Have you ever attended or hosted an event where the attendees are so checked out that by the time the Q&A session rolls around… there aren’t any questions? So you the host are having to submit anonymous questions to make it look like people are engaged, or the MC starts coming up with their own… or even worse… we sit there in awkward silence and decide to end early?
This is one of the most common fears our clients have when we start introducing interactivity elements like polls and Q&A - what if no one participates?
But the root of this problem all comes back to a misalignment between your organization’s goals and your audience’s needs. If your audience isn’t participating, it means that your strategy did not account for something they needed. Maybe it’s being hosted at a bad time, maybe the content isn’t of interest to them, maybe they’re worn out from participating in 6 hours of programming already and have walked away from their computer. In any case, something needs to change.
In order to break out of this low-engagement cycle, we have to broaden the way we think about online events. They can’t follow the same exact patterns and rhythms as on-site events, because they are fundamentally different; not better or worse, just different. So how do we solve that misalignment?
We need to move from doing things the way they’ve always been done on-site to crafting a strategy that meets your attendees where they’re at with bite-sized, highly-curated content paired with a high level of audience interactivity. And it has to be hosted at a time that fits in with your attendees’ schedules!
In order to accomplish this, first really pour into your community and take the time to understand them. Engage asynchronously throughout the year, share surveys to learn their preferences, start discussions and really listen to what they want. From there, you can examine your community’s needs and find how they align with your organization’s goals. When you design an event with an “audience first” perspective, you won’t be adding filler questions to the Q&A log.