5 Tips for Hosting Effective Virtual Events
Providing meaningful virtual events can help your business reach a larger audience. Try these tips for hosting effective virtual events, workshops and more.
The demand for virtual events has increased exponentially in recent months. As COVID-19 and social distancing canceled large group events, organizations accelerated their plans to provide meaningful virtual experiences. We’ve seen a rapid shift from in-person to digital platforms with webinars, workshops, virtual tours, livestreaming events and more.
Whether virtual event hosting is in your wheelhouse or well outside your comfort zone, it’s a great time to hone your skills in virtual event planning. The time you spend fine-tuning your process may be well worth it. Virtual events expand possibilities and help you reach a larger audience in your geographical region or around the world.
The ability to connect with your audience depends on having the right tools and planning to deliver effective virtual events. Try these tips as you create your digital experience.
1. Set the Stage
Mapping out key goals and guidelines can help you create a streamlined experience for your audience:
- Consider your main objectives for hosting the event and what you want your audience to take away from it.
- Decide if your event should be delivered live, on-demand or both.
- Explore how to handle registration or payment from attendees, if needed.
- Choose a time for your event that’s convenient for attendees and accommodating for different time zones, if applicable.
2. Promote Your Event
Draw attention to your event by promoting it well through your marketing channels (email, social media, pay-per-click ads, your website, direct mail, word-of-mouth). Provide an incentive to encourage attendance and clearly communicate why your audience should make time for the event. Build momentum with an event countdown on social media platforms and create a Facebook event or Instagram story to share details about your event. Share an event hashtag to fuel excitement and conversation about your event.
3. Test Your Technology
Nobody wants to experience technical difficulties in front of a live audience. To help avoid frustration and embarrassment, test the equipment and software of all presenters the day before. If possible, have someone else view the video from another device to verify everything is running smoothly. Test the setup again just before your presentation. Have backup hardware and software available if you need to make a last-minute fix.
4. Focus on Interactive Elements
Keeping your audience actively involved is the key to success with any business gathering, and it’s especially important with virtual events. Encourage audience engagement with interactive features like polls, quizzes and live tweeting. Ask participants to share questions and comments through the chat box. It works well to have a moderator gather questions from the audience through a chat function or Twitter (with a custom hashtag).
5. Gather Feedback and Repeat
Maintain a hub for posting event information on your website that’s easy to access and shareable. Include up-to-date agendas, presenter biographies, announcements and links to recordings or slides. Gather feedback from your audience about what they value about the experience and ways to improve. Use this insight to fine-tune your delivery and set the bar even higher for your virtual events.