Even before 2020 and the massive changes this year has brought, the shift towards virtual events was already well underway. More and more event organizers were recognizing the many benefits of going fully digital. The coronavirus pandemic, with its social distancing requirements and travel restrictions, has only accelerated the trend. Now, almost all events are going virtual. If you’re planning a convention, meeting, or symposium, you should probably accept the current reality and hold your event via online video platforms. But how can you pull off such an event? What do you need to take into account? A lot goes into planning a virtual event, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Follow these six tips to seamlessly pivot to a virtual format for your upcoming event.
Keep it Short
In-person events are usually punctuated by coffee breaks, intermissions, and general downtime. Virtual events lack all these natural breaks, which is why you should make your event shorter. Now matter how engaging the content, nobody will stare into their computer for eleven straight hours. Cut out all non-essential elements to create an event that flows quickly from one presentation to the next.
Encourage Brief Presentations
To have a short event, you’ll need each individual presentation to be snappy and to-the-point. Even the most credentialed presenters can’t be allowed to speak as long as they like. Not only will long presentations lengthen the entire event, but they can also bore viewers. Not every speaker will appeal to the entire audience, and without the distractions of an in-person event viewers will quickly lose patience.
Use Glossy, Aesthetically-Pleasing Technology
You should put just as much care into your digital presentation as you would normally put into the looks of a physical events hall. You would never welcome guests to a dirty or disheveled conference room, and you should be just as assiduous in making your virtual presentations sharp and easy-on-the-eye. If the presentations look like powerpoints from a middle school science fair, your audience will have a hard time taking you seriously. Invest in the newest technology, and take the time to make it all work flawlessly.
Include an Emcee
Transitioning between speakers is often awkward at physical events, but with a virtual event it can be downright painful. That’s why you need to hire an emcee to fill the gaps. You should base your choice of emcee on the tenor of the event. A gregarious jokester might be perfect for a college reunion, while someone more serious suits an academic conference. In any case, make sure the emcee is professional, competent, and naturally outgoing.
Make Presentations Engaging
The death knell for any event is drooping eyelids among the crowd. As an event organizer, your primary focus should be on keeping people engaged. This requires more than just intriguing speakers. You should actively search for ways to force your audience to interact. One common strategy is to encourage questions from the audience. If speakers agree with this step, it can go a long way towards keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Interactive polls are another great option. Whatever you do, make sure viewers are never completely passive. This should feel like an event, not an overhyped Youtube video.
Make The Event Inclusive
One of the main benefits of holding an event virtually is that it gives you a chance to be more inclusive. You no longer have to worry about geographical location, seating capacity, or a food budget in deciding who can attend. You should capitalize on this inherent advantage by maximizing your even’t inclusivity. Choose a time for your event that could allow for overseas participation from viewers in different timezones. Aim for a diversity of voices among speakers to reach out to a national or global audience. Use visuals to appeal to all types of minds and learners. This is your chance to bring more people into the fold. Don’t pass it by.