The world of event planning has considerably changed over the past few months in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Event production companies have shifted their focus from physical events to virtual events. Living in an extremely digitalized world has significantly aided this shift.
There are countless benefits of holding an online event for a business. Holding an online event considerably saves costs, such as on travel and vendor expenses. It also enables you to reach a broader global audience, which is not typically possible with physical events. Contrary to popular belief, online events can be much more interactive than physical events due to the social tools that can help conversation.
However, this transition towards virtual events brings with it a myriad of expectations on the part of attendees. Catering to these expectations requires a thorough event management plan and this is where professional virtual event planners come in.
If you are planning an online event with or without the help of a virtual event planner, read on to find out how you can meet your online event attendees’ expectations, or better yet, exceed them.
1. Ask Attendees What They Expect from the Event
More often than not, events become more about the host and less about the attendees. This can be especially true in the case of online events. To ensure better engagement and attendee satisfaction, it is better to ask the audience what their expectations from the event are.
To learn about attendees’ expectations, create a form or survey and email it to them. The following can be some of the questions you can ask in the survey:
- What are you hoping to learn from this online event?
- What does a successful online event look like to you?
- What would you recommend to incorporate in the event online?
2. Choose the Right Technology
Choosing the right platform to broadcast your online event is integral in ensuring your audience stays engaged. If you want to reach a larger audience for your event, then consider using Facebook Live. These are particularly suitable for online events where you wish to display the venue's set up, such as in the case of a performance.
However, if you want your online event to be more exclusive with people genuinely interested in the event, consider broadcasting it through Zoom. This also helps in a seamless ticketing experience, as only those with the ticket can access the event. Moreover, with Zoom's various features, attendees can engage in the event much more efficiently through question polls and hand-raising features.
If you decide to host your event with the Cadence event experience platform, you may also be interested in their in-house meeting platform called Symphony. Symphony offers a modern blended meeting experience for multi-channel content like livestreams, pre-recorded content, & materials. It fosters audience engagement and empowers people to provide feedback throughout the presentation.
3. Market Your Event Efficiently
Nothing creates more hype than excellent marketing tactics. A well-marketed virtual event will not only create more buzz and attract customers, but it will also reinforce your event’s identity. Ensure that you incorporate all digital platforms into your marketing. Some of these include:
- Social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter
- The Event website or virtual event planner’s website
4. Make Your Content Exciting
The biggest challenge for virtual event planners when it comes to online events is gauging the audience's attention. You have to make sure that none of your attendees are bored. For this, you have to ensure that your online event's content is not monotonous.
Consider opting for infographics instead of a PowerPoint presentation, which can often be dull. Infographics can be vibrant and exciting, and with the incorporation of videos and audio, your presentation can be stellar. Moreover, break up your content so you can take short breaks in between.
5. Incorporate Short Breaks
Breaking up your content will help to not make your online event monotonous and will enable you to incorporate games and activities in between. This will keep the audience engaged and will enhance their experience. These can include polls, feedback surveys, and giving rewards to the attendees when they get questions right.
6. Hone Your Presentation Skills
The key to an excellent virtual event is having a brilliant presenter who knows how to engage the audience in conversations and not make the whole event tedious or boring. Consider these tactics to hone your presentation skills:
- Look directly at the camera throughout your presentation, as it mimics the feeling of making direct eye contact
- Break the ice with activities at the beginning of the event
- Send out polls, collect feedback, ask questions
- Practice your speech and presentation beforehand
- Have excellent command over the theme of the event
7. Create Opportunities for Networking
Attendees value networking the most when it comes to events, regardless of whether they are physical or virtual. It is perhaps the reason why they attend an event. As vital as it is, it can also often become the biggest challenge for event production companies when they host an online event.
A great way to enhance networking is by introducing networking lounges within your online event. For example, Zoom platforms offer 'breakout rooms' wherein a certain number of attendees can have separate one-on-one conversations with each other. Similarly, Cadence and Hopin also have built-in networking features. Event hosts can also allow attendees to share their business cards virtually and connect.
Even with a stellar event idea, many employers face the challenge of managing the attendees' expectations and creating the most meaningful experience for them. Engagement is essential in enhancing an online event's experience, but so is having a robust virtual platform, exciting content, and networking opportunities.
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