How to organize a successful Virtual Event
In 2020 Virtual Events have taken center stage in the events industry. The rapid advances in technology, platform capabilities and the possibilities for events keeps expanding by the day.
These are exciting times, and we think resisting this change and waiting for ‘normality’ to return is futile. We are still along way from beating the worldwide pandemic, and with the multitude of advantages the online format offers, Virtual Events are here to stay.
The majority of event organisers have been on a very sharp learning curve when it comes the whole virtual events sector. Lots of people may be embarking upon their first virtual event format and feeling overwhelmed by where to start.
We are fascinated by this shift in our industry and we have been on a Virtual Event knowledge binge, so you don’t have too.
Where to start?
Start right at the very beginning! Ask your self:
- Why are you holding this event?
- What are your event objectives?
- Who is your audience?
These may seem like obvious questions, but it is vital to have a clear vision so you can then create your virtual event content accordingly. Also, this is important to help you choose the right Virtual Event platform for your meeting or conference.
Virtual Events Tip Number 1 – The Human Experience
How can we make our Virtual Event feel ‘human’? One way is to ‘recreate’ content and structures that feels familiar to our audience. When organizing an online exhibition, you can try to ensure there are all the familiar elements that attendees expect to see. This would include a reception space, virtual event booths, sponsors, plus opportunities for networking and connection with other attendees.
For a conference, your attendees would expect to see keynote speakers, smaller breakout sessions, Q&A sessions and maybe a happy hour for networking. This gives the attendees a sense of familiarity that helps them feel more confident about the format.
Virtual Events Tip Number 2 – Choosing a Virtual Event Platform
Once you have clarity around what your event objectives are, it is time to select your event platform.
Choosing your virtual event platform is a whole other blog post but the key factor to keep in mind is ensuring your chosen platform can meet your objectives. Can your platform support the number of attendees? What support is available? Is there a 24-hour live support hub during the event? Will there be a dry run? Can you create the number of breakout rooms you were hoping for? Is the platform interactive and can support polls and Q & As?
If sponsorship is vital to your event, what are the opportunities the Virtual Events platform can offer?
Understand clearly what the technical requirements are to optimize the use of your chosen platform. You want a product which is technically secure and reliable.
We recommend choosing an event platform that allows for an integrated experience along with interaction and participation.
There are so many amazing products available – watch this space for more blog posts around this.
Virtual Events Tip Number 3 – How to Engage your Attendees
Content is at the core of our events and key to its success. We want to capture the attention of our audience with relevant and engaging content. This should include interesting speakers and exciting presentations. When moving an event online the quality of your content is even more important to engage your virtual attendees.
During a Virtual Event the duration of sessions should be considered carefully. Given participants are interacting via a screen this lowers the time that they will be engaged. The trend is that sessions are shorter than for a live event.
There are ways that you can interact and engage with your audience. We recommend rethinking the format to allow for surprising and interactive elements. Think about live polling, a live Q & A session and having an interactive chat facility. You could event include a fun team activity to entertain guests. See our blog here for ideas!
Virtual Events Tip Number 4 – Don’t forget networking
One of the huge benefits of events is to bring people together, make new connections and network with familiar faces and contacts.
How can we do this on a Virtual Event Platform? We can make space for networking opportunities. You could set up a ‘networking room’ with a specific topic up for discussion that people can join. Or maybe allocate guests a random contact to chat with. By activating a chat facility during sessions, this allows people to message the whole audience or select to message someone privately.
Virtual Events Tip Number 5 – Use metrics / analytics wisely
There are huge advantages to the analytics available from your Virtual Event. You can check attendance, engagement and more. We should also look beyond this to evaluate the success of a Virtual Event. Log new business which arrives from the event, also assess the value of building a community around your brand or organization and the level of engagement of each session.
Your conclusions help you to shape upcoming events or conferences and to measure the ROI from the event.
Virtual Events offer many advantages to the Events Industry. Careful planning, good marketing and great content can see you reacher wider audiences than before!
The consensus is that when live events do return, we will see a surge in hybrid options, which is a combination of both a virtual and presential events. Again, keep an eye on our blog for our top tips for Hybrid Events.
To talk about the options for your virtual event, get in touch!