With every virtual gala, audience expectations increase. How do you keep your livestream audience engaged for 30, 45, or 60 minutes? Here are ideas from our clients and partners to fuel your event planning imagination and engage your virtual audience.
Start with Live Chat
Start the conversation in chat during the 30-minute pre-show and continue to engage with your audience during the virtual event.
- Greet everyone as you see their names appear in the chat.
- Post questions to spark conversation. A great first question is always “Where is everyone located?”
- Include trivia questions in your script for your host to ask on camera and for guests to answer in the chat.
It’s especially fun if the host references chat comments live on camera. Notes can be entered in the teleprompter, a monitor can display the live chat, or the host can review chat while videos are playing.
- Watch host Johnna Wells welcome everyone chatting during the Children’s Center Healing Garden Gala. (Virtual event producer: Raise Agent)
Custom Polling and Word Clouds
- See how the audience created a word cloud during Maybelle Center for Community’s Hope in the Heart of Portland Gala. (Virtual event producer: Swaim Strategies)
Watch and Win Prizes and Raffles
Watch and Win prizes entice guests to RSVP and register to bid in advance of the event. During the program, draw random entries and announce the winners live. Consider drawing two winners: one at the start of the program to increase audience excitement and again at the end of the program. Be sure to promote the second drawing during the event and ask everyone to “stay tuned”.
Announcing the winner of a raffle during the live event is another fun way to engage your audience. Be sure to check your local and state laws regarding raffles. It is likely only guests in your home state will be eligible to purchase raffle tickets.
- Watch benefit auctioneer Patrick Siver spin the virtual wheel to draw the winner of a $500 gift card during the Sherwood Booster Club Virtual Auction. (Virtual event producer: gEvents LLC)
- Watch as the prize is announced for Watch and Win during CHAPlandia 2020. (Virtual event producer: Raise Agent)
Brand your event with a unique hashtag and encourage your audience to tag your social media accounts and use the hashtag in their posts. Bring everyone into the program by sharing the feed as a virtual red carpet.
- Watch emcee Poison Waters highlight #mowp50 posts during Meals on Wheels People’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.
Pre-recorded segments featuring special guests sharing their expertise are a fun way to give your guests something extra during the virtual event. Be sure to share teasers of these segments in your virtual event promotions. Ideas include cooking lessons, dance tutorials, and specialty cocktail mixology.
- You’ll be ready for dinner after you watch Chef Jenn Louis’s cooking demonstration filmed by ZP Productions for Lift UP’s Making Connections 2020.
Bring live event games into the virtual environment with a little bit of planning and clear communications. We’ve seen Bingo, Heads or Tails, and game show-style competitions be played during virtual fundraisers.
- Watch the audience play Heads or Tails with benefit auctioneer Graham Crow during Heroes with Heart supporting Trauma Intervention Programs Northwest. (Virtual event producer: Peerless Virtual Event Consulting)
Looking for More Ideas?
- Our blog article Elements of a Virtual Galas has even more examples.
- Check out Double Your Dollars LIVE! from Artisan Auctions.
- Greater Giving writes about Helping Your Donor Community Host Their Own Virtual “Tune In” Party.
- Tree-fan Events discusses event engagement in a Tech Tuesday Q&A.