As corona virus is holding all of us hostage, life is going on still, though not quite the same way as it used to just a while ago. Conferences and mass events like that were among the first ones to get cancelled or moved to virtual space. But how do you hold a multiple day event with important connections made and collaboration opportunities online? How do you assure that participants will still get the same benefits and education while engaging via computer?
Creating virtual events is kind of similar to standard events - you have to advertise it, garner interest, manage the program, get people engaged and happy in order to declare the event an accomplishment. Yes, you won't see people physically meeting and shaking hands, but if you approach it with care, you can add value and create an impact almost the same.
Let's dive deeper and try to understand what virtual events are and how to make the successful:
Companies and people host virtual meetings for multiple reasons. It saves money, message can be delivered just as efficiently as with person to person interaction, wider reach can be achieved, famous speakers can be brought in more affordably, and finally it might be the only option when your live event can't take place because of, say, a deadly virus outbreak.
The best practice during normal times is to hold usual meetings and incorporate some type of virtual method for reasons above - wider audience, money saving, or just as a part of overall marketing strategy.
When you plan an online event, focus on promoting it, planning great content, think of how you will keep your guests busy, and capture data to measure the end results. Content is key for such events, because you won't be able to easily temp people to fly to exotic destination or make new contacts at happy hour after the conference is over. Content can be in one central location or broken down in different sessions for different groups, this decision depends on your vision and desired reach. Once your event is over, time starts flying and is of essence. You should make contacts right away and schedule sales meetings based on the fresh information.
It takes a lot to make an online conference successful - good website, easy registration, live content, well-functioning video and audio, Q&A's, poles, notes, interacting, and feedback possibilities.
When you start planning your event, think of how you will educate and prepare your audience for it all. Technology is going to be involved and you know that issues with video and how to log into will arise. You should send lots of information before the event and let participants practice accessing the video tools beforehand. Make it fun, but useful and you will engage participants right away.
Try to elevate the interest of your attendees by organizing polls and live Q&A's. Open up the app for online chats, use Instagram and Facebook with hashtags, and create a feeling of connection. You can also encourage networking by setting up group chats, workshops, video calls, and appointments.
You should record the costs and the benefits of the event to determine if it was successful and what needs to be changed next time. You will have some direct and some indirect costs, in addition to opportunity cost. Your benefits will be direct revenue from registrations, attributed revenue, future sales pending, brand equity, and gained or exchanged knowledge.
There are times when physical event has to become virtual last minute, believe it or not, but it might be easier than you think as long as you have the right infrastructure in place already. You can update the website right away, send emails, provide guidelines for your guests about the changes, and create a new agenda with links to event sessions.
With the tools like Zoom and GotoMeeting you will be covered. Ask your internet provider if they give discounts during this Corona crisis. Many companies provides freebies. For the fool list check here.