Video meetings, one-on-one chats and online groups are great ways for remote teams to stay connected, but how do you replace an in-person event?
Although different from a live event, virtual events allow everyone to feel connected, no matter the distance. Use voice and video calls to hold meetings with people across timezones and locations.
It can be a great way to keep people connected or learning about new tools, products and processes without ever leaving home. Check out these five tips on hosting your own virtual event.
Plan ahead and be specific
Plan out the theme, goals and projected outcomes of your virtual event ahead of time. Having a specific topic in mind - and goals for why you’re running the event - is crucial to everybody putting it together and participating. One of the main draws for a virtual event is the ability to go beyond just reading about it in an article or guide. Design an event that will give participants greater insight into your topic or product demonstration. Be purposeful, meaningful and specific if you want to draw attention and attract registrations.
Choose the right format
Depending on the topic, a virtual event could be hosted in a variety of ways to fit the needs of your audience. From webinars to live demos or Q&A, choose a format that allows meaningful opportunities for your audience to learn and engage. And be mindful of the size of the audience. Here are a few formats to consider:
- Live-streaming- This community-style format can be a great way to engage an audience of any size, especially if you allow for a live Q&A session. This engages remote viewers who won’t want to miss out on asking questions
- Simulive events- This is a pre-recorded webinar with live interaction in which you can pre-record a video or presentation, while still getting to interact with your audience on the day of your event broadcast. Having a curated library of pre-recorded videos on demand is also a great way to engage audiences in a way that suits their busy schedules, so they can view them on their own time
- Animated presentations - If you're looking for a creative way to cut production costs, consider animating your content with animated presentation software (i.e. Prezi, Biteable and PlayPlay). It can be a fun way to engage and educate your audience while keeping your budget in check
Think beyond the traditional
The best thing about virtual events is that you can ditch the ‘rules’. Try to think outside the box. Whereas in-person events usually have to be crammed into one or two days, virtual events can be spread out over time, which helps people retain information and gives you a chance to build community. And consider interactive ways to engage people, such as leading the sessions through questions to keep your audience active and participating.
With events that include a host or keynote speaker, make sure they’ve done this before and feel comfortable speaking in front of a camera. Speakers will set the tone and make or break the success of an event. A great name will bring people through the door, but a great presenter will keep them engaged. If you have to choose—go for the great presenter. And don’t be afraid to mix and match—have an experienced presenter do the intro, let the keynote speak for a while, then have the presenter wrap things up. You can also choose to utilize a great presenter to liven things up with more of a Q&A style event.
Keep it brief and engaging
Whether you have an audience of 10 or 500, participants will begin to lose attention after roughly 10 minutes of hearing from the same presenter or listening/reading to straight content. If your event is a long one, consider breaking up the content with quizzes, polls and other interactive activities that will keep your audience engaged throughout. Make sure to build in enough time to answer all of your attendees' questions, and most importantly, don’t talk at your audience, interact with them. Ask them questions that gets them to what they want to know.
Have help available
Preparation goes a long way, but things can, and often do, go wrong. Plan for support in case of technical difficulties, time delays or a presenter not showing up. Having a backup plan can ensure success for any remote event.
Fortunately, people are already accustomed to using many of the technologies that make a virtual event possible, but that doesn’t mean everyone has the same level of comfort. Here are some tips for ensuring that participants have the help they need before and during the event.
- Have a dedicated helpdesk or customer service team available on chat or by phone before and during the event
- Communicate with participants prior to the event with details on start times, where they can go to access the event, if they need a log-in or password, who to contact for technical assistance, and when they can access recordings post event
- Make navigation links to key information easy to see on the event site and interface
Make sure meetings have a clear goal and agenda, and pre-reads are set out in advance.
It’s more important than ever for companies to be connected. For more resources on being apart together, visit our Remote Working Resource Hub.