by SAMANTHA RUPP
Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic as an events professional is no small feat. From health guidelines and cancellations to a new normal of virtual events, there are so many new adjustments and tactics to follow if you want to make your next event a hit.
Lucky for you, we’ve completed some of the research for you. In this post, we’re taking a look at six creative things you can do to make your virtual event a huge success.
1. Invest in quality camera equipment
Probably one of the most important pieces of hosting an online event is how you’re able to present yourself virtually. Just because you’re not able to engage with your guests IRL, doesn’t mean that your event should feel distant.
If you’re planning an event using a video format, you’ll want to make sure that you spring for quality equipment — no one wants to watch a blurry or glitchy screen for hours on end. As you search for the right tools for your virtual event, keep these tips in mind:
- If you’re using an event space or want to have multiple perspectives to keep your guests engaged, you’ll want to find a camera that allows you to capture 360° views of the property.
- Lighting is everything, whether you’re on or off camera. Anytime your event will be getting up close and personal with a guest speaker or MC, make sure their background and portrait are well-lit. If you have multiple speakers participating from different places, you can ship them a ring light and a small camera for consistency.
- Presenters that will be talking or performing regularly should also be equipped with high-quality audio, so be sure to mic-up anyone who fits this profile.
2. Focus on your background vibe
Competing in a market of virtual events feels like a ruthless battlefield for so many event planners. Between pivoting plans to relearning best practices, it feels nearly impossible to make your event stand out amongst the rest.
One of the simplest ways to achieve an event vibe like no other? Build a creative background! While you might not have access to that dreamy event space you spent so much time perfectly curating, you still have the opportunity to make your virtual event look really special and unique. What’s more, decorating for a small thumbnail is much more affordable than decking out a whole wedding hall or outdoor venue!
To help you spark some of that creativity, take a look at these fun design ideas:
- House plants
- Neon signs
- Themed knick-knacks
- Virtual mural
- Hand-painted mural
- Curated art
3. Conduct test-runs before going live
Whether you’re running an online or in-person event, every event planner knows that technology has a tendency to fizzle out during those moments you really need it most. A glitchy sound system, a photo reel that just won’t cooperate — we’ve all been there.
When it comes to planning virtual events, testing out your tech ahead of time should be among your top priorities. After all, one small technological mishap could shift your event offline for good.
Here’s a quick list of check-ins to make before your event goes live:
- Guest access
- Connection between guest speakers/collaborators
- Screen Sharing
- Messaging, Q&A setup
In addition to checking through these line items, it can also be helpful to establish a plan for any tech issues that could come your way. Identifying an IT point of contact, setting forth steps for communicating with guests, and outlining other roles can be seriously helpful when the unexpected occurs.
4. Provide applicable online resources
It may be a tough pill to swallow, but the reality of the events world is that virtual settings are likely going to be our only option for the foreseeable future. While they do have their drawbacks, virtual events also have positive aspects, too — that is if you leverage your resources appropriately. One of the biggest benefits of online learning events is the ability to easily send out learning materials to your guests.
Because so much of what we do is online already, it’s really easy to translate live events and materials into timeless artifacts online. From sending slide decks to creating custom calculators, there are plenty of ways you can empower attendees to keep learning and participating in your programs.
5. Hone your marketing efforts
Another edge online events have over in-person ones is the ability to market effectively. Online marketing has become the most important component of modern marketing efforts period. It doesn’t matter whether you’re advertising a college learning event, hosting a virtual dog adoption event, or a specialized workshop, odds are, you can — and should — find your audience online.
Social media networks and search engines make it super simple for advertisers to find their target audiences. Through their ad platforms, you can target specific age groups, interests, ideals, and more.
Importantly, don’t forget to track your data and analytics for the event to see how successful it truly was, as well as figuring out new ideas for next time.
6. Have a solid plan
Online events are going to take some getting used to, no matter what side of the equation — guest or planner — you’re on. This discomfort will no doubt bring about some awkward moments and some trial and error for everyone. The easiest way to combat awkward moments or transitional troubles? Have a plan and stick to it!
Like any other event, your virtual gathering should have an itinerary laid out in great detail. This will help to avoid miscommunication or confusion later on down the road. However, it’s also important to remember that your event shouldn’t feel too rehearsed, so make room for some ad-libbing and make sure your personality shines!
Adjusting to an online-only schedule of events is a learning curve for us all. From connectivity conflamas to design dramas, there are plenty of curveballs to be wary of. However, there’s nothing a little planning and brainstorming can’t fix.
As you take this time to relearn everything you know about event planning and execution, keep our six hacks in mind:
- Use quality equipment
- Get creative with your background set
- Conduct test runs to avoid issues
- Transform event materials into long-lasting resources
- Hone your marketing efforts through social media
- Have a plan
Did we miss anything? Let us know how your virtual events have unfolded over the last few months in the comment section. Here’s to a bigger and better rest of 2021.
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is the managing editor for 365 Business Tips as well as runs a personal blog, Mixed Bits Media. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.