Let’s agree off the bat that there’s nothing quite like human interaction. I times of isolation and distancing, we’re particularly nostalgic about the buzz that comes from an awesome event or gathering. It’s certainly become more difficult for brands and companies to gain the same value from in-person events. But now more than ever, people are hungry for a sense of community. So, let virtual events pack the same punch without leaving a void in your event calendar! When done right, virtual events can turn into holistic, engagement-driven, value-added experiences for you and your attendees – no matter where they are in the world.
With access to wifi or the internet, you’ve unlocked an entirely new dimension where your event may thrive in ways it never would’ve in the physical world – the opportunity to reach wider audiences, amp up your brand partnerships, and more? Sign us up! We’re here to help that transition from the physical to the virtual world as smooth as possible for you. Here are our 5 Tips to help you plan a virtual event.
1. Adjust Your Event Planning Expectations
When it comes to event planning, you need to ensure that you have a team that’s right for the job. You can’t use the team that handles your physical events to plan a virtual event. Hire experts in the virtual event realm and let them take charge of your event.
When you plan a virtual event, you can’t rely on the same metrics that you use to track physical events, such as registration numbers. People often register months in advance for physical events, however, for virtual events, participants often register at the last minute. This is because you don’t need to travel to attend a virtual event; you can attend while sitting at home! Even though your event team should run promotions and market the event months in advance, depending on its scale, you shouldn’t be alarmed by the low advanced registration numbers.
Rather than trying to fit your virtual event into the preexisting mold of a physical event, take advantage of the unique benefits of the virtual platform to plan a virtual event. The first advantage is the fact that a virtual event is virtual, which means that people can participate from anywhere! Moreover, it’s pretty convenient for employees. Those who can only attend part of the event don’t have to worry about travel considerations or shifting their schedules.
Panels, keynotes, and interactive roundtables can all be a part of a virtual event via platforms such as GoToMeeting or Zoom. These engaging platforms have built-in engagement features such as Q&As, polling, and chat. All of which allow your events to be as interactive as possible.
Another amazing benefit of a virtual event is that you can choose to divide it into different sessions. If an attendee wishes to see just one keynote or participate in a few specific roundtables, then they can do so. They can join your event for those specific sessions only. It’s far less of an “all or nothing” proposition, which makes it more tempting.
2. Figure-Out the Technical Details
The one thing that can throw a monkey wrench in your meticulous planning is the dreaded chance of technical difficulties. The best way to deal with this is to come prepared for the worst! Have test or practice sessions with all of your speakers to rule out all the technical difficulties. Make sure that your presenters and speakers know how to work the conference platform, which includes sharing slides, presentations, etc. Also, prepare for technical difficulties. By preparing beforehand you’ll be quickly prepared to fix it.
Hiring a video team or professional videographer that is well-versed in strategy will be crucial to your event success. From lighting, background, composition, lighting, and audio, the aesthetics and production must be on point.
Make sure to think through all the possible technical glitches and their solutions way in advance. Additionally, for live events, record every session as that allows the attendees to watch the presentations and sessions that they missed. However, before your event starts, figure out the best way to make your event available later. Then determine how long you want your content to be available after your event.
Above all, when you plan a virtual event, don’t forget that your audience’s time is precious and should be high on your priority list. The two things that can ruin your audience’s experience are presenters who go off on a tangent and glitchy technology. For the technical aspect, make sure that your connections don’t lag or drop. Check all files are quick to load, platforms are smooth-running, and protocols are seamless. The best way to enable all of that is to plan with precision and practice.
3. Think of Ways to Drive Engagement During the Virtual Event
The best way to ensure the success of your virtual event is to find creative ways to drive engagement and keep things moving during the event. Whether it’s taking questions from the viewers or finding fun ways and games to enhance the virtual experience, you’ll want to make sure you keep the audience member in mind.
Try having an activity planned for the attendees every 5 to 7 minutes. This will allow you to effectively open lines of communication with your attendees and encourage them to voice their ideas, ask questions, and even share your content. Examples of such activity include polls, critical yet fun problems to solve, or some fun questions.
Finally, don’t forget that since your event is virtual, it’s effectively open for audiences across the globe. To accommodate an audience with varying time zones, make sure to have something for everyone. Plan fun conferences, sessions, and activities for each time zone so that not a single attendee misses out on your event. So, plan your schedule accordingly by considering the different time zones that you will have to cater to.
4. Nail Down Your Target Audience
When you plan a virtual event, you need to have a specific niche target audience in mind in order to find the right speakers and subjects to cover. Who do you want to attend your event? Are you selling a service or product? Who will use or buy the product or service? Once you determine your stakeholders, you can get your information in front of them by researching which platforms and digital means they receive communication from online. Is it LinkedIn? Email? The New York Post? Once you figure this out, you can maximize the visualization of the event from your specific target audience.
This specific target audience then finds a community within themselves. This leads to meaningful networking and potential sales opportunities! Foster your audience to get to know their fellow attendees, what companies they work for, what problems they face, and encourage them to see if other attendees can provide strategic solutions for them. This is the beauty of playing an event host!
5. Find Strategic Partners to Help You Plan a Virtual Event
Partnering with other brands, companies, and/or influencers, will boost both exposure and engagement of the event with double the efforts for advertising and audience reach. Both promotions leading up to the event and lifespan post-event will reach a larger market and get your name in front of new potential customers or followers. The brand or business you partner with should be strategic, meaning they should align with your goals and values. Their target audience will match your target audience. Win/win!
If you strategically bring in the right partners and bring forth quality subject matter speakers, you’ll have the most important ingredients for delivering a successful, lead-generating virtual event. Not only will you and your partners have a library of new content to leverage after, but you’ll also have bolstered your brand name through your strategic partners, and positioned yourself as a point of connection for anyone in your industry to learn, grow, and network.
The Bottom Line
All in all, for a successful virtual event, make use of the unique benefits that the virtual aspect provides rather than trying to fit the event into the mold of a physical event. These are very different models, treat them accordingly! Embrace the luxuries of virtual event planning and take the time necessary to familiarize yourself with past virtual events so you have some insight.
Additionally, take extra care to prepare for technical difficulties and train your moderators, presenters, coordinators, and speakers to use the systems that you will use in your event.
Lastly, make sure to prepare engaging content and find ways to drive engagement within the event. This will allow you to create an interactive event that will present you with more opportunities to network with the attendees and ensure the success of your event.
We hope this helped on your quest to plan a virtual event that’s super engaging, interactive, and awesome! We can’t wait to attend your online event!
Need some help planning a killer virtual event with social media marketing support to match? Or are you a small business owner, not sure where to start or how to maximize your event strategy? Look no further, Margaux Agency is one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies for Startups! Contact our team today for more information.