Pretty much everything that involves leaving the house (or putting on pants) has been canceled lately. But that doesn't mean that you've got to call it quits on your regularly-scheduled events!
If you're looking for tips and tricks on how to switch from a traditional event to a virtual one, keep reading for our tried-and-true steps to making your success virtually guaranteed.
You may not need to secure venues and catering but securing virtual partners and assets is just as important! So break out your color-coded spreadsheets and get your glitter, because having a solid plan is the first step to any successful event!
We recommend starting with an agenda or schedule of events. If you've already put this together for your original (physical) event, this will probably just look like adjusting some timing and adding in a few extra components.
For instance, you can probably remove the 15 minutes you had planned to let people get into their seat and get settled. If people are taking 15 minutes to get to their couch, they've got other problems at hand.
Did you originally have 10 minutes set for a 5-minute speech, allowing for transition and applause? You can cut that down to a tight 6 minute segment with a prerecorded speech from your speaker! That gives you an extra 4 minutes for a twitter live feed, a dance party, or even a good old fashioned bathroom break!
Get creative with it and embrace the new format you're working with!
Secure Your Speakers
Don't change your plans too much: continue to partner up with experts in your field or key people your attendees would be interested in hearing from!
Now more than ever, your audience has the potential to be feeling disconnected or uninspired. Add a little brightness to these uncertain times by getting them passionate about what you're gathering for. Whether you're saving the tigers or promoting the importance of inner-city resources, your attendees have more time than ever to dedicate to a cause that they're excited about.
Even better: you get to skip out on any fees associated with travel for your speaker! Just be sure to have their recorded footage a couple of days before your event; you want to make sure you've gotten everything appropriately edited/queued up!
Pick the Right Platform for Your Event
Looking for some platform options, or trying to choose the best one for you? We've compiled some of the top options out there!
- LinkedIn isn't just for sharing your industry's latest news or congratulating your college roommate on their new promotion. You can also stream video content with LinkedIn Live. This is great for company events that only need to stream from one location.
- There's a high chance that most of your audience is already familiar with this platform. As one of the top video conferencing host sites, the transition from their daily team meetings to your webinar should be smooth! Zoom's webinar feature lets you host up to 10,000 attendees.
- Do your scheduling and planning in one spot with GoToWebinar. If this is your first virtual event, don't sweat it! GoToWebinar offers templates and platform resources to help you pull it off like a pro.
- Just like GoToWebinar, Accelevents is a one-stop shop for your virtual events. In-platform design, plan, and analytics are some of the platform features they boast.
- Give your audience the conference experience from their couch with vFairs. Virtual booths, avatars, and 1:1 chat windows make this platform audience-friendly and the perfect solution for tradeshows!
Prep Your Attendees
Essentially, you want to create the equivalent of when the ringleader at the circus says, "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls..."
Whether or not you have aerialists is up to you.
Good news though: step one of this is to send out the agenda that you created! First of all, everyone wants to know the timeline and when they can a) use the bathroom or b) sneak out early. Circumvent that fully by giving them all the pertinent details.
We also recommend erring on the side of over communicating. It's a weird time! Pants are largely optional, going to the grocery story requires you to get geared up, and I've been pouring Lysol in my diffuser. So make sure your guests know the plan, how they tie in, and what they can anticipate.
The present of your presence is gift enough...psych! Since you're going long-distance for this event, make sure to send a little something special right to their front door! After all, everybody loves swag and we're all trapped at home with limited access to emotional shopping.
Create Offline Resources
Cha cha slide!
Just kidding. But we do recommend sharing the slides from your presentation! After all, you put hard work into that, and some of your attendees might not have taken notes, but later wish they could reference the event.
You know it, we know it, but we're going to reiterate it here: there is power to social media, and the mightiest of the swords is the hashtag. Using a branded hashtag gives your event guests an easy way to track reactions, responses, and stay connected to your cause or movement. Plus, you get to have fun with some wordplay or puns and that's #blessed.
Our friends over at Later created some top tips to rock a branded hashtag.
Make it interactive with some online resources that can be downloaded and engaged with at home! Whether it's a worksheet that they can complete after the event, a creative challenge that they do with their at-home companion, or simply space to doodle while listening to the keynote speaker, it's always smart to have a downloadable component.
Virtual Event Tips + Tricks
Timing is everything: especially when your audience is at home and can easily wander away to get snacks from the kitchen.
Get your team together and be sure that you are ready to answer questions promptly. Assign someone to actively monitor your social feeds (remember that branded #hashtag deal?) so that you can react in real time.
Even better: set up a forum and dedicated email account for questions and attendee help. Technical help is something that we are all relying on more than ever these days, and providing that resource off the bat means that you'll keep attendees that might otherwise give up if they have issues.
Keep connected after the fact! Don't let the momentum die down, keep the conversation going after your virtual event has ended. Retweet those hashtags, double-tap those at-home event selfies, and respond to the questions you receive from your guests. Ready to really make an impact? Follow up with some door-to-door materials, surveys, and emails to guarantee that they'll keep thinking about your event for days after it wraps.
These tips, tricks, and guidelines should help you throw one great virtual event. I mean, we're already giving you a round of applause.