As event planners, we’re all coming to terms with the new reality of virtual events.
And while there are many differences between virtual and physical events, there is one factor that determines the success of all events.
That factor is engagement.
Imagine attending a physical event, and there’s no food, no drinks, no activities, no photo opportunities, and no interacting with the other attendees. Sounds like a boring event, doesn’t it?
Well, the same is true for virtual events!
If you’re planning a virtual event and it’s just a lineup of speakers, it becomes a very passive, one-way experience—just like watching television.
A virtual event can, and should be, much more than that.
You need to start thinking about ways to engage your audience, and get that two-way interaction going. Fortunately, there are many companies that are providing solutions to help you achieve that.
Read on to discover 18 virtual event ideas for an engaging experience.
Idea #1: Virtual Photo Booth
Photo booths have become a staple at physical events. In the same way, virtual photo booths are an effective way to add engagement to your online event.
At Ubersnap, we’ve built a virtual photo booth that supports augmented reality (AR) filters—the first of its kind anywhere. It supports all modern browsers, on all devices—so it doesn’t matter if you’re using your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
You can even embed it onto your event platform or website, to create a seamless, one-click experience.
Here’s an example.
A virtual photo booth makes sense on so many levels. It’s a branded interactive experience that your attendees can enjoy. It can help you generate social media shares. You can run photo challenges and contests. In the absence of a photographer (which is not possible for virtual events), you can still get photos of your attendees—which is great for an event recap.
What’s more, you can view all of the shots on our live gallery, contest or mosaic—all in real-time. These can be embedded too!
Idea #2: Virtual Avatars
Here’s an interesting way to turn your virtual event into an interactive experience, that’s just like a video game.
With companies like Event Farm, you can create a full-fledged virtual world—which you can explore with your avatar. You can interact with other avatars with voice chat, text chat or animations.
There’s also built-in support for presenters, such as screen sharing, video casting and laser pointers; so you can still have your keynote presentations and panel discussions.
Think The Sims, but for meetings and conferences.
What’s more, it can support up to an impressive 10,000+ users concurrently, from anywhere in the world.
Idea #3: Virtual Scavenger Hunt
A virtual event comes with its own possibilities. For example, you can include activities that wouldn’t be practical at an in-person event.
A virtual scavenger hunt is one of them—whether as a team-building activity or a way to bring a group of strangers together.
With Watson Adventures’ Around the World Scavenger Hunt, you can explore the world’s best museums and historic locations. With a host as your guide, you’d be challenged to follow clues, find amazing objects, and answer tricky questions about them.
Idea #4: Virtual Event Printing
As much as we live in a digital world, nothing beats the tactile experience of physical objects.
At offline events, one popular activity is live screen printing—where guests can get involved and print designs on merchandise, like t-shirts and tote bags.
You can create several branded designs for your guests to choose from, which is a fantastic way to ensure that they’ll remember your company. It’s hard to forget when they’re wearing a t-shirt with your logo!
Now, companies (like Partyinkers) are bringing that service to virtual events. With an online app, your attendees will be able to print their own merchandise from home—which would then be delivered to their doorstep.
Idea #5: Remote Lip Sync Battle
Hidden Door has created a unique activity, called the Remote Lip Sync Battle. Teams will record themselves lip syncing to a song—you can choose your own song or get several options to select from.
Hidden Door will create an online workspace for you to share your video scenes to, along with instructions on how to film and upload the videos.
They’ll then turn the footage into a polished music video, which you can share across your team (or social media, if you feel daring).
Idea #6: Live Polling
Live polling allows your audience to interact with your hosts, speakers, vendors and one another, in real time. Placing votes, responding to questions, and building off of fellow audience participation will keep your attendees alert and engaged.
With multiple choice responses, you can quickly capture the results and integrate them into your presentation in real-time—creating a positive feedback loop.
Many virtual event platforms will come with live polling built in. Alternatively, solutions like Pigeonhole Live can work with any platform or video conferencing tool.
Idea #7: Virtual Event Bags
We’ve all received physical event bags, stuffed with items we don’t need. Virtual events are perhaps just the push we need to do away with them.
With virtual event bags, you eliminate the physical waste—while still providing the opportunity for your sponsors to come onboard. ACTIVE Network has created a content builder tool, so that your sponsors can create their placement in your event bag themselves.
You can send the virtual event bag to your attendees through email, social channels or embedding it in your mobile app.
No more collecting printed materials and spending a sleepless night stuffing thousands of event bags.
Idea #8: Virtual Trivia Games
Engage your audience with interactive trivia games, which they can join individually or as teams. You can track their scores on leaderboards, to add competitiveness and urgency to the experience.
With SocialPoint, you can create an integrated experience by embedding your game into any event platform. Quickly set up a game with their extensive bank of over 650 questions, and allow up to 5000 players to join in.
Alternatively, use TriviaMaker to build your own game at a much lower pricing. They offer 4 different game styles to choose from and can work on any device.
Idea #9: Virtual Wellness Classes
Companies are now recognising the importance of helping their employees reduce stress, and improve their mental and physical health.
You can tap into that trend by offering live classes at your online event. Work with instructors for guided meditations or virtual yoga classes—create separate rooms for these sessions that attendees can easily hop into.
It’s a wholesome way to break up your programming.
While companies like TeamBonding specialise in virtual activities, many local instructors have started offering virtual classes too—a quick search on Google or Instagram will throw up many options. Reach out and work with instructors who share your vision and passion.
Idea #10: Virtual Workouts
While we’re on the topic of health, why not offer fitness classes that are a little more vigorous?
Your attendees will appreciate the opportunity to work up a sweat, and it can be especially fun when you’re doing it as a group. Just look at the success of group-based fitness classes, like CrossFit and SoulCycle.
This idea would be impossible at a physical event, because who wants to get all sweaty in the middle of a conference? But it’s suddenly feasible for virtual events, because your attendees are at home.
UFIT offers 30-minute classes which require no more than a towel and water bottle—perfect for your attendees to quickly jump right in.
Idea #11: Virtual Magic Show
Replace the excitement of a live magic show, with one that’s designed just for online events!
Alakazoom offers an arsenal of interactive magic effects that can be presented on any online platform. Many of their illusions involve cell phones, text messages, and digital imagery.
It’s an interactive experience, so that your attendees are not just watching a performance—they’re participating in it.
Idea #12: Virtual Live Band
While bringing in a live band might be an obvious virtual event idea, the key to success is engagement. With so many performances delivered on live streams, there is a real fatigue with mediocre one-way music delivery.
People don’t want to watch a video. They want an interactive experience.
Virtual performances provide engagement opportunities that don’t exist in a live environment. When it’s online, you can engage with the live band to show your appreciation, ask questions and make song dedications.
Work with any live band to set up the technology required, to ensure that they engage with your audience. Have a screen set up at the side so that they can see the live chat and get some interaction going.
Idea #13: Virtual Raffle
The raffle (or lucky draw) has always been an effective way to keep your attendees sticking around until the end of your event.
Accelevents has created a solution that makes it simple to host a virtual raffle. You can easily add your raffle items, and your attendees can get their raffle tickets via text message—no app required. Your attendees will receive instant notifications when they win an item.
This is also a great way to fundraise, by selling the raffle tickets.
Idea #14: Virtual Bingo
Bingo is a game that everyone is familiar with, and can easily participate in. As an event planner, it can be an easy win to generate engagement with your online audience.
With Bingo Maker, you can host a virtual bingo game for up to 500 players on any device—laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Players can join your game and play with virtual cards. You can make the random draws with a virtual bingo caller and validate the winners in seconds.
If you want to generate more excitement, you can also make the draws with your own physical bingo cage with numbered balls, and select the number in the virtual game table.
Idea #15: Virtual Karaoke
Some people find catharsis through singing in front of friends and strangers. Well, who are we to deny them the opportunity?
The post-event party has always been something attendees can look forward to. With a virtual event, that can come in the form of a virtual karaoke party.
With the Online Karaoke Player, you can easily host one on any video conferencing platform. You can even set up a competition between representatives from different countries—where everyone will perform their country’s song.
Idea #16: Virtual Tea and Coffee Tastings
Here’s a wonderful virtual event idea to bring an offline component to your online event—with a virtual tea and coffee tasting! Not to worry, we’re working with real beverages here.
This service is provided by (you guessed it) Tea vs Coffee. About a week before your online event, they would mail out packages with a selection of unusual teas, coffees and infusions.
During your online event, they’ll talk about the unique aspects of tea and coffee, share stories about the origins of the ingredients, and explain the flavor compounds at work.
Idea #17: Instagram AR Filters
If your brand or event is on Instagram, creating your own AR filters is an effective way to engage your attendees—and get some social sharing going. After all, word-of-mouth is the best form of marketing.
Since August 2019, anyone can create their own custom AR filters with Spark AR Studio. There’s certainly a learning curve if you want to do it yourself, but there are also many tutorials to guide you along.
If that’s too daunting for you, companies like Ignite VR can help you with creating the custom filters. It can make sense financially if you’re hosting a large event with many attendees, or if social marketing is a key strategy for you.
Idea #18: Virtual Art Workshops
Making things by hand is a powerful experience that can inspire your audience, build confidence and motivate them to be more creative.
Crave Workshops offer a variety of virtual workshops that come with supply kits. You can play around with creating tie dyes, botanical prints, hand block prints, sun prints and collages.
Each workshop can last for 1-2 hours, and you can even work with them to create your own custom experiences.
As event planners, we hope to make lasting impressions on our audience—by giving them new ideas and insights. Virtual art workshops could just be that catalyst.
Many of the basic ideas—on what makes a successful in-person event—apply to virtual events too. In the end, it’s all about driving human connections. It’s only the platform that’s different.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
These virtual event ideas will help you create an event that’s wonderfully engaging and interactive. That’s how you make it stand out from all the passive, one-way experiences.