Thanks to COVID-19 virtual events are now a permanent feature of the business landscape, and even those of us experienced in managing live events had to quickly learn how to deliver them online.
Here are a few tips from Big Picture Conference's own event manager to avoid some common pitfalls producing virtual events.
o First off, you need a plan!
What is the goal of your virtual event? Tip: even if the virtual event is replacing a live version, the goals may be different, so get clear on why you are hosting the event before you get started.
Then identify what the format will be - will you be inviting guest speakers to deliver content, or will attendees be "on-camera" and encouraged to interact with each other? Or perhaps your event will do a bit of both.
o Next, develop your content Meet with speakers in advance to plan content, format of session, plans for Q&A and set deadlines for receiving final slide decks etc.
Based on your plan, you may want more or less live interaction from attendees, but either way you want to make sure they are engaged! If they are not engaged with your content, your event will not meet your goals.
If you are accepting live Q&A from attendees, you may wish to plant someone you trust in the audience to ask questions to get the ball rolling.
You may also wish to use polls for interaction – as ice-breakers, audience engagement, and gather feedback from attendees.
o Test, test, test.
Test the platform, test the slides, test with your team and with your speakers/ presenters if possible (this allows you to check internet connection, and fix bad back lighting etc.). If you are broadcasting live to social media, test the steps for “going live” in advance so that your audience doesn’t miss a thing when the event starts, and that you can focus
o Make a list (Hint: Lists are an event manager's best friend!) Create a list of the tasks that you, as the host, need to perform during the virtual event to ensure slides are advanced correctly, mics are muted/ unmuted, live stream is set up correctly etc. It will give you peace of mind that you aren't forgetting anything, and allow you to deal with anything that crops up needing attention during the event.
o Event Day
Invite your speakers to join meeting 15-20 mins prior to broadcasting for final housekeeping notes regarding chat function, Q&A etc.
Include event links (to access the virtual event) in registration emails if possible and then send them again in a reminder email 1 hour prior to the event so that the links will be handy when the time comes. Tip – your speakers/ presenters will not be using the same link to access the event during their presentations, so make sure everyone knows where/ when they need to be.
Remember that list you made? Time to crack it out, take a deep breath, and hit broadcast! Its go-live time!
o Breathe a sigh of relief
Well done, your virtual event is over! Now make notes on what went well and how to improve for next time!
Hopefully the tips above will help you prepare for your virtual event - but if you'd rather make it someone else's problem - let us know! We love planning events and would love to take something of your plate!
Hannah Pattison Senior Event Manager
Big Picture Conferences