Throughout the Spring of 2000 we've all been experiencing the huge demand shift from physical to virtual events. Instead of holding events at a venue as usual, participants are now required and/or requesting to attend online.
This is a surprising (and overall unplanned for) new development which brings tons of challenges – but as with all new things, there are many hidden gems of opportunities!
Challenges to Opportunities
At a physical event, an attendee could travel to you knowing little more than the event venue (though we don’t recommend it!) and though there may be stumbles, they will typically find their footing and have a successful event experience by engaging with your talented team of staff (and lots of signage)!
However, at a virtual event, if an attendee doesn’t know how to find your event, what software to download, or what link to click, they have reached a massive roadblock. If they don’t know how to reach out for support, or don’t care enough to, their experience is over before they’ve even begun.
It’s so easy for attendees to “check-out” of an event by simply clicking an X or mute button. This is highly unfortunate as we all could use a good dose of genuine human connection!
We’ve put together our Top Three Tips to help you recognize and lean into new opportunities to cultivate successful, connective events.
Participant Communication & Management are areas of huge importance, perhaps now more than ever.
We need to think creatively about how we design our marketing, invitations, and registration processes to make our event as attractive and easy to access as possible.
Virtual events are a new phenomenon and many attendees are not very experienced in this area. They can’t just walk up to an information booth or flag a volunteer if they have questions, so it’s vital to prepare their expectations and give them tools to facilitate helping themselves.
Tip! Put on your “Attendee Hat” and brainstorm what questions and challenges might arise, and then be sure to communicate that information!
Some sample attendee questions below.
Where do I go if I have questions? How can I directly reach an event organizer?
Should everyone have their camera on? Do I need to wash my hair?
Will I be communicating through my microphone and/or is there a chat?
Is there an event app or some sort of virtual portal?
Is the event interactive? Can I network with other attendees?
Content Sharing is a main focus for organizers when planning an event (though it shouldn’t be the only focus!).
There are many ways to disseminate content to your attendees, the main three below:
On-demand pre-recorded content that attendees can access at any time (think Netflix for your event videos)
Pre-recorded content that you play live (useful to quell many worries, but usually lacks opportunities for interactivity)
Live live-streamed content
Broadcasting video and audio is essential, but beyond that it’s important to ask yourself what is the *right* level of ambition for this virtual event?
In some cases, using free versions of Zoom, Google Hangouts, or even Facebook Messenger Rooms might be the right answer! However, most events can be enhanced significantly for a small additional cost by investing in additional software and equipment.
Decide up-front how you want attendees to consume content, display themselves (audio/visual/chat room/virtual avatar), and how you want them to be able to interact with one another and the speaker(s).
Keep in mind the experience you want to curate – 25 interactive breakout rooms with 1 moderator and a limit of 12 attendees each feels much different than 300 individuals watching a two-hour pre-recorded state of the company broadcast.
Tip! A pre-event survey can be crucial, especially now when most of us are flying blind. You are not expected to be a mind-reader! Ask your folks how they want to receive content. Ask them why they’re attending your event – these answers will make everything clear and give you a game plan of where to invest your money and time.
To find out about interaction at online events, visit Trippus' blog here.