Prevent improper planning and lack of audience engagement from ruining your virtual event. Knowing how to plan, produce, and execute a flawless virtual event will increase your viewership, and extend your reach to a global level.
webcastingandvirtualevents.com gathered the following information, tips, and advice to help you conceive, plan, and execute your virtual event.
What is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event is a partial or complete online event livestream or webcast whereby attendees view and interact in a virtual environment rather than a physical location. Virtual events can be multi-session online events, often featuring lectures, Q&A, webinars, and webcasts. The following are just a few of the online events you can host:
- Location tours
- How to’s
Here is an excellent example of how large, live, in-person events can turn 100% virtual. Amidst the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Network migrated all of their in-person programs, such as Monday Night Raw, NXT, and Friday Night Smackdown, from live to virtual audiences.
Watch this video to see how live, cheering fans were replaced by hundreds of monitors with individual live feeds of fans viewing the show remotely.
Virtual Event Planning
Virtual event streaming services have helped companies produce events extending beyond geographical limitations. Virtual events can be 100% virtual, or hybrid, and accompany a live (in-person) event. However your event is orchestrated, your company should be fully invested before event streaming. The following are considerations and questions that will help your virtual event planner organize a virtual event with your remote audience in mind:
Audience Demographics – Who will attend your event, and what do you know about them? Ask the following questions to attain a better understanding of your audience:
- Is your audience inclined to attend a virtual event?
- What timeframe is best for your audience?
- Once tuned in, what subject matter will keep their attention locked in?
- What event format do they find more appealing?
- What offers (swag, discount codes, contests, raffles, etc.) will your audience respond to best?
Tip: As you begin to plan your virtual event, inform yourself about your audience by conducting surveys, starting a discussion forum, or whatever means that allow you to create a more extensive profile of your audience’s demographics.
Event Date and Time – When is the best time to hold your virtual event? Consider the following:
- Survey your audience with three or four options of days and times.
- Avoid dates that coincide with major sports or entertainment events.
- Consider your overseas audience as well (cultural festivals, time differences, etc.).
Note: While you are not likely able to appease the totality of your audience with a specific date, your event, after the live show, can be uploaded to YouTube.
Format Definition – Whether your event will take on the characteristics of a seminar (one person addressing your audience), a trade show (with multiple vendors and information), a workshop (with learning and tutorial elements), or a combination of these. Consider the following virtual event production options when determining a format and features for your virtual event:
- Real-time Q&A with the ability to engage both viewers and attendees
- Custom graphics for titles and animations
- Slides and/or video presentations
- Downloadable documents for workshop and seminar support
- Live switching with multiple camera angles to provide a personalized point of view (POV)
- Virtual Reality (VR) elements
- Augmented Reality (AR) to offer a more interactive experience
Note: The more components or moving parts you add to your virtual event, the more potential you will have for glitches, timing mishaps, and other technical issues. For this reason, you should have a host or emcee in control of the event’s flow and operation.
Emcee/Presenter Selection – The selection of an experienced event emcee or presenter is vital to maintaining a consistent flow throughout your event. Your emcee should be:
- Comfortable presenting in front of a camera, as well as a live audience
- Quick to respond to or direct questions from social media viewers and online participants
- Well enough versed in the event to dispatch the need for scripted information
- Capable of maneuvering around or filling in for unexpected glitches (late speaker, technical difficulties, etc.)
Note: Your emcee can be a professional speaker hired for the event or a member of your organization, comfortable with public speaking.
Tip: By using two emcees or presenters, they can split up speaking time, detect and resolve technical issues more quickly, and even add another layer of interest to keep your audience dialed into your event.
Platform Selection – There are numerous live streaming and virtual event platforms, and you may already be familiar with their capabilities, controls, and limitations. Some of them include:
- Microsoft Team
- YouTube Live
Depending on the diversity or complexity of the event you want to host, you may want to contract a corporate event production company to help you plan, organize, and curate your event. Some of the benefits of hiring an event production company include:
- Custom Graphics Support
- Custom Video Player
- Audio and Video Support
- Webcasting Support
- Dedicated Technician(s)
- Live Switching
- Post Production
- On-Demand Delivery
Whether your event plays to the medical field, Government organizations, corporate board meetings or annual reports, education, training, or other areas, an experienced production company can flawlessly guide you into and through your virtual event. Watch this video to learn more about working with a virtual event production team.
Virtual Event Marketing – In the same way in-person events are marketed, so should virtual events. Consider the following marketing methods:
- Create social media posts, tweets, chats, and stories that include links to relevant content, a virtual RSVP book, event participant bios, vlogs, and relevant hashtags.
- Invite social media influencers to help promote and broaden the reach of your event.
- Email your subscribers, using your newsletter as a vehicle, or send virtual invitations.
- Print promotional announcements, flyers, or postcards and use direct mail to reach your audience.
Note: In-person attendance to your event should be determined, in part, by the size of your venue and your ability to observe/encourage health safety guidelines.
Virtual Event Venue – The nature of a virtual event allows you to hold it practically anywhere. However, the components of your event (in-person attendance, trade shows, workshops, speakers, etc.) demand that you make accommodations for them.
Secure a venue that provides enough space for your in-person attendees, stage, podium, audio/visual, and lighting equipment.
Hosting a Virtual Event
In this article, you discovered essential information, tips, and advice that help you understand the many facets of a virtual event, and how to take it from conception to execution.
Knowing how to plan and market your virtual event will help you increase your audience, extending your brand’s reach, and subsequently growing your business.
Carelessly throwing together a virtual event, ignoring its basic structure and necessities will lead to a loss of viewership and waining confidence in your company’s capacities to fulfill consumer needs.