How to Mirror an In-Person Experience for Virtual Events
This post was written in collaboration with PandaDocs, a trusted partner of Snapbar.
Virtual events have become increasingly popular in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this trend. While virtual events offer many benefits such as cost savings, increased attendance, and easier accessibility, they can be challenging to execute successfully. One of the biggest obstacles in hosting a virtual event is recreating the same atmosphere, engagement, and excitement as an in-person gathering. However, with the right strategy and tools, you can create an outstanding virtual event experience that mirrors an in-person gathering. In this article, we will guide you through the essential steps to create an unforgettable virtual event.
1. Plan ahead
Planning is the most critical aspect of creating an unforgettable virtual event. The more you plan, the more organized and seamless your event will be. Start by outlining your goals, audience, and budget. Then, create a detailed timeline and checklist to ensure everything runs smoothly.
One of the critical elements of planning is securing sponsorship. Just like in-person events, sponsorship is a great way to monetize your virtual event and provide additional value to attendees. To secure sponsorship, you need to create a sponsorship agreement that outlines the benefits, terms, and conditions of the sponsorship. It is important to clearly define what the sponsors will receive in return for their investment, such as logo placement, speaking opportunities, and virtual booth space.
2. Create engaging content
Engaging content is the key to a successful event, whether it's virtual or in-person. Your content needs to be relevant, informative, and interactive. A great way to ensure your content is engaging is by incorporating real-life examples, case studies, and statistics. According to a study by EventMB, 73% of event organizers agree that incorporating real-life examples and case studies increases engagement.
Another way to create engaging content is by providing opportunities for attendees to interact with the speakers and each other. Polls, Q&A sessions, activities, and breakout rooms are just a few examples of how you can encourage engagement and interaction in real-time.
3. Gamify the experience
Adding gamification to your virtual event can increase engagement and make it more fun for attendees. You can include games or contests that attendees can participate in throughout the event. For example, you can have a treasure hunt where attendees must find certain items or information on your website or social media pages to win prizes. Or you can create a quiz that attendees can participate in to test their knowledge of your brand or industry.
4. Involve attendees in content planning
Involving attendees in content planning can be a crucial step in creating an amazing experience. By involving attendees in the planning process, you can gain valuable insights into what they want to see and learn from the event, which can help you tailor the content to their specific needs and interests.
One effective way to involve attendees in content planning is to conduct surveys or polls before the event. Ask them about their preferences for topics, speakers, and session formats. This feedback can be used to inform your content strategy and ensure that you're delivering the most relevant sessions. To provide more flexible, asynchronous opportunities to hear from attendees, consider collecting questions or feedback via video prompts as part of the onboarding or signup process. Furthermore, incorporating qualitative data analysis into the content planning process can lead to a more comprehensive and well-rounded understanding of attendees' perspectives, ultimately resulting in a more tailored and impactful event experience.
Another way to involve attendees is to invite them to participate in speaker selection. By giving them a say in who speaks at the event, you can ensure that the content is aligned with their interests and needs.
5. Choose the right virtual event platform
Choosing the right virtual event platform is critical to creating a seamless and enjoyable event experience, and utilizing the best webinar software is an essential part of that.
There are many virtual event platforms available, so it's essential to do your research and select one that fits your specific needs. Some popular virtual event platforms include EventCube, Zoom, WebEx, and Hopin. Snapbar products integrate directly with most virtual event platforms for a seamless experience.
When selecting a virtual event platform, consider the features it offers, such as the ability to host multiple sessions simultaneously, breakout rooms, comment sections, and the option to record sessions for later viewing. Additionally, make sure the platform provides technical support to troubleshoot any issues that may arise during the event.
In addition to selecting the right virtual event platform, it's important to have the right tools to communicate with attendees. A virtual phone system can provide a professional and reliable way to handle phone calls during the event and ensure that important calls are not missed. When choosing a virtual phone system, consider factors such as call quality, pricing, and integration with your virtual event platform.
In addition to selecting the right virtual event platform, it's important to have reliable communication channels with attendees. An online phone system can provide a professional and reliable way to handle phone calls during the event and ensure that important calls are not missed. When choosing a virtual phone system, consider factors such as call quality, pricing, and integration with your virtual event platform.
6. Consider web hosting options
Web hosting is another critical aspect of hosting a successful virtual event. Your website is where attendees will go to register for the event, access the virtual event platform, and find information about the event. There are many web hosting options available, including Platform.sh, WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace.
When selecting a web hosting option, consider the features it offers, such as customization options, e-commerce integration, and customer support. Additionally, consider the security and reliability of the hosting platform. A reliable web hosting platform ensures that your website is always up and running, even during high traffic periods.
7. Utilize letter of engagement and speaking proposal templates
In order to make sure that your virtual event is a success, it's important to provide your speakers with clear guidelines and expectations. One effective way to achieve this is by utilizing a letter of engagement template and a speaking proposal template.
A letter of engagement serves as an agreement between the event organizers and the speaker, outlining the specific details of the speaker's participation in the event. This includes their role and responsibilities, the compensation they will receive, and any other important information.
It’s also helpful to provide speakers with a speaking proposal template. This template can guide speakers in creating a compelling and engaging presentation that aligns with the theme and goals of the event. The template can include tips on how to structure the presentation, incorporate visual aids, and practice good delivery skills. By providing speakers with these resources, you can help them to create a presentation that will resonate with the audience and contribute to the overall success of the event.
8. Provide networking opportunities
One of the main reasons people attend events is to network with others in their industry. Just because an event is virtual doesn't mean that networking opportunities can't be included. You can host a virtual networking session where attendees can connect with each other in real-time via video chat or messaging. You can also include interactive features like discussion boards or breakout rooms where attendees can connect with others who have similar interests or backgrounds.
9. Leverage data and analytics to measure success
One of the biggest advantages of hosting a virtual event is the ability to track and measure attendee engagement, participation, and overall success of the event. Data and analytics can provide valuable insights into attendee behavior, preferences, and satisfaction levels. By leveraging this information, event organizers can identify areas for improvement, make data-driven decisions, and optimize future events for better outcomes.
There are several metrics that can be used to measure the success of a virtual event, including registration and attendance rates, session attendance rates, engagement rates (such as likes, comments, and shares), time spent in sessions, and survey feedback. It's important to define your key performance indicators (KPIs) ahead of time and track them throughout the event.
10. Provide post-event content
Once your virtual event is over, it's important to continue engaging your attendees. Providing post-event content such as recordings of keynote speeches, panel discussions, or other presentations can help attendees revisit the event and reinforce the learning and networking they experienced.
Additionally, creating social media content related to the event can help attendees stay connected and engaged. Encourage attendees to share their experiences on social media and engage with them by reposting or responding to their posts. Setting up a Social Wall for the event is a great way to encourage engagement by showing live content throughout the event and making it easy for people to engage and share.
In addition to providing post-event content, another way to ensure attendees get the most out of your virtual event is by offering mentoring activities. This can include one-on-one sessions with industry experts, group coaching sessions, or even a mentorship program for attendees. By providing opportunities for attendees to connect with mentors and learn from experienced professionals, you can add value to their experience and help them achieve their goals. Consider adding mentoring activities to your event planning checklist to make sure you don't overlook this important aspect of event design.
1. Adobe MAX
Adobe MAX is an annual event that brings together thousands of creatives from around the world to learn, connect, and be inspired. In 2020, Adobe MAX was held virtually for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite being held virtually, Adobe MAX still provided a rich and engaging experience for attendees. They used a variety of interactive elements such as live Q&A sessions, networking events, and even a virtual ‘sneak-preview’ showcase where attendees could preview new features and technologies.
Additionally, Adobe provided attendees with post-event content such as recordings of keynote speeches and a virtual library of on-demand content.
TEDxToronto is an annual event that features live talks and performances from thought leaders and innovators. In 2020, TEDxToronto was held virtually for the first time.
To keep attendees engaged, TEDxToronto used a variety of interactive elements such as live Q&A sessions, virtual networking events, and interactive exhibits. They also featured keynote speakers who were experts in their field and provided attendees with post-event content such as recordings of talks and performances.
Hosting a virtual event can be challenging, but with the right planning and execution, you can create an amazing virtual event experience that mirrors an in-person gathering. By using technology to create engaging and interactive experiences, incorporating networking opportunities, and providing post-event content, you can create a memorable event that leaves a lasting impact on your attendees.