“Know thy audience!” urges Dahlia El Gazzar, DES, altMBA, EWD, and tech evangelist and CEO at DAHLIA+Agency. Coming off her session at the Event Leadership Institute’s Innovation and Engagement Summit, we connected with Dahlia about how to maximize virtual event engagement today.

When it comes to engagement success, “You need to start by diving into what your audience really likes, then dig a bit deeper to uncover what life is like around them,” says Dahlia. “Think of what you can ask in registration and then categorize this into what will and won’t work at your event, or what’s tangible and intangible.”

If you truly want to win at engaging audiences, she says the key is to develop a solid plan and a strategy filled with surprise and delight moments. Identify who is responsible for executing the engagement tactics and very clear KPIs.

“Now, more than ever, a feel-good moment is going to resonate, no matter the age of your audience” shares Dahlia.

It can be as simple as starting by asking simple questions like,

  • “Do you have fur babies?”
  • “What are you binging on Netflix?”
  • “Do you have a new hobby?”

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Getting to know your audience means you can engage with them on a personal level.

Your goal is creating “mindstamping” moments for your  audience. Dahlia explains that this means the engagement has left an impression like no other on your stakeholders.

Once your audience’s surprise and delight is captured, “help them share your message, reward them for posting on social media and make it easy for it to go viral,” says Dahlia. “No matter what engagement you’re creating with your audience, you want to know if you’re driving ROI.”

Dahlia shared several suggestions and tools to help win at audience engagement.

  1. Engamio. Gone are the days of asking “where are you beaming in from?” Instead, this interactive map provides a visual experience to see where all attendees are joining from.
  2. Pizza Mix Kit or Cocktail Mix Kit. Mix up a networking opportunity with one of these kits.
  3. SnackCrate. A perfect subscription box, starting monthly for as little as $16, with a curated selection of snacks from different countries. A great engagement gift for influencers too!
  4. Cheers In A Box. Designed by an event planner, this company curates fun virtual experiences in addition to their signature gift boxes.
  5. Fahlo. Give speakers, committee leaders, or your team a feel good moment by purchasing a bracelet with a favorite animal to track in the wild.
  6. Voicebox. Throw a party in Zoom with access to over 70k karaoke songs.
  7. Snapbar. A virtual photo booth that can be activated during the event, with branding backgrounds as well as group photos.
  8. Kudoboard. An easy way to show appreciation of team members and speakers, or collect pre-event questions from audience members.
  9. Spark’n. Break up a Zoom meeting by adding a Spark with 15 minutes of comedy or mindfulness – this will help your audience feel empowered.
  10. Fill It Forward. Keep your attendees hydrated while contributing to charitable causes and tracking environmental metrics.

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For other ideas and strategies to uplevel your event and meeting design, see the roster of Smart U classes available through Event Leadership Institute’s partnership with Smart Meetings.