Events Management

Transitioning to Virtual While Keeping the In-Person Engagement Alive and Well

With COVID-19 came so much devastation to the event industry along with the collateral damage of catering, A/V, photography, SWAG, venues, hotels and so much more. I was in a state of sadness and mourning for what was to be lasting at least 6-8 weeks. I was nervous and afraid to try and offer a virtual event because the pieces that I felt strongly about couldn’t be replicated in a virtual space, or so I thought. I was wrong. Let me say that again for those in the back….I was wrong!

Live events, whether they are virtual or in-person can still have the same impact if you put the work in to make sure it happens. 80% of any event is the same virtual or in-person, it’s the 20% you need to stay clear on to make a virtual event work well.

The statistics show virtual events are generally attended in greater numbers because people don’t have the additional expenses of travel, child care, dog sitting, and so much more. With a larger, more geographically diverse attendance, be aware of the time zones and try to accommodate if possible. It’s recommended you start your event at 11:00am EST. It seems to work best for a larger number of time zones. Australia will still be watching in the middle of the night so make sure it’s worth it to them.

Below are 5 things to make your virtual event shine:

  1. Send SWAG (Something We All Get) in a box with a well thought out and meaningful gift. Make sure it arrives about 2-3 days prior to your event allowing them time to get excited to spend their time with you. When you check in to a live event you usually get something, why not for a virtual event as well?
  2. Do not offer recordings. This isn’t a webinar, this is a live event where you want people to attend and participate in the event. If they know they can just get the recording, they will find other things to do during the event. You want them there to experience it and all you have to offer.
  3. Offer a live check-in the day before the event starts. Create a virtual room where people can check in and speak to an actual person, do a tech check, housekeeping items and maybe even meet some other people attending the event. Make it just like walking up to the registration desk at an in-person event where they get great information about how the event will run and may also run into someone new to start chatting with.
  4. Make sure the tech works!! You can do everything right but get the tech wrong and it may sink your event. If your event is less than 300 people, you should easily be able to handle it on your own with a simple screen, computer, mic, ring light, coffee and someone to handle the tech while you are hosting the event. If the event is going to be bigger, I’d suggest you work with an AV company to make sure the tech is set up correctly and have someone there with you the day of the event to manage it all. Zoom makes doing a virtual event easy. I know there have been some concerns regarding the security of this software but they have worked through their issues. Here is a great article about Zooms journey to being what they are now.
  5. Offer sponsor rooms. This is a great way to help cover the costs of your event plus it gives your attendees the opportunity to talk with vendors and ask their questions. Make sure the vendors are who your ideal attendee would like to spend time with and ask questions of.

I hope this helps you ease the stress of doing a virtual event. People often ask if they should charge less for a virtual event vs. in-person and the answer is a resounding NO! You are offering them the same amount of education, experience and value as an in-person event. Don’t cut your prices.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. Feel free to schedule a free 30 minute call with me.

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