Top tips for a successful virtual event

Event Builder has been running full-time since May this year providing companies with the tools to host successful virtual and hybrid events. With many events under our belt now, we’ve compiled this list of tips to help you create a successful virtual event.

  1. Plan it out
    Sounds a bit obvious but it sure helps to plan out what your event, conference, or meeting hopes to achieve.
    • What do you want your guests to gain from attending?
    • What do you hope to achieve for your exhibitors, sponsors, and speakers?
    • What goals are you setting your company itself? That could be the number of leads gained, profit, attendees, reputation increase, etc.
    • Work on setting out a clear plan that includes your target audience, your registration process, your event mission, value for your exhibitors, speakers, and sponsors, monetisation of the event, technology, post-event measurement and reporting, follow-ups and reporting.
  2. Make it relevant to your audience
    • Does your event speak to your target audience now?
    • If you’re talking to attendees about activities and actions that can’t possibly happen in the current environment then you’re wishing for different circumstances and not helping them now. Your event should help and assist attendees with their business lives now.
  3. Set clear benefits and manage expectations
    What do you wish your customers to benefit from and communicate that in the lead up to the event? Email them with reminders on how the technology will work on the day(s) and what if any steps they need to do to access the event. Let them know what they can expect on the day, how they can contribute, and what benefits they’ll get from attending. Remember perception is reality and if you set expectations too low or high then your customers will behave accordingly.
  4. Video Comfort
    Be clear with your exhibitors, speakers, and sponsors what their responsibilities are. Video may be a different medium than some are used to. They may miss the atmosphere of a room full of people and consequently struggle when they can’t see those people in front of them. Ask your speakers to prepare their talks and rehearse beforehand – provide assistance with your video technology of choice and ensure that they are comfortable operating with a camera. And ask them to rehearse and rehearse again – nothing worse than someone who stumbles through their presentation.
  5. Is you’re event live or pre-recorded?
    Presenting live has its advantages and disadvantages. A live event provides immediacy and urgency demanding your guests attend at a certain time to benefit. However, it relies on the professionalism of speakers and your technology. Choosing to pre-record gives your speakers the opportunity to practise and do-over any errors in their material.
  6. Will you have an MC?
    An MC provides a professional presentation with seamless links from speaker to speaker. The MC can guide guests from one stream or ‘room’ through to the next, keeping people on-board for longer. Professionalism pays for itself and events that have clear instructions and introductions from an MC have tended to be better attended and score better in post-feedback surveys.
  7. Ensure a simple login process for online platforms
    Your event should be easy to access. Our Event Builder platform emails attendees automatically on the day of the event reminding them of access details. A simple branded URL and easy to remember PIN number is sent and ensures ease of access and there are no problems with having to remember user names and / or passwords.
  8. Remind users when new content is added
    Use the email facilities, popup notifications and the online stream/chat to notify users that content is being refreshed or starting now. Reminding users that new items are starting soon helps ensure their continued presence on the platform.
  9. Ensure you have a backup plan for any live streams
    It can be stressful if things go wrong on the day so have a fallback position for problems that may arise. Have a backup presentation or video that can replace any failures in tech from a particular location. With work from home scenarios, the quality and consistency of internet connections can vary greatly and anyone can be the victim of unplanned ‘work on the lines’. A quick pre-recorded backup can be added to a speakers or exhibitors stream if you plan ahead for any issues.
  10. When physical and virtual, don’t forget about your virtual visitors
    If your event is a hybrid event, remember to include your virtual visitors in the interaction. Q&As, polls, chat, etc. all help to ensure that if guests are unable to travel to the event then they can still engage with speakers. Exhibitors can also ensure their work is viewed by preparing video and downloadable brochures and documents for their online ‘booth’.
  11. Get users to the content they want, when they want
    Content, front and centre is the golden rule for virtual events. Make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for and keep the information on-screen at all times. Event Builder puts your content in the centre of the screen with chat and upcoming items to the right. The attendee can easily see what’s coming and
  12. Forget gimmicks like avatars or 3D walkthroughs
    Your event attendees want to be themselves. While the metaverse may one day arrive, until then people want to be themselves, engage with each other on natural terms, and access their chosen content without jumping through hoops. We built Event Builder on these terms.
  13. Ensure there’s a way to connect delegates and exhibitors
    Connecting your guests with exhibitors is key to providing value to them. A chat service that works live within their ‘booth’ enables quick contact and lets guests ask questions. Along with chat, Q&As, polls, surveys, and downloadable documents are added to the booth to create a fully interactive environment.
  14. Make sure your platform lets you commercialise the available space
    Subsidise the cost of holding your event and let sponsors gain more exposure. We’ve written an entire guide to monetising the space in your virtual event and providing maximum value to your sponsors and exhibitors. Make sure you download it before your next event.
  15. Keep users within the platform engaged
    Make breakout sessions available and encourage 1-2-1 networking. Can you engage users with a mass participation event like a yoga stretching session or setting a task that everyone must complete?

Bonus Tip

  • Insert a colleague into chats and suggest sponsors or exhibitors do too.
    Having yourself or colleagues in the chat means you get to see how attendees are seeing the event. You’ll be able to address concerns in the chat and steer conversation if things get quiet. For your exhibitors and sponsors, it could mean being able to keep the conversation on track and potentially gain valuable contacts or leads in the process.

Marketing manager at VenuIQ.