In the early days of the pandemic, few people suspected that virtual events would become a permanent fixture in our lives. But over the last two years, organizations discovered that virtual events aren’t just a band-aid fix during a public health crisis––they can also drive innovation, improve access, and expand your geographic reach. And because of that, many experts argue, they aren’t going away anytime soon. According to research from LinkedIn, which polled 1,800 event planners across 13 countries, 75% of people anticipate hosting virtual events a year from now, and most are planning an events strategy that combines virtual, hybrid, and in-person programming.
With virtual events becoming a more permanent part of the marketing arsenal, organizations need to ensure they’re making the biggest impact possible via this digital channel. To help you get the most out of your virtual events, we’ve compiled our top eight tips:
1. Know your who, what, and why
Just like planning an in-person engagement, you need to start with the three W’s: who your audience is, why you’re hosting the virtual event, and what you want to communicate to them. Remember: it’s not about how much content you create—it’s about what your audience needs. Your content should always flow from the three W’s.
2. Make an engagement plan
Just because your event is online doesn’t mean your attendees should play a passive role. Consider mixing up your delivery to include discussions, breakout rooms, videos, and more to boost engagement. Implementing interactive components like surveys, polls, Q&A sessions with noteworthy speakers, gamification, and calls to action can also increase engagement and keep your audience interested.
3. Pick a reliable platform
With a virtual event, your platform is your venue, and it should be functional, accessible, and cost-effective. Your platform should support all of the tools required to keep your audience engaged—you don’t want viewers to have to struggle with multiple windows and apps. You also need to consider more technical specifications, like security, uptime, and performance, so you can guarantee your event won’t be interrupted by technical difficulties or a security breach.
4. Hone your production timeline
Just like in-person events, virtual programming takes time to prepare. You may need to create and publish pre-recorded content, troubleshoot technical issues with speakers and attendees, run a few practice sessions, and more. We recommend a production timeline of eight weeks or more, depending on the complexity of your event.
5. Choose the right production partner
If you aren’t sure where to begin—or want to ensure a high production value for your event—consider working with an experienced production partner. Production partners can help you design and prepare content, choose a platform, and create marketing materials to help you spread the word, and run all the technical aspects of the event on the day itself.
6. Educate your audience on your offerings
How will your attendees know what’s in store during your event? Developing a detailed Run-of-Show, or a comprehensive list of activities that will happen during your event, can help audiences tune into the programming that most excites them. Your Run-of-Show should include a detailed schedule of everything your attendees can see or hear during your event, not just the headliners.
7. Promote, promote, promote
You can spend months designing a fantastic event, but if no one knows about it, it’s a wasted effort. For this reason, every event should have its own comprehensive marketing plan with detailed instructions on how people will learn about the event, whether that’s via a paid social campaign, a series of emails, or even direct mail. Marketing collateral—including social posts—should employ sophisticated graphics designed to draw attendees in and paint your brand in a strong light.
8. Always have a backup plan
If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that emergencies happen—and virtual events are no exception. Make sure you have contingency plans in place in case a speaker backs out last minute or your technology doesn’t perform exactly the way you’d hoped. For the same reason, have a help desk or information available for attendees who experience technical difficulties, and tell them about it at the start of the event.
Virtual event planning is still a new frontier for many companies, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. But when you put your audience at the heart of your efforts, you can simplify the planning process and keep your priorities—and your attendees’ needs—top of mind. Remember: every event is a chance to delight your audience. Investing time up front and partnering with an experienced vendor are worthy investments, because they guarantee that your next virtual event will be unforgettable.
To learn more about how Stagedge can support your virtual event planning efforts, contact us.
Check back soon for more posts and information about the changing events landscape and what it means for the future of virtual, live, and hybrid events and broadcast technology.