Planning an online event? A schedule that’s packed with valuable content is essential, but great entertainment is important too. By keeping viewing figures high, and boosting engagement, virtual events games and entertainment play a vital role in the success of your event.
Why Is Entertainment Necessary at a Virtual Event?
The purpose of entertainment at virtual events is much the same as at physical events. For events of any kind, entertainment can:
- Provide fun and enjoyment that makes the event more memorable
- Help attendees network and make new contacts
- Give attendees another way to engage with your brand
- Serve as a way to reinforce your brand vision and messaging
At virtual events, entertainment can do a little more. The problem of keeping virtual event attendees engaged, motivated, and paying attention is a significant one. People can’t keep absorbing information indefinitely, especially when they’re doing it via a computer screen. If your content schedule doesn’t factor in regular break time, then people will start switching off—figuratively and literally.
Entertainment can play a key role here. Giving attendees fun, lively activities to watch or take part in helps them relax and clear their heads, so they can stay alert and focused for the next session.
Entertainment Options for Virtual Events
1. Virtual Reality
Using their phone and a simple virtual reality (VR) app and VR viewer, attendees can visit a scenic destination, swim with sharks, or walk in outer space. Viewers such as Google Cardboard are $15 and under, and they work with a variety of VR experiences. Send out an email blast with instructions a week or two before the event, so attendees have time to get set up. Even better, mail out Cardboard viewers to every registered attendee!
2. Escape Room
How can you put on an escape room event without the room? By having everyone do a little role-playing. Separate participants into teams, then give each team clues or riddles to solve. Each team can gather in a designated Slack channel so they can focus on solving their clues. As an added bonus, you can gamify this virtual event with badges or points for the top performers.
In the XtendLive 3D virtual event platform, we’ve designed an escape room, so players can actually feel like they’re moving through the physical space and playing the game.
Some friendly competition can get attendees thinking and acting quickly, providing welcome relief from sitting at a computer for hours. Trivia contests and scavenger hunts work well in online formats. For instance, for a scavenger hunt, give participants 30 seconds to locate a common household object and upload a picture to a Slack channel.
If you have lots of participants for your virtual events games, run multiple heats to whittle down the numbers for semi-final and championship rounds. A competition could then run over the course of an entire day, with heats held between sessions and the finals at the end of the afternoon.
4. Mentalism and Magic
Some forms of entertainment translate particularly well to the virtual format. Magic and mentalism are two such cases in which an online show can be just as impressive and entertaining as a live one. Both can allow for audience participation, making this kind of entertainment particularly engaging. The format is also easy to customize, with the possibility of quick, 5-to-15-minute shows, or a longer show of an hour or more.
5. Wellness Sessions
Schedule light exercise sessions in the morning or between rounds of presentations. Hire an experienced instructor to lead viewers through stretches, yoga poses, or dance moves. Or find a meditation instructor who can lead a guided meditation session. These kinds of activities are perfect between sessions, as they’ll help people feel revived and refreshed, and ready to focus again.
6. Fireside Chats
A fireside chat is a kind of informal interview, with a moderator and one or more guests. They’re most engaging—and most successful—when the audience gets involved too. The best way to encourage audience participation is to invite questions from viewers. Celebrities and other high-profile guests are perfect for fireside chats, as the informal format makes the Q&A feel more personal.
7. Happy Hour
At the end of each day of an in-person event, many attendees look forward to happy hour and evening networking sessions. Recreate happy hour at a virtual event with a professional mixologist who guides attendees through making their own cocktail and snacks. Then, everyone can unwind and chat in the event’s designated social spaces.
Want to really go the extra mile? Send out some or all the ingredients for a mixed drink ahead of time. Or gift attendees with a branded glass you mail directly to them. Think of these as virtual event SWAG.
8. Live Music
A musician or band can ramp up the energy level of your event or provide space for relaxation after your sessions are over. Pair with a happy hour, and help your attendees end the day on a good note.
Gamify Your Entertainment
Many of these options can be combined with virtual events gamification tactics to make them even more engaging. If your gamification strategy offers badges or points, you can reward those who take part in these activities. For instance, offer a “Mixologist” badge for attendees who make and share the event cocktail during happy hour. Or give points for submitting questions during a fireside chat, plus a bonus for those whose questions are answered.
Putting It All Together
Not sure about what kinds of entertainment are most appropriate for your virtual event? Check out what others have done! One great example is the 2020 Create & Cultivate Money Moves Virtual Summit, a small event held in May 2020 for female entrepreneurs. The nearly 7,000 attendees explored workshops, panels, and keynote speakers, interspersed with various kinds of entertainment throughout the day. Some examples included:
- A 9 AM kick-off with a light exercise session lead by a celebrity health coach, and a guided meditation session
- Afternoon wellness sessions focusing on engaging, interactive topics, such as goal-setting and vision boarding
- The creation of happy hour cocktails – The recipes had been distributed several days prior to the event, so attendees had time to gather the ingredients. After making their drinks, viewers shared photos of their cocktails in an event Slack channel.
- An event finale performance by indie artist Lennon Stella, with live music followed by a Q&A session
This schedule highlights how important it is to choose entertainment activities thoughtfully. The event started the morning off with activities designed to help people “wake up” and be mentally alert and focused, followed by interactive entertainment that encouraged thoughtfulness and engagement. Finally, the end of the day was about relaxing and enjoying social time with other attendees, encouraging networking and boosting engagement.
Virtual Event Entertainment Can Make a Good Event Even Better
When people look back at the events they attend, it’s not necessarily the speakers and sessions that get them reminiscing. Often, it’s high points like stand-out exhibits and entertainment that put people in a “remember when” kind of mood. Providing great entertainment makes your virtual event more engaging and memorable and helps ensure people will come back next year too.