Before we hosted our virtual Christmas parties the most common emotion our clients mentioned was apprehension. Most of the people we worked with hadn’t hosted a virtual event before and didn’t know what the experience would be like. How would it engage and entertain?
People feel more able to be critical in the virtual world so be clear with attendees as to what their experience will be.
It’s essential to manage expectations and have good communication right from the off. Be in agreement on what the definition of a successful event is.
This matters for any event but especially so for virtual as it’s so new and expectations vary enormously.
The general perception is that virtual events are more cost-effective than physical events. Yes, there’s no venue hire and attendees don’t have to fork out for travel costs but I’m afraid virtual events are still expensive to run.
There’s the platform cost for a start but also if you want things to host a virtual event that runs smoothly you’re going to need a specialist team to deliver the technical elements.
All our virtual events are hosted at one of our virtual venues, designed to create an exciting destination with plenty of tools for attendees to get involved. Without these you’re just not going to have a very exciting event.
Basically talk to your event company and they can help you set and work within a realistic budget.
Most people are spending more time than ever before on a screen so to make the idea of a virtual event appealing it’s going to need great content.
Our recommendation is to offer choice. A range of rooms with different content so brands can tailor the content to suit their personality. Offer sessions of varying lengths with breaks inbetween.
Also provide a range of pre-recorded and live content. Having some pre-recorded content is a great back-up in case there are any unforeseen technical problems with live content.
If your budget will allow, get a host to guide the event or at the very least include clear signposting about what’s happening, when.
And provide mechanics for people to interact, connect and respond to the content; from polls, chat boxes to video rooms.
Let’s not kid ourselves, you need nerves of steel when you first hold a virtual event! No matter how much you prepare, there is a level of risk because you are relying on bandwidth, signalling, audio & visual plus the usual dramas of live events.
Successful virtual event management means planning for and preventing tech errors before they start.
Be really, really clear about how everyone logs in. A lot of platforms will only work on certain providers. Brief everyone before hand. Twice. Provide an easy way for people to contact you if there are problems.
Have a back-up plan. Remember that pre-recorded content? Make sure speakers & performers are working with stablised wi-fi.
And finally: work with experts and use an experienced tech team so problems can be quickly resolved.