The right attitude and functional tech can make all the difference
When the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic struck countries all over the world, virtual events seemed like a quick, short-term solution to salvage existing events – a placeholder until large groups could resume gathering in person. But virtual events are here to stay. Some estimates show that the number of virtual events in 2020 is up 1,000% over the previous year. And 71% of marketers expect this trend to continue into 2021. For those who’ve been resistant to the idea of attending a Zoom conference or a Hopin fundraiser, it’s time to give in. Just like in-person events, virtual events offer plenty of ways to engage and extract long-term value.
The biggest differences between virtual and in-person events
Of course, the downside of virtual events is that you aren’t physically present in the room, so there’s less opportunity for spontaneous networking (e.g., running into a new contact in the hallway). But there are less obvious differences that actually work in attendees’ favor:
- Cost savings: Virtual events are easily accessible – there’s no travel, no hotel stays, and no car rentals. All you need is reliable internet and a comfortable spot to watch.
- More networking opportunities: There are still ways to network virtually, via breakout rooms and live chats. And, in these spaces, you’re likely connecting with attendees from around the globe versus the select few who typically attend in-person events.
- Smaller time commitment: Virtual events are usually brisk, with shorter runtimes. Event organizers realize it’s difficult to stare at a computer screen for 8 hours. Thus, it’s easier to work these events into your schedule.
How to get the most out of virtual events
There are a few key ways to ensure you take full advantage of every virtual event you attend.
The right attitude
Don’t assume that virtual events are less valuable than in-person events. Come into every event with an open mind – you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn and how much fun you’ll have along the way.
Test your tech
Learn the basics of the event platform beforehand so it’s smooth sailing on event day. Also, check your WIFI connection, and make sure both your computer mic and camera are working. Additionally, have a plan in case something goes wrong. For example, keep an ethernet cable nearby in case you have a bad connection.
Make sure you’re signed on and ready to go a few minutes early so you don’t miss a thing. However, in most cases, event organizers will release recordings afterward. So, if there’s something you missed or a portion you want to revisit, you’ll have the opportunity later on.
For the duration of the event, eliminate any and all distractions. Close your windows, turn off background music, shut the door, and find someone to take care of your children and pets. You want to give your full attention to the event presentation.
Avoid being a passive observer and get in on the action. Don’t be afraid to join the breakout rooms and add comments to the chat. You can also connect with the speakers and attendees on social media and live-tweet your learnings to encourage further engagement.
Virtual events offer just as much value as in-person events. All it takes is the right attitude, a little bit of prep, and a willingness to engage.