What is a virtual event?
It’s simple really…It means carrying out an event entirely online rather than in a physical location with in-person attendees. There are pros and cons to virtual and live events, yet ultimately the two are very similar in many ways. Typically, virtual events will bring together various speakers surrounding a particular topic to which an audience of participants will listen and answer questions through their devices, contrasting from an in-house audience.
Virtual events have never been more crucial for businesses in this current climate and whilst the importance of face-to-face interaction is still vital, adapting to the virtual world is now a necessity. Attendee engagement is hugely important when it comes to virtual events, the vast majority of the workforce are now working from home and are dealing with all kinds of distractions… so we have compiled together a list of various tips to ensure your virtual events are engaging and successful.
1. Make sure your virtual event has meaning to it!
It’s vital that your event is something you are passionate about and is in line with your company’s interests and values. It would be a waste of time, energy, and money to host an event that had little relevance to what your business does or who you are. Therefore, browse various topics that you know your audience will be interested in and engaged by. This will improve your businesses efficiency levels and make you more motivated and driven to successfully deliver your event.
2. Be innovative to hook your audience in.
The current business climate, coupled with increased competition, has made it more important than ever to ensure the events you are hosting are innovative and stand out from the crowd. So, do something that hasn’t been done before!
If you host an event that a unique selling point it will create talk and create a hype around the event. You could create a unique theme around your summit, invite a range of guest speakers or host the largest conference in your industry! If you want to become the go-to online event in the industry you are in, the hook will draw your audience in and really get them interested in what you do and who you are.
3. Plan your event to reduce the potential risks involved.
Being organised and planning your event efficiently will ensure the process runs smoothly and effectively, helping you to reach your aims and objectives. Some points to highlight when planning include:
- Decide what date(s) you want to host the event,
- Implement strategic goals to understand why and what you want out of this event.
- Draw up a budget including how much it will cost to produce, market, and have event speakers etc.
- Decide on the format of the event, will this require interviews? Presentations? A Q&A?
- Set a date of when you will start to market the event, this needs to be done in advance!
- How will you promote this event? Blogs? Social Media? Email Marketing? Match this with the appropriate marketing tools (that work best with your business.).
- Set up your team and designate tasks to the people needed to effectively run the event e.g. do you need a video editor?
4. Drive excitement surrounding your event prior to going live.
Pre-event promotion is critical! Social media platforms play a huge role in ensuring that your target audience know about when, what and where your event is going to take place. Market your event in a way that will entice readers in and ensure you are posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. at peak times when most users will be online.
5. Rehearsals Reduce Risks!
The more you practice, the smoother your event will run, fact! It’s always good to get speakers, moderators, panelists etc. in to read over scripts and test out the technology / platform they are using. It builds confidence for the speakers and gives you peace of mind. Of course, every event has slip ups, but these can be minimised with practice and testing.
6. Breaks might be necessary.
Depending upon the length of your event, it’s always a good idea to place a few intervals in to allow your audience some personal time. These only have to be 10-15 minutes long, similar to the break times of an in-house event. Having these breaks also allows for the topics of discussion to be broken up easily instead of the discussions simply blending into one.
7. Don’t overcomplicate things.
Going virtual might seem daunting, especially for those who have not hosted this type of event before. Remain calm and focused, use the planning activities you would for a normal event and translate them to your online event. As long as your message is clear and you remain as professional as you can at all times, things will be fine! Aim to impress but don’t try and take on too much. Often less is more, simplicity and clear messaging will always win.
8. Communication is key!
Your audience will likely be attending your event from their home, so it’s important to maintain conversation with them throughout the event, rather than just throwing content at them and hoping it sticks. You could create a chat box for your event, a text box for Q&A answers, or develop a relevant hashtag which will build a conversation on social media platforms. Word of mouth marketing is 5x more successful than paid advertising, so creating this conversation will have a higher chance of drawing your audience in!
9. Analyse the data you have gathered.
After you have hosted your virtual event, look at the data! This might be in the form of polls, chat box data or general demographical information. This data will help you understand what went well in your event and how to improve upon this in the future.
10. Maintain the conversation for future events!
Your event has just finished, and hopefully people will be talking about it… Try to keep the buzz and conversation flowing. Keep your audience interested by talking about future events and why they may be of interest to them! If your event was successful in their eyes, your audience will remain loyal to your future events and become regular attendees.
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