Virtual events are here to stay. In fact, they have become the norm for many companies that had to quickly scramble for alternatives to canceled events. What was originally considered a hassle by organizations – having to quickly pivot – and a frightening endeavor by event attendees who didn’t even know what Zoom was two years ago – has largely become a preference due to convenience and increased event attendance. Everything from neighborhood HOA meetings to sales kickoff meetings for thousands of employees has gone virtual, and many people would prefer this to be a permanent shift.
It can be overwhelming to create and execute a successful virtual event that requires more than the typical Zoom or Webex meeting. Exceeding the expectations of the audience is paramount and goes beyond the user-friendliness of the event platform.
Six Ways to Success-Proof Your Virtual Event
Let’s take a look at six features that will make your event memorable and effective.
- Create Memorable Event Branding
One way to set your event apart is to be sure that your brand is well represented. Event branding is more than just having your company logo and color scheme visible during the virtual event; it starts much earlier. Be sure to create an event website or a landing page to promote the event through email campaigns and social media. Build interest by sharing relevant content like blog posts and industry news in the days leading up to the event.
Take advantage of the technical abilities of the event platform manager to give your event the right feel, and remember your sponsors and exhibitors. Give them an opportunity to showcase their brands as well through branded graphics, logos, video chat, and corporate video content.
- The Presenter Has the Floor
Just like at an in-person event, speakers need to be able to present without interruptions, and despite requests for attendees to mute their microphones, there are bound to be participants who have challenges when it comes to technology or following the rules. An internal event with only a handful of attendees is manageable if a dog starts barking or a toddler wants to play, but if your event is customer-facing or has hundreds or thousands of people logged in, even just a small percentage of unmuted participants can disrupt the flow of an event.
Having the ability to have one-way audio and video is a must for most virtual events, as long as you provide a way for the audience to engage and ask questions, which brings us to the next must-have for virtual events.
- It’s More Than Just a Webinar: Engage, Engage, Engage
With the right virtual event platform, you can create an immersive experience within the virtual event. Consider how you can utilize technology to recreate the in-person event experience.
Live content is always preferable to pre-recorded content because it keeps the listeners’ attention more effectively and allows for Q&A with the presenters, so audience engagement is key. Live polls and surveys with instant results, text chat, gamification, presentation graphics, breakout rooms, an equitable talk-to-listen ratio, and even home delivery of drinks and snacks from vendors or sponsors are all engagement features that help to bring a virtual event to life.
- Fixes on the Fly
From problems logging in to a presenter’s problems with audio to engagement features not functioning properly, there are bound to be snafus whenever technology is relied upon so heavily. To ensure a seamless event, having responsive technical support to troubleshoot quickly is an absolute must for any virtual event.
For large events, be sure to have moderators on standby to answer or queue-up questions that appear in the chat box and control any rabble-rousing that may crop up.
- Make the Event Accessible to All
Nearly twenty percent of people in the U.S. are deaf or hard of hearing, and more than 12 million Americans have some type of vision impairment. During the planning stages of your event, be sure to take into consideration the accessibility needs of your audience. Including elements like closed-captioning, having speakers be mindful of vision-impaired participants when preparing their talks, and employing the use of an ASL interpreter are all ways companies can avoid excluding their audience members with special needs.
RespectAbility is a great resource for learning more about ensuring virtual events are accessible for all.
- Leverage a Professional Team to Stylize Your Message
We’ve all become accustomed to participating in video calls with terrible lighting and spotty audio. While the no-frills approach may be fine for some meetings, the bar has been raised, and having a professionally produced event will always be more impressive and easier for the audience to listen to and engage with.
Working with a professional, full-service media studio like ICV Digital Media to design, produce, and host your live-streaming event reduces both the hassle and the cost and improves the experience for everyone.
Until Next Time
We’re all tired of hearing “the new normal” every time we turn around, but virtual events aren’t immune to this catchphrase—thanks to travel restrictions and social distancing, they have moved beyond necessity and are now the norm. While pulling off a stellar virtual event isn’t a simple task, there are fewer factors involved than with an in-person event, so perfecting them is critical for a successful outcome.
Be sure to communicate with your audience after the event to get feedback and let them know how to access recordings of the event. This post-event follow-up will provide you with the necessary analytics to make adjustments for future events, and it will also encourage participants to join again next time!