In the midst of COVID-19 developments, you might be considering virtual options for your next conference, meeting, or business event. Now more than ever, we need to make sure we are staying connected in our changing world. As event planners, we have been faced with the challenge of encapsulating the things that make events great, and keeping those qualities as we experience the need for social distancing.
Here are some tips and tricks for keeping your event attendees engaged and your stakeholders happy, and to meet your goals.
When events go virtual, the need for frequent and consistent communication increases greatly. Make sure you are reaching each target audience on the platform they are most engaged in.
- Consider your target audience demographics and the social media platforms they are the most active on.
- Create an event hashtag that your audience can follow to get the latest news and engage in conversation surrounding the virtual event.
- Ask your stakeholders to share your social posts on their channels to increase your reach.
- Don’t skimp on reminders!
- Use clear and concise messaging to communicate changes, updates, and calls to action
- Over-communicate instructions on how to log-on to the virtual platform to participate. Make it as easy as possible for your attendees!
- Include a detailed “Frequently Asked Questions” section.
- Include information on speakers and sponsors so attendees can learn more and pick the best break outs/ webinars for them.
- Have a well-designed, dynamic conference/event schedule to eliminate any confusion.
Top-Notch Experience for Everyone
Many attendees, speakers and sponsors will be new to the virtual platform you choose and possibly new to virtual events in general. They will appreciate your extra efforts to ensure they have the support they need.
Plan for extra customer support
- Ensure that the virtual platform you choose has quick and helpful customer service.
- Provide a clear and easy way for attendees to contact customer service. They should know exactly where to go for assistance.
- Think about adding automated email replies. They can save you time by automatically replying to frequently asked questions.
Set your presenters up for success!
- Host a test run and rehearsals with all presenters to ensure familiarity on your platform.
- Create a clear understanding of who is sharing which slides and speaking when so your virtual presentation is cohesive.
- Prepare panelists with pre-selected questions.
Leverage your sponsors and partners
- Is there an opportunity for your sponsor to speak to the audience?
- Utilize the time before the virtual event begins or at the end of the webinar with digital ads to provide your sponsors value (sort of like when you arrive at the movies early!).
- Let sponsors share a link in the post-event follow-ups.
- Use attendee data – gain data from them to collect for sponsors & further marketing. By requiring data prior to signing in, you may be able to collect more than you would at a traditional event.
Opportunities for Networking & Engagement
Just because your event has gone virtual does not mean you can’t still network!
- Set up a communication platform, such as a message board and provide question prompts. Consider offering prizes for the most LinkedIn connections made for extra incentive.
- Were you planning on having a tradeshow or exhibitor booths?
- Consider having these organizations pay for ad space on your website.
- Create a message thread for attendees to engage with exhibitors instead of stopping by a physical table.
- Host virtual happy hours!
- Provide topics of conversation for attendees to meet each other.
- Allow attendees to engage and give feedback.
- Posting polls is a great way to track engagement throughout the event and encourage attendees to contribute and feel a part of the event.
Are you taking your upcoming event virtual and don’t know where to start? We can help. Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.