Part of our Virtual Fundraising Event and Gala series, view more articles here – Virtual Fundraising Events
Keeping your audience engaged, inspired, and motivated during a virtual event poses a unique challenge.
You have about thirty seconds to grab their attention and from that moment on you are competing with their devices, interruptions from other people, and their own wandering thoughts.
Your presentation was designed to be passionate, to draw them in and convey the urgency of the need, but there are more techniques you can use to gain their attention and hold it throughout the event.
1. Know your audience
Understanding audience demographics is key to presenting a program that is meaningful and inspires giving. Use your data to answer the question “Who will be attending an online event and how can you make it easy for them to give?” Consider the technical abilities of your audience and be ready to provide them with the support they’ll need if they experience problems.
2. An interesting and relevant agenda
Creating a well-balanced, entertaining program agenda that caters to the unique qualities of an online event is the way to capture an audience’s attention. It should be informative, passionate, entertaining, and include the business of fundraising that leads up to a climax that will entice viewers to click on an ever-present “Donate” button located on the same screen. Strive to not go longer than an hour, as many people will find it difficult to focus for a long time.
3. Insist on undivided attention
Your program is import and you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, so it’s proper to ask (politely) that your audience put away their phones and close out their browsers so everyone’s focus is concentrated on the event. Thank them for their dedication to do this prior to the start of the program and again at its conclusion.
4. Virtual check-ins
Don’t forget the check-in! It’s where you gather information and update your database, and it’s one of the most important tasks you’ll be doing during an event. In the case of a virtual fundraiser, it also acts as a tool to strengthen the commitment of your audience by giving them a task to complete as soon as they login.
5. It Takes a Team
Get a camera-ready team together to share the responsibility of hosting a virtual event. This will not only help the presenters by providing breaks for them to organize their presentation, it will also make the presentation more interesting to the viewer and create an environment that mimics an in-person event.
6. A call and response opening
Get the energy up immediately with a virtual call and response exercise your audience can perform in their own homes. Involving your audience helps to create the sense of bonding that a physical room would naturally provide. Call out your nonprofit’s name and have them respond with a statement that describes what success would look like. A pre-recorded response or your broadcast team can substitute for the audience voices and make it feel as though there are more people in the room.
7. Find an internet-ready speaker
Making an impression through the confines of technology requires a big performance. This might be an easy request for some speakers, but that lack of interaction with an audience could doom others. Your speaker needs to be exuberant enough to excite an audience that isn’t physically with them in the room. Look for a speaker who can deliver a high-energy, passionate performance with sincerity and grace.
8. A Hosted Chat Box
Providing an avenue for your attendees to ask questions and discuss topics in real-time is the best way to get people engaged. Add a live chat box with a host that can encourage lively conversation. Place it in a prominent place on the website throughout the event. Also, it’s important to firmly state and hold a zero-tolerance rule for inappropriate conversations while using the chat box.
9. Polls, Quizzes, Games
Invite your audience’s participation by sprinkling in a series of questions, polls, quizzes, and games. It can be a question related to a relevant topic, a fun trivia question or a thought-provoking poll, just make sure you don’t spend too much time on it so it derails your program. Make it easy for your audience to participate and follow-up with a quick examination of the results.
10. Presenter/attendee interactions
Work with your presenter prior to the event to find areas where they could involve the audience. Ask a question your audience can answer in the chat box, then have your host relay the answers to the presenter for a comment.
11. Special Guests and Presentations
Spark excitement by including a special guest or presentation that you can hype prior to and throughout the event. It could be a celebrity advocate with a live or pre-taped video message, a person working in the field, or someone who has benefited from the work.
12. Offer reward for staying on through to the end
Give your audience a reason to stay all the way to the conclusion of the event with a promise of a gift. Provide them with a discount code to use at a sponsor’s business or provide a link to a page where they can redeem their prize. This is a great way to involve your sponsors, too!