BEST PRACTICES FOR VIRTUAL EVENTS

May 22, 2020 | By Hala Bissada, CFRE

Virtual Event
As we navigate through this unfamiliar territory, it is critical we understand the importance of human connection. We must find ways to continue to have a dialogue with our key stakeholders—the well-being of our businesses or charitable organizations depend on it.

Virtual events can give you the power to connect with your audiences in a unique way and can be tailored to meet your business and philanthropic objectives.

While we know that virtual events do not hold the same power of face to face interactions, a virtual or hybrid event has many benefits which include providing you with a contingency strategy in the case of extraordinary circumstances that may jeopardize your event.

Are you ready to get digital? Here is what you need to know!

What is a Virtual Event?

A virtual event is any organized meet-up that takes place on-line rather than in a physical location.

They can be as simple as a Coffee Break, Fire Side Chat, Lunch and Learn, Workshop or as elaborate as Conference, Product Launch, Trade Show, Gala or Cultivation Event.

DIRECT BENEFITS TO CREATING AN ON-LINE EVENT

  • Create unique and custom experiences for your key stakeholders
  • Increase your audience reach
  • Accessibility
  • Prolong your event with on-demand content
  • Significantly reduce CO2 emissions
  • Save on costs like venue, food & beverage, décor, travel etc.
  • Leverage social tools and chats to keep the conversation going

Tips for Hosting a Virtual Event

Game Plan

CREATE A GAME PLAN

  • What kind of experience do you want to deliver and what will the elements be?
  • Will your event be live, on-demand or both? Which segments will be pre-taped vs. live?
  • What software platform is best suited for your needs? Are you going to create a virtual world where guests can create their own avatars and visit various venue spaces, or will you deliver your event as a show or conference with live and pre-taped segments/sessions? Do you need to create a set(s) for pre-taped segments?
  • What kind of sponsorship opportunities can you develop?
  • Will access be gated or free?
  • When is the best date and time to hold your event? Will it be one day or multi-day?
  • How will you promote the event? Do you have advertising partners?
  • What on-line resources are you going to provide?
  • What other AV support will you need?
  • What kind of other software integration do you need? i.e. auction, registration, audience response etc.
  • What type of analytics are you and your sponsors interested in tracking? What type of reporting will you require? Will you conduct a survey?
  • Prepare your critical path

MAKE IT ENGAGING AND INTERACTIVE

  • Ensure you have a variety of content. This could include sessions on various topics, Ted-Talk style segments, Q & A’s, Entertainment like a live musical guest, or stand-up comedian, Demonstrations, Behind the Scene Tours, Workshops, Wellness segments e.g. Group Meditation, Video content etc.
  • Encourage social sharing—provide hashtags, provide photo opp suggestions etc. and ensure your software is integrated with social media platforms
  • Incorporate video-chat break-out rooms/Host virtual roundtable discussions
  • Prepare your speakers—presenting to camera vs a live audience is much different
  • Utilize audience response software for live polling and Q & A
  • Incorporate games i.e. gamification–trivia, escape rooms, scavenger hunts
  • For charitable events, include a way to give i.e. Fund-A-Need, On-line Auction and find innovative ways to showcase your work e.g. live tour of an operating suite by a doctor, guided live tour of your work out in the field

Engagement

OTHER IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

  • Work with Event Planning, AV and Web-Streaming Professionals
  • Test the complete AV set-up and software in advance—do a dry run
  • Provide your presenters/moderators/entertainers etc. with extensive software instructions and conduct a rehearsal
  • Provide guidelines for presentations
  • Ensure that content is accessible for the visually challenged and hearing impaired
  • Be mindful of length of segments—sitting in front of a computer is a much different way to participate compared to a live event

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