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5 essential engagement tools for online events

After delivering 70 virtual and 27 hybrid events in 2022, and with the global pandemic now officially over, we wanted to take a quick look back at the initial rise, growth and continuing success of virtual events at JTPM, as well as share our favourite online event tools.

Can you believe it’s been two years since we wrote about the future of online events (May 2021)?! At the time, we had no idea there’d be another 103 days of lockdown, and so full of hope and optimism, we reflected on the benefits of being able to stay connected and the pitfalls like ‘zoom fatigue’. We predicted some clients would incorporate virtual components into future events, while others would never go back to in-person events at all…

By August 2021, we found ourselves in the midst of Melbourne’s sixth (and final) lockdown and so we shared some of our tips for successful online events. It felt like the pandemic was never going to end, so we invested even more time and energy into making out virtual event offering and experiences even better than ever!

As live events continued to experience restrictions, cancellation and disruptions in early 2022, we saw the rise of combined online and in-person events and explored the benefits of hybrid events such as increased attendance, reduced environmental impact and more.

Today, not yet half-way through 2023 and JTPM has already delivered 14 online and 7 hybrid events; proving that the demand and desire for these types of events will not be fading into a distant memory anytime soon.

From training webinars to research conferences, fundraising trivia nights to award ceremonies, special announcements to a corporate AGM’s – hosting an online event is no longer a boring, one-way presentation. Thanks to the latest technology, creativity and lots of practice (thanks COVID!), the expert JTPM team can help you attract and engage your audience in a variety of ways and throughout the whole session.

Here’s some of the best online event tools we use regularly:

  • Live Chat – traditionally used for housekeeping messages and to help with any technical issues, at JTPM we encourage event guests to the use the live chat function throughout the event to make comments, share links or images, and to simply say hello and thank you to one another and/or the speaker/s. We always have a team member actively participating and moderating this section and find it’s a great way to make everyone feel connected online.
  • Q&A’s – participants can enter their question/s at any time throughout the session into a dedicated Q&A chat box. Questions can then be seen by everyone, and in some cases may be answered in real time. The Q&A voting function also allows other participants to give a thumbs up on any interesting or important questions, bumping that question to the top of the list to be answered first.
  • Breakout Rooms – you can host multiple sessions at once and give event attendees the choice to come and go as they like. Giving attendees control of their event experience means they feel more empowered and engaged and give them the option to only join relevant sessions or for shorter periods of time. Each breakout room can also incorporate the chat and Q&A functions mentioned above, further increasing interactions and engagement.
  • Photo booths – just like a real-life photo booth, we can set up virtual versions complete with a professionally designed and branded polaroid style frame and custom stickers like hats, glasses, moustaches and more. For some of our University of Melbourne events we even provide students with a photo template that includes the Dean of their Department to pose next to! Allowing event guests to download and share their photos to social media is a fun and creative activity and also provides quick and easy way to promote your event.
  • Fluid spaces – creating personalised space for gamification and informal networking. We create fluid spaces in our interactive platform for attendees to move around with their ‘character’ (like an avatar) and join conversations by virtually walking towards other participants’ characters.

While online and hybrid events gained popularity and were used out of necessity, as a result of the pandemic, it’s actually been a wonderful opportunity to expand our skills and be able to provide some truly dynamic and flexible event offerings to our clients.

Inspired by the success, technology and ongoing progress of this virtual world, JTPM is now working on our own event App which aims to bring many of these functions and capabilities to all of our in-person events too.

We don’t know what’s around the corner, but we do know that JTPM is ready for any challenge and opportunity that pops up and we will keep learning and developing our products and services to ensure we keep creating the most memorable, impactful and inspiring events!

Thinking about hosting and online or hybrid event? Get in touch for more advice and support.