Since COVID-19, we’ve observed an increase of 430 percent in interest around virtual events. Here’s how to make yours a success.
Based on our data, most external and internal meetings, including town halls and sales conferences, will be virtual for the near future. We expect the trend to remain for at least 6 months, and it may continue even longer. Here are some suggestions from the virtual events we have helped put on:
Make security a centerpiece
One concern many have with online meetings is security. Just because a meeting has been reimagined as a virtual affair doesn’t mean sacrificing security in the name of access. In fact, the opposite should be the case.
Restricting access to an event and the information shared during it can be accomplished by requiring attendees to enter a password at registration and login.
View it as your audience would
Before scheduling a virtual meeting, consider what you are working to accomplish and how you want your audience to interact. As part of planning, think through what might go wrong. Develop contingency plans for a speaker who doesn’t join in a timely fashion or attendees with a poor connection.
Also, consider the flow of an event and emulate what you would do in person, such as scheduling breaks and opportunities for question and answer sessions.
Prepare for perfection
Executing virtual events is more than setting up a camera and hoping the event goes according to plan. It requires the same level of planning and attention to deal to lock down third-party speakers, thought leaders and experts.
It also necessitates preparation on the front end—everything from a script for presenters to handouts for attendees and an agenda to keep everyone on track. It also requires practice—not just for the speakers, but for those managing the technology, so they have confidence that the event will go off as planned.
As part of the process, take into account how the look and feel of a virtual event may differ from a live event. For example, a presenter working from home should pay particular attention to his or her background; is it appropriate for dissemination to a broad audience?
Record your event
Virtual events present an opening to create content that can be repurposed following the event. It can be repurposed into snackable content for social channels and live on for months. Attendees can go back and watch a second time, and those who did not attend can view it at their leisure.
The event is just the beginning
Perhaps the biggest differentiator for a virtual event is the chance to increase engagement with attendees. Beforehand, consider any and all post-event steps—whether it’s a survey or thank you notes—and develop a plan to leverage them to maintain momentum.
Businesses will assuredly return from the COVID-19 outbreak with a new view of how to meet and how to use digital platforms. So, teams should use any lessons they take from this pandemic to guide their thinking in the future.
While it will help them prepare for a global crisis in the future, they may also discover a better way to operate.
Mark Roberts serves as CMO of PGi and is responsible for all marketing operations worldwide, driving growth opportunities and building brand recognition for the company within the communications market.