The year 2020 was a pivotal time for everyone — we saw an abrupt transition from office life to working from home, postponed vacations, and reduced family gatherings. In addition to all of these, in-person events became nonexistent.
As we enter the second half of 2021, employees are making their way back to the office, and people are starting to rebook their canceled flights. However, one thing is here to stay: virtual events. Online webinars, conferences, and general meetups are all continuing to be successful in bringing people together, even as everything else returns to face-to-face interactions.
There are so many benefits to hosting a virtual event — such as the incredible convenience to connect with your target audience with the push of a button — but it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before you send out invitations. Here are the top three things you need to know before you take the next step in creating a virtual event.
Thanks to the increased need for video conferencing tools in 2020, there is a wide variety of platforms to choose from when it comes to deciding how you want your attendees to access your event. Some of these include Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. Each of these tools has an impressive list of capabilities, and you should familiarize yourself with them so you can pick what works best for your event.
Once you choose your platform, you’ll need to decide what format you want to host your event. For example, Zoom allows you to host meetings or webinars. For a more casual get-together, a large meeting room would be best for less restricted communication. For a formal presentation, a webinar setting is more appropriate so panelists can speak and moderate attendee communication through Q&A and chat options.
Don’t forget about your budget! Some of these popular platforms are free to use, but special capabilities will come with a cost. Be sure to factor in those additional bells and whistles when planning.
While these platforms are generally user-friendly, with any technology comes the potential for confusion. Familiarize yourself with it as much as possible prior to the event by testing your screen-sharing abilities, utilizing the chat function, and recording a practice session. Most virtual event tools come with a testing format so you can give it a try before the big event — you can also bring in a team member to help you out with the test so they can provide feedback on how everything looks from an attendee perspective.
When the event day arrives, be sure to give yourself ample time to prepare the technology. Setting up your equipment one hour ahead of the event start time and logging into the event 15 minutes prior to start time is recommended to ensure all last-minute bugs are worked out.
Don’t forget to find a space with reliable internet when launching the event! No one wants their wi-fi to crash in the middle of a presentation.
Just because your event has ended doesn’t mean you can’t keep the good info coming! Hosting a virtual conference or webinar can provide you with an abundance of new ways to share the information you presented to attendees. These include sharing video and audio clips of the presentation on your social channels and using the conversations and questions from the session to develop a blog.
You can learn so much about your attendees from hosting virtual events. Through this invitation, you can better understand what they’re interested in learning about to better their business along with the challenges they are facing — both of which you can assist with by inviting them to your event and starting a dialogue.
Don’t forget to promote your event ahead of time! You can do this through email invitations, posting teasers on social media, and even just spreading the word with a phone call to your clients and customers. The more you hype up the event, the more engagement and attendance you will see.
While we can never beat the benefits of in-person interactions, the opportunities that come with hosting virtually are increasing every day. You’ll be surprised just how effective virtual events can be when you plan ahead and know what to do to make your invitation one that is sought-after by many.