How to Engage Your Virtual Audience: From A University Student's Perspective


As a student whose job entails keeping up to date with the latest technologies and trends, I often find myself scrolling through social media in hopes of finding new and innovative ways to engage a virtual audience.


I reached the pinnacle of this research when I witnessed the ingenuity of a college professor from Michigan who went viral on Tik Tok for his way of making remote learning more enjoyable: by entering the zoom session as a dancing, free-floating potato with sparklers (it really is awesome - watch it here).


Of course, this exact method of engagement may not be ideal for your next focus group or customer meetup but this professor has the right idea. As a result of the pandemic, the future of work is increasingly hybrid with 51% of company leaders being in support of a hybrid work model, (Technical, 2021). Knowing this, it is crucial that organizations actively find new ways to keep members engaged through a screen.


Increased Focus = Increased Engagement

I’m a people watcher- there, I said it.


As an attendee, virtual meetings are one of the best, most discreet ways to watch people. Unfortunately for a presenter, this means less focus on them, and more focus on what Sally is doing in the top left-hand corner.


Luckily, as society has begun to rely more and more on virtual meetings, platforms have also been developing new features to increase participant focus and thus overall engagement. Features like Zoom’s new “Focus mode” gives more power to a presenter by allowing them to toggle between gallery mode and a new mode in which the participant can only see the presenter and their presentation. While this update may upset people-watchers everywhere, it succeeds by providing a way to minimize distractions without compromising the quality of a virtual session.


Comfortability is key

As a virtual facilitator, I often see open-ended questions from the presenter go unanswered.


While there may be multiple reasons for the lack of participation, my personal experience indicates that an individual's involvement skyrockets when a presenter makes an effort to foster a comfortable environment. This could mean a professor reiterates that “there are no wrong answers” or that a guest speaker begins their session with ice breakers. Creating a safe environment allows individuals to feel comfortable in challenging, experimenting, and engaging with the speaker.


Make it fun!

Let’s face it, whether you’re attending your second-grade math lesson or a high-stakes business meeting, virtual meetings can become stale and repetitive.


An easy way to grab audience attention is to incorporate activities, games and energizers that support participants in connecting. For instance, our team at Botree skillfully gamifies the content of a presentation to make for a unique, engaging experience. You can also utilize Zoom Apps such as “Heads Up” or “#AskAway” to provide a natural place for attendees to bond. Regardless of the engagement tool, your effort to provide an enjoyable virtual experience will excite your participants and automatically increase overall engagement.


So in a time where you can choose between a stale, average presentation or an engaging, thought-through experience- be a free-floating potato with sparklers!



References:

Technical, A. (2021, June 26). 19 Important Hybrid Working Statistics To Know Now (2021). Retrieved from https://www.apollotechnical.com/hybrid-working-statistics/#:~:text=Employees and employers who took,remote work as a possibility.


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