Participants: Jazz Up Your Next Online Event!

We all love to complain about the current state of the art of online events? Talking heads droning on, not engaging enough, making you feel small, your opinion unimportant, it often feels like a late-night infomercial.

Not that we are really missing being stuck in the middle of a keynote among 1000s of conference participants, where the speaker on the big stage is droning on as well.  

Online events have a huge advantage over live events that very few organizers fully embrace. You can engage with your participants in a much more granular way and with that actually enhance the flow and the experience of your event for everyone. We should make the best use of that opportunity. 

Sometimes though, the online event platform and the hosts do everything right, make the tools, time, and the space available for great interaction and engagement. Ready for a memorable impactful experience for and with their participants.  

It still falls flat, as the audience is like molasses, passive, leaning back, wanting to just be entertained, their attention only partially on the event. 

The unfortunate thing is, we all are trained to passively consume content by years and years of sitting on our couches watching TV, Netflix, or movies in cinemas. 

You are actually discouraged to engage there. You will get kicked out of the theater if you loudly voice your opinion about what’s going on the screen, or on the stage. 

What we need is a mind shift of all of us online event participants. We need to get off the couch of consuming and judging from the stadium stands. We need to get into the arena and start leaning into the event and actively participate. 

Stealing freely from John F Kennedy: 

Don’t ask what an online event can do for you! Ask what you can do to make this online event the most impactful, interesting, and engaging event for everyone involved! 

To help us all be the best online event participants we can be, I started an Impactful Online Events Participants’ Toolbox document. Please join us and share your tools and good behavior for participants that will lead to many more engaging online events. I hope it becomes a living document. 

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the suggestions in the Toolbox. The main goal is to raise awareness of what we all can do to improve all of our online event experiences. 

Let’s go from being in the audience enjoying a Jazz concert to picking up an instrument; listen to what is going on; and join in; with the goal of making the whole piece/event sound better! Bring out the best in other players by supporting their ideas; play pianissimo so that the quiet voices at the fringes can be heard. They often elevate the whole sound by adding new tunes. In the end, everyone walks away from the event with positive vibrations. The event’s reverberations may linger on for days and will make everyone eager to join your next session. 

As an organizer of an online event, you may want to raise the awareness of your participants too by linking to the participant’s toolbox at the bottom of your invitation post/email. You can also kick off your session by posting a link to it in your chat. Something like: “While we give the stragglers time to log in, check out this Impactful Online Events Participants’ Toolbox. Too much on the nose?” And take it from there. 

Even if big conferences are coming back. They will continue to have a strong online presence. It gives us the opportunity to connect the larger events more tightly with our online community, which is a good thing, but a topic for another post. Let’s engage at the next event!

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