The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines forced many events to go online, but even without the pandemic, the future of event planning was already heading in that direction. Virtual events can offer many benefits, over their in-person counterparts, and with the right support team, planning a successful online event is more attainable than you think.
Benefits of Virtual Events
The advantages of adding a virtual component to your event has benefits that go beyond the social distancing and safety, including:
- Greater flexibility: Online events are often even more flexible than in-person, and they can be tailored to your company and your participants.
- Increased Revenue Opportunities: With a virtual event, your audience size is no longer limited by location, travel cost or maximum seat capacity. By expanding your reach, you increase your sponsorship revenue opportunities.
- Scalability: While in-person events are limited in terms of how many people can attend, but when you go virtual, you can open up your event to far more participants all over the world. You can easily expand your reach, and with a far lower cost.
- Engaging: Many people are more apt to participate in an online conversation than at an in-person booth or Q&A. Offer online chat sessions, Q&A, polls, widgets and downloadable resources.
- Eco-friendly: Virtual events can help to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint by eliminating the need to travel. You’ll also reduce waste because you’ll be using fewer disposable products, promotional items, decorations and printed materials.
- Accessibility and reliability: It’s rare that an online event needs to be canceled. In-person events, however, are more susceptible to circumstances such as illnesses, poor weather, natural disasters or venue issues.
- Comprehensive stats and reporting: Online events can provide quick and easy information about your event. At a glance, you can see the numbers of participants who logged in, questions asked, instant survey results and other metrics that help you understand how engaged people were and what the top sessions were.
Types of Virtual Events
All sorts of in-person events, from a wide variety of industries, are transitioning to virtual events. Events that easily make the transition to online versions include:
- Educational: Webinars and training events for any industry or topic can be held online. These can include guest speakers, discussion panels, experiential learning and online courses.
- Conferences: Conferences can be educational, gatherings for like-minded people or multi-purpose events. They can include keynote speakers, small group sessions, classes, informational videos, social times and entertainment.
- Fundraisers: Popular among nonprofits, fundraisers can be held online as well. They could include a speaker or entertainment to watch online, discussion groups or fun activities. The fundraising can come from online auctions, pledge drives, personal fundraising pages and other creative options for raising money.
- Community gatherings: These events are great for connecting with people in a geographic location or in a special interest group. There may be speakers and educational opportunities, but personal connection is key here. Small group sessions, networking opportunities and activities that help people feel connected are essential.
How to Transition to Virtual Events
No matter what kind of event you want to host, you can hold it digitally. Use these tips to bring your event to life online:
- Create meaningful content: Even before your event, you’ll want to have quality content available online to broaden your reach for your potential audience and to get people excited about your cause, company or event. Provide regular blog posts, videos, podcasts and actionable content that sets the stage and promotes your event. Be sure to be active on social media channels as well to make yourself heard and get the word out.
- Test the waters with a smaller event: Host a short class, group meeting or webinar prior to the big event. Choose a topic that’s related to your event and use this to generate interest in attending the bigger event. This serves as a promotion, and it’s also a way for you to see if there are any logistical or technical kinks to work out. It gives you some lower-pressure practice for virtual event hosting, too.
- Promote, promote, promote: For your event to be successful, you have to get the word out. In addition to providing content and smaller meetings beforehand, be sure to send out invitations and use other channels for advertising and promotion. Use social media, online ads and email reminders to promote your event. Ask your guest speakers to share the event on their channels, and encourage early RSVPers to spread the word as well.
- Provide ways for your audience to network and connect: One of the biggest challenges of hosting an event online is having that human connection. Find ways for your participants to feel a part of the action with opportunities to submit questions to the speakers, smaller group settings and online platforms that let attendees connect and chat with others at the event.
- Facilitate engagement: Make sure to have engaging speakers and opportunities for participants to interact throughout. Use facilitators in both small group breakout sessions and larger meetings to get communication flowing more easily. Use technology to provide active engagement through live audience polls, or even quizzes and gamification with awards for engagement and participation.
- Utilize humor and entertainment: Find ways to keep things interesting with humor and other entertaining aspects for your event. It could be as simple as injecting some humor into your content, providing some stand-up comedy or playing music during breaks or smaller sessions. Recognize that your attendees are human, and they are contending with the other distractions of their home environment and electronic devices. Providing humorous moments breaks up monotony and helps people feel connected.
- Follow up: No matter what kind of event you’ve hosted, be sure to provide some follow-up shortly after the event. Talk with your guest speakers, performers or anyone else involved, and gather feedback. Touch base with participants, too, and offer a post-event survey. You can easily use this information to keep track of what worked well, and what could stand some improvement. With this knowledge, planning the next event will be that much easier and more successful.
Video and Digital Services From CNTV
Take your virtual event to the next level with digital event solutions from CNTV. We have years of experience creating digital, live and recorded content for all sorts of events including meetings, conferences, exhibitions and more. The experts at CNTV can help you with event management and promotion, video production for your event, on-air hosting and lots of other video services. For digital events made easy, contact the team at CNTV today and see what we can do for you.