In the last few years, virtual meeting platforms have advanced significantly, giving organisations and marketeers alike the opportunity to host exciting and engaging virtual events, especially during the pandemic when everything rapidly switched to online. Looking forward, virtual events may very well become the ‘new normal’, as they allow participants globally to attend the event and cost a fraction of what physical events typically cost to host.
However, as we are fast approaching the one year anniversary since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, are people now experiencing virtual event fatigue? With our screen time significantly increasing both for work and socially, are we getting tired of online events?
A survey that Eskenzi PR commissioned of a thousand individuals working from home in 2020, found that 47% of respondents felt that their colleagues were distracted on video calls. 91% have admitted to being distracted by their own image on screen, while 85% admitted to working on emails or sending a text (77%) during a video call.
Therefore organisations need to make sure they are hosting exciting, engaging and captivating virtual events to ensure they are successful. In this ‘how to’ guide we have outlined some key pointers that anyone planning an event might find useful.
1) Think outside the box
In today’s world, there are a variety of different platforms which can help bring your virtual event to life with a myriad of ways to deliver your content. It is safe to say we have come a long way since the bog-standard PowerPoint deck days.
Organisations need to be thinking outside the box on how they present to create exciting events that truly engage their customers. From roundtables, Q&As, to podcasts, the opportunities for presenting are endless.
2) Engagement is key
Engagement with your audience is key when it comes to hosting a successful virtual event. Organisations want to host an event that captivates participants and great thought should be put into achieving this.
Make sure your event has passionate speakers who are excited and knowledgeable about the content they are presenting. This will make the event all the more engaging and will hopefully in turn increase the interaction between the hosts and the participants.
Using interactive features such as live polls, live chat, and live Q&A during the event are all ways to help break down the barriers between the audience and the host, making the event more enjoyable for everyone involved. If you’ve got a virtual conference, consider making virtual booths available too. Research shows that 47% of people are more likely to ask a question at a virtual event and 30% are more likely to speak to a person in a virtual booth than a real one.
Additionally, working in time throughout the event where participants can comment, vote or ask questions about the content can also help to keep engagement levels high.
3) Keep it short and precise
It is difficult to try and fit everything you need to say into one event, and once ideas start flowing you can run into trouble by making your events far too long. In return, you will have low attendance rates and lose the interest of your viewers.
For most events, as a rule, we would recommend not exceeding 90 minutes. However, if you are hosting a big conference or event, breaking the day down into manageable chunks throughout the day with breaks in between will provide participants with a positive experience.
4) Prepare yourself for every eventuality
It goes without saying that preparation is always key to a successful event. Even if you have a whole host of creative ideas for the event, it will not be successful if you run into technical issues on the day, or your event coincides with another major event. Our best piece of advice would be to start planning your event early, as this will allow you time to prepare and solve any or all eventualities that could happen on the day.
Check in advance for any technical issue that may happen on the day. Additionally, make sure your speakers have a quiet space that is free from interruptions that they can present from, as the last thing you want is their dog barking or a demanding toddler in the background.
Participants’ experiences before and after the event are also key. Providing easy registration, answering any queries prior to the event, and sending follow-up emails are all part of creating a seamless event. This will leave a good impression on the attendees and set you up for high attendance rates for future events. Taking your experience online opens up a whole new audience reaching attendees from all over the world, but that means there’s extra pressure on you to get the experience right prior, during and after the event.
Ultimately organisations want to capitalise on events, using them as an opportunity to start business relationships, spark interest from potential customers and leave attendees with the desire to find out more about the company, its products and services. This is the true measurement of a successful event that has been planned and executed well from start to finish.
We hope you found this ‘how to’ guide useful and that it gives you some food for thought when hosting your next virtual event. Do get in touch if you are interested to find out more about how C8 can help you deliver a highly successful event.