Have you been tasked with designing your first virtual event? You probably have questions. As a meeting professional, you know trying to replicate your in-person agenda on a streaming Zoom call isn’t going to get the job done. Following are some FAQs you might want to consider before hitting play on the planning process.
1. Afraid attendees won’t want to participate in a virtual event?
Ask them! But when you do, make it clear that you are going to make it easy for them. Understanding the “WIIFT (What’s In It For Them)” mentality and addressing it up front is important, as is showing them what they would be rewarded with should they participate. Also, make your presentation exciting! Instead of using simple, templated PowerPoint slides, spice them up with vibrant and exciting infographics as well as audio and video material.
Consider creating a TV news-like broadcast with the ability for everyone to be interactive with one another. Assemble a studio with branded backdrops to make your conference look professional. Closely track your RSVP’s so you can guarantee your team has the bandwidth to support the program, allowing it to run seamlessly.
2. Afraid your attendees won’t be able to navigate a virtual event?
Teach them! Explain the ins and outs of the platform you would like to use. Create quick “how-to” videos using a screen grabbing app on your computer or tablet. During your conference, it may be wise to include an emcee to help attendees navigate your platforms and to further explain the conference themes.
3. Afraid sponsors won’t see value?
This is an opportunity to get even more creative with your sponsorship packages! Consider offering commercial breaks to sponsors where they get to pitch their product directly to the attendee in the few minutes prior to a session beginning. If time allows, mail out the swag that sponsors typically offer at an expo table or in a registration bag to the attendees’ home or work addresses (with their permission, of course). And, remember to show the sponsors WIIFT as well!
4. Afraid that your speakers won’t be able to engage attendees?
Ask them for their thoughts on this before assuming they aren’t up for the challenge. If your speakers are engaged and dedicated, then it is likely your attendees will be too. Ensure that your speakers include pause points during their speeches so the audience can chime in, if need be. A Q&A session could also be a welcome addition to provide engagement among your attendees.
Another clever addition could be including a guest speaker. Get a well-known professional speaker or person of interest to come to your conference to keep interest up. It could also be a motivational speaker, as a source of inspiration. With no travel costs or in-person appearance fees to shell out, high profile guests are more obtainable than ever. Make the ask, the worst thing they could say is “no.”
5. Afraid of burning out your attendees?
Offer shorter sessions or stretch the program out over a few days. Give your attendees time to take in all the information you’re providing. Include interactive features such as live polls and chats to keep your attendees engaged outside of the conference. It will be seen as a breath of fresh air.
For example, execute a Spirit Days for your conference. Create a calendar for days attendees can dress up in special hats, jerseys, backgrounds for their video chat and other ways to increase morale. Even if the attendee has their video turned off, have them post a picture of their outfit and create an impromptu social media challenge.
For better or worse, people are getting used to taking in information in a digital/virtual format. So, if an organizer follows simple tips to make their content and delivery more engaging, they can host an event that is just as impactful as the one they were forced to cancel in person. Facilities have invested in technology to provide presenters and attendees with a fun and engaging experience from the comfort and safety of their own home. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Amelia Barry has been a part of Albany Capital Center‘s Sales Team in New York for four years. Prior to coming on board at the ACC, she was a Public Relations Coordinator at the Albany County CVB. She prides herself on her ability to organize just about anything and loves working with clients to help individualize their events.