Five engagement methods that work in your online events

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How do you keep your crowd active? Every online event is initially the same: People turn their cameras off and let their attention fly. There is no single silver bullet. But, we collected five methods that engage your audience to help you find the best method for your event. Try them out to find out what works best for you!

1. Start asking questions

There is one thing anybody loves to do:

State their opinion. Use this to your advantage. There is a multitude of possibilities:

  • Let the audience brainstorm and collect the answers in a word cloud or mindmap.
  • Start a poll and let the crowd choose their favorites.
  • Ask a whether / or question and let the audience give a quick sign of what they prefer.

You can do all that with various online tools. Some might be part of your video conferencing solution. For others, you can use standalone tools like schnaq.

An example poll inside the schnaq app asking for your favorite elephant.
Asking your audience for their opinion is a surefire way to let them participate and become engaged again. A poll is the least work-intensive option, since they only need to click on their favorite option.

2. Break the ice

The best way to get your audience out of a rut is not letting them get into one in the first place. 

Start your next workshop or seminar with icebreaker questions. Ask something unusual and go around, giving the participants space to answer.

Icebreakers not only keep the crowd active from minute one. They also help the audience get to know each other.

Here are a few example questions that you may ask:

  • What did you come across recently, that inspired you?
  • Introduce yourself and describe a fun experience you had lately.
  • What song do you pick, when you need to sing Karaoke?

3. Play games

Playing a fun game can lead to a circuit breaker moment. A circuit breaker is simply anything out of the ordinary enough to reclaim attention.

A game during a workshop or webinar is the perfect example. Your audience will not be expecting you to play games with them.

A black and white image showing a sign promoting a trivia night.
You do not have to host a full-blown trivia night when utilizing games in your events. A game can be as short as a few minutes and still bring back the attention of your audience. © Unsplash

There are several games that you can play with your audience online. One example is the improv chain:

Pick a person and name a category. The person now lists the first five things that come to mind. After that, they pick the next person and prompt.

4. Change the perspective

You can let your audience think about an issue by changing their perspective. One method you can use for that is the six hats method. 

Every (imaginary) hat forces the wearer to assume a role with different perspectives. After assigning the hats, you can let the audience debate any issue. The audience needs to stay in character.

Here are the hat colors:

  • Yellow: Optimistic
  • White: Analytical
  • Green: Creative
  • Blue: Organizing
  • Red: Emotional
  • Black: Critical
A trade stand featuring a multitude of colorful hats
The hat exercise is simple: Depending on the color of your hat, you need to change your outlook on the problem at hand. While wearing the red hat, you have to react emotionally, for example.

5. Make room for an AMA

Turn the tables on your audience with an AMA, which is short for “Ask me Anything” and can be a fun interruption.

An AMA session does not mean that this should be the only chance for the audience to ask questions. They should be able to ask questions regarding the event all the time.

The AMA is a chance for the crowd to ask you, the speaker, any question they have on their mind. It’s an icebreaker focused on you. The result will be another circuit breaker and a more attentive audience. You are, of course, free in choosing which questions you are willing to answer. Optimally, you set ground rules beforehand.


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