2020 has been the year of virtual events, but for many companies, this is scary new territory. A recent survey from Event Manager Blog found that 65% of the 2500 respondents had never hosted a virtual event. But with new pandemic restrictions in place and widespread vaccinations unlikely before mid-2021, virtual events will continue to be the safest way to bring people together. For those who haven’t tried their hand at online events, now’s the time to get started, and there are three key ways to ensure your production is a hit.
Have a detailed plan
This may sound simple, and even a bit obvious, but a thorough plan is crucial to your event’s success. You should start by figuring out your topic and the best format to present it (e.g., a conference, a social livestream, a webinar, a live tweeting event, etc.). You’ll also need to decide if you’ll broadcast live, create a prerecorded, on-demand event, or use some combination of the two. And think about how people will access it afterward – will you post video of the event on YouTube or publish it behind a paywall on your website?
Additionally, you should consider how you’ll promote the event. Who will your sponsors be, and how will you leverage their influence to spread the word?
Essentially, you need a targeted strategy to deliver the best content and maximize turnout, because your success is determined by so much more than what happens on Event Day.
Take the logistics seriously
Logistics certainly aren’t the flashiest part of event planning, but when you’re gathering people from different time zones, countries, and continents, they’re extremely important.
Think about the best date and time for your virtual event. You want to choose options that will deliver the best attendance among your target audience. You also want to avoid major holidays or competing events in the same space.
Technical logistics matter, too. A lot can go wrong with so many people presenting from different locations and computers. A full rehearsal, in which you run through the program with all your participants, can help you identify problem spots and smooth out rough edges. All presenters and moderators can test their internet connections and ensure their visuals function as intended. Also during the rehearsal, everyone can get familiar with the event platform, and you can come up with (and practice) contingency plans for worst-case scenarios.
Make sure you engage your attendees
It’s critical that you do more than talk at your attendees during the event. Remember, it’s difficult to stare at a screen for an extended period of time without any interaction, especially given all the distractions that can pop up (e.g., notifications, text messages, Netflix, etc.). You can keep people engaged by asking questions and having viewers reply in the live chat, encouraging attendees to submit questions, and utilizing any other interactive features on your chosen event platform.
Also, be sure to keep segments short and sweet so there’s constant variation onscreen.
If you have a clear vision for your production, plan accordingly, and connect with your audience, your virtual event will have a lasting impact. Learn more in our whitepaper, “Best Practices for a Virtual Event”.