Virtual event planning appears to be the wave of the future
While it might seem like virtual events are the new normal, physical events will ultimately make a come back. What COVID has taught the business industry during this time has been the importance of using technology to host virtual events in times of need, and the benefit of hybrid events moving forward. Hybrid events are the new normal - not virtual events.
During COVID, people whose livelihoods are event planning have had their careers brought to a screeching halt. Event planning agencies have been forced to adapt and learn quickly how to become a virtual event planning agency by embracing virtual event planning, learning to navigate virtual event platforms, and slightly altering their services to become online event planning experts. Likewise, companies who may have been experts at putting on their annual conferences are now forced to adapt and switch to a virtual event conference platform to replace their good old face-to-face networking. They are looking for help from virtual event coordinators now more than ever.
The good news is, virtual events allow attendees to consume a brand’s content at their own pace. Viewing content on-demand rather than hustling from session to session in-person expands the amount of important content that attendees can absorb. Even small features like being able to pause a live-stream to take notes can be a big game changer. Getting to ask questions via live-chat allows attendees to remember their questions, and get answers instead of fighting for a few minutes during a typical in-person Q&A session. It is no question that virtual event production has allowed opportunities to open that in-person events lacked.
Adding virtual event management to your business offerings will help you (and your company) adapt and evolve to the changing atmosphere. Learning how to become a virtual event planner will help you think outside of the box and help you get the most out of your hybrid event.
But what does virtual event management look like? How do you plan a virtual event?
First of all, online event planning shouldn’t be intimidating. Hybrid events can include as many or as few virtual elements as needed. With every virtual event, you will learn from your mistakes and continue to get better. With a little help from virtual event planning blogs or YouTube videos, you can learn the basics and start there. The pros on the Jumbo team are here to share their favorite tips for executing virtual launch parties, conferences, trade shows, or whatever events your agency is planning.
We would be happy to help you get started, set up a call with us today! If you would like to go at it alone, here’s our five tips to success.
5 Keys to Virtual Event Management
1: Choose the right virtual event software
Diving into the world of virtual event hosting softwares might seem intimidating, and it can take a while to sort through all of the options out there, but oftentimes choosing one is the hardest step. Take some shortcuts and look for people who have already done the hard work for you! There are many articles comparing the top virtual event platforms out there. We have one here that you can use to compare features with platforms ranging from DIY to full service.
If you’ve found yourself tasked by your company or client with planning this quarter’s virtual event, do yourself a favor and find a more full-service platform so that you can trust that everything will go according to plan! You’ll have the full support of a team to train you on the virtual event software, get you started in setting up your event, and they will share their expertise with you so that you look like the rock star.
If learning about microphones, lighting, back end systems, streaming, and troubleshooting is your jam - look for a DIY platform. You’ll still want to set up some calls with a training team to make sure you understand all of the features of the software you just signed up for. Watching live walkthroughs is so much better than reading piles of articles. And of course, if anything goes wrong the day-of, you’ll want to make sure this DIY platform has a robust support team to help you in real-time.
2: Online event registration
Now that you’ve picked the perfect software platform for hosting a virtual event, event registration can begin. Some registration processes are easier than others. If you have a list (a company-wide employee directory for example) of desired attendees, registration should be a breeze on most platforms. Formatting a .csv file or spreadsheet and uploading it to the virtual event platform is about as complicated as it gets.
If a virtual event is open to the public, most platforms allow you to customize and white label a sign-up landing page form. With most DIY platforms, white labeling is limited. If you don’t want to be confined by another brand’s colors and fonts, white labeling is a must and most mid-level platforms have this feature. Once your form and registration process is set up, you just have to worry about getting the work out.
Looking to sell tickets to a virtual event? Handling money gets tricky, but many platforms have done the legal heavy-lifting for you. It’s worth mentioning that a lot of platforms take a portion of ticket sales, so be sure to build that into the cost of the tickets when charging attendees. You can also look for platforms who charge a flat rate for events instead of on a per-attendee basis, so all ticket sales go directly to your company or client.
3: Communicate with attendees
Marketing an online event is key to getting attendees (and making sure registered attendees show up). As a virtual event planner, you will want to find a platform that has a relatively robust email marketing tool. DIY platforms like Zoom allow you to send registration confirmation emails, registration reminder emails, and follow up emails, but often have very limited areas of customization. An powerful software will have a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to make email marketing look and feel like your brand.
Virtual events are an opportunity to improve communication with attendees from traditional events. As a virtual event planner, get ready to provide your company or client with several manageable options for two-way communication. Live chats, polls, Q&A, and virtual breakout sessions or roundtables are all essential to a good virtual event. Presenters can get feedback in real-time and attendees can ask questions without having to raise their hands and hope they get called on. We strongly recommend assigning someone the task of monitoring and responding to the live chats while the presenter focuses on their presentation.
4: Plan engaging digital activities
Planning engaging digital activities is the fun part of being a virtual event planner. Thinking outside of the box about attendee-experience will set a virtual event apart from others. Say goodbye to virtual burnout. Use polls and have the audience vote for the outcome of fun on-stage games. Start breakout sessions with a quick game (virtual pictionary anyone?) or have a theme for each virtual room. Even using graphics, bright colors, and animations on the event platform will help increase attendee engagement.
You can also gamify participation by giving guests points and missions for posting on discussion boards, asking questions, or attending sessions.
5: Invest in audio/visual production
Once the design and customization phase of virtual event planning is complete, it’s time to focus on the main event. Lighting, video quality, and sound production make a huge difference. This is where full-service virtual event platforms come in handy. Instead of buying microphones or high-quality webcams, borrow them from the professionals. Companies that offer at-home packout kits full of lighting, microphones, and professional-grade cameras is the way to go for a professional looking livestream. Plus, who has time to research audio and video tech? Trust the experts and focus on virtual event planning - not checking microphones.