Virtual events can be a wonderful way to reach your guests in the privacy of their own homes. Unfortunately, it can be easy for guests to tune out during a webinar or multi-task their way into only half-process the information you are providing them with.


Keeping your guests engaged means providing mental stimulation so that they still get your takeaways – be it networking and connections, education and training or just company updates.  For the purposes of this blog post, we will focus on knowledge retention and education as the takeaways, though these tactics also benefit other goals.

Watching along is a passive activity. We watch tv, we watch presentations, we watch you give a webinar. There’s nothing wrong with watching. The Learning Pyramid as developed by the National Training Laboratory indicates that people retain approximately 20% of the information they receive from an audio visual presentation.

Here’s some suggestions on how to get your attendees involved and mentally active during your virtual event.

Offer Guests Something to Do
Guests need to do something with the information you present to them. They need to become interactive with it which will then dramatically increase their retention and understanding of the materials you present them with.

Your main objective needs to be offering your guests something to do. There are four ideas listed below, but there are countless you can come up with. Once a guest moves into at least a basic activity such as discussion, retention jumps to 50%.

If just initiating conversation and discussion increases your takeaway by 30% there’s no reason not to do it.

Use Polls

Whether directly through your webinar software or even just asking for a show of hands, invite audience participation through polls. You can start with basic questions – raise your hand if you understand, raise your hand if you want lunch – and move into more thought provoking ones – who agrees with the suggested plan, do you agree with the theory presented – or offering multiple options for people to select.

You can integrate something like Survey Monkey or Google Forms so that you can preserve any data gathered and use it at a later time.

Ask Questions

Ask specific questions to specific audience members. By inviting Dave’s opinion, not only is Dave paying more attention, but so is Carl now that he knows he might be called on to offer up his thoughts and experiences. A change in voice and tone will also help refocus anyone whose mind has started to wander.

Start Discussions

As you can see above in the learning pyramid, discussion leads to a 30% increase in retention from the audio visual presentation alone.
Most importantly, you’ve gathered your colleagues, friends, employees and peers for a reason. Why wouldn’t you want their opinions?
Ask complicated questions to keep the discussion going. Slowly unveil your educational points. Call on people to share thoughts and experiences related to your topic and make it clear that you are hosting an environment that calls for differing opinions.

Play a Game

Game-based learning increases knowledge retention an additional 9 percent (foucsededuvation.net). Games excite people and make them want to be more involved. Students report an increase in motivation and attention in addition the knowledge retention increase.

People like games. They’re a fun way to break up a more boring or bleak topic with something more tangible for your attendees to focus on. Have a lightning question and answer round, play jeopardy or break into groups and try to write a song about your topic. Offer some kind of prize for extra involvement and excitement.

Comment below and tell us how you keep your attendees focused and involved during your virtual events.