You’re an experienced event planner who’s used to filling multi-day conferences with networking opportunities, attendee insights, and educational sessions for your company or organization. You know how to keep your audience engaged and which venues have the best catering options. And, typically, you do it all with live, in-person events.
But how does this all translate to the virtual word? What steps can you take right now to plan and prepare for the best virtual event possible that will deliver education and keep your attendees engaged?
Face-to-face interaction will never go out of style, but there are times when going the virtual route is a necessary part of event planning. Your target audience has an internet connection in their home, so they want to join your event from the comfort of their couch.
How To Prepare Your Virtual Event For Online Attendees
Moving to the future of corporate events will be interesting because your event attendees will expect online events or have a hybrid option for those who are unable to attend in person. They want on-demand content they can view at their convenience and the ability to network with colleagues across the world.
As a seasoned event planner, you need to know the best ways to reach your audience, whether they are in person or attending virtually. Your company should host a virtual meeting because they are:
- Sustainable: Virtual events generate no trash or food waste.
- Cost-Efficient: No travel, accommodation, or catering fees.
- Flexible: Event attendees can view content at their convenience.
- Collaborative: Virtual conferences allow more opportunities for meaningful networking.
- Reusable: You can record keynotes and exhibitors and reuse the content for future event marketing.
Now that you know why your next event needs to be on a virtual platform, our comprehensive checklist will take your event from conception to follow-up and help you become a virtual event expert.
1. Pre Virtual Event Planning
The hardest part of any journey is the first step, and this couldn’t be more accurate for event production! Although the early planning stage may be overwhelming, it is the most important part of a successful event.
Here are some ways to streamline the event planning process from the very start to ensure your attendees have the best experience possible and your core message is well received.
Establish Your Vision
- Identify your event’s specific purpose.
- List the goals for the event.
- Set an event budget.
- Research event technology options
Identify Type Of Event To Define Your Format
- Webinars: Utilize video conferencing tools to livestream content or prerecorded videos.
- Virtual Conference: Much like in-person conferences with a real-time, complex agenda.
- Internal Hybrid Event: Held within the company, like town halls, sales kick-offs, training, or department meetings, and involves both in-person and virtual attendees.
- External Hybrid Event: Invites attendees from outside the company, like an industry conference or tradeshow with virtual attendees, as well as live guests.
Make Key Choices
- Choose a virtual event platform that meets your event strategy’s needs.
- Find event sponsors and partners.
- Line up a host, exhibitors, and keynote speakers.
- Identify your event marketing strategy.
Prepare Your Event Attendees
- Engage potential attendees through email marketing, social media, and hashtags.
- Offer clear instructions on how to access your event.
- Ensure event attendees are comfortable with your platform.
2. During Your Virtual Event
Now the fun part: your event in action! You know that, even though you’ve dedicated a lot of energy to pre-planning, the work continues during the event. You’ll want to take steps to ensure everything is running smoothly and be ready to step in if issues arise.
Monitor Event Attendee Engagement
- Ensure attendees have ways to interact in real-time through gamification, Q & As, or live polling.
- Share hashtags and invite participants to tag social media content during interactive portions of the event for audience engagement.
- Host breakout sessions or a virtual happy hour to encourage networking.
Capture Attendee Data
- Record session attendance rates
- Time live session engagement length
- Identify the number of no-shows and last-minute attendees
- Organize one-on-one appointments.
- Provide break-out sessions between live presentations.
- Allow time for networking opportunities during your event.
3. Post-Event Follow Up & Engagement
Once all is said and done, event organizers know the hallmarks of a successful event. Follow-up is crucial, as is collecting data and content generated by the event. You’ll want to analyze feedback and data to present to key stakeholders to demonstrate the success of your virtual event.
Gather Attendee Feedback
- Send A Feedback Survey: Make sure your survey isn’t tedious to complete and asks for direct, useful information.
- Reach Out To Key Participants: Survey key stakeholders to see how they felt about the event.
- Review Your Event Hashtag: Take a look at how event attendees utilized your event hashtags. Be sure to save any photos or feedback you come across to share with stakeholders.
Analyze Event Data
Ask yourself the following questions as you analyze the event data:
- Did you meet your event goals?
- How did the event stack up to your expectations?
- Did the virtual experience check the same boxes as an in-person event?
Share Results With Key Stakeholders
- Present information in an easy-to-understand and accessible format.
- Utilize event data and attendee testimonials to highlight the positives.
- Identify key improvements that will make the next virtual event even more successful.
Host a Successful Virtual Event Today
Virtual events are more similar to in-person events than different. That being said, virtual and hybrid events require their own unique set of tools, techniques, and approaches to ensure success.
You now hold the keys to future-proofing your career. Adding virtual event planning to your skillset will open new doors and make an asset to your company.
While the value of face-to-face interaction will never fully go away, virtual events provide an important opportunity to reach a broader audience than centralized, live events due to the low barrier to entry.
Use this checklist to get started today and plan your company’s next successful virtual event!