How can you plan a successful virtual event?
Here are guidelines to help you get some ideas.
Organising an online event is not simple, especially in this historical time when the choice is so wide.
Even if virtual events may look very technologic and even if they were not so popular before COVID-19, online events exist since 1993: back then the first live stream was transmitted by Xerox PARC in Palo Alto and watched by millions of people (not too bad for internet considering those early years).
We are now in 2020, difficult times for gatherings and social meetings. However, technology offered new virtual opportunities such as virtual museums tours, Q&As with astronauts in space and so much more.
And this is nothing yet: even the biggest 2020 events moved online to still happen, even if gatherings won’t be allowed for a medium/long period. This highlights the advantages of hosting a virtual event: cost decrease, better accessibility and even cut of CO2 emissions on transport.
Considering all the above we can confirm that online events are now the ‘new normal’ for education, social gatherings and they will probably be an important part of it in the future too. Is your company ready to plan one?
If you already have a format in mind or if you simply are looking for virtual events ideas, keep reading to find out more about a successful virtual event.
In a rush? Check our video summary of this post:
Formats of Successful Online Events
A virtual event is an online meeting instead of a physical gathering. These types of meetings are becoming very popular lately and they can vary from small Q&A sessions to large conferences with thousands of participants.
Here some Virtual event formats to inspire you.
Webinars are probably the most common format. They are ideal to provide ideas, tips and information such as during workshops or online courses. You can use them for more complex discussions because they are more adaptable. This format can offer a deeper experience on specific subjects, testing skills, presenting a lecture or demo, using virtual tools, hosting a virtual summit, conferences for small groups, online music concerts, virtual meetups and so much more.
Virtual Tours / Behind the scene
In the past few months, behind the scene, virtual tours became quite popular. Places like museums, art galleries, theatres and even parks are offering their virtual visitors unique sceneries: to let them dream and travel with their imagination on one side and to encourage them to visit that location once travelling will become safer.
A good example is surely the National History Museum Virtual Tour in London, which allows you to can hang out with scientists online and among many other virtual activities, you can explore the museum, accompanied by the voice of nothing less than Sir David Attenborough. This is also a great location for many gala dinners we worked on in the past few years with our corporate hostesses.
For example, if you are an Event Organiser, your virtual tour or behind the scene could be simply a B2B format to communicate with your clients about how health & safety guidelines will be respected at your future event venue.
Interviews or ‘Ask me Anything’ (AMA)
In this case, you can involve some experts from your team and let them share their knowledge in a Q&A session. You could even invite external professionals. Host a relaxed “Ask me Anything” on Instagram Live or Facebook Live. It can go by under many other different names such as “Fireside Chat” or “a Conversation with”, which clearly explains the laid-back style.
Anything like TED Talks, Comic Stand-Ups or online interviews can be hosted with this format. Even Pub Quizzes! This format can be much more interactive and engaging for the audience.
Podcasts are audio episodes, which are pre-recorded and can be downloaded by the listener. They are very popular in the US and are becoming quite popular in the rest of the world too, through Podcast directories such as Spotify, I-Tunes and Google Play. You can use this format to promote your virtual event, communicating your brand identity and storytelling.
Top tips to host a virtual event
Every event, even virtual ones, has its challenges. Here’s how to host and start your first virtual event.
Create a strategic plan
Every event, big or small, should have a strategic plan. Start from your objective and from your key concept to create a format that would be appreciated by your virtual event attendees.
Besides, before starting to plan your virtual event, you should answer the following questions:
- What kind of experience are you looking to offer?
- Will the event be live, on-demand or both?
- Where do you want to transmit the content?
- Will it be free or paid?
- What’s the best time to host it?
- Will you require registration?
- What’s your promotional strategy?
They are quite a few questions but they will allow you to set a successful plan.
Chose the right moment
Choosing the ideal date and time for your event is very important, no matter the size of it and the platform you will use. To avoid mistakes research when your users are online and send a survey to verify their preferences.
Obviously, before sending your invitation make sure there are no other competitors events which could interfere with participation.
Furthermore, if you have an international audience, opt for a time that works for the majority of clients and followers, being aware of time zones. If this is not possible, make sure content will be accessible after live streaming too.
Promote your event
To obtain a good participants number at your online event you should have a promotional strategy planned. Locate the extra value you are offering and differentiate from your competitors, as there is a huge offer online.
We recommend opting for a multichannel format, aiming to social media, ADV and newsletter. This way you will have a better chance to reach your ideal audience.
Finally, don’t forget to involve your speakers to increase the potential number of people that will know about your online event.
It’s simple: if you create engagement opportunities, your audience will be more interested. Why do you ask? Well, because it’s fun!
Here an example: ask participants to send questions in the comment section or through a chat tool. Users will likely stay online to see if they will get an answer.
Every online platform has interactive features; therefore there is no excuse. Ask participants to take part in surveys and quizzes, invite them to live tweets and make sure they will interact. Don’t forget to ask for feedback once the event is finished.
Hosting an online event is not easy. Like in-person events, it is necessary to set an efficient format and the right promotional strategy, which will allow you to reach your target audience.
We hope this article was helpful and we wish you good luck for your virtual event.
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