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Recently, I attended Cvent CONNECT Virtual, joining over 35,000 other meeting and event professionals in order to learn more about our recovering industry. After attending several breakout sessions, one stood out in my mind: “Understanding Your Virtual Attendees—The Antidote to Virtual Fatigue.” During the event, the presenter dove into how difficult it can be to hold the attention of virtual attendees—especially when everyone has their own personality. She explained seven different virtual attendee personas and how to engage each of them correctly.

virtual attendee persona

Knowing your audience is crucial for any event, but it is even more imperative for those events taking place online. As the presenter stated in her session, virtual attendees are unique in the fact that we typically see their true personality more than we would at a live event. Because they are behind a screen, it’s much easier for them to show their true colors. This is why we must leverage all that is available to us virtually in order to hold each kind of attendee’s attention. Below, the common virtual attendee personas are described with details on how to keep each engaged during your event:

  1. A-Student

    We all know this person. The one who has never been unprepared in their life, always has questions to ask, and truly enjoys gaining knowledge from meetings. These are the kinds of people who want information about your event before, during, and after, just to make sure that they don’t miss a thing. It’s important with this persona to make sure you allow every opportunity for them to engage with your event, including polls, Q&As, and gamification. Also, be sure to record all of your sessions so your “A-students” can refer back to them!

  2. Slow to Warm Up

    This persona is similar to the “A-student,” but they are not as ready to jump into things as “A-students” are. These kinds of people aren’t as eager to participate in every aspect of your event—they need to warm up to the idea. With these attendees, you need to allow them time to become familiar with your event and its format. It may be more comfortable for them to contribute to the meeting through typed questions or responses rather than having to speak on video in real-time.

  3. Multitasker

    Have you ever noticed that person on Zoom meetings who is texting, taking notes, and sending emails all while feeding their child? Yeah, that would be a “Multitasker.” The concept of this attendee not paying attention is pretty easy to grasp. With so much going on and so much that could act as a distraction, no wonder they struggle to focus on your event. That’s why with this attendee, you need to create content that is so fascinating, they can’t help but watch and interact. While this can be a difficult feat, it’s not impossible. Incorporate eye-catching designs and compelling topics in order to keep them engaged.

  4. Silent Partner

    Ever feel a bit camera shy or hesitant to speak up during a virtual meeting? You may be a “Silent Partner.” Just because this kind of attendee doesn’t like to speak up, doesn’t mean they don’t have great ideas. It just means you need to be creative when thinking of ways to get them to express those ideas. This may mean allowing for a private chat function for your event, so speakers can see the ideas or concerns a silent partner has. Engaging a silent partner in this way will allow them to contribute relevant points and information to your meeting.

  5. I Have to Be Here

    This kind of attendee may not necessarily be thrilled to be at your event because their boss made them attend. Often times, these people show up at events without having a ton of prior knowledge, which can lead to them being less than excited about attending. That’s why it’s important to make sure these attendees are well aware of what they are about to be a part of, so they aren’t in the dark. Any information sent to these individuals in advance can boost their engagement. With enough prior knowledge, you may find that they are even happy to join!

  6. Fussy Friend

    While this type of persona may seem like someone you won’t enjoy having at your event, they are much more helpful than you think. “Fussy Friends” are those who want to point out every single miniscule error (or perceived error) you make during your virtual event. They have an opinion on anything and everything, and they aren’t afraid to share it. Again, this may seem like a bad thing, but this kind of person can be very helpful in enhancing your virtual events. Be sure to listen to this persona and allow them ways to give their feedback. Making this virtual attendee a part of your group in an advisory capacity often engages the attendee and polishes your events in ways you had not imagined. You may be surprised by just how constructive some of their criticism really is.

  7. Out to Lunch

    This persona is the most difficult to handle during a virtual event because they are highly unreliable. This is the person who comes and goes as they please, meaning you never know when they are actually paying attention to your event’s content. They sign on to the event, but they are not staying as engaged as they should be. The best strategy for this type of attendee is seeking them out. This means trying to get them to interact with polls or live Q&A sessions. Even having smaller breakout groups can help make this attendee persona more likely to participate in the event.

References: UnderstandingYour Virtual Attendees - The Antidote to Virtual Fatigue [Video file]. (2020, August 26). Retrieved from https://web.cvent.com/hub/events/b7dacea1-acce-4aa0-ab9f-79402710cc60/sessions/c6f9e6f3-4852-4fa6-856b-52e4d00d2000

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