Top tips for hosting engaged and interactive online events

We’ve all been to our fair share of online events over the past year and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that some of them hit better than others. So what makes a good event stand out? How can you make sure that your next one engages your audience and ticks every one of their boxes?

Having hosted close to 100 Othership networking events myself, I’ve gathered some of my top tips together for you here. I think that the overarching aim of all community-led events should be to help attendees feel connected.

Most people attend live events because they want to get to know other people in some shape or form. That’s why interactivity is at the heart of what I do — and at the centre of these tips.

Start with a strong welcome

Be online and ready to welcome people with a smile when you open the doors. Put your video on and make sure your mic is ready in advance. You want to welcome people as soon as they’re in, rather than be fussing with your own tech.

Don’t leap into talking to them immediately, but simply share that you’ll be admitting other attendees into the room and begin the event shortly. This is also a good opportunity to prime people for engagement later on, such as by encouraging people to turn their video on or to share their thoughts in the chat. You can also lay out any rules that you might have, like requiring people to be on mute unless they raise their hand and so on.

It usually takes a couple of minutes for everyone to connect their mic and settle, so don’t worry if you start a few minutes later than the official start time. My personal favourite welcome is to play some music while letting everyone in, especially something uplifting or popular. People feel immediately at ease and relaxed, setting a good tone for the rest of the event.

Make your introductions

Once everyone is settled, it’s time to introduce yourself and the event itself. Prepare some thoughts in advance, but don’t feel like you need to read from a script. What you say should feel casual and friendly.

Some good points to include in your introduction are:

  • The format and agenda for what’s to come
  • Who you are and what your role in the event is
  • Explain how to use any digital functions they might need during the event, such as video on/off, mute/unmute, and so on
  • Reiterate any rules, such as having your mic off when not talking, ask questions in the chat, and so on

Be ready to adapt to what your audience responds to. This is how you make your first impression on them, so be relaxed and friendly to set the tone for the rest of the event.

Engage with your audience throughout

Now that you’ve already set a personable, chatty tone for your event, you need to keep that up. The more you engage and interact with your audience, the more they will trust you and each other. From there, you’ll get a lot more natural involvement from people.

There are a variety of ways to do this. For example, networking events are well-suited to a quick round of introductions. Try to mix things up by avoiding 60-second pitches — events are meant to be more fun than that! Instead, try to make it personal and unique to your event.

Here are some fun ways I ask people to introduce themselves:

  • Share a fun fact you want everyone to know
  • Show an interesting object from the room and tell us about it (this is a good one to make relevant to the topic of the event)
  • What was the highlight of your weekend?
  • What are you looking forward to ahead of the weekend?
  • Share a recent win
  • Vent about something for a minute


All of these examples are far more likely to get people thinking and share something original. As the event coordinator, it’s your job to create connections and engagement and the best way to do that is to get people to open up.

Be ready to politely interrupt someone if they are taking longer than others and you need to move on. Respond positively to what they’ve said, thank them for their input, and choose someone else to go next to keep things moving.

For other events, like workshops and team building events, introductions might not be necessary. If they already know each other or don’t necessarily need to make introductions, there’s no need to waste time on that.

Instead, you can use breakout rooms for smaller groups to get to know each other, with a maximum of four people. Give them a clear prompt, perhaps related to the theme of the event. For example, a workshop focused on zero waste might include a prompt to discuss the biggest challenge they’re facing in reducing waste in their personal lives.

Make it as easy as possible to engage with each other with clear directives. One of the most engaging events I’ve ever been to was one where we were told that whoever’s birthday was closest would go first in the group activities. This cuts out any awkward silences waiting for people to volunteer and gets attendees to know each other a little better.

Once the breakout rooms are finished, ask each group for feedback using specific questions. For example, you might ask the zero waste attendees what solutions they came up with for their waste challenges.

Closing on a high

Having a good close is just as important as a strong introduction. This is where you can build ongoing connections with people once the event is over and hopefully see them again in future events.

Remind everyone how they can get in touch with you and let them share their own socials or contact information on the chat function so they connect with each other. Remember, the name of the game is engagement and interaction, even when you’ve closed the event room.

Encourage them to share a post about the event or a screenshot from the event on socials with a specific tag so they can continue networking under that tag after the event as well. If they’re willing, you can even snap a screenshot of everyone’s faces to share on your own social media, sparking ongoing engagement.