26 Oct 2020 | by Gemma Chadwick

With virtual taking the world of events by storm, it’s important to remember that just because delegates aren’t physically at your event, wellbeing shouldn’t fall by the wayside. If anything, it should be more important. The average attention span of a broadcast is 20 minutes; to keep delegates engaged you will need to consider that their tolerance for sitting in front of their laptop screen is significantly less than if they were at a live event. To combat ‘Zoom fatigue’ it’s important to provide your virtual attendees with time to regroup, reset their focus and re-energise.

Ensure that your virtual event comes complete with breakout and entertainment sessions. You don’t want your delegates to check out and begin scrolling through Twitter half-way through your event. If you provide a host of engaging activities, you will leave your delegates feeling motivated to continue on with the event, however, if you don’t prioritise wellbeing at your next virtual event, you will risk losing the focus and attention of your audience. Here are five different methods you can use to increase wellbeing at your event:

1. Incorporate exercise

Physical activity immediately boost the brain's dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels – all of which affect focus and attention. Hire an experienced instructor to deliver an exercise class that will get the body moving. Once it’s time to resume the schedule, delegates will feel energised and ready to undergo the rest of the virtual event. The exercise will need to be done at home, so why not try a 30-minute stretch, yoga, or HIIT class? You don’t need any equipment and it can be done with minimal space available.

2. Hire an entertainer

Having entertainment at your event can not only engage your delegates but can also do a good job at communicating an organisation’s key messages. Hire a professional who can hold your audience’s attention, such as a comedian or a magician. Likewise, a well-known, effective entertainer can act as an incentive for delegates to attend and participate in your event. After your delegates have been sufficiently entertained, they will have higher energy levels and will be ready to engage with the next part of your event.

3. Interactive sessions

Engagement rates increase 40% when you add simple interactions to your virtual event. Send your virtual delegates a physical package pre-event that will build anticipation and encourage them to take part in the wellbeing session. For example, hire a professional chef to create a delicious dish that everyone at home will make with them, or hire a mixologist to whip up some taste-tantalising cocktails that people can follow along with.

4. CSR activities

Employees will have a higher sense of wellbeing if they know they are helping others, in fact 75% of employees say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided with opportunities to make a positive impact at work. Send a physical package, pre-event, with all the components needed to complete the CSR activity. Delegates can all build hygiene-kits, water-filters or create a shoebox for the Samaritan’s ‘Operation Christmas Child’. For example, at the last conference, everyone at DRPG assembled a basic prosthetic hand and carry-bag for people in India that have sadly lost limbs. The process was simple and everyone could easily follow along with the directions and instructions – this could easily go virtual.

5. Take a virtual reality trip

Organisations would often hold their conferences abroad to reward staff for their hard work and to promote wellbeing. However, in 2020, it’s been quite difficult to travel overseas. But don’t let physical constraints stop you; with the use of virtual reality (VR), you can go anywhere. Take your delegates to a concert, Hawaii or even the moon! Delegates can access this through a VR mobile app on their phones, you can even send them cardboard VR goggles pre-event to get them fully immersed in the experience – both sustainable and effective. Most of the time, it’s enough to mentally be somewhere more pleasant to make people feel better. Refresh your delegates for their next session by fulfilling their need for escapism.

It’s important to recognise that delegates won’t be engaged for as long as they would be during a live event. For every hour of a live presentation that holds a delegate’s attention, under half of that time will realistically work in a virtual setting. This will not only compel speakers to be more concise with their talks, but it could also potentially shorten the event as a whole. However, on the other hand, this provides more opportunities for shorter breakout sessions and fun activities to be held instead. It’s a win-win!

Even still, you have to embed wellbeing within your entire virtual event, not just within these breakout and entertainment sessions. Ensure that you have an engaging keynote speech, a virtual moderator and interesting speakers to name but a few. The wellbeing of attendees must be considered throughout the event in order to achieve success.

Gemma Chadwick

By Gemma Chadwick

Gemma began her career in events back in 2002 when she joined Penguins as an events manager. Since then Gemma has risen through the ranks and taken on greater involvement in the general running of the business. She officially moved away from event operations in 2016 where she assumed the role of Business and HR Manager.More articles by Gemma Chadwick