In the last few months, the concept of the virtual event has forced its way to the forefront of the world of events planning. With COVID-19 having ushered in the cancelling of almost all physical events for a few months there during the spring, as well as its aftershock which is causing physical events to be heavily altered in comparison to their usual running, the event hosting game has been utterly transformed. It’s virtually unrecognizable at this point.
Looking around the web, many people have framed this migration to online events through a deficit lens. Over and over again, we see the “we will get through this and get back to physical events soon, stay strong” style messages being echoed around the corners of the internet.
The reality? COVID-19 has forced virtual events to have a huge glow-up. Like, post-breakup type of glow-up.
Long gone are the days of capricious event hosting technologies, erratic internet connections, and bored stiff attendees. Virtual events now arguably hold more potential than in-person events, when done right. Here are a few top-shelf tips to get you started in hosting a virtual event.
Screen Your Content
Before you get ahead of yourself and start fantasizing about the glowing faces of your attendees when you host the event of the year, take a step back and ask yourself, what is the focus of this event?
If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that nobody wants to attend a virtual event that is either loosely organized or only vaguely relevant. What are your goals and deliverables for this event? Are you delivering content in some kind of class format, or holding a conference? Hosting a board meeting, or trying to have a brain-storm session with your interns?
Whatever the answer to that question may be, plan for it. Know exactly what content is going to be delivered or discussed at your event; make sure that if you’re outsourcing content delivery, that you screen the content before it being broadcast to the world at your event. Because guess who gets the bad reputation of “that dude who hosted 2020’s dullest event” if one of your speakers delivers vanilla, irrelevant content? You guessed it. It’s you.
Secondary to content screening, though working hand-in-hand with it, is timing. This can be a tricky thing to discern, particularly if your event isn’t tied to a workplace. You want to try and select a time for your event that will maximize attendance and minimize early leavers.
To time your event, you have to know your target audience. Know them well enough to call the shots on whether to split the event into a series of time slots, to host it all in one take, and to accommodate for things such as work, eating time, and sleep.
You’d think that given most people have been working from home in their sweatpants for the last 3-4 months, spending a huge portion of time online, that they’d be able to better keep track of when events will be held. You thought wrong.
Unfortunately, people are still people, and the human brain still forgets things. So, you need to ensure you have a marketing strategy that not only draws people into buying a ticket in the first instance but reminds them at crucial points leading up to the event that their attendance is warmly welcomed.
The main takeaway here, and something that event hosts often get wrong, is not to blow your budget on the initial marketing campaign. While it may be exciting, the impact of an event largely depends on its retention and attendance of ticket buyers, not solely how many tickets it sold from the get-go.
Hosting a virtual event can be done in a multitude of ways. There are DIY tools such as Zoom which have become increasingly popular in recent months due to their inexpensiveness, or slightly more large events friendly services like Runtheworld.
There’s nothing wrong with going down the DIY route, particularly if your event is only small or not particularly worth investing heavily into.
However, if you’re looking for event-of-the-year status, you ought to consider a holistic events package such as that offered by Jumbo. Essentially the package holiday of events planning services, we take care of everything for you. From planning to speaker preparation, ticketing to livestream filming, we’ve got your back. All you need is the vision.