6 Ways to Encourage Engagement During Your Virtual Event

hands gesture at laptop

In the world of virtual events, one of the hottest topics right now is engagement. How do you keep a virtual audience not only focused on your event content but taking part? And why does virtual event engagement matter?

Virtual Engagement Is Important Because Engagement Is Important

Attendee engagement is a vital part of events of all kinds. It’s critical that your event is able to keep people focused and interested because it ensures that satisfaction levels stay high and, as a result of positive word of mouth, attendance numbers grow. This doesn’t change just because people are attending a virtual event. Keeping attendee engagement levels high is just as important at a virtual event as it is a physical one. The more engaged people are, the more they enjoy themselves, the longer they stick around, and the more likely they are to talk up your event to others.

In some ways, virtual event engagement is even more important, as it’s harder to keep people focused when they’re attending an event online. When people attend a live event, they’re typically there for the duration. They’re ready to focus on whatever goals have brought them there. But people attending virtual events may be doing so from their workplace, or from home. And they’re attending online. That means there’s a lot more competing for their attention, whether it’s kids who are home from school or the infinite array of entertainment options that are just a few clicks away. Despite their best efforts to stay focused, they may have a lot of distractions to contend with. That means your online event engagement needs to be top-notch.

It’s also important to note the difference between engagement and attendance, in regard to online audiences. You might have a large number of attendees watching a particular presentation online, but how do you know if they’re actively absorbing its message? Your attendance figures for a given presentation don’t necessarily reflect how successful it is. Engagement is a much better metric for success because an engaged audience is actively listening and participating, which means they’re receptive to your messaging.

6 Ways to Keep Your Audience Engaged

1. Build a Foundation of Great Content

The core of any virtual event should be compelling content that offers value to attendees. Whether you’re converting content from an in-person to an online format or creating content from scratch, think about what your attendees want to see. Who is your audience, and what are they likely to find valuable?

2. Engage Talented Speakers and Presenters

Keeping online event engagement levels high isn’t easy. It’s easy for people to lose focus if they’re watching speakers who aren’t able to connect with them. And make no mistake: Connecting with an online audience isn’t easy. When you’re choosing speakers and presenters, don’t just go for the big industry names, as you might at a physical event. Consider choosing people who have some experience with virtual events and who know how to present to an online audience. This is important because without the right experience, your speakers may not know how best to present themselves to an online audience. For instance, an inexperienced speaker may not know to look at their webcam instead of their computer screen or how to use lighting to enhance the view for their audience. If your speakers know what they’re doing, they’ll be better able to engage attendees at your event.

proglobalevents xtendlive virtual events demo presentation

3. Add Interactive Elements

Ultimately, great content and expert speakers aren’t enough to keep attendees focused for long stretches of time. The most effective online content actively engages viewers by adding interactive elements that invite them to do more than just sit and watch.

Many all-in-one virtual event platforms incorporate features that provide this all-important interactive element. If your event platform doesn’t have the right features, you can use Slack and other apps to create an interactive virtual event. Some interactive options include:

  • Live polls – These allow you to get real-time feedback from the audience while helping them stay engaged and focused.
  • Live chat – A message center, Slack channel, or other designated chat space provides people with a place to talk about the sessions they’re watching. It also provides an opportunity for your team to get involved, answering questions, helping facilitate conversations, and offering insights.
  • Q&A – Ask speakers to allow time for questions, whether it’s throughout their sessions or in a block at the end of their slots.

4. Take Advantage of Gamification

One of the most effective ways to inject an interactive element into your virtual event is via gamification. It can be a great motivator that encourages people to take part in an event more fully than they otherwise might. And the truly great thing about gamification is you can apply the concept to just about any aspect of your online event. You can use it to:

  • Encourage people to network
  • Visit a sponsorship booth
  • Ask questions
  • Just generally interact with event content

Gamification is a simple concept: Take elements from games, and apply them to your event. There are a couple common strategies that can work well for any event.

Points: Offer virtual points for taking part in event activities. Create a leaderboard that tallies up attendees’ scores, and offer prizes to the winners.

Badges: Offer virtual badges or stickers for different activities, rather than a points total. People tend to have acquisitive natures, and often, the ability to “collect” something is enough of an incentive, even if no prizes are involved.

With this strategy, you can encourage people to take part in Q&A sessions, attend virtual networking or chats, make or share event-related social media content, and more. Anything goes, here, as long as it’s event-related.

bar at xtendlive virtual event

5. Schedule Breaks and Mini Social Events

Few people have the stamina to sit in front of a computer absorbing information for hours on end. Most of your attendees will be glad to have a quick break after each session to grab a drink or just get up and stretch.

When you’re creating your virtual event schedule, make sure to plan for breaks in between sessions. And don’t stop there. Just because your event is online, there’s no reason you can’t provide the social element that many people look forward to at in-person events.

You could take a leaf out of the book of the 2020 Create & Cultivate Money Moves Virtual Summit and hold a virtual happy hour at the end of the day. At this event, five-minute cocktail workshops were offered to round out the day’s virtual sessions. Cocktail recipes were distributed several days prior to the event, so attendees could purchase ingredients. On the day of the online event, experts guided attendees through creating each recipe. Viewers could make the drink, snap a picture, then share it in the event’s Slack channel—adding a social component that many online events lack.

6. Add Networking Opportunities

Most people who attend industry events intend to spend at least some of the time networking. At virtual events, that networking can’t happen as organically as it does at physical ones. It’s important to think of ways to facilitate networking and encourage people to interact with one another. There are many examples of virtual events that have done this thoughtfully and successfully. Some options:

  • Create spaces within the event for small group chat. For instance, create breakout “rooms” on your event platform—or in Slack or a similar app—for various niches within your industry. There are many ways you can subdivide an audience, such as industry, job title, or location.
  • At the Create & Cultivate virtual summit, a Slack channel was designated as a socializing space, allowing users to chat and share information throughout the event.
  • A new Streetwear-themed event dubbed “Creative Quarantine” used the virtual event platform Hopin, which has built-in chat and networking features. At the event, attendees were randomly matched up with one another for rapid-fire video chats, allowing people to meet with peers, mentors, and others in the industry.

High Engagement Takes Your Online Event to Another Level

Hosting a great virtual event requires well-developed, relevant content, and inspiring speakers. But if you don’t also plan to add some interactive content to your event, you risk losing the interest of your attendees. Online event engagement is a crucial part of hosting a successful event. By taking an interactive approach to your virtual event, you can ensure your attendees stay focused and engaged. Looking for more creative ideas for stoking engagement, reach out to the event experts at ProGlobalEvents!

Jack Connolly

Executive Creative Director

As an experiential creative director, Jack prefers to draw outside the lines. He tells stories with original content and impactful design to ignite meaningful conversation.


Jack brings 20 years of event industry knowledge to ProGlobalEvents. He specializes in building live & virtual platforms for audiences to connect, engage and immerse themselves in the power of a shared experience. His skills range from ideation and concept development to defining an attendee journey through storytelling and design.

Jack understands the creative process is not linear, but a collaborative process between agency and client. He manages teams of designers and technology developers to pioneer impactful brand experiences. His diverse skillset and leadership ensure for award-winning results and memorable impressions.


In 2019, BizBash named Jack one of the top event designers in North America. SXSW awarded his work the “People’s Choice in Innovation” in 2021.

Jerome Nadel

Chief Marketing Officer

Jerome Nadel is Internationally experienced design-led marketing executive (CMO and GM) with a track record of improved market position, revenue growth, and M&A. He is an advance degreed psychologist and user experience product/service design expert, board member and advisor.


Prior to joining ProGlobalEvents |ProExhibits |XtendLive, he has had a variety of chief marketing officer and chief user experience officer roles at companies including Rambus, BrainChip, Human Factors International, SLP InfoWare, Gemplus, and Sagem. He started his career in the IBM Human Factors Labs.


He is also an avid cyclist with National and multiple California State Champion titles.

Ivan Fujihara

Chief Financial Officer

Ivan brings 25+ years in senior level management experience from a variety of technology industries.  His background includes accounting management, analytics and audit management for technology companies.  He has worked with companies such as THX, Ltd, Recruitology , Double Click, Creative Labs and more.  Ivan has also served on the board of Lincoln Families, a non-profit that supports East Bay children with the objective of disrupting the cycle of trauma and poverty.

Matt Rulis

Vice President of Sales

Matt is a marketing professional and has been managing marketing strategies, campaigns and environments for a diverse client base for over 15 years. From a service perspective, Matt and his team of Account Executives focus on fostering relationships to uphold a greater than 99% customer satisfaction rating year-over-year. Additionally, with extensive experience on the client-side of the industry, he understands that alignment between expectation and budget is paramount to a successful project. As a result, ProGlobalEvents' clients can expect a competitive advantage paired with top quality products and services. Matt is an avid fly-fisherman, enjoys most outdoor activities and is a true college football fanatic.

Tom Foley

VP of Operations

Heading the fabrication side of ProGlobalEvents is exhibit and event industry veteran, Tom Foley. For over 35 years he has been responsible for building amazing exhibits and environments for clients. Tom started out in the production area and has broad experience in project and operations management. He currently oversees production, warehouse, graphics and project management departments. Tom studied machine tool technology and welding before entering the industry. As a true "builder" he also enjoys restoring and modifying classic American cars.

Dick Wheeler


Dick serves as President of ProGlobalEvents and President of ProExhibits and is a board member of CEMA (Corporate Event Marketing Association). At ProExhibits he has been nationally recognized as an innovator and driving force in the fast-growing trade show exhibit and event industry. Under his leadership in 1997, the firm received INC magazine’s INC 500 award as one of America’s fastest-growing companies. His informative articles on developments and innovations in the trade show exhibit and event industry have appeared in national trade publications. Dick has a B.S. degree from Wittemore School of Business & Economics at the University of New Hampshire and has completed the Entrepreneurial Executive Leadership Program sponsored by MIT, YEO and INC. He is actively involved in Vistage, an interactive group of over 20,000 CEO’s and presidents worldwide and is a member of CEMA and EDPA.

Jody Tatro

Chief Executive Officer

In addition to being CEO of ProGlobalEvents, Jody is also the CEO of ProExhibits. With Jody at the helm, the company has been recognized repeatedly as one of the Top 50 Women Owned Businesses in Silicon Valley. She has set the outstanding client service standards for which the firm’s account management team is noted. Jody is a recipient of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Award, the Junior League Community Volunteer Award and is listed in Who’s Who of Women in Business. Following her graduation from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Jody held various sales positions in several technology companies.