Digital get down! How to take your event virtual without falling flat.
Updated: Nov 19, 2020
At this point, I’m sure you’ve participated in your fair share of Zoom calls and Facetime family catch-ups. You might have even mastered the art of Live social media workouts in your dining room. While we hear you on the Virtual Burnout, we also know that the need to take traditional events virtually will be our reality for the near future. Whether during periods of ‘Stay-At-Home’ or just to connect people from around the world, technology allows us to take events anywhere, at any time.
But here is the catch…as event planners, you are not the only one going virtual. Your attendees will likely have a strong frame of comparison to recent experiences. And if for some reason they have been hiding out at a silent meditation retreat with Jared Leto, you need to plan for the technology challenges of a first-timer.
Here are some areas to focus on to make sure your virtual event is a home run.
Flexibility in your planning
You must first acknowledge that what works at a traditional event might not work when you take it digitally. Get comfortable with changing your format and conventional plan and allow yourself to be creative. Virtual events are emerging and evolving quickly and there are fewer rules for how things have to be done. Use this to your advantage and be bold in your concept development.
Elevate the experience
Virtual events don’t have to mean sitting in front of a screen. Get creative and interactive with your content. Engage your audience with collaborative at-home experiences, allow them to be part of the entertainment.
Here’s a list of ideas to get your own creative juices flowing!
**Encourage guests to gather in small groups with some in person connection to accompany your digital programming.
**Book lively entertainment and encourage people in advance to make space in their home for dancing.
**Source a mixologist to lead participants through the creation of an over-the-top craft cocktail concoction.
**Encourage costuming or even send out a few key pieces to guests in advance.
**Facilitate an in-home Scavenger Hunt based around item categories you know will be found in each location.
**Book a comedian to lead a rowdy game of Trivia themed around your event.
**Incorporate a cooking component, sending participants ingredient filled party packs to cook along live with a MasterChef.
**Organize teams and orchestrate virtual charades.
**Spoil your guests with pre-made meals from local restaurants. Delivered on a precise schedule and helping to support the community.
Communication is key
With any event, communication is a major component of a guests’ overall experience. From the moment you announce to your final goodbyes, be detailed but concise and add some flavor in your copy to show your brand. Here are a few areas to focus on specifically.
**Promotion – be clear on what your guest is going to get out of the experience and why they should commit their time (and maybe $) to you. Show your personality and make sure your branding is unique and representative.
**Registration – if you are requiring sign ups in advance of the event, make this process painless for your guest. The fewer pages and steps they have to go through the better.
**Reminders – your attendees are busy and need you to gently nudge your way onto their calendar. Consider sending them automatic calendar links upon registration and then follow up as the event nears with reminders and specifics.
**Detailed information – Be very thorough in the directions you provide. This can be included in your reminders and in the Calendar links you provide. Make sure your guest knows exactly what to prepare for and how to participate.
**Speedy response time – do everything you can to answer your guests questions before they ask them, but some of it is inevitable. The important thing is that your respond clearly and quickly.
**Follow up – make sure to have a final interaction post-event with your guests. Send them a recap or highlight reel. Remind them how awesome it was and invite them to your next experience.
Master the tech
Whether you are hiring a professional audio visual company to assist with your broadcast or going DIY-style, take care in plotting out every aspect of your stream. Consider whether you would benefit from using some or all pre-recorded content to minimize the ‘live’ risk.
If you’re inclined to keep it ‘live’ (a good option for allowing interactivity), be sure to test your sound levels and video and do as many dry runs until you are 100% confident in success. In the planning process, keep in mind your internet upload speeds and consider hard wiring. Plot out every ‘set’ in advance
Keep it short
In virtual events, your guests are not committed to sticking with you. At a traditional event they have gotten dressed, sat in traffic, found parking, etc. At a virtual event they aren’t putting in as much effort to attend, and therefore will not feel as loyal to sticking with you through the whole thing. So…keep it short and engaging.
Virtual events typically are much shorter and packed with back-to-back entertainment. You have to captivate your audience with every minute of your programming to battle the distraction of kids, dirty dishes, Netflix, etc.
Virtual is a great option for your event now and will continue to be in the future, but it’s important to understand the variations between a traditional event and how that will affect your planning process. Now you have all of the tools to create a digital experience that makes people wanting more!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Thompson
Jenna is a mountain based Yogi with a love for veggie focused foods. When she's not in Warrior Pose you can find her spending time with her Avalanche Rescue Dog Luna with a Matcha Latte in hand!