You’ve decided that you want or need to plan a virtual event. So how do you do it? The planning process is very similar to that of any other event. Just as you would put yourself in your attendees’ shoes when planning an in-person event, you should do the same for a virtual event. You wouldn’t keep attendees in their seats for more than two hours at a time and the same goes for virtual events. As you plan, use your standard planning tips and tricks to create and execute a great event. Virtual events may feel different, but the more you treat them like an in-person event, the better.
Questions to Ask When Planning a Virtual Event:
- Will content be live, on-demand, or a mix?
- Have you created a guide for attendees before the event that explains how to join keynotes, attend sessions, and use messaging tools?
- What are your KPIs for the event? While you may focus less on leads acquired, you can build goals around session registration and feedback surveys.
- What happens if you have connectivity issues?
- Will you charge for your event or offer access for free?
- How long will on-demand sessions be available after the event?
- How long will sessions be?
- What tools will attendees have to network and schedule appointments?
When technology is involved, there is going to be user error. Virtual events are not all the same. Don’t take your attendees’ digital savvy (or lack thereof) for granted. Before the event, it’s best practice to create a guide for attendees explaining how to access the event, sessions, and more. Even better, allow attendees to practice launching sessions or sending messages before the event starts. This will ease attendee stress, decrease the flood of questions on Day 1 of the event to a trickle, and provide an overall better attendee experience. This article doesn’t have to be stale. Will your event have a host of some kind? Consider having them record an introduction video that educates them while infusing humor into the content.
In-person events are built for engagement. Now virtual engagement has been a barrier yet the greatest opportunity when planning a successful virtual event. From attendees networking at happy hours to one-on-one appointments to live Q&A, these events involve attendees rather than making them sit for hours and listen to content.
You might think that virtual events don’t provide an opportunity for engagement – you’d be wrong. Keynotes, while viewed individually, can employ live polling to engage attendees. Sessions can still involve live Q&A. The engagement tools provided in Movazi Events are still available. With messaging capabilities, attendees can meet each other virtually and set up meetings. As always, social media is a great engagement tool to leverage. Utilizing an event hashtag and having attendees post pictures of favorite takeaways from the day, office setups, and more can make attendees feel like they’re part of a community. There are plenty of virtual engagement strategies you can employ to keep virtual attendees engaged and interacting with your event. From meeting icebreakers to event app gamification, your attendees can enjoy more than the content you’re providing – they can enjoy the complete event experience. So they can’t attend an in-person happy hour? Set up a social media scavenger hunt. The possibilities for virtual engagement are endless!
With a virtual event, just because attendees can’t shake hands doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to network. The Movazi Event whether used on the phone or in a web browser, can connect attendees and provide a messaging system. Once attendees connect on the app, they can schedule one-on-one appointments with each other, exhibitors, or sponsors. Consider providing dedicated networking time to encourage attendees to meet. Using registration data, link attendees with similar interests and set up group chats and breakouts. Facilitate networking through video calls, chat groups, and appointments.
The event data available varies from in-person to virtual events. Data is still gathered before, during, and after the event and can be used to qualify leads, prove event success, and improve the event for the next year.
Data Gathered at Virtual Events
- # of Registrations
- Demographic Attendee Information
- Session Registration
- Email Open and Click-through Rates
- Post-Event Survey Results
- # of Leads
- Buying Interest
- Session Ratings
- Session Feedback
- Social Media Engagement and Reach
Proving Virtual Event Success
Virtual event success depends on aligning event and business goals, identifying key performance indicators to define event success before the event, and analyzing event data and reviewing insights after the event. Proving event ROI requires an analysis of costs and benefits. Costs are expressed as direct costs, indirect expenses, and opportunity costs. Benefits refer to direct revenue, attributed revenue, attributed sales pipeline, brand equity, and knowledge exchange. By using the data gathered during virtual events to weigh costs versus benefits, you can prove the success of your event. Articulate your event success metrics before the event begins. After the event, take time to understand if the event was successful based on your metrics and how to improve in the future.
How to Turn Your Live Event into a Virtual Event at the Last Minute
There may be times when you have to make a quick shift and your options are to cancel the event or to make it virtual. Turns out, making an event virtual isn’t that hard if you have the right infrastructure in place. Sorting out travel, lodging, F&B, and other pieces will require effort, but shifting the content from in-person to virtual isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Questions to Ask Before Moving to a Virtual Event
- Can your agenda be translated to a virtual setting, or is an in-person event required?
- How will you track attendance?
- Does your organization have a virtual meeting solution?
- Does your organization have staff members that can support and manage the technical aspects of a virtual event?
- Can you handle the bandwidth?
- Do your attendees have all the materials they need to attend virtually?
How to Pivot to a Virtual Event
- Update the event website and email attendees to communicate that the event is going virtual and the reason for the change
- Provide attendees with a guide on how to attend the event virtually
- In the agenda, add links to the session recording or live broadcast
In closing, adding virtual events as a key digital strategy to your meeting and event program is a good idea. While we know that virtual events do not hold the same power of face-to-face interactions, circumstances may necessitate going virtual, sometimes on very short notice. Having a plan, and the proper technology, in place will mean a pivot to digital can be an alternative you have full confidence in, and one you can trust to deliver the engaging, informative experiences to attendees that you work so hard to make happen.