Best tips and practice for hosting a great virtual event
Virtual events keep booming. They proved to be a cost-effective and efficient way of interacting with people from various spheres. Sharing industry insights and exchange of thoughts has never been more available. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed businesses and networks online, and they show no signs of coming back to offline mode soon.
Although everyone seems to have understood how to host successful and engaging virtual events, it’s always good to have a comprehensive checklist in mind.
Frame the goal and format of your event
Define the message you send to the audience
Setting the clear aim of the event is half of its success. By choosing the most fitting format, you will achieve the necessary public awareness and high engagement. For instance, if your goal is to gather professionals in the niche and conduct a field-specific discussion, invite-only webinars are the best choice. To make people talk about your business, and attract potential candidates looking for a job, try informal events on social media platforms. The next step could be organizing live streams or FAQ sessions. Thus, more people get specific information about the company and an opportunity to talk to project participants directly. Those who show a substantial interest in your activity will be ready to pay for participation in online conferences or other events. If you try to engage with people by asking them to pay for that, the success is doubtful. First, people need to introduce themselves, then get straight to business.
Choose a hosting platform according to the event format
Another crucial point is choosing the right platform to host an event. A rule of thumb is that the more formal the meeting is, the more sophisticated the platform should be. If you want people to freely interact with each other and the moderator, think of Instagram, Clubhouse, Twitter, or Facebook. On the other hand, specialized platforms for hosting conferences or webinars provide guests with more interaction tools. They can be more suitable for moderating professional discussions Therefore, define the ultimate goal and format of the virtual event.
There are thousands of online events worldwide, so you need to mobilize all your creativity and stand out. Start with an event brand. A catchy slogan and a thought-provoking logo will boost your position among users. We have a tiny attention span, so only bright and brief images can win our hearts and memories. If the company manages to create and distribute a short but recognizable slogan, hashtag, or logo, it will prolong its life on social media and engage more people for the next events.
Develop a clear meeting agenda
Be strict with timing
This tip applies to any event. However, by participating in virtual gatherings, people more often get caught in the illusion that they have unlimited time for delivering speeches or discussions. Since one doesn’t even need to leave home to join the event, we may think the time frame for online meetings is easier to adjust. People are more comfortable discussing things online. Don’t forget about possible computer glitches or reception problems. Voilà! The meeting schedule is broken because you need more time than planned. Therefore, a clear agenda is a must for virtual events.
Inform guests of the meeting schedule in advance
Since the attention span of users is even shorter than of offline attendees, don’t make people wait for a long time. Provide them with comprehensive information on the timetable of speeches, create a backup plan if some speakers have trouble joining the conversation, and organize some interactive activities to make people concentrate on the topic. Make sure all the relevant links in the presentation are valid. If many people participate in the event, invite moderators who could take care of things and keep track of time.
Choose the meeting time wisely. Sure, if you are hosting an international event with a multinational board of speakers, some of them will have to deliver a speech late at night or early in the morning. Try to find the most suitable time for guests and speakers and be ready to compromise. Time zones are tricky, so check out several times when you are going to launch an event.
Don’t forget about event follow-ups
Maximize the meeting utility for its guests
Recording an event is a must. Asking for feedback after the session is also a must. However, people very rarely watch recorded meetings. Sometimes they might need only a couple of minutes, so precise time codes would be really helpful. Make sure you let participants know how and when they can get access to all materials afterwards. If you are preparing a serious top-level event, try to do the following: collect speakers’ reports, and create a document with their essential ideas, make a time code for the conference or the webinar. If there were exciting discussions during the event, mention them too. Thus, the users will have a detailed outline of the meeting. First, it highlights all necessary information and spares attendees’ time. Second, you will show that you care for the guests. This attitude will doubtfully encourage them to join your webinar and a conference next time.
Discuss the meeting with your team
Make follow-ups for your team, too. It’s always a good idea to briefly discuss what was good and what went wrong right after the event is over. Thus, you won’t miss any significant details and avoid technical or management issues the next time. Sure, we can’t be ready for all possible problems. Yet, it’s always good to prevent as many issues as possible or fix them in the early stages. May it be your small team ritual. Follow up with each other about the event right after it’s over to achieve better performance.
Online events are as challenging to organize as offline ones. You need to keep many subtleties in mind. Although COVID restrictions taught us how to conduct various online events of all possible scales on different platforms, companies still may face troubles while launching virtual meetings. Define the goal of your upcoming event. Choose the right format. If your company wants to broaden the network and introduce its products to the audience, start with something informal. Popular social platforms are great instruments to spread awareness. If your goal is to engage with specialists and spark debates on specific topics, think of more sophisticated formats, such as paid webinars or conferences.
While launching an online conference, one also heavily relies on technologies, so some things can go wrong even if you have prepared very carefully. Therefore, get in touch with your team and check what you managed to do right and what obstacles appeared. Do it as soon after the conference as possible. Thus, you will correct more mistakes and improve the deliverability of your virtual events.