Virtual events are here to stay, with the overwhelming majority of event marketers planning to invest in them going forward. Since the pandemic, virtual workshops and events have not only become more acceptable, most people prefer them over those held in-person. They are super easy to set up and you can save a ton of money – you don’t even need to put on your best pair of pants!
Even when live events are back in full swing, virtual events will offer a way for hosts to stay connected to a larger audience, and it’s on their terms too – in the comfort, safety, and convenience of whichever remote venue they choose.
Yet landing a virtual event is not easy, especially a workshop. Virtual workshops by design are intended to be intensive and interactive, which may seem daunting to achieve when you are not with your attendees in-person.
If you’re looking for some help to make your virtual workshops stand out, don’t worry. In this article we’ll cover 10 tips to make them a success.
Let’s dive in!
#1 Plan your virtual workshops with precision
While setting up an event online is now incredibly easy to do (anyone can do it with a good Internet connection), they still need that extra bit of care and planning.
For example, more than half of event marketers claim they are challenged by the logistics of virtual events and believe that these require a different set of skills and resources.
And it’s not just the hosts. Among those attending, even though online events are super popular, many are not yet completely comfortable adjusting to online sessions. Clear-cut planning will help you to address their concerns with a focused approach. Make it smooth and easy for your audience to get familiar with virtual scenarios.
Participants love a heads-up of what to expect.
- How is the session going to pan out? A guide map will paint a clear picture.
- Share interesting material well in advance to capture their interest such as how-to guides, preview videos, audience stories, and testimonials.
- Encourage attendees to send in questions ahead of time. These can be used in the Q&A portion during the event.
- Consider sharing examples of times when things didn’t quite work out as planned for attendees and how they can be avoided. New members will be better equipped to handle similar concerns this time around.
- Visualize all possible stumbling blocks that might cause disruptions during the event.
#2 Brevity is gold – keep it crisp!
People love it when a complex professional topic is compressed and presented in easy-to-absorb nuggets of information. Don’t bombard them with a ton of content that is not on point. Keep the message crisp and concise.
Follow the 4C mantra for successful delivery – Keep your message: Crisp. Clear. Continuous. Consistent.
- Summarize key ideas.
- Adopt a conversational style.
- Messaging: Short and simple.
- Avoid jargon. Speak in layman’s terms.
- Use anecdotes and illustrations to present with clarity.
#3 Handle expectations with clarity (What’s in it for me!)
“People don’t have short attention spans, they have short consideration spans – they must be hooked quickly”. This is a great insight shared by Julian Shapiro, the founder of BellCurve.com. For a digital setup, this can’t be stressed enough.
Begin with a bang! Participants are always looking out for answers to “What’s in it for me?” Help them find the fastest path to get there by presenting your core ideas upfront. You need to catch their interest fast or you’ll lose them!
Connect your workshop goals with the value your audience stands to gain. If you’re a fan of TED Talks, you know what we mean. The openings pack a punch and have everyone passionately involved from the get-go. Here’s a fascinating talk by Simon Sinek, outlining how to do it – Start with why!
#4 Replicate personal interactions in virtual settings
What’s the one barrier that makes interacting in virtual classrooms a challenge? If your answer is ‘virtual screens’, you’re spot on. Because of the missing physical connection, participants often find it hard to connect at a deeper level.
More than half of event marketers find it more difficult to keep attendees engaged during sessions at a virtual workshop.
Mimic the interactive experience of a live workshop so that it feels like a normal session.
- Initiate icebreaker activities to involve all the members. Icebreakers can make or break your meetings. No pun intended!
- Combine teaching modes for an inclusive learning experience online – audio-visuals, group breakout sessions, art, music, and interactive tasks.
- Use props to lighten the mood with a dose of humor.
- Assign an online workshop buddy to assist camera-shy folk to come into the picture.
- Encourage users to brainstorm during the event through polls. According to a study done by Markletic, 8 in 10 virtual organizers use event polling to improve event interaction.
- Personalize user experience with virtual gift bags such as gift cards or certificates for a BOGO or freebie. Audience engagement will be a hit. Users will feel recognized and valued. Plus people love free stuff!
P.S: Add Tip #6 to the mix. You’ll love it, we promise!
#5 Keeping Murphy at bay – prepare in advance
Let’s admit it. We’ve all had our fair share of technical glitches while hosting sessions online.
As Murphy’s law would have it, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. A sudden connectivity loss or the screen going blank without a hint. Absolute ‘OMG’ moments!
As a workshop coordinator, be better prepared to avoid any snags.
Not surprisingly, the biggest annoyance of virtual events is a bad connection. (Check out Markletic’s Research.)
- Ask users to turn off their video and communicate only via audio to keep the discussions going. That’s the fastest fix.
- Disconnect other devices that might be latching onto your connection.
- Have a backup in place to ensure stable connectivity throughout the workshop.
- Prefer a wired connection over a wireless one for greater reliability.
- Nudge participants to conduct a quick system check and speed test beforehand to be better prepared.
Audio and Video issues are especially common. Here’s what users can do:
- Close unnecessary applications that might be tapping into the camera and mic.
- Check browser settings. See if you need to provide microphone or camera access.
- Sometimes, browsers may block access due to plugins or setting requirements. In this case, try a different browser.
- Ask members to remain on mute when others are speaking to avoid any echo. Keep in mind that headsets cancel out noise better than PC/laptop speakers.
Troubleshooting other issues:
- Assess the tech-savviness of your audience. Guide them with an introductory session or two, if needed. Share a user manual explaining basic specifications.
- Event attendance can take a hit if some of your communication emails don’t reach the inbox. Ask users to check the spam folder to see if your invites are being misdirected.
We would strongly recommend having a professional production team or technical support to help you troubleshoot at the backend. That way, your focus will be on keeping your audience engaged, rather than being distracted by any potential technical issues. Everytale offers end-to-end event services and has tech support on stand-by for your virtual events. Our team would be delighted to talk to you if we can help.
Above all, stay calm and handle hiccups like a pro!
#6 Weave a powerful connection with storytelling
If you wish to leave a lasting imprint, present your case with stories. Since we’re all hard-wired to learn through them, they are an ideal way to appeal to the emotional side of your audience. Compelling stories evoke nostalgia, helping users relate and participate with greater willingness.
Share demos and product highlights through power-packed narratives. Sprinkle the show with backstories, case examples, and user stories. Fill the session with relatable anecdotes and memorable illustrations wherever appropriate.
But hey, remember Tip #2 – Keep it crisp. Don’t overdo it. Use stories more as a conversation starter to engage your audience instead of turning it into an endless saga.
#7 Gamify the experience
Want to turn audience engagement up a notch? Try gamification. It’s nothing new but works every time! To such an extent that 59% of event organizers use gamification strategies to boost audience engagement according to an exhaustive study done by Markeletic.
- Create contests, leaderboards, quizzes, polls, and treasure quests.
- Encourage users to share fun self-descriptions or unique hobbies to help them bond with other members.
- Incite curiosity and groupthink by setting shared missions and collective milestones within the overall workshop.
- Nudge members by rewarding those who take specific actions like being among the first 5 participants to solve a puzzle, or the first team to win a predefined challenge.
Users are at their best when they work together in groups. Design creative assignments and unique game-like concepts to enhance the excitement for each activity. That way, you’ll make the workshop idea more exciting to your audience by creating anticipation.
#8 Introduce new themes with bite-sized content
Imagine you want to demonstrate the benefits of a new product, introduce a difficult posture for intermediate yoga users or guide 8th graders through a book reading session. If you overwhelm these users with too much information initially, what would it do to their interest levels? They’d plummet in no time. (This is a clear case of TMI – Too Much Information!)
This challenge gets amplified when you’re training online audiences and users rely on the host’s guidance more than in a live setting.
You need to bridge this gap by breaking down the topic into simpler steps:
- A captivating trailer or preview video can offer a glimpse into the new topic.
- Start with a 1-minute overview of the essential guidelines to follow during the demo.
- Budget for Q&A slots and feedback windows to resolve queries.
- Plan fun activities inviting online users to try out mini steps within the new theme.
Thoughtful handholding adds a personalized touch and will be appreciated by your audience.
#9 Shake things up with innovative ideas
As with any event, not done well, workshops can be tedious. Participants will be happy to sit in front of their computer screen, but only if your workshop is informative and engaging. Keep your sessions short, light, and simple.
- Limit your sessions to short bursts of 30- 45 minutes maximum.
- Instead of planning a long, complex workshop, consider spreading the event as a series of sessions over a longer time period.
- Include regular breaks to keep the discussions fresh and lively.
- Use guided meditation and breathing exercises during breaks as stress busters.
- Spice it up with humor and light-hearted conversations.
- Tinker with the lighting to brighten the mood and make the sessions visually pleasing.
#10 Provide opportunities to network
At the end of the day, you want your followers to grow. Help them leverage lessons from the workshop by facilitating networking opportunities with like-minded groups. Make your workshops so awesome that they will be begging for the next one!
A few steps you should take to bind your audience with a strong network include:
- Encourage participants to actively engage during the workshop with others using the Live chat. Common queries and similar ideas fuel deeper conversations within the group.
- Plan for virtual lobbies and breakout rooms where users can meet up, discuss, and exchange interesting thoughts in a relaxed environment.
- Utilize your social media reach to spread the word about your keynote speakers, industry mentors, and collaboration partners so that users have readily available platforms to easily connect with them.
- Organize spin-off sessions after the event for users sharing common interests. This gives them a chance to collaborate, network, and learn a sub-theme in greater detail.
That’s a Wrap!
To sum up, virtual events are the way of the future and should be used as an essential part of your business – provided they are done well.
The next time you have an event, consider hosting it virtually so that far more people can participate in your presentation. Whether you’re looking for a better way to connect with international audiences or just want to find more locals, virtual events will help you reach them all without leaving home.
To make sure your virtual workshops or events stand out, you need to concentrate on the details, including the technical aspects to make sure everything runs smoothly. Use visuals like videos or images that will engage attendees to create a more memorable experience for them, and make your content interactive, engaging, and concise.
When you stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impression on your audience by doing something unique, it helps to build your reputation, your workshops, and your business!
Utilize these quick actionable tips to ace your next digital workshop and let us know which ones worked the best!
Hosting workshops on the Everytale platform is simple and effective. Moderators have a wide array of options to use. Using live chats, multiple polls, and single video streams, they can integrate the experience of a live event and make it fun, interactive, and easy for users to learn in a digital setting.