The value of face-to-face interaction will always stay but there are occasions when going virtual is a vital need. Question is, how do you transform a multi-day trade show, imbued with immeasurable interactive opportunities into a complete virtual event? And if you do change, how do you ensure attendees engagement are kept at high levels throughout the event?
Likewise for virtual events, event organisers will still be required to bring awareness to the event, create engaging moments for the attendees and quantify the success of it. In the spectrum of a virtual event environment, the only elements that are removed, are the venue and the physical presence of the attendees. However, in today’s definition of virtual events, they no longer symbolise brief slide sharing or uninteresting non dynamic visuals. Today’s virtual events bring forth a myriad range of engagement-driven virtual experiences, witnessing successful virtual events that amplify beyond a desktop monitor.
To help you get started with hosting a virtual event, we have assembled a quick work guide on navigating the basics (to prevent avoidable pitfalls and mistakes) of hosting virtual events and how to recognise the different types of virtual events that are commonly used.
1. Virtual Conference
2. Hybrid Event
Comprising of dual elements, hybrid events are conceived to be more complex than most virtual events. Characteristically noted for it’s combination of in person presence with virtual online functions, hybrid events are widely used for AGMS, town halls, global meetings, etc. These notable type of hybrid events also require heavy involvement of stakeholders who are and who are not based in the organisation’s headquarters. Hence, when convening different type of stakeholders seem almost impossible, then organising virtual events that are partially in-person and virtually is the best consideration.
Web based seminars are commonly utilised for educational purpose. Hosting virtual webinars permit a global outreach of attendees to access live or pre-recorded video conferencing by speakers. Some great webinar examples are master classes, trainings and keynote presentations. Hosts can show themselves speaking, toggle in between their desktop screens for slideshows and invite a speaker to co present a webinar session together.
Essential Questions to Ask When Shifting to a Virtual Event
- Have you effectively communicated to the attendees prior to the event that entails how to access the event, watch the speaker’s livestream and use other interactive tools?
- Are they required to partake in Q&A that draws back relevance to the live streaming sessions, answer poll questions and complete post event feedback surveys?
- Can they refer to a built-in scheduler that holds key information on the session duration?
- Will there be help channels to provide troubleshooting issues?
- What audience engagement tools will be made available to them?
How To Pivot Your Events Online
1. Assemble Your Team and Create a Workflow
Form new teams as needed and create a series of work streams. Everyone should focus on different aspects of the virtual event: content management, audience engagement and communications. While other subgroups will cover online streaming, presentation demos, attendees management and post event handling.
2. Create a List for Session Content
Content wins. In virtual events, content is everything. Determine how many sessions in total, allocate the top sessions and all the speakers needed to deliver them by live streaming or pre recorded videos. Event leaders should also decide on a timeframe to pace the sessions in a timely order and avoid possible clash interests in between presenting speakers.
3. Find Out How to Ignite and Retain Audience Engagement
Virtual events don’t have to be boring. Find out how to change directions with the shift in event platform. An engagement experience group should focus on sustaining the interest of participants who were intending to attend sessions at the original planned physical event. Check with your appointed solutions vendor on in-app audience engagement tools and how to leverage on them. A reliable virtual event provider should include easy-to-use interactive activities such as a scheduler, Q&As, polls, live slides, feedback forms and other fun elements.
4. Involve Internal and External Stakeholders
Communicate with relevant partners, event sponsors and attendees about the decision to transform virtually. Keeping them in the loop with updates is important since they have a stake in making the event successful. Create internal channels to hold discussions and post updates. Sometimes, including decks and renderings will be helpful to illustrate an overview of what will be seen on desktops. Additionally, record bite size information explainer videos to assist internal stakeholders opportunities to trial run the event. The end goal is to create alignment among internal employees and reduce misinterpretation of information.
Important Event Tech Platforms For Piloting a Virtual Event
Thriving on technology, virtual events are essentially adopted and conducted entirely online. From registration to live streaming and audience interaction, the presence of technology begins and end with event technology platforms. Resembling an in-person event, virtual events can reap abundant tangible benefits from the usage of an all-in-one event technology solution that will help you with registration, carry out and manage your event. Here are some of the essential event technology elements that you will need in hosting a virtual event.
1. Event Registration Website
The event registration website is the first gateway for your event promotion. The event website serves as the first outlet of access for potential attendees to register for the event. It should hold key information on the event schedule, speakers line up and a FAQ. Whether it is an in-person event, or a virtual event, an event registration website is imperative.
Emails are great to keep attendees aware of event happenings and be used to stimulate engagement prior to the event. In a virtual event environment, emails are by far, the only way to communicate with attendees on the different stages of the event. Use an all-in-one event management tool that can deliver personalise emails to different sets of audience, automated emails with informative data on open rates and click through metrics. A robust tool should provide event planners with transparent data and key metrics.
3. Mobile Event App with Custom Branded Microsite
One of the most critical element of event technology for virtual events, the mobile event app that complements both mobile devices and desktop browsers. With an in-built schedule, attendees can pick which virtual session to attend and plan their time around it. To further stimulate a two-way interaction in a virtual event, we will recommend again, engaging an all-in-one solution that provide these exciting event elements.
4. Post Event Feedback
Just like an in-person event, virtual event feedbacks are equally crucial in providing event planners with quantifiable benchmarks to justify event success. Plus point for sales department, use event feedback tools to evaluate attendees and convert them to sales.
5. Security Enforcement
The most fearful online attack is the one that comes from a trusted source who has full access to your enterprise’s confidential information. Data exfiltration can occur with malicious intentions or accidentally. Often, organisations overlook the gap in these areas. For a virtual event to be hosted in a safe environment, we recommend using industry benchmarks with an encryption standard of AES-256. With a key length of 256 bits, AES-256 supports the largest bit size and is practically unbreakable based on computing power, making it the strongest gold encryption standard. Password protect your event and let only registered participants join the virtual event.
Virtual Event: Best Practices
Replicating an in-person event is not easy but but organisations that get it right can attract a substantial volume of audience, garner interest and increase brand visibility. You may already offer online webinars, but adding virtual events require a little more planning. From accessibility to remote attendance monitoring, it is important to visualise each step. Take a cue from these tips for a smoother virtual event environment set up.
1. Prepare for Tech Hiccups
If in-person events have glitches, virtual events have hiccups. Before hosting a virtual event, stress test the internet connection of the host(s). Prepare backups of visuals and slides in case a file gets corrupted. Run as many test trials and identify foreseeable problems. Expect some attendees who will require technical assistance, anticipate the issues they may face by preparing a basic FAQ. This way, it will ease attendee stress.
2. Embrace Inclusivity
Ensure that clear language, big fonts and visible colour contrast is used at every touch points. Provide captions and visuals where possible for audio and descriptions for visuals.
3. Plan a Lobby Activity
Some attendees will begin arriving a few minutes early for your virtual event to ensure everything is working. Let the attendees know they are in the right place—post a presentation slide with the event details, such as the host’s name and the session length. A virtual lobby is an opportunity to get people excited and entertained. A virtual lobby can be as simple as playing an MP3 file or even a small video clip. A self-running looping video can be also be used to let attendees know how to participate in the virtual event. Q&A’s and polls can be used to help everyone get used to participating.
How Micepad Can Fast Track Your Virtual Event
Micepad is an end to end virtual event platform that enables enterprises to host virtual events, online webinars, hybrid events and virtual conferences with the flexibility of choosing between mobile app access or a custom branded microsite for desktop browser. If you would like to find out more on pivoting to a virtual event, please feel free to drop us an email.