The event planning process follows a similar pattern, whether an event is held virtually or in person. Hosting an event online, however, requires you to consider additional details and planning tasks to ensure things run smoothly and successfully.
These are the five details in particular that should be given extra thought when preparing for a virtual event:
- Create an event agenda and content that is engaging. You’ll need to reconsider and reimagine your event agenda — the biggest obstacle in losing face-to-face interaction is keeping your audience engaged. You can’t expect your attendees to sit and listen to a speaker for an hour virtually, like you could physically. Break up sessions by integrating interactive activities like live polling, Q&A, videos, surveys, trivia, and more.
- Consider your event delivery. How will your attendees access the event? Will they view the session by joining via live video on social media? Or will you need a virtual platform to host your content? Take the complexity of your event and your attendees’ experience level with technology into consideration and research your options.
a. Whatever option you choose, be sure to:
i. Do a test run ahead of time
ii. Create and share an instruction manual so everyone involved knows how to smoothly navigate the technology
iii. Make sure your technology help desk is on call for the duration of the event
- Carefully select your guest speakers. This detail is important regardless of how the event is held; however, careful selection of speakers is crucial in creating an engaging and energizing virtual event. Keeping the audience’s attention over the internet is a difficult task — there are so many distractions and reasons for attendees to tune out the presenter. To be sure your guest speakers will deliver relevant content with high energy, do your research before hiring them — watch video clips of virtual presentations that they’ve given previously, read reviews, talk to other people who have hired them, and set up a meeting with them in advance so they can give you a preview of their presentation.
- Make the event memorable. Just because you’re moving things online doesn’t mean you have to give up on opportunities for networking and fun. Plan a virtual happy hour, begin the day with virtual yoga, or offer an online networking lounge where peers can collaborate via chat or breakout rooms.
a. Set the tone of your event by sending a swag bag to your attendees’ front porch! Include branded items that will make their online event experience smooth and easy: a mouse pad, wireless charging station, coffee grounds and a mug, headphones, or healthy snacks.
- Have a backup plan. Who do you need to contact and how do you contact them if you have technical difficulties? How will you communicate to your attendees that you’re having issues and need them to stand by? What is the plan if the issue can’t be resolved quickly? Don’t let these things be an afterthought! The best case scenario will be that you waste hours creating solid backup plans for technical difficulties, illness, and other situations, and you don’t end up needing to use them.
There are so many important elements to consider when planning a virtual event, but these five in particular can take your event from “just another webinar” to an event experience that attendees rave about.