I went to a virtual event & wish they fixed these 5 things

May, 2020

Virtual Events

Whether you were thinking of attending or running a trade show, conference or corporate event, chances are it was postponed - at best - or, more likely, cancelled. Companies focusing their lead building strategy around in-person events are now pivoting to virtual events, many building on a webinar model.

Although this is a step in the right direction, my recent experience shows that companies stumble due to both lack of planning and shortcomings in execution. Here are a few things companies should think about carefully to ensure a successful digital event.

1) Tailor your agenda around the realities of the digital experience

As riveting as an in-person event can be, throughout the day attendees will find themselves taking short attention breaks, stretch their legs or get something to eat.. This is not a behaviour you can afford to ignore in a virtual event when leaving is as quick, easy and guilt-free as clicking the “close button”. You have to make sure that your content, the pace of its delivery and all-round rhythm of your event minimises this sort of leakage.

2) Know your tech

Choosing the right platform to serve the requirements of your content delivery is key.

Workshops will accommodate a limited number of participants and require a level of interaction and exchange irrelevant to a keynote delivery - and vice versa. The technology employed to deliver your content and its delivery to your audience should fit these requirements. We have summarized all of this in our “an Event Marketer’s Guide to Going Virtual” which I can send to you (for free) if you are interested!

3) Plan for support

Things will go wrong… If not for the event as a whole but for some attendees (and speakers too!). Your ability to deliver quick and effective support with minimal disruption is going to be key to your engagement scores and will contribute to the reputation of your future events.

Write extra material for your audience-describing how to access your content ahead of time (screencast anyone?), make time to train your speakers, and plan rehearsals. Test everything, test some more, and when you are done with that…? You guessed it… test again.

4) Drive engagement through deliberate interaction strategies

Most of the engagement in-person event organisers tend to focus on is one-directional (i.e. How the content gets delivered to the audience - as opposed to how the audience interacts with the content and/or speakers)... it shouldn’t be, but that’s the reality). By contrast, no conversation will happen during a virtual event if you haven’t deliberately provided a channel r it. Think about the medium of content, the number of participants, the pace of the exchange, and whether it needs moderation or not.

5) Enable 1-on-1 communication between attendees

Part of the appeal of in-person events is the ability to network, whether planned (through networking areas/timeslots/etc.) or unplanned (think watercooler conversations). A virtual event doesn’t have this luxury and all networking opportunities have to be arranged. Think old-school chat rooms if you have to, but if you haven’t thought about this yet, now is the time.

Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss our approach to marketing virtual events!

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Sinead Barrett
Sinead Barrett

Sinead Barrett

Event Marketing Strategist

Sinead’s career has focused on B2B and emerging markets, and walking into the events industry has been a strike of luck! Her curious nature, passion for meeting new people and creating value for her clients feed her enthusiasm for the job. She'll talk your ear off about Harry Potter if you let her, can be a bit of a nerd (sudoku is her game!) and always enjoys a nice whiskey - in case you need her to stop talking about Harry Potter.

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