The most of important of all – work out what you want your event to achieve and what you want attendees to takeaway. As you go further through the planning process make sure you keep referring back to your event goals to keep you on track. It’s easy to get swept up in it all, so ensuring that everything you plan supports your event goals is wise to do.
Know your audience
This will ensure all your content is made relevant. You need to think about where they are attending from, which time zones they are in and how tech savvy they are.
Remember the audience can simply log out of the event at any time, so you will need to know your audience well and provide reasons for them to stay engaged in order to make the most out of your event.
Know your platform
With so many platform options and technology constantly updating it can be a scary minefield! Many of the platforms do much of the same thing, so it can be down to personal preference and what you think works for you. However you will want to consider the cost, features and support as they do vary. Going back to my first point – once you know what you want to achieve, choosing the platform will be easier.
Most platforms offer free demos or trials so I would definitely recommend trying a few out before you make the final decision.
Once you have chosen your platform, make sure you test, test and test again before the event is live.
Know the format
This is so important, and something that always sticks to mind is a virtual event should never replicate a live event - the differences are huge. Just like live events virtual events come in many formats such as webinars, seminars, meetings, tradeshows, workshops and so on, they can also be run live or pre-recorded. It is best to choose a format that will work alongside your aims of the event and the key being to create a unique experience for your guests.
Know how to engage
Engagement is a must for virtual events and there are many ways to include interactivity such as Q&A sessions, panel discussions, word clouds, activities, team building, polls, chat, quizzes, newsfeeds and breakouts.
Remember the pre and post event can also be made engaging by incorporating fun communication campaigns and posting out event packs. The audience want to feel involved and interested – so variation and engagement is key! Don’t forget to schedule in breaks too.
I would always recommend having a host or even more than one to ensure smooth running of the event and to be able to react to any unexpected moments. They can also keep the conversation running in the right direction as well as keep to the time schedule.
These steps should be a starting point in order for you to begin your virtual event journey, one other thing I would mention is to have a strong follow up strategy once the event finishes. Send out a feedback survey, follow up any unanswered questions, share meeting outcomes and review analytics and ROI. This is all important for when you go on to planning your next virtual event.