. Share sneak peeks, introduce your speakers, and give behind-the-scenes looks to keep everyone excited as the event approaches.

Engage Virtual Event Attendees

Make your sessions interactive by adding live elements like polls, Q&A sessions, and real-time chats. Use tools like Slido or Mentimeter to keep the audience engaged and get instant feedback.

Spice up the event with gamification features such as quizzes, challenges, and leaderboards. Platforms like Kahoot! or Quizizz can make your sessions at online events more fun and competitive.

Have a moderator on hand to manage interactions and keep things running smoothly. Provide clear instructions so everyone knows how to participate.

Utilize Multimedia and Visual Aids

Use multimedia elements such as videos, infographics, and slides to enrich presentations and convey information effectively. Tools like PowerPoint, Canva, and Prezi can help create visually appealing and informative content.

For product launches or demonstrations, utilize virtual tours or interactive demos to provide immersive experiences for attendees. Platforms like Matterport or 3D Vista can help create these engaging experiences.

To ensure your multimedia is effective, keep videos short and focused, use high-quality visuals, and integrate interactive elements like polls or Q&A segments.

Make sure all multimedia content is accessible, with options like closed captions and alternative text for images. Test your multimedia elements beforehand to avoid technical glitches during the event.

Ensure Technical Readiness and Support

Before the event starts, make sure everything works smoothly by testing audio, video, and all platform features. Use the same setup attendees will use to catch any compatibility issues early on.

Plan ahead for potential problems like internet hiccups or software glitches by listing common issues and how to fix them.

During the event, have a tech support team ready to assist attendees through chat, email, or phone. They’ll help resolve any issues quickly so everyone can stay focused on the event.

Also, give attendees a heads-up with a simple guide or video tutorial before the event starts. It’ll walk them through setting up their devices step by step, making sure everyone’s ready for a seamless experience.

Ensure Accessibility and Inclusivity

Make sure your event platform supports key accessibility features like closed captioning, screen reader compatibility, and adjustable font sizes to cater to everyone’s needs and capabilities. Platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams already include these tools.

Offer language options or translations to reach a wider audience, ensuring international participants feel included. You can use translation services or provide subtitles in multiple languages for recorded sessions.

Follow accessibility standards like WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) to ensure your event is accessible to all, including those with disabilities. Test these features beforehand to ensure they work smoothly.

And help your speakers and moderators understand how to use these accessibility features during their presentations and Q&A sessions.

Post-event Follow-up and Evaluation

Never underestimate the power of a thank-you email or a post-event survey. Always consider sending a thank you note and a feedback form after your virtual event attendee.

Remember to thank your participants, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors. Let them know you appreciate their role in making the event successful.

Also, add a simple survey asking about their attendee experience, including what they thought about the talks, the overall event, and any suggestions they might have. Use this feedback to enhance future virtual events and ensure continued attendee satisfaction.

Measure Success and Analyze Data

To measure attendee engagement in your virtual event, start by defining key performance indicators (KPIs) such as attendance rates, engagement metrics (like poll responses and chat interactions), and attendee feedback scores.

After the event, analyze this data to assess how effectively you met your objectives. Look for trends and valuable insights that highlight what worked well and where improvements can be made.

Use what you find to make your next events even better. For instance, if attendance was high but engagement was low, consider adjusting session formats or content delivery methods. This way, each event keeps getting closer to what attendees want and expect. 

Common Challenges in Virtual Event Engagement

Attention Span and Distraction

Challenge: Participants in virtual events often have shorter attention spans due to the ease of distractions at home or in their usual workspace.

Solution: Use interactive features such as live polls, Q&A sessions, and real-time chats to encourage active participation. Incorporate engaging content like games, virtual networking sessions, or interactive workshops to maintain interest.

Technical Issues

Challenge: Attendees may experience connectivity issues, audio/video problems, or difficulty navigating the virtual platform.

Solution: Conduct thorough testing of the virtual event platform and provide clear instructions and technical support before and during the event. Offer a tech support channel and troubleshoot common issues proactively.

Limited Networking Opportunities

Challenge:  Unlike in-person gatherings, virtual events often lack spontaneous networking opportunities.

Solution: Enhance networking by hosting breakout sessions and one-on-one meetings with speakers and participants. Encourage attendees to connect via social media or dedicated networking platforms for meaningful interactions.

Audience Diversity

Challenge: Attendees may come from diverse backgrounds with varying interests and expectations.

Solution: Tailor event content to appeal to diverse audience segments. Offer personalized experiences through session customization options or targeted communications based on attendee demographics and preferences.

Sustaining Engagement Over Time

Challenge: Maintaining attendee engagement throughout longer virtual events or multiple sessions can be challenging.

Solution: Divide sessions into smaller parts with breaks and interactive activities. After the event, offer recorded sessions and extra materials so attendees can stay engaged and continue learning.

Success Story of Virtual Event Experience for Attendees

Adobe MAX 2021

Adobe MAX is an annual creativity conference hosted by Adobe Systems. In 2021, due to the global pandemic, Adobe transitioned its event to a fully virtual format. Despite the challenges of moving from an in-person to a virtual event, Adobe MAX offered a wide range of sessions on graphic design, photography, video editing, and digital marketing.

Participants engaged through live Q&A sessions, interactive design challenges, and virtual networking meetups. Adobe ensured global accessibility with sessions across various time zones, along with closed captioning and language translations. They showcased Adobe Creative Cloud tools with live demos and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences.

Attendees praised Adobe MAX 2021 for its seamless organization, high-quality production, and valuable content that exceeded expectations. The event provided inspiration, practical skills, and extensive networking opportunities, setting a benchmark for virtual conferences.


As you plan your next virtual event, consider integrating Event Espresso as your event registration platform. Trusted by millions of planners worldwide, Event Espresso offers comprehensive tools to set up and manage event registrations with customizable forms and ticketing options. 

Unlike other platforms, Event Espresso offers a wide range of add-ons that extend its functionality, such as payment gateways, attendee check-in, and more. With Event Espresso, you can streamline your virtual event with ease and ensure a seamless experience for your attendees.

Sign up for Event Espresso today or check out your free demo now!

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