How to Master Virtual Events
In 2021, you need to learn how to master remote events. If you’re an event planner, a manager, a leader, or an organizer of any kind, remote events present a new challenge.
Remote events came of age out of necessity following COVID-19, and by all metrics worth noting, they’re here to stay, even after COVID.
It’s no surprise that 71.1% of event organizers say that connecting the in-person and virtual audience is their biggest challenge. So, to emphasize the article’s opening line once again: in 2021, you need to learn how to master remote events.
Know What’s Possible and What’s Not
Knowing your limitations is essential to keeping yourself focused on your planning and your execution. It also stops you from making promises you can’t keep.
What you can do is make a space for guests to watch presentations and live streams, communicate verbally and through messenger, run live polling, and more.
Your limitations are, of course, networking capabilities, physical activities, catering, set design, live music, and the charm of a good event venue.
However, that being said, you still have all the tools to run conferences, meetings, seminars, brainstorming sessions, and lectures as before, only virtually.
As in real life, in the virtual world, planning is paramount. This might seem elementary to readers, but it’s a lesson worth reminding.
Part of that planning is testing. You need to test your schedule—virtual attendees left waiting will find something else to engage in. Also, test your slides for errors in your content and in the software itself.
When event planning, one should always be aware of Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it will go wrong.
Use the Right Tools
It’s critical that you not only pick effective tools but that you pick tools that are easy to download, intuitive to use, and most importantly, free (if not free to you, at least they should be free to guests).
Here are some key examples of the leading software in the industry that are widely downloaded, free, and easy to use:
- Video conferencing and webinar software: Zoom
- In-event chat: Zoom chat, Slack
- Polling: PollEverywhere
- Presentation Software: Google Slides and Keynote
- Whiteboarding: InVision Freehand
- Forms: Google Forms
Communication is critical firstly for engaging your guests. Thereafter, it’s essential for disseminating your key messages and giving your guests a voice. Most importantly, it takes steps to compensate for lost networking opportunities that in-person events offer.
Some guests won’t be forthcoming with the conversation. That’s understandable. That’s why it’s crucial to implement a tried-and-tested, fun catalyst. Have a look at these creative icebreakers for event networking for inspiration.
Asking guests to keep their cameras on will make them pay more attention. Evidence in schooling shows that young people switch off their cameras and zone out.
The lecturer’s biggest problem in the previous academic year was that more than half of their students logged into lectures but turned their cameras off.
Having your guests on-screen is better for not only verbal communication but for building rapport. Consider how much of communication is nonverbal and you’ll realize how important this issue is.
Research by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences found that there were several reasons that people turned their cameras off during virtual events, with the top ones being issues of privacy, and shame, of their own appearance and that of their home environment.
To tackle this problem, Liz Byron Loya has come up with further tips on encouraging attendees to keep their cameras on during virtual presentations that all event planners should pay attention to.
Just For Fun
The first principle of any remote event should be relevant and exciting content. However, quality entertainment could be a very welcome bonus for your guests. It could be games, special guest speakers, or a comedian. The possibilities are quite literally endless.
A relevant way to disseminate your message or your content could be through gamification. It’s been a hot trend for some time, and for good reason. Effective gamification offers users an immersive way of consuming relevant content. You can check out the best examples of this phenomenon from 2021 to learn from the industry leaders.
When planning your event, you ought to ask yourself, why should someone attend? You need to be able to offer people something they want. It could be your expert knowledge. It could be that you’re offering an experience. In short, you need to incentivize guests to attend, as with in-person events.
Alternatively, you could attract people with goodies, freebies, prizes, and things of that ilk. People like free things. A goodie bag with branded merch, coupons, free trials—virtual or physical—is always a solid idea. Perhaps there could even be a prize draw or a competition?
Allowing for breaks is vital in all walks of life. Especially when people are sitting on computer chairs where they already spend the bulk of their working day, short breaks to stretch and get some refreshments will do wonders for attendees’ long-term engagement.
In conclusion, remote events are still very new to this industry, but they are on the rise and will be a fundamental fixture going forward. So yes, you need to master remote events.
But alas, it’s safe to say that fears of no-shows and poor engagement will fade away. Remote events will never replace the real thing, of course, but as technology relentlessly advances and event planners get wiser and astute in running them, we’ll see more light and less gloom.
Written by: Harry Prince, who has been the Creative Content Manager at Spacehuntr since 2020. With a keen eye for SEO and strategy, his areas of interest include event technology, trends, marketing, catering, architecture, and interior design.
By Guest Author | September 22, 2021 | Categories: Remote Management
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