How to Choose Entertainment for Your Virtual Events

Entertainment ideas for virtual events

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There are many ways in which you can entertain your virtual attendees. And that is the challenge for event planners. It can also be very easy for planners to get carried away with amazing entertainment ideas that are bound to work. But how do you decide what’s right for your attendees?

To help you with the task of making the right choice for your virtual entertainment, we have come up with several ideas and some of the key steps worth considering before you make your booking.

eBook: 10 critical steps to successful hybrid events

How Much Entertainment Do You Need?  

Before you search for the perfect virtual entertainment, it’s worth understanding how big a part entertainment will play in your event. This will be determined by the type of virtual event you are holding.

Some virtual events are going to need more entertainment than others. For example, entertainment at a virtual awards event is expected. Attendees could become upset if there was not a wow factor. After all, it can be boring to watch award after award being announced. An entertainment act can break up any monotony and keep your attendees engaged.

But, when it comes to other events, entertainment can play a much smaller part and in some cases be non-existent. Think of a communications meeting where redundancies are being announced. It would be inappropriate to have an entertainment element as this would send out confused messaging.

As well as answering how much entertainment may be needed, it is critical to understand why you might need it. Make sure you answer the ‘why’ question objectively.

How Well Do You Understand Your Audience?   

Understanding your attendees is super important in helping you choose the right entertainment. Are your attendees people that would prefer to watch rather than take part in activities? What are you asking them to do?

For example, do you need them to put on their cameras and mics? If so, will that cause an issue for the more introverted types? Will they refuse to take part?

Related: How to create virtual events that appeal to introverts and extroverts

Also, does the entertainment require attendees to download a specific app? Do they need to choose a certain web browser?

You will want your attendees to benefit from the entertainment and therefore it is essential that you understand the level of technology capability that is required and whether your audience will have any challenges. The last thing you want is to plan for something and your attendees miss out.

What is Your Budget?  

The next question is around budget. Just how much do you have for the entertainment? Virtual entertainment comes in all flavours and prices. Only you can decide how much you want to spend on this element of your virtual event.

But be mindful of any extras that you need to consider. For example, if you decide to hold a ‘hands-on’ cooking demonstration, is it down to you to send out the ingredients to your attendees? Or will you expect them to go and buy them? As always, manage expectations by making it perfectly clear what attendees need to do.

And if you are shipping items like a cocktail making kit to your virtual attendees, be sure to leave enough time for everything to arrive. Shipping across the globe can be challenging at the best of times. And allow for items not to arrive. Building shipping costs into your budget is also advisable.

Most Popular Entertainment Ideas for Virtual Events

Having answered our initial questions you can now decide on what entertainment will be just right for you. There is lots to choose from.

From comedy acts to cooking classes, here are some virtual event entertainment ideas by category that can create a fun, interactive and engaging experience for your attendees.

1) Live Music

For some planners making live music the main component is a good and obvious choice as music has a way of making people feel good.  You could contract a DJ that simply runs a request friendly livestream.  Or if you wanted more of a competitive element, you could look at running a Duelling DJs contest. Participants (or groups of participants) battle each other to be crowned the best DJ. Players are given a set time limit to come up with the best possible song choice for a particular musical genre or category. Two live on-screen DJs receive the participants’ song requests and spin tunes on behalf of the contestants. The audience then vote in real-time to select each round’s winner.

Another music idea is one that fully involves your attendees. They create their own lyrics and a song is put together with the help of a professional musician. This not only provides entertainment, but it also accelerates any team building as well. And at the end, the song is sung and can later be shared on social media.

2) Comedy and Magic Shows  

When it comes to comedy, if you choose the right comedian, your attendees will be delighted. But be aware that comedy can also have the opposite effect unless the comedian is well briefed on what will work and what is off limits. This is where good understanding of your audience is critical.

Comedy acts come in a variety of formats. Some will offer you a customised show, whereas others will stream their latest show from their own studio. You will have more control with a customised show, but you need to contrast that to your attendees seeing a ‘household name’ comedian.  Whatever you choose to do, it is worth asking to see examples of their work and reading their credentials. Virtual comedy is harder than in-person comedy for a lot of comedians. This is because there is less of the audience feedback they can respond to.

If comedy isn’t for you, then maybe magic might be an answer. As with comedy, magic acts allow your attendees to be involved. Some popular magic shows include card tricks and other optical illusions. Some shows also feature individual and group mind reading. If you want your attendees to chill and not participate, they can do that as well. T

3) Hands-On Workshops  

Hands-on workshops allow you to provide attendees with more interaction. There are numerous choices and here we highlight just a few.

Food and drink activities are always popular. As mentioned earlier, be clear on whether it is the attendee, or you (the planner) that will be responsible for buying the food and drink.  You could commission a chef, a sommelier or even spirits, beer and coffee specialists to work with you. Anything is possible from understanding everything about coffee through to knowing which is the latest wine in vogue.

If drink is not for you, there are numerous food options. From creating perfect pasta, pastries that pop to making the ultimate cheese grazing board. The toughest decision you will have is knowing what will tantalise the tempt buds of your attendees – and that’s something you could easily find out through the registration process of your event.

There are also other hands-on workshops to choose from these days, including painting, graffiti, calligraphy and creative writing to name but a few. Whatever you decide, make sure attendee expectations are managed throughout. Pay special attention to shipping deadlines. You wouldn’t want your attendees to miss out because they failed to order what was needed to take part.

4) Competitive Games   

Games mean interaction for attendees. There is no hiding place as everyone gets involved. Games are good for collaboration and competition. And if your virtual event has a ‘red thread’ of team-building in it, games can be a superb way to underline key messages.

Related: How to organize successful corporate team-building events

The level of sophistication varies according to the difficulty of the game. For example, trivia-based games can include true or false questions, questions that have multiple choice responses or image identification rounds. Think of a quiz on TV and you will see the array of different formats they use.

Looking beyond trivia games, there are other challenges which can include a virtual escape room, virtual Olympics or a murder mystery team building session. In the virtual Olympics, players have to put their skills to the test to qualify to compete in the main events. Then they go on to take part in a variety of different interactive mini games to make it to the finish line.

A typical murder mystery would involve attendees receiving a briefing about the crime. They would view a series of witness cards and a floor plan. Using their smartphone devices, players work their way through clues by tapping on the different rooms and witness cards throughout the game. Players examine evidence and liaise with key witnesses to piece together the sequence of events to catch the killer and solve the crime before time runs out.

5) Create Your Own  

The choice of virtual entertainment available is vast. We have shown a few examples but there are many more. When deciding what to go for, you have two key considerations. Firstly, your budget and secondly, whether the activity will provide you with the outcomes you need.

What you could do is to take some of the ideas and create your very own virtual entertainment. That way you remain in complete control of the look and feel of the entertainment. Plus you can create exactly what you need. This takes more time to put together of course but it might be the best way for you.

A recent example is illustrated by MPI’s EMEC 2021 virtual conference.  The Executive Producer, Paul Cook, wanted an activity that would be both educational and competitive at the same time. He came up with the idea of a competition that used a TV game show format. It worked well and he was delighted with the feedback and results that followed.

Sometimes creating your own virtual entertainment is the way to go.

Conclusion – Go Back to Your Brief   

When it comes to virtual entertainment there are many paths you can go down. You can create passive virtual gigs to fully immersive ones. There is no reason for your attendees to be any less engaged. The skill in producing great entertainment is in understanding what your attendees want and what the objectives of the event are.

But before you sign the contract with any suppliers, be sure to have a look at their show reels and read client testimonials. You need to be sure you can trust them to deliver – especially in a virtual setting.

It is worth emphasising that with virtual events, there are no set of rules to follow. You are free to make your own choices. Just check your unconscious bias and you will be well on your way to choosing the right kind of entertainment that delight your virtual attendees.

Considering hybrid events?  Eventsforce offers a fully integrated technology platform that makes it easy for you to create engaging experiences for both on-site and virtual attendees – from registration and agenda management to audience engagement, live streaming, networking, contactless check-in and apps.  Learn more.