Let’s talk about virtual events! With in-person events being out of the question these days, virtual events have become the go-to! If you're not familiar with planning them, they can seem a little daunting, but believe it or not, they’re actually less stressful to plan and execute than a live event! We’ve laid out a few steps and best practices for hosting a virtual event!
Know your audience! It seems obvious, but this is often overlooked. Who are you putting on this event for? What do you want them to get from this event? Identify your audience, and what you want them to gain, and then you can start planning activities and content that will best deliver this info to your audience. (We’ll touch on a few activities you can include, further on.)
Choose a date and time! An additional benefit to knowing your audience is the assistance it provides in determining the right date and time for the event! Think about when your audience is most likely to be available, and plan your event for that time.
Market it! Once you’ve identified your audience and made a plan for the event. Then it’s time to market your virtual event to your audience! Keep it clear and simple. Attendees will be more likely to sign up if they know exactly what they are getting. Ambiguity leaves space for indecision, but if your audience knows exactly what they are getting, they’ll sign up quickly!
Here are a few easy ways to market your event:
- Social media:
- Share your event on Instagram stories.
- Post about your event.
- Write a blog post about your event.
- Email: If you have a list of subscribers, friends, or clients you want to attend your event, send them an email about it and include the sign-up link!
Build anticipation! As your event approaches, get people excited about it! Share your enthusiasm for it. Here are a few ways we recommend, to up the hype!
- Emails! Send a few emails prior to the event. Not too many where people are overwhelmed, but two or three well-timed emails go a long way. Examples include a ‘thanks for signing up’ email after attendees register. A ‘countdown to the event’ email, sharing your excitement for the event, and an email with the agenda, including a ‘see you soon’ message the day before the event!
- Swag box! Send your attendees a swag/event box, a few days before the event. You can customize the contents of your box, to fit your event. Swag boxes, build the anticipation for the event and gives people a chance to start sharing about it on social media. Virtual event packs also create great engagement during the event! (we’ll talk about this a little later as well.)
Check your tech! Before your event, do a couple of run-throughs of your systems, your talking points, and timeline. As a live event can have issues, so can a virtual event. To avoid technical challenges, test everything out before to make sure it’s all good to go!
Create engagement! The biggest key to a successful and fun virtual event is creating engagement. You’ll have more fun and your audience will have more fun! Who doesn’t want to have fun? Here are a few virtual event activities to add engagement:
- Questions! Provide a way for the audience to ask questions, we recommend using the chat feature on your hosting platform! This allows participants to ask questions, without having to interrupt the presentation. To simplify it further, you can have someone monitor the chat window while you're presenting. The supervisor can either prep the questions for Q&A time, or they can chat with attendees as the event goes along. Either way, make sure to provide a way for attendees to ask questions!
- Virtual photo booth! A virtual photo booth provides a great opportunity for attendees to interact with each other. You can customize the booth with its own branding to fit your event theme. Then attendees can snap a few photos, and share them on social media. This allows attendees to share their favorite moments, takeaways, or thoughts about the event, with others on social media, using hashtags, or by tagging the event in their posts. Then other attendees can comment and connect with one another on social media.
- Virtual event pack! We touched on this earlier, but virtual event packs are a great way to create engagement. Send them to your attendees before the event, to get them excited for it, and to provide a conversation starter about the event on social media. You can also customize the contents of the box, to fit the theme of your event, and include items for attendees to use during the event. Not only does this make the audience feel valued, but it also gives them an additional opportunity to share on social media!
- Small groups! Depending on the size of your group and the platform you're using, you can have attendees break out into small groups to discuss questions or the topic presented. This provides an excellent social activity, allowing attendees to connect with one another, and build relationships. If you’re wondering what type of platform to use, Zoom is a great option.
As you plan activities for your event, keep your audience in mind, and think of activities that are best suited for allowing your audience to communicate ideas and thoughts amongst themselves.
Follow up! After your event is over, keep the conversation going. Follow up with your attendees by sending out an email saying thanks for coming. Recap the key points from the event and end with a call to action. What do you want them to do? Sign up for something? Become a part of your community? Offer them the opportunity and pull it all together, by sending them a photo of yourself or your team, using the Virtual Booth from your event!
A virtual event is a great way to engage with people. Make a plan, keep it simple, create engagement, and your event will be a success!