Posted by: Dennis Shiao | November 17, 2010

Engage The Virtual Audience at Your Hybrid Events


Sonic Foundry hosted a webinar titled “3 Ways to Give Your Virtual Audience a Voice“, moderated by Erica St. Angel (@EricStAngel) and featuring Emilie Barta (@EmilieBarta).

Emilie is a pioneering voice in the area of virtual audience engagement – in fact, she served as the “virtual emcee” at Event Camp Twin Cities 2010 and did a tremendous job for that hybrid event.

How to Engage

Emilie began by urging hybrid event organizers to engage their virtual audience.  If you are successful doing so, “you will likely convert a large percentage of your virtual audience members to F2F audience members next time.”  Emilie noted some examples of event organizers who saw 40%+ of their virtual audience attend the face-to-face event the following year.

For Emilie, it’s not a matter of “when” to engage the virtual audience.  The more relevant question is when “not” to engage that audience.  The answer is “never” – the virtual audience should be engaged before, during and after the event.  According to Emilie, these engagements can be achieved with “tech tools”, social media and virtual hosts.

Emilie provided a great list of approaches that a virtual host can take in engaging the virtual meeting:

  1. Tour guide
  2. Voice of the virtual audience
  3. Group leader
  4. Red-carpet interviewer
  5. Color commentator

Emilie also provided tips on how the virtual host can engage with the keynote presenters.  I chimed in (via Twitter) that Cisco does some neat things at Cisco Live.  Upon walking on stage, the Cisco Live keynote presenters give a warm welcome to the virtual audience first – a great way to immediately engage them.


I agree with Emilie that engaging with your virtual audience is absolutely critical to the success of your hybrid event.  Successful engagement involves the right roles (e.g. virtual hosts) and the right technology tools.

Related Resources

  1. Emilie’s web site:
  2. The on-demand archive of the webinar:

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