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How to maintain engagement during an online event

Commercial Director, Michael Gwilliam shares his take on maintaining engagement during online events. 

“Come on, say what you see, look at Mr Chips”.

Tonight as we prepare for what seems like our hundredth online quiz night, it seems more relevant than ever that “content is king online”.

It’s a phrase that more influential people than me have quoted a million times recently when talking about engaging an audience.

Well, guess what? That task became even more challenging when the audience moved online. I don’t want you to panic though, we’re here to help.

We’ve all sat through boring presentations. You know the type, the ones where you sit there thinking when am I going to get this time back? For me, it was physics lessons at school. I’d sit there, my mind only on when they were going to finish and how quickly I could leave the room.

The reality with online events is your delegates will switch off in the first few seconds if you don’t immediately capture their interest. They’re in the comfort of their own home, so why listen to you? The experience must meet their expectations from both a content and a quality perspective.

We’ve learned a lot from the test events we’ve run on our core platform. And I wanted to share our takeaways to help you charter these new territories.


TV-quality broadcasting


Our live events clients invest significant sums of money in creating the correct environment for their event. So the equivalent of 3-star hotels with a projector and screen in a basement meeting room with no light doesn’t cut it online.

While we don’t invest in bricks and mortar to keep our audience trapped in the room to listen, the fact is that in a real environment the physical venue does exactly that.

The online event is not an event in the traditional sense. Instead, we view it as a produced show, where a slick broadcast is important. If anything appears to be average – or 3 star – then you’ll lose your audience’s confidence and interest immediately.

Chatting to your mates on a zoom call from your back bedroom is fine for the weekly quiz but in a professional environment, it will distract from the importance of your message.

TV studios, both mobile and in situ are not an option at the moment. So, sending out camera equipment and microphones and providing some basic coaching on lighting will make all the difference.

Having a vision mixer and producer to provide slick transitions between presentations, speaker graphics and simple animation all combine to create a well-positioned broadcast.


Content is king


Creating a broadcast-quality production is only half the battle. If a presentation is dull and lacking inspiring content then we may as well give up.

One of our fundamental roles as an agency is to coach you through the entire process. To make sure your content comes alive in an engaging and interactive manner.

Animations, slick transitions and graphics are one method to keep your audience engaged.

But why stop at that? The online audience isn’t something to fear and they have their advantages over a live event audience. Think of all the times a delegate may have been dying to ask a question but the presence of hundreds of other people in the room has put them off.

In an online environment, your delegates are much more likely to interact with the speaker and audience. It’s a great opportunity to use live polls and Q&As to your advantage. Throw moderated panel discussions or roundtables into the mix and you’re guaranteed instant feedback.

Want to take it a step further? Augmented reality is a fantastic tool to create 3D visuals in what can be a flat environment. The possibilities are endless.

Remember, your output has an intrinsic value as you can cascade it through your organisation or to clients long after the event has taken place.

The cost base of this broadcast may bear no resemblance to your normal budget but if you are prepared to invest the same in a broadcast event then you can generate the same ROI from the output.


Here are our top 10 tips for maintaining engagement during online events



  1. Use professional cameras and mics for slick, professional presentations
  2. Create a TV-quality production by working with a vision mixer
  3. Coach speakers on lighting and use of equipment
  4. Make sure you have a reliable data connection
  5. Create content that has value and can be cascaded post-event
  6. Use polls and live Q&As to make the experience interactive
  7. Make your content visual – don’t just read your slides
  8. Tell a story and use emotional inflection in your voice
  9. Be 100% comfortable with the platform
  10. Don’t forget to rehearse!


Thinking about going virtual instead of postponing your next event?


Or simply interested in hearing more about an online solution? Get in touch and we’d be happy to help.

Call us on 0113 394 6130 or email

Want the PDF version of the article? Download it below.

Guide to maintaining engagement during online events  (PDF: 1.58 mb)

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