Event organisers and planners work on a strategic approach. Thinking of the worst-case scenarios, they then plan and execute the event accordingly. The recent outbreak of the coronavirus global pandemic did not make it to the list of worst-case scenarios. No one ever thought about such a health global crisis that has taken nations by storm.
With the advent of the global pandemic, restrictions have been imposed on travelling and public gatherings to ensure health safety. Nations went under lockdown scenarios, putting a stop on businesses and events around the globe. The event industry is one of the major entities that has been majorly affected by COVID-19. As a result, the events scheduled for the year either got postponed or cancelled completely around the world. But, the event industry was one of the quickest to adapt to the new normal and switched to virtual events.
In the past few months, virtual has become the new normal. Virtual events have been prevalent for a long time, but the percentage of virtual events has suddenly spiked. Organisations that never thought about moving their internal and external events online, are today planning to host a virtual event. Hosting day to day meetings and conferences with remote employees and global delegates have become an integral part of every industry.
Nowadays, the internet is full of a wide range of virtual event platforms that offer comprehensive virtual event services. Now you can simply host meetings, conferences, trade shows, job fairs, product launches, etc. online on a virtual event platform. A platform that offers engaging features and tools such as Q&A, games, quizzes, live polls, etc. amplifies audience engagement. Interactive features offered by the platform enable virtual attendees to have one-on-one conversations in real-time via live audio/video chats.
The event industry has come up with new creative ways to leverage technology and to keep business going. New innovations and creativity in the field of virtual event technology have taken it a step further. In this post, we share a guide to run successful virtual events. Let’s get started!
What are virtual events?
Unlike physical events, virtual events are not organised at an on-site location. They involve a gathering of people over the internet to connect and network seamlessly in a virtual space. Virtual events are scalable and enable people from around the world to access the event from remote locations. A comprehensive virtual event platform allows you to reach a wider spectrum of audiences globally, thus resulting in better reach & attendance.
Virtual events have become a powerful tool and the first choice of event marketers and planners.
Virtual events come as a savior for many events and conferences around the world scheduled for 2020. Many organisations have opted to go virtual with their events and conferences to keep business going. Attendees scheduled to attend an on-ground event, tuned-in from their remote locations at their convenience. Virtual events enable attendees to access the event from the comfort of their own space while delivering immersive event experiences.
How to run a successful virtual event?
To run a successful virtual event, we have created a checklist for you. You need to keep the points below in mind when planning to host a successful virtual event. To know more, read on:
1. Determine the purpose of your event
First, you need to determine the purpose of hosting a virtual event. Why are you hosting a virtual event? What do you want to achieve? And, so on. Answers to such questions should be clear in your mind. Once you know the purpose of your event, you need to know your potential target audience. What do you want to deliver to them? Apart from that, decide whether your event will be live, on-demand, or both and whether your event will be gated or free. Once the planning is properly done, execution becomes seamless, ensuring the success of your virtual event.
2. Distribute the role accordingly
Same as in-person events, distribute specific roles to your team in their respective fields during virtual events. Assign roles to team members responsible for gathering data and managing registrations, tech support, chat representatives, customer support, hosts, etc.
3. Plan your budget
A budget is a must for hosting any type of event and the same goes for virtual events. Outline the budget beforehand to avoid any last-minute hassles.
Allocate the budget accordingly to various phases. Decide the budget for promotions, virtual event service providers, technical support, team members, and so on.
4. Create engaging content
Content is the king whether you are planning an in-person event or a virtual one. With virtual events, the content remains evergreen and can be used later on websites and social media integrations. Content prepared for on-ground events and virtual ones are little different. Keep talks and presentations short and engaging. In virtual events, attendees are connected to you through a laptop or mobile screen. Drawn out presentations result in attendee dropout because people can’t stare at a screen for long hours. If the speech or talks become monotonous, attendees will leave as soon as they tune-in. Incorporate engaging activities into sessions to get opinion and excite attendees about the event in a fun way.
5. Select the right tools and technology
With virtual events, instead of selecting a physical venue, you need to select the right virtual event platform. Pick a platform that offers interactive and engaging features and enables you to host without audience capping. This results in maximising the reach of your event. The right virtual event platform will allow you to host Q&A, quizzes, games, contests, etc throughout for audience engagement. Apart from this, the platform should enable you to interact and network in real-time via live text/audio/video chat functionalities.
6. Promote the event right
Your event is of no use until your audience is aware of it. Use social media integrations, direct mails, public relations, etc. to promote your event and reach your potential audiences.
7. Select the date and time
While selecting the date and time for your virtual event do some research and brainstorming. Ensure the date selected does not overlap with any other events or holidays which would affect the number of event attendees. If you target a global audience, keep time zone considerations in mind to ensure maximum attendance.
8. Run a test in advance
Testing everything in advance prevents last-minute glitches or technical errors. Before the actual event, test everything from the platform to the internet connections to all the necessary requirements. Check that your internet connection is reliable and strong with the necessary bandwidth to host a large audience.
A day before the event, ask speakers and colleagues to gather in a virtual space to test the event. Have a backup plan for sudden last-minute interruptions. Pre-record the content if required.
9. Do the right setup
Place your laptop on a solid surface at an eye level and look straight into the webcam instead of the screen. Select a place that is free from any background noise and has sufficient lighting to make your event look professional. Do not sit facing back towards the light because you will appear dark. Wear headphones and a microphone to avoid any sound disturbance while talking to virtual attendees.
10. Hit the live button
Before going live, send your attendees a reminder a few minutes before the event. Send a direct access link to login to the event and join the ongoing session. Hit the live button at the appropriate time. Wait for more attendees to join in before starting, but keep interacting with the attendees who already joined to keep them engaged.
11. Keep attendees engaged during the virtual event
Keep your attendees engaged with your ongoing event to prevent them from dropping out during sessions. Virtual attendees work in a different way when compared to in-person attendees. Keep your talks short and simple to keep them engaged. Organise Q&A sessions, live polls, surveys, etc. to gain their valuable insights. Apart from that, organise games such as spin the wheel, quizzes, contests, etc. to keep attendees engaged throughout the event. This evokes the element of fun and excitement for the entire event.
12. Follow-up with attendees once the event is over
Once the event is over, follow up with your attendees within a day or so. Send them surveys via email to determine what they liked and didn’t like at the event.
You can share the top highlights of the event as well. Ask your attendees about their experience at the event and their feedback for improving future events. It helps to know your audience’s mindset, what interests them and what does not, and identifies impediments, etc.
We have stepped into a new world where virtual is the new normal. Not yet switched to virtual events? Get started and embrace the technology to run a successful virtual event!