Hosting Successful Virtual Events
People go to events, conferences, trade shows, and product releases to get out of the house, dress up, and meet new people or connect with old friends. So why would someone attend an event that gave them none of those things?
Of course, COVID forced our hands, making in-person events impossible for months, but it turns out that they weren’t just a temporary phenomenon. Hybrid and even fully virtual offerings are here to stay. They manage to offer access to more people and draw in niche audiences, and you can hold many more virtual than in-person events. And they’re a great way to control your content offerings in an environment that offers endless possibilities.
Slapping your content online isn’t enough. Boring virtual events waste people’s time and your money. Fortunately, if you keep these 10 things in mind, your virtual event is much more likely to be a winner.
1. Know your audience
You may be surprised by who is interested in your virtual event now that they can attend it without travel. But chances are you know your core audience pretty well. Your approach should focus on them while still leaving room for attracting new attendees. First things first: What does your audience expect? What would encourage them to participate most fully? What do you want them to get out of their attendance? Having a good plan to market to your core audience is Virtual Events. After that, you can think about ways to draw in a larger crowd with the kind of extended offerings a virtual platform allows you to offer.
2. Incorporate an experiential element
Since networking is a major reason people attend events like conferences, trade shows, or even product debuts, it’s important to find a way to let your guests mingle via a networking app. If you’re selling goods or swag, your virtual event platform should have eCommerce capabilities Virtual Events. And holding an event online also gives you the opportunity to create an asynchronous video that can be accessed at any time. The sky’s the limit when it comes to offering unique ways to engage attendees on a virtual platform, but the key is to make sure you’re allowing guests to experience the same parts of the event that they would if they were on site. Sure, it’ll feel a bit different, but creating a more immersive experience will keep them coming back.
3. Define your goals
One challenge of having a virtual or hybrid event is that it requires planners and hosts to be more intentional about their content. Things rarely happen naturally in an online environment, so it’s important to have a reasonable and relevant schedule, memorable content that excites attendees, and a list of what you want to achieve so you can measure your success – and you can’t measure success unless you’ve thought about what it looks like.
4. Be aware of time-zone fatigue
The chance to broaden your audience to include people all around the country (or the world) only works if you plan your offerings carefully. If your event is going to be live, it’s crucial to make sure the majority of your presentations are scheduled when people are awake. You might also want to consider offering some prerecorded content for asynchronous attendance. This can give you more control over the content as well, and edit it in advance so people know how much time to set aside.
5. Prepare your presenters for a virtual format
Speeches are boring. Even great speeches and lectures get tedious after about 10-15 minutes. Chances are if you’re planning pre-recorded content, you’ve decided on your timing and tone. But with live presenters and guest speakers, you can’t always be sure they’re going to stay on script – at least not if you don’t coach them first. It’s important to set new expectations for virtual events and remind speakers that it’s a lot easier to walk away from the computer than it is to get up and leave a room during a live event.
6. Be brand-conscious and promote your event wisely
Some brands and businesses translate to an online format more easily than others. But even though pivoting to virtual is challenging, it doesn’t mean you have to lose your identity. In fact, people are drawn in because they’re curious about what you offer. The key is to “keep it real” by being yourself, staying true to your brand messaging, and promoting your event to your core audience in a way that they understand and appreciate. That doesn’t mean you can’t get creative, broaden your message, or change with the times Virtual Events- it just means that your storytelling has to remain cohesive, even throughout the virtual world.
7. Make the most of your metrics
Plan to measure as much as you can, from attendance and geographical stats to engagement level with different types of content. Everything is a learning experience when you’re trying to host a successful digital event. So make a list of your ROI metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) and ensure your platform can collect this information Virtual Events. That will ensure each of your future online events will be better than the last.
8. Choose the right platform and experiment with new features
A virtual event is a lot more than just live-streaming video from a single location, so you’re going to need a platform that has the right features, whether it’s streaming, recording, and playing content at the right times, virtual networking abilities, and/or managing your metrics. The best platforms will help you plan, promote, and execute successful virtual events so you can concentrate on creating the best possible content.
9. Put together the right team
Technology will be more important than ever in the virtual world. It’s about more than just making sure people can hear you; you have to manage multiple moving parts on your chosen platform, make sure your content is on-brand, and continually check in with your audience to be sure they’re responding to your content Virtual Events. You can’t do that alone, so it’s vital to hire a team that knows how to manage both people and platforms with ease, and even help you plan your content in advance so you know you’re telling the right kind of story.
10. Don’t be boring
It’s easy to lose a room if you content is stale. But it’s even easier to lose a digital audience – all they have to do is close the laptop or swipe to another app. Since virtual audiences tend not to be as financially invested in their attendance (because they’ve probably paid less to participate and haven’t traveled to be there), you need to work on keeping them engaged. How do you do that? Well, by following the 9 steps above, and making sure you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people who have experience in making virtual events a success.