Creating A Successful Virtual Event
Efforts to contain the Coronavirus has reached into many industries and caused large scale disruption which will have ramifications for months to come. As the event industry grapples with this new reality, many organizations are finding ways to connect with their stakeholders while still maintaining social distancing and avoiding large-scale meeting.
Normally, conferences and trade shows have a captive audience. The clients and prospects are outside of their work environment and away from any potential distractions as they are immersed in the trade show events, speakers, and company gatherings. Now, many attendees are not only working from home, but are working unusual hours as they balance caring for their family while keeping up with the demands of their job.
Kristen Greer, Events Manager at ImagineSoftware, states “The difficulty right now is most events have transitioned onto a virtual platform and it’s trying to come up with agendas and topics that stand out among the sea of other events.” With the overwhelming uptick in virtual events it’s important to find ways to make your event unique and attention grabbing. Here are some helpful ideas:
Have a Top-Notch Speaker Line Up
Having a well-known expert or exciting speaker on your agenda will help increase your registrations. Many speakers are reducing their fees as they cannot travel and are willing to convey their talk over virtual event platforms. The key is to ensure your speaker is online, ready and has reliable internet access for their talk as well as the time leading up to their slot on the agenda.
Content is More Important Than Ever
With many organizations coping with the effects of COVID-19 having solution-based content is key to drawing in additional registrations. Over the last few weeks many of us have been inundated with news, facts and figures; having a solution based event that gives the attendees actions steps and ideas they can implement is important in building a two-way communication stream that will help the attendees feel supported and valued.
Provide a Hybrid Experience
With events being virtual it’s still important to find ways to tangibly connect with your attendees. A few options to consider are opening your company estore to your event base along with a discount for their event registration. Allowing them to purchase branded items at a discount helps them feel connected to the organization and gives them something to look forward to coming in the mail after the event has passed.
If your company would have held a lunch and learn by taking clients out for lunch or bringing lunch into their office, providing a promo code for doordash or grubhub is a great way to create an engaged audience while sharing your knowledge with them from a remote environment.
The important thing to remember is that while you’re not able to translate all the components of a live event into a virtual one, it’s vital that your event is a good experience and not just watching a webinar. You can take your event to the next level by offering virtual networking opportunities with other attendees or speakers or offering group discussions or roundtables. As we mentioned before, with competing priorities it may be difficult for your attendees to join your event for the duration so offering on demand sessions they can come back to and watch on their own schedule is paramount.
Greer also offered an important viewpoint, “An in person event is never going to be the same as a virtual, but our goal would be to have people leave the event and not think ‘that was a good virtual event’ but rather ‘that was a good event.’”
Researching key speakers, producing helpful content and providing a hybrid experience will help your attendees stay engaged and produce long-lasting relationships. With large scale, in person meetings still far on the horizon, adjusting to this new normal quickly will help your organization stay ahead of the industry.