Now that guests are more comfortable with the look and feel of virtual meetings, planners can take advantage of the feedback that we’ve learned to make these meetings more compelling. It can be easy to feel lost in the virtual space, without the organic flow of running into an old friend on the tradeshow floor or in the hallway. But with the right features, there are ways to create personal interactions in the virtual space, offering more direct value for guests.
Guests come to meetings to learn, meet new colleagues, share their ideas, and discover new solutions. The interactions, with speakers, other guests, colleagues, and leadership are valuable takeaways from a meeting. It’s possible to recreate some of those interactions virtually, but the opportunity for spontaneous conversations and smaller group interactions are not always available. By bringing those opportunities into your virtual space, you can offer that missing element to guests.
Check Out My Profile
Reaching out to someone new is always intimidating, no matter how much practice you have. Easing the process is as simple as creating attendee profiles for guests to complete. Offer them the opportunity to share details about themselves, their professional roles, their current projects, and even whether their children or four-legged friends tend to pop up on-screen during video calls. It’s an easy way to break the ice and encourage individual connections, helping everyone see their fellow attendees as real people, not just faces on their screen. Some platforms can even recommend new connections using that information. This makes it even simpler for guests to explore similarities and strike up conversations with new friends. Create profiles with unexpected or thoughtful questions that prompt a smile from your guests or offer a chance to share innovative solutions for challenges in their industry. Questions like the below present an opportunity for guests to share their insights and inspire broader conversation.
- What’s the best book you’ve read while at home?
- Do you have a new best practice for working remotely?
- How do you see our industry changing to meet the new challenges of the world?
Ready for Our Appointment
Undeniably, guests get excited to see other people’s faces on their screens—that sense of instant connection that the virtual meeting world provides us in a time when we’re otherwise apart. But given the endless group video chats and conference calls that guests experienced in recent months, each one-on-one interaction needs context and a clear goal. If your event features a tradeshow floor or exhibitor hall, give the option for guests to schedule one-on-one video meetings to learn more about products and offerings. These meetings allow guests and sponsorsto set their own pace and have their specific questions answered without fear of running out of time or being missed by the moderator. Adding this connection opportunity to sponsorship packages creates added value for your potential partners, giving them increased visibility in addition to developing new leads from these conversations. Based on information in their shared profiles, two guests might meet for coffee and talk about a project that one of them is working on, exploring new perspectives together. Or they might simply chat about how their rescue dogs are both named after their favorite authors, sharing a laugh and a fun conversation between breakouts.
Time for a Close Up
The energy and passion of a keynote speaker or presenter can lift the spirits and fire up the guests’ drive, whether they’re present in a ballroom or watchroom for their home office. But why not take that boost a step further for guests? For incentive winners or high performers, individual coaching sessions, Q&As, or just a one-on-one coffee date with a keynote speaker offers individual access and the chance for face time with these inspirational guests. The opportunity for this kind of interaction can even be built into the event itself, offering guests a chance to enter to win based on completing event-related tasks like participating in a Q&A or having their name randomly drawn from the guest list. The chance to win adds an element of gamification, motivating guests to participate and engage during larger format elements.
Keep the Conversation Going
Virtual meetings are still experimental. With each one, the goal is to get better and better, developing content and experiences that guests will enjoy and find valuable. To keep that forward momentum, constructive feedback from guests is key. Looking back at the effectiveness of standard collection methods, like post-event surveys, and investigate whether your guests usually respond. If they do, send those surveys and offer thank yous for completing them. If surveys are not as effective for gathering feedback, poll your guests during the event after each session. A comment section or forum on the website or a five-star or thumbs up/down rating system which pops up for immediate feedback. Brining in honest insights as soon as possible will help provide the foundation for better programming as time goes on.
To drive further success in your virtual events, dig deeper into those one to one connections and interactions that guests take for granted during an in-person event, and invent ways to provide those experiences in a virtual space.