Online and off, preparation, focus, and planning are keys to success

We’ve all had a good laugh at other people’s Zoom snafus.  In February, Texas lawyer Rod Ponton went viral when he couldn’t turn off a cat filter during a virtual hearing.  And surely, we’ve all seen coworkers’ children, pets, and spouses wander into the frame during a meeting.

But with large-scale virtual events, the mistakes aren’t so funny, and they can have wide-ranging effects on your business.

Poor Experience

One of the biggest virtual event mistakes involves a failure to protect the attendee experience.  This could be as small as sending out login links and directions at the last minute.  Or it could be as big as hosting an event that hasn’t been properly adapted to the virtual format.  If attendees don’t know how to attend or the event doesn’t translate to the web, the end result is frustration.

Too Much Content

Pre-pandemic, most adults averaged an attention span of 10 – 18 minutes.  Yet many virtual events are just too long, running several hours or a full day to mimic the agenda of an in-person conference.  The risk is that attendees will grow bored and turn their attention elsewhere, rendering a large chunk of your content obsolete.

No Preparation

There’s often an assumption that online events are less formal and don’t require as much prep.  But this couldn’t be further from the truth.  Without practice, all of the awkward pauses, technology issues, and content gaps play out in real time, which makes your brand look extremely unprofessional.

How to avoid the biggest virtual event mistakes

There are simple steps you can follow to avoid these pitfalls and pull off an engaging, successful virtual event:

  1. Manage attendee expectations – Send out the information and links that all attendees need well in advance so that Event Day is smooth sailing.
  2. Understand the form – Virtual events have unique elements like in-platform chats, interactive Q&A, and networking rooms. Attend other virtual events to understand the nuances or work with a virtual event expert who can guide you through the differences.
  3. Set a time limit – Cut your program down to 1 – 2 hours, and ensure that each individual presentation is brief. A detailed Run of Show (ROS) can work wonders to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  4. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse – Get all of your talent together and do a full dry run. Identify potential problem spots and address them so there are no surprises in front of your audience.

There’s a lot of room for things to go wrong during virtual events, but you can increase your odds of success with the right amount of preparation and a laser focus on the details.