We are in unprecedented waters with COVID-19, and a lot of companies as well as everyday people are pivoting their events into fully virtual events. Planning a virtual event can have some unique characteristics and challenges, but all in all, it is not all that different from planning an in-person event.
- Find a live-streaming plan and platform
You need to visualize what your ideal online event will look like and then that will help you pick your platform. Do you want attendees to be able to walk through the event virtually or is it more important for attendees to communicate with one another one-on-one?
Once you figure out your platform, you can decide how attendees gain access to the event. Do you have to have them pay or do you just give them a password and log-in? Also, is it open to the public, private, or a mix?
- What do your attendees want and need
Since your event is virtual, you don’t need hors d’oeuvres or cocktail hours. However, you do need to provide your attendees with what they were going to get at an in-person event, just delivered in a virtual format. This would include things like continuing education classes, the speakers they wanted to hear, networking opportunities, or product demos.
Attendees will adapt and understand the event is now virtual, also, just because they are willing to adapt, it doesn’t mean you should cut any value. If you are going live, or even if you aren’t, you want to create an atmosphere where you can still enjoy live music. Live musicians would appreciate the work without the party and can be easily found with a simple internet search of “musicians for hire near me.”
- Keep everyone’s attention
If you are turning an in-person conference into a virtual conference, instead of having longer, full-day sessions, you can extend the conference over the course of a week and have two hours of content each day. If it is just a one-day event, you can encourage activity by having giveaways, live-polling, Q&As, or quizzes.
Humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish, and most attendees will be watching from the comfort of their homes, which means even more distractions. It is important to make attendees excited and feel like they are a part of something.
An example is a fun trivia night! You can call out people on the call and make sure they know you are engaging with them.
- Prep for the event
Being on camera is different than being in front of a live audience. Your presenters should rehearse in front of the camera so there are no awkward pauses and so they see what they look like presenting.