How to rock your next event, even if it’s going to be a virtual one? Get excited because we share our top tips for virtual events.
The COP26 has come to an end.
There’s no chance in the world you missed the image of the Tuvalu government minister telling the world “we are sinking” while he was standing knee deep in the ocean. It was a powerful image. One that spoke. Heck, it went viral.
You could argue that Tuvalu should be on speed-dial for engaging virtual events. But I doubt that’s the conclusion that is to be drawn here. Neither do I have any intention of entering a climate change debate.
But I do want to talk about the impact a virtual event can have when it’s done well.
Think about that simple Tuvalu image and how it spoke more than any inspired speech could have stirred.
Virtual events can be just as impactful as in person events.
Virtual Events Can Make a Splash
But it can’t be a copy-paste affair. The kind where you plonk a camera in front of whoever has the word and hope the rest of the delegates hide the fact they are falling asleep. ( Hashtag President Biden. I know… cheeky!)
The bottom-line is virtual events require a change of thinking. You’re using different media, which in turn requires different tools, which have different strengths and weaknesses and as a result require a different approach. It’s as simple as that. (Did we just break the record of the shortest argumentation ever? )
Anyway… you get it: for virtual events, you need to reconsider your approach.
So, considering we’re known to organise an event or two, here are some tips for planning a virtual event that makes a splash.
A Complete Event Platform Wins The Game
Forget boring. There’s nothing more frustrating than limping technology. In our experience, the best solution is to make your virtual platform a one-stop-shop (something like the ACE Event App) as opposed to using multiple tools. Not only does it provide consistency. It’s also the best way to deliver a seamless experience that is secure and reliable.
Video Is Your Friend
Make the most of what a video can do for your virtual event. Like the Tuvalu example; an image can say so much more than a 1000 words or a slide show. We live in a visual world, where YouTube and Instagram reign. It’s something we shouldn’t ignore, and virtual events offer the perfect opportunity for it.
Keep an eye on the ENTIRE experience
When it comes to tips for virtual events, this one sounds obvious, but it’s such an important one we couldn’t leave it out.
When planning an event, any event, you need to put some serious thought into the customer experience as a whole. For virtual events, it’s probably even more important because we’re still coming to grips with the best way to approach it. Our advice is to create a customer experience roadmap that focuses on the entire experience. This includes anything from setting the time and date to measuring the analytics.
Also, be consistent with visual branding.
Tips For Virtual Events: The Delegates
With virtual events, it’s important to remember that people don’t know what they don’t know. And just as you are coming to terms with a changed world, so are the delegates who, for the first time, are navigating a virtual event experience. Everything is different from what was previously set in stone.
Rather than letting people guess, it’s better to expressly communicate expected behaviours to enable them to get the most from the virtual event.
When people might feel a bit stressed-out, humour can work like magic. Use it to explain how to join keynotes, attend sessions, and use messaging tools. Maybe even offer a trial session beforehand.
Tips For Virtual Events: The Speakers
A similar thought applies to speakers. They may be very skilled in speaking in front of large crowds; speaking to a virtual turn-out is a different ball-game.
As we previously discussed in our Oh-Ah-Ha Live with Virtual MC Greg Ward, it’s important to prepare virtual speakers: check they are comfortable speaking on a virtual platform, conduct tech checks ahead of the day, encourage the use of interactive tools in their presentation (more on that in our next tips for virtual events).
Provide Ample Networking Opportunity
Part of the entire event appeal is the networking opportunity.
Many people have this idea that a virtual event is a boring and solitary experience. Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth if the event is done right. So one of our top tips for virtual events: don’t skimp on the interactive networking tools. They create a direly needed human to human connection in a virtual world. Here are some ways you can provide interaction without being in the same room.
Ways To Provide Interaction
- Allow for breakout sessions and network opportunities. Some of the networking tips for virtual events to consider are:
- live text and video chat
- speed dating
- a virtual lobby
- virtual escape rooms for one-on ones
- a cocktail lounge (you could even send out a goodie box to complete the experience)
- If privacy regulations allow, you could even consider linking attendees with similar interests based on registration data.
- Apart from having a chinwag with fellow delegates, attendees also like to interact with speakers and vice versa. Q&A’s offer the perfect opportunity. These days it’s possible to integrate live chat tools alongside a session, where attendees can ask questions to the speaker and also engage with each other.
- Believe it or not, but it’s possible to even do one better. During in person events, speakers can read the audience. Much to their annoyance, there’s no such thing during a virtual event. It’s one of the biggest frustrations for speakers. No longer. Live polling or upvoting can provide a valuable alternative, so speakers no longer have to travel it blind.
- Provide a way to exchange virtual business cards.
- Create a sense of community with a social media feed integrated with the virtual platform. Using Hashtags across social media platforms does a perfect job at aggregating conversations.
- Don’t forget to think mobile!
- People love a good game. It increases audience participation and beats the boredom. Banking on that with a gamification element such as a scavenger hunt can promote exhibitors and sponsors. But it could equally be designed in a way to help your event goal.
- Talking about sponsors and exhibitors, apart from sponsored sessions, you can also provide virtual booths that allow event attendees to self-schedule meetings with sponsors and exhibitors and share their contact information for customer data collection.
- Last but not least: provide behind-the-scenes support. This includes both moderators (not everybody is of the polite type) and people that can help with trouble-shooting (not everybody was born tech-savvy).
You catch our drift: When done right, virtual events are a fun and effective way to reach your audience, wherever they are.
Our virtual event tips are only lifting the tip of the veil of the potential that comes with online events. What’s more, no two events are the same. Talk to us about how we can turn your virtual event into a smashing success that is talked about in years to come.
The only limit is your mind!