Whether you are planning a virtual conference or operating behind the scenes logistics, there is a lot that can make or break an event. Better safe than sorry, more and more companies are converting their events into digital platforms. While a virtual event might not be a first choice, there are so many ways to create a memorable experience for attendees, even if it is through a screen.
At Deore Design, we have been organizing virtual events since 2016. In our years of experience, we have a few tips to keep in mind when looking to plan a virtual event of your own. Look out for our full eBook coming soon about transitioning an in-person event to a virtual one.
1. Realistic Customization
First things first. When we approach a new virtual event, we collaborate with the client on a game plan. In the initial planning stages, our goal is clear communication of what is possible and what the client wants. We walk the client through demos and explain how the virtual event will work.
As much as possible, we want to tailor the event to best fit the client. Some clients want AI features and avatars while some prefer a simple website layout. Some clients want all live webinars while some want pre-recorded presentations. From style to functionality, we want all aspects of an event to be customizable and realistic.
For example, when we design sponsor booths for an exhibit hall, we send out a one-pager on the different options for booth designs. Once exhibitors have had time to review, we direct them to an easy submission form where they can send all of their assets without worrying about a long or large email. With this approach, sponsors can take the reins on all aspects of their booth.
2. Networking Opportunities
Based on our experiences, networking is an essential element in any event. But what is the best way to approach networking in a virtual setting?
We work with our clients to enable messaging in almost every aspect of our events. Direct messaging, alumni chats, chat rooms by topic, questions to presenters, one-on-one video conferencing with exhibitors, the engagement is almost endless. With these capabilities, attendees are always engaged and can leave the virtual event with new connections, just like an in-person event.
3. Encourage Engagement
Outside of communication, we like to find ways to make a virtual event more fun for attendees. Our favorite way to make an event more engaging is to add a dash of competition. Incentivise engagement with a chance to win a prize or create a scoreboard that allows attendees to see top participants.
Sometimes, clients want to get creative and turn engagement into a game or virtual scavenger hunt. These added elements make a virtual event stand out from the rest and leave lasting impressions on the attendees. Consider ways to make your event more fun and encourage engagement, even if it is through a screen.
4. Prepare for Tech Troubles
When transitioning from an in-person to a virtual event, technical difficulties are easily overlooked. Our biggest piece of advice is to not assume anything about your attendees’ digital skills. Before an event, we try to predict the most likely malfunctions and create a game plan to troubleshoot those problems.
When a presenter or an attendee contacts us with a problem, we follow a checklist to get to the bottom of the issue in a timely manner. As basic as it sounds, walking someone through simple steps such as allowing pop-ups, switching browsers, or refreshing a page can go a long way.
In preparing for a virtual event, we also like to predict the user’s experience and what type of technology they will be working with. If offering a responsive platform across multiple devices, first ask the attendee what device they are using to ensure you can help them get the answers they need efficiently.
5. Be a Stage Manager
Many of our clients prefer to have a mixture of pre-recorded presentations with live Q&As or panel discussions. In order for an event to operate seamlessly, timing is everything. When a session starts early or a live discussion begins late, attendees can get confused or think that something has malfunctioned on their end. There are a couple of ways we orchestrate an event that runs smoothly but most of all, if something goes wrong, the show must go on!
Our first trick is to fill the platform with countdowns. Many sessions are time-released so attendees will access them in order. To give users the assurance of knowing exactly when a presentation will start, countdowns are a great way to let users know that they are in the right place at the right time.
On the back end, we like to be in charge of broadcasting live sessions. About 10 minutes before a live session begins, we start the webinar for the presenters. This gives us a chance to make sure everyone is there and ready to “go on stage”. We remind presenters how much time they have and any other logistics they need to know. Once everyone is ready, we pull the curtain and broadcast the webinar to all attendees.
As we continue to connect with each other virtually, keep these tips in mind if you choose to plan an event. In the planning stages and behind the scenes, these tips will help you create an unforgettable experience that runs seamlessly. Be sure to check out our virtual event eBook for more best practices, coming soon. Interested in planning a virtual event? Contact us today to schedule a demo or learn more about our services.