Over the last year businesses adapted swiftly and hosting online events fast became the new ‘norm’. With an abundance of content and seminars now available in a virtual format, the new challenge is to make such events more engaging.
In addition to being less expensive as a result of foregoing the typical venue, travel and catering expenses, online events are also more efficient with delegates and speakers saving on travel time. The ease of access and shareability from a digital link allows for both national and international audiences to be reached and connected.
Choosing the correct platform
Selecting the ideal platform for your businesses needs will depend on the type of events you are planning on hosting. There are several free platforms with many offering premium features for an additional charge depending on the particulars you require.
There are a few key things to consider when choosing the right platform including the functionality of the software. For example, does the brand offer the right features for you to achieve your event goals? Virtual fundraising events require an easy donation option and networking focused workshops will need access to breakout rooms.
Another consideration is event registration and ticketing prior to an event. For example, does your chosen platform offer integrated ticketing services or do you need to investigate this separately? Depending on your event you may need to keep check of attendee numbers, revenue and additional information such as menu selections.·
After an event has finished will you require advanced breakdowns of analytical data, revenue and attendee information? If you have sponsors, partners, or suppliers for your event you may want a platform which can offer a virtual exhibition hall and e-posters for them to display products and interact with attendees or book in live chats.
Upping your potential engagement
- When including interviews and guest speakers throughout a virtual session consider an interview style piece with an industry influencer followed by an open Q&A session.
- Alternatively, you may choose to Interview a business owner who is particularly relevant to your chosen topic, attendees may be able to relate to their advice/struggles/success stories.
- - Host a ‘talk show’ style session with a keynote speaker. To keep people engaged you can balance it out with a panel discussion in between.
- Utilise Iive polls throughout your event to keep the audience interested. Polls also work well to gather feedback throughout the event and help reduce audience fatigue.
- Demo a new product or service. Depending on the product, you could offer a discount to attendees.
- Social Media challenges via Tik Tok and Instagram can be effective for a campaign, raising awareness and fundraising. Think of something fun and easy and create a hashtag for your event/cause to get the word out and start sharing.
- Workshops offer the ability for skills training and usually involve attendee participation for example: taking part in a quiz or sending our workshop packs to take part in a live workshop.
- Offering live streams and social stories of your event allows you to reach out further as this can be done across numerous platforms such as: Facebook, snapchat, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Live streams can become a weekly or monthly series and feature specific topics with a guest to connect and engage with your audience and build a following.
- This process allows delegates to meet in virtual rooms for a short amount of time to make connections. It is a quick and engaging way to meet people easily and share contact information.
Birds of a Feather sessions (BOFs)
- BOFs are targeted breakout sessions for delegates to discuss specific topics. These sessions can be an effective way for delegates to meet other people in the same industry which they may not have crossed paths with previously. The sessions are usually made up of small groups and inviting guest speakers can initiate good discussions.
Consider including a ‘fun’ element
- Complete a virtual scavenger hunt
- Online games, entertainment & trivia
- Tutorials – Beauty, drinks, cooking
- Behind the scenes tours or live streams
- Mindfulness and wellbeing sessions
- Celebrate an unconventional Event Day (National donut day XXX – send out a donut snack or e-voucher for attendees to meet up and have coffee)
Things to remember
· What type of event do you want to deliver?
· Where will the content be seen and promoted?
· Will the event be free or at a charge?
· When is the best time to hold the event?
· Do you require registrations?
· Look at ways to make it engaging and inclusive
· Do you want to track any data?
· Have a good back office team in place to prepare for technical issues