COVID-19 has significantly changed the business landscape.
Everywhere you look, big and small events are getting cancelled—the Summer Olympics, Coachella, book fairs, concerts, indie markets, parties, the Cannes Film Festival—you name it.
Shelter-in-place or safer-at-home orders prevent many corporations from holding conferences and events they’d previously planned for weeks or months.
But the smart, adaptive companies are doing something different: they’re learning how to host virtual events. Businesses like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and a slew of others are pivoting their tactics and spearheading the virtual events space. This innovation allows them to continue to connect with and serve their clientele, while others have no choice but to, well, disappear.
So, how can you host a digital event or conference that entertains, educates, and engages your audience? Keep reading!
Honour Their Distractions
When you’re hosting a face-to-face event, it’s almost guaranteed you’ve got your audience’s full attention (especially if there’s an entertainer on stage). Everyone is sitting down in their chairs, looking up at the person speaking, with the kids at home and chores out of mind.
When hosting a virtual event, however, you’ve got to recognise that people are dealing with different distractions. Many people have children at home, dogs barking in the background, meals to be made, and more. Homelife makes it a tad bit harder to focus and engage.
Rather than allowing this to be a point of frustration, acknowledge it!
You can even acknowledge it right there in your introduction, making everyone breathe a bit easier. Explain exactly what the audience can expect during the time, how long the event will last, and how they can participate.
Keep It Authentic to Your Brand
In the physical realm, your audience knows you—they name your name, logo, employees, niche. How can you translate your brand and vision onto the digital screen?
This question will have to be answered by you.
Consider what makes your brand your brand, and try to bring that into the digital space. Keep it consistent and authentic, so your audience recognizes you. Now isn’t the time to reinvent (any more than you already have to do)—instead, people want something they can rely on.
Consider Your Hosting Platform
Your choice is highly subjective per cooperation and depends on the goals of your event, how many people are attending, and what’s budget-friendly and user-friendly (for you and them).
You can even consider omnichannel hosting, providing different sections of your conference on various platforms. If you choose only one channel, vet it through a series of queries and tests. Do your research when it comes to virtual conferencing and determine which would be best for your mission and vision.
Keep It Goal-Oriented and Structured
Just as you would plan a face-to-face event, you’ll need to structure your virtual event, too.
You’ll need to have goals (what is the point of the event?), date and time, a purpose. What is the core need of your audience, and how can you plan an event around that theme? What makes your affair unique and valuable to your guests?
Additionally, having a pre-event and post-event follow-up is immensely helpful. Pre-event, ask your guests if there are any subjects they’d like included. Ask the audience for feedback post-event so you can know how to improve for next time.
Take your time to research and answer all these questions. Ensure that you’re staying on track with your theme or purpose. Last, provide value for those taking the time out of their day to be there.
Advertise the Same as You Would a Face-To-Face Event
What day is the event taking place? What time? Which platform are you planning to use? Does your audience need anything to participate other than their laptop or smartphone?
Market your digital event the same as you’d market anything else.
Prepare flyers and ads that answer these questions and advertise them through Facebook, Instagram, email, and any other social media platforms you use. Encourage your audience to set reminders, and be consistent (but not sales-y) in sending out your own reminders.
Identify Potential Problems and Prepare Solutions
Another part of hosting a digital event is preparing for various problems you wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
This includes things like internet connection, having a paid channel that doesn’t boot you off before you’ve concluded, and even having less tech-savvy audience members attending.
How can you help them before the event begins?
Consider sending out an email that breaks down the process of getting into the event—something that explains exactly how to join or log in. Encourage people to ask questions pre-event, so that you or a team member can gladly guide them through the process.
On your end, ensure everything checks out before beginning.
Check your internet connection, video feed, and microphone volume. Consider areas where things could go wrong and identify solutions early-on.
Learn How to Host a Digital Event (Or Risk Getting Forgotten)
Using this guide, you should be well on your way to having a fantastic event!
The best part is that since businesses are still actively navigating the digital event space, everyone is a little more understanding.
If you have a few hiccups, you can likely overcome them with tact, and no one will be judging too harshly. In fact, once we’re back to face-to-face events, you and your audience will feel that much closer having gone through it together.
Now that you know how to host a virtual event, let’s get to planning.
If you’re looking for a great guest to spark fun and laughs and keep the audience engaged, I can help. Contact me today for extraordinary, unforgettable virtual event entertainment.