5 Steps to Creating a Successful Virtual Event
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home orders, many businesses are transitioning what would have been in-person events to online as well as many businesses taking the opportunity to provide virtual events, behind the scenes events, or special bonus content to their customers. With the rising popularity and necessity of virtual events, you might be wondering how to make your virtual event successful. Here are five steps to walk you through planning, promoting, and hosting your next virtual event.
What’s your Strategy?
Before diving into the details of planning the date and schedule of your event, step back and think about what your main goal is for the event.
- What do you want to achieve? How will you measure success?
- What do you want to provide to the attendees?
- What kind of experience and impression do you want to leave all attendees with?
After determining your goals for the event and how you will measure them, you want to do some research into the various tools available for virtual conferences, webinars, and events to choose which will work best for your event.
Preparing for the Event
As you begin planning and preparing for your event, lay out all the details. Decide if you can achieve your goals for the event in a few hours, or if it will need to be a multi-day event. Create a plan and schedule for the event from start to finish.
Keep in mind that a virtual event should be focused on the essential of what you want to provide. What could have been an all-day event in person may need to only be a few hours online. People’s attention span for an online event will be shorter than it is when they are meeting in person. You’ll need to take this into consideration when planning the schedule of the event and duration of each segment.
With a virtual event, there isn’t the personal connection that comes with an in-person event. As you plan and prepare, think about the experience your event will create. Think of creative ways to be interactive with attendees and allow them to be engaged with you and the speakers. A few fun options are having a chatbox for attendees, an interactive game during the event, or a Q&A time at the end of a speaker’s segment. Get creative and think of what will work best for your business and the type of event you want to host.
Be sure to test out the tool you chose before going live to work through any technical issues. Before the event, it’s helpful to your attendees to create an easy “how to” guide so all attendees know how to access and use the tool you’ve chosen for the event. A brief list of FAQs about the event and the video conferencing tool can be useful as well.
How to Promote the Event
After you plan your event, you want people to come, right?! Plan a promotion strategy or marketing plan to promote your event and get the word out to anyone who would benefit from attending. Create an event hashtag that can be used leading up to and during the event. This is a great way to spread the word and generate awareness of your event. Here are a few other ways you can promote your online event:
- Promote the event on your business’ social media platforms.
- If you have any guest speakers, ask them to post about the event on their social media accounts too.
- Add promotional material to your website. You could also include a countdown clock on your website with a call to action to register.
- Email all your current subscribers or customers and tell them about your event. Be sure to let them know what they can expect to get out of the event and that you’d love for them to be there!
As people register for your event, make sure everyone receives the link or instructions for how to access the event when it begins. Also, be sure to specify when it starts and in what time zone. Virtual events make it very easy for people from all over to attend, so you want to make sure everyone understands what time your event is with respect to their location.
Note: If your event was going to be a live event and you are turning it into a virtual event due to COVID-19, notify all the registered attendees with the information for the new online event.
Things to Keep in Mind During the Event
So, you’ve planned an awesome event and built up a lot of excitement around it. Now the day has arrived! Don’t forget about your event hashtag. It’s not just to be used before the event. Use it during the event to continue to build exposure to your brand and the vent you are hosting. You can event utilize the hashtag to incorporate a competition or prizes for attendees.
During your event, keep in mind that everyone is attending virtually so be sure to incorporate ways for attendees to interact with everyone. If you can keep your attendees engaged throughout the event, you will create a memorable experience for them.
Keep in mind that there may be technical issues during the event. Make sure you have a tech team available to help keep things running smoothly and to be there to answer any questions attendees may have about getting themselves connected to the event.
What to do After the Event
After the conclusion of the event, reach out to the attendees, and ask for feedback. This will provide you with tons of insight into how successful the event was and ways you can make the next one even better. Once you receive some feedback, review the event and the feedback to see if you achieved your goals.