Hello Virtual Events… We’re Looking Forward to Working With You.
Thank you and goodbye 2020. You were beyond challenging and really knocked us about! But we learned to adjust and adapt. And now, we are equipped to ride your ‘virtual’ wake!
For now, gone is a majority of our face-to-face meetings, conferences, events and networking. We quickly pivoted and survived awkward Zoom calls, GoToMeetings gone wrong, and webinars that were better off being canceled. Harsh but true. And we’ve learned and have perfected the pivot we had to make. The most evident growth, Virtual Events.
With the initial urgency of pivoting to virtual events behind us, the expectations for virtual events in 2021 are high, very high. So, what are the key elements you need to consider when designing and developing a virtual event? So glad you asked. Here’s a checklist we’ve put together to help you execute a successful virtual event.
- The Plan: It is always important to have an event plan but with a virtual event, it’s crucial. The purpose, promotion and how you’ll measure success are only part of the plan. With a virtual event, there are additional challenges due to physical distance and the lack of a physical location.
- Everything and everyone will be virtual. Speakers, attendees, event staff, sponsors, etc. are all participating from their own corner of the world. This also means they will be dealing with their physical surroundings while participating virtually.
- Your event plan will need to have clear “what if” versions in order to address anything that could go wrong or needs to be adjusted to increase participation and engagement.
- There will need to be sufficient staff on-hand with clearly defined roles to address every issue. Cutting corners is not going to cut it when it comes to a successful virtual event.
- Create a Community: Once you’ve got your online virtual event platform secured and launched, utilize it as a pre-and post-event resource hub.
- Upload and share materials that will get attendees excited and potential attendees to commit.
- Use your speakers, presenters, and sponsors for pre-event discussions and surveys, as well as post-event follow-up and feedback.
- Utilize the platform for attendee networking, post-seminar breakout sessions, post-event engagement, and the like.
- Incorporate flexibility in the Community so those who are attending can have individualized/personal meetups in group settings that are sponsor branded or reserved for a fee.
- Need to find a virtual event platform? Here are some recently reviewed: Virtual Event Platform Comparison: The Best of 2020
- Engagement: In the virtual world, the potentials for distraction are virtually endless, so engagement and interaction are critical. Add a little fun to the sessions:
- Incorporating live questions asked by the speakers during their individual sessions or even during the introduction period prior to the session starting.
- Create contests that take place throughout the event where attendees can earn points, prizes or give-a-ways for attending sessions, participating in breakout sessions, and networking opportunities. For instance, create Game Night or themed Happy Hours where the winner(s) receive a private or semi-private session with one of the speakers, sponsors or industry leaders. A bit of fun with a lot of rewards!
- Social Media: Don’t skimp on the social media aspect of interaction, especially during a virtual event. With everyone attending via their computer or mobile device, access to their social media platforms is right at their fingertips!
- Create an event hashtag, virtual photo booth activities, design a photo frame that attendees can use during the event along with a library of messages or postcards that can easily be personalized and shared on various social platforms.
- Incorporate sketch artists as part of your event to illustrate various sessions, happy hours, and social media conversation chains that can be shared by the attendees and included with the seminar notes.
- Be sure to have a team monitoring each platform to interact with attendees and address any issues, questions, or concerns that may arise are addressed quickly and precisely.
There are so many details that need to be considered when putting together any kind of event, however; with a virtual event, these are the areas needing the most improvement. As we were saying, expectations are going to be high with virtual and hybrid events for 2021 and beyond. #HelloVirtual