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How to Pump up the Crowd & Bring the Fun Factor

As more associations host virtual events and more people struggle with Zoom fatigue, the Map Dynamics team wanted to tackle this problem to find helpful solutions and ideas for our customers and community members.

Here are the questions we hoped to answer: How can event leaders recreate the energy and excitement of in-person events in an online environment? How can event managers bring attendees together in meaningful ways AND craft memorable experiences while engaging safely at home?

To answer these questions and more, we invited our friend Teri Carden of 100Reviews as our very first headliner to talk about how to Pump Up the Crowd & Bring the Fun Factor in your next virtual event. 

You can enjoy the whole conversation in the video below, or keep reading for a summary of what we discussed.

Associations are doing well finding solutions and technology to help support the online experiences, but seem to fall short on delivering on the audience's experience in online events. But let's face it - pulling together online events is not easy!

Make people feel cared for 

The challenge isn’t necessarily delivering high-quality education or finding a great platform. The challenge is finding a way to make people feel more cared for and connected in an online environment which is very different from the experience many attendees are used to. One of Teri’s life mottos is: “you take care of people and people will take care of you.” Teri explains that this is how she treats people who come into her home as well as those who come to her events. Attendees should feel loved and cared for as participants in your event. This can create a whole different relationship and dynamic to how you’re building out your program.


Like Maya Angelou said, "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." 


Delight attendees with special touches

Teri helps her attendees feel cared for with special touches. Think through the entire experience from registration to follow up. How can you surprise and delight your attendees the moment they enter your space until the moment they leave? During in-person events, Teri has had speakeasies, live artists, and locally themed food and beverage. For online events, she’s done group toasts, pre-mailed swag boxes, and activities to keep energy up throughout the day (examples provided below).


It’s no longer about the education… it’s about the experience you’re providing.


Prevent burnout with breaks and surprises

Many people are struggling with Zoom fatigue and burnout during long days of online meetings. Teri suggests incorporating breaks, activities and something tangible that can be sent in the mail. For Non-Dues-A-Palooza, attendees were sent boxes in the mail. The boxes held a surprise that had to be opened at a certain time while everyone was together. People appreciate the unexpected and people love surprises. Some examples include trivia, “what is it up close?, scavenger hunts, doppelgangers, messages from celebrities, changing up costumes, special guests, and sponsor rooms with secrets inside. 


People appreciate the unexpected and people love surprises.


Create community to help attendees feel connected

Networking, new connections, and hallway conversations are often the best parts of an event. Unfortunately, this is one of the most difficult things to recreate in an online environment. Teri shared multiple great ideas that event managers can implement to facilitate social connection. She suggests creating a space and topic with a facilitator that helps encourage everyone to have an opportunity to speak. She suggests event managers to try to create cohorts of like-minded people or teams to build community. Create specific times in the schedule to invite cohorts to meet or initiate contests where teams can compete. 


Engage sponsors by asking them what they want

Despite changes in delivery method, sponsors still want one of three things: brand awareness, leads or content leadership. Event managers can still deliver these in online events. Teri suggests asking sponsors point plank - what do you want of those three things? Then, create packages that incorporate these benefits and craft them into your event. Here’s a list of ways to engage sponsors in online events: 

  • Have association leaders give shout outs and testimonials at specific times during the event
  • Invite sponsor representatives to coordinate a cohort group, lead the toast at the beginning of happy hour, introduce a speaker, or ask a lead-in question during a session or breakout
  • Create themed breakout rooms for each sponsor with giveaways


Don’t forget to be human

To help her event attendees feel at home during her events, Teri will give out her personal cell phone and encourage people to email, call or text for any questions or concerns. Teri emphasizes, “Don’t forget to be human. Your members and attendees will understand. Vulnerability is winning.”


Don’t forget to be human. Your members and attendees will understand. Vulnerability is winning.





[Bonus] Rules and restrictions on sharing music

Use a BMI license (or SESAC OR ASCAP) or use non-licensed music. It is a myth that only playing a clip for 30 seconds is “legal.” You can't use any music that is recognizable without a license or paying for that song permission specifically. Copyright laws require music users to get permission from songwriters and composers who can charge a fee before their music is played publicly, which then allows them to continue to create music. Here are some sources for royalty-free music: professional video production teams, Audiojungle, Bensound, and Creative Commons.


[Encore!] Ideas & Tips from The Crowd:

  • We did a virtual sketch artist room and sent it to the guests
  • Virtual cooking demos where the attendees are sent the shopping list prior.
  • I attended an event over the weekend and they had a signature cocktail and had a mixologist that showed how to make the drink.
  • We sent attendees virtual welcome kits including a logoed coffee mug and Starbucks gift card and other goodies. It was like a morning break in the mail. Attendees loved it.
  • I’ve heard grocery stores will sponsor an event if you share a recipe with a shopping list.
  • We worked with a vineyard and they mailed wine bottles to our members for a wine tasting event.
  • We partnered with a CVB/DMO who worked with a local winery. They shipped a split of wine to participants for a virtual paint and sip.
  • We had highest attendance of first-timers for 2/3 of our events this year only because they were virtual.
  • I have an idea. What about ‘inviting members’ into a small focus group or cohort groups and they can then spread the virtual energy? 
  • GSAE made sure to pay both BMI and the Motion Picture licensing group this year. We wanted to be sure we were protected if a speaker unexpectedly threw in something, too. 
  • What about a virtual talent show, short and sweet and picking a winner?
  • We had a live band (made up of our members!) who live streamed cover songs and took a couple of requests!
  • Send your “Know Before You Go” email at least 2-3 days out from the start of your event.


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