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Are You Fully Utilising Virtual Events To Deliver The Maximum Benefits To Your Business?

We’ve all watched webinars that were so poorly and unprofessionally executed that they made us cringe. From inappropriate dress through to noise in the background, many of us are still managing to get business done, but with a makeshift solution. Virtual events though don’t need to be amateur. At the time of writing I’m in the process of executing a virtual conference for more than 1,000 people which will deliver both the information they seek AND an inspiring and uplifting experience. Especially in this age of content saturation, I have been helping clients to deliver both their content curriculum and entertainment to keep their audience fully engaged. It’s not just about doing a webinar, there is so much more that you can do to keep things fresh, inspiring and impactful. This article takes a look at what you need to consider for delivering a compelling online event:

Don’t automatically cancel or postpone your event!

If you are responsible for delivering a face to face event in your organisation you will likely have mulled over whether to cancel, postpone or move your event online.

For some organisations, cancelling the event will seem like the obvious solution with the hope to re-schedule some time next year, but clearly this will leave you and your attendees with lost opportunities in an already tough year for most businesses. There are some good options out there to meet your objectives via virtual events. You do not need to cancel, taking your event on-line is both possible AND strategically imperative, particularly so when you consider the uncertainty over travel, gatherings and further potential disruption to our daily lives.

Recognise difference between face to face and virtual events

The real challenge for taking events from being face to face into the virtual world, is realising that you cannot transfer the face to face programme directly into a virtual setting. Why? Because you need to consider user experience of all participants. So for conferences, exhibitions and conventions, there are considerable differences you’ll need to prepare for, content creation is key, as is speaker preparation and delivery, delegate interaction and sponsor experience. It takes time, effort and expertise to produce an events programme for the physical world, and in some ways it takes even more work and diligence to make online events fully live up to expectations. There are many things you wouldn’t accept at a physical event because they would undervalue or tarnish your brand, so why would you allow lacklustre, low quality production enter your virtual events delivery?

Go back to the beginning – what are your objectives?

Ask yourself and your stakeholders the key questions of why are we running this event? Who are we targeting? What are the messages we want to communicate? What is to be the legacy of the event?

Ask yourself why your audience interacts with you, what they value most and then start to build a new experience that meets their needs and expectations.

Don’t jump in and buy an off the shelf, one size fits all package.

As you build your virtual event programme, you will need to consider the length of the event, the content and how it will be delivered. Whether it will be live or pre-recorded, how participants will be able to take an active part in sessions and interact with each other.

Think carefully about the difference in attending a face to face event, where people can move around, have networking breaks, tasty lunches and changes of scenery versus sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen all day, with the pinging of emails, household distractions and You Tube.

An off the shelf events platform can mean that you’re having to shape your virtual event into the template, whilst a bespoke set up will give you more flexibility.

Virtual events are an opportunity to connect with your audience in a different way. Face to face events often need an overhaul to keep them fresh and interesting, taking the event into a digital format will challenge you to re-evaluate on every level. Emphasising the importance of pre-event engagement, deepened interaction and follow up. They will in fact broaden your reach and engagement as certain barriers such as budget and travel are removed.

Virtual events are here to stay, and why?

As our lives slowly transition and physical events start to take place again, plan for your virtual event to run alongside your physical event, whether that’s because you’re running it as a hybrid (some speakers and audience are together, some are attending digitally) or you are running a larger scale event for an in-person delegation and also a digital group. This will be the new normal in events, where budgets in some businesses will not allow attendance, people may not want to travel, or some countries may have restrictions, but also as people take a more active stance in travelling less on environmental grounds.

Catherine Gresty,

Event Management Consultant & Virtual Events Facilitator

(Delivering next virtual event in June for 1000 people over 2 days, creating a bespoke interface with live and recorded classes, speakers and teachers linking in from three continents, on-line community and marketplace.)

Happy to discuss virtual event projects, transition of in-person events to virtual or hybrid.

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