You’ve been thinking about putting on a virtual event for a while now, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Putting on a virtual event can seem really daunting if you’ve never done it before. The technology to learn, the different platforms, how to advertise to an online audience…there are a lot of questions and new things to learn that surround a virtual event. Even if you’re an experienced event planner, putting on a 100 percent virtual event presents a whole new set of issues and problems to troubleshoot and solve.
With current events keeping almost everyone at home to do most of their work and leisure activities online, now is the time to put on your first virtual event.
So, how does one actually put on a virtual event? If you go step by step, it’s not as complicated as you think.
We’ve broken it down into steps for you, to help you put on your first virtual event without a hitch.
6 Steps For Putting On A Virtual Event That Works
1. Assess your audience.
Before you can do anything else you need to know who your audience is. Your audience will decide all the components of your event, from which platform to use, to what topics to focus on, to how to market most effectively. It all comes down to what your audience is so make sure you ask yourself a few questions about who they are, such as what are they interested in? How tech-savvy are they? And how do they interact online? This will help you figure out how to market to them and keep them interested once you have them at your event.
2. Figure out your format.
Just like live events, there are several different configurations to any virtual event so use your now defined audience to decide which one would be best for them. Are they a more passive audience or do they like to interact? Are they skills-based or experience-based? How much time do they have? Based on these and other questions, you can design your event’s format accordingly. Maybe your virtual event will be a single simple seminar with a question-and-answer session at the end. Maybe it will be a complicated multi-event format with plenty of real-time interaction, polling, and audience participation. Use your audience research to decide on what will keep them engaged.
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3. Pick a platform.
Based on your format, now is the time to research your platform options and decide on the one that will best optimize your virtual event, for yourself, your presenter(s) and your audience. Make a list of what you need to make your event a success, find the ones that meet those criteria, and utilize their free trial packages (most online platforms will offer this) to test them out and find which one fits best for you. Don’t forget to keep your audience in mind—will they adapt easily to a new platform, or would a familiar streaming service such as Facebook or Youtube be best for them?
4. Pick your presenters.
As in a live event, having a host and speakers who are engaging, knowledgeable, and quick-on-their-feet is essential. In the case of virtual events, it is also important that your speaker can adapt to an online audience and is tech-savvy enough to troubleshoot tech issues on the spot and engage seamlessly with a virtual audience.
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5. Choose your “when and where”.
Just because your event won’t be with a live audience, doesn’t mean you don’t have to commit to a time and place—don’t think that these particulars don’t matter. You can have the most interesting virtual event in the world but it won’t do much good if half of your audience is asleep because you’ve scheduled it in the wrong time zone. So pay attention to your audience and what their needs are, time-wise. You can even poll them to figure out what their optimal time is to commit to an online event. And venue matters, as well. You might be tempted to host in your living room, but keep in mind that your background can make your event look cheaper than it is. Consider renting an office space or boardroom for a more professional presentation.
6. Let the world know!
Okay! You’ve finally got the basics of your virtual event figured out. Time to let the world know! Maximize social media and your mailing list to get the word out in as many ways as possible. Promote as many aspects of your event as you can, including your presenters, your venue and your themes/topics. Don’t forget to use hashtags to maximum effect, and if you’re using a social media platform to stream your event, use that platform for leverage as well.
Good luck with your virtual event! And happy planning.
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