Virtual Events

Hosting a Successful Online Event: Best Practices for 2020

Gayatri Poswal
• July 23, 2020
Hosting a succesful airmeet
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hink of a situation wherein you’re all set to host your online event. The digital stage is set, speakers are backstage and your attendees have signed up already. Now what do you think can go wrong? 

While an online event allows you to reach audiences with relative ease and organize the show without worrying about the various aspects to be considered in an offline event such as location, venue, etcetera. You need to handle a whole bunch of other details. A seemingly innocuous element might be capable of wrecking the entire event. 

Today, everyone has a plethora of digital tools at their disposal. While an online event offers a convenient, cost-effective solution to reach global audiences, there is more to an online event than just getting online.

Following the enlisted dos and don’ts will help you have a seamless virtual experience. 

DOs

Pick the right platform – Many providers offer platforms with varying features. Some are successful in helping to create an experience that blurs the lines between the physical and virtual. Online events may range from live webcasts to highly engaging meetups, but it comes down on your requirements while choosing the right platform.
Budget – Both time and funds are important aspects of the event hosting process. Know how the event will be paid for, whether it is the company’s event, or via sponsors or ticketing. Make a list of all the expenses from speaker compensation to marketing costs. Also, have a clear sense of the time required to schedule and market the entire event.
Explore appropriate sponsorship and ensure sponsor visibility – Having the right sponsor can boost your event manifold. Optimal sponsor visibility benefits all participants. It can be achieved through slides thanking the sponsor, short videos containing sponsor information, shout-outs to sponsors during breaks and even virtual panel discussions among sponsors.
Market through optimal channels – The event may be marketed through social media, promotional collaborations, email marketing campaigns etcetera. You may even request the sponsor and speakers to advocate the event through their channels. Look to build compelling awareness for the event to maximize attendees and benefit everyone involved.
Define why the target audience should attend – List out the benefits that attendees will derive from being a part of the event. Give a clear idea as to what will pique their interest and make them sign-up and attend the event.
Keep registration simple – Not everyone in your defined target audience would be tech-savvy. So, keeping the registration process simple and comprehensive that includes all valid participant details, would help you gain more registrants.
Ensure audience engagement – Provide avenues for the participants to engage and connect. People are looking for an experience close to how an in-person meetup would be. Networking opportunities are an essential feature to consider. The right platform can facilitate a range of in-person like interactions from meetups before or after the event to casual conversations.

DON’Ts

Have any ambiguity regarding the event details – Structuring the content and having an agenda in consultation with the speakers will ensure the smooth flow of your event. Make sure that all event-related details are complete — speaker bios, session description, etcetera should be up-to-date. It gives attendees the right information forming the basis for their expectations from the interaction.
Miss checking scheduling details – If you’re expecting attendees to join from different regions and time zones, clearly state the event times to avoid any confusion for them. Include all information regarding software and internet requirements for a glitch-free experience. Consider whether you want the event to be public or private and set it as such. Check that your event does not coincide with other events that might be targeting your target audience.
Skip on making a checklist – The littlest of details matter. From program content to post-event surveys, everything is crucial and reflects your brand. Making a checklist will ensure you don’t omit anything and that the entire process is in sync.

“Optimal sponsor visibility can be achieved through slides thanking the sponsor, short videos containing sponsor information, shout-outs to sponsors during breaks and even virtual panel discussions among sponsors. ”

Optimal sponsor visibility can be achieved through slides thanking the sponsor, short videos containing sponsor information, shout-outs to sponsors during breaks and even virtual panel discussions among sponsors.

Forget to test your setup – Testing a dry run before the event day is a good practice for an ideal host.  Make sure you’ve tested your equipment, internet connection, and tools. Issues can arise anytime, so keep a back-up handy. Ensure that your speakers have the right links and all the required information well in advance.
Forget to take breaks – If your event is longer than an hour or runs into many sessions, take small-duration breaks. It helps speakers regroup, and attendees stay engaged. It provides an opportunity to offer short, stimulating activities that enhance the overall experience. The activities may be creative, meditative, social or gamified.
Ignore post-event surveys – These will help you decipher what worked well and what didn’t. Feedback forms may be sent out to attendees, speakers as well as sponsors. Send out the feedback forms as soon as the event has ended when the experience is still fresh in their minds. Ask about the event experience, needs and expectations. It will guide you in strategizing and preparing for the continued success of future events.

Conclusion

The above dos and don’ts should provide a basic outline of areas to consider while hosting an online event.

As our world today faces unprecedented times, virtual connections have become the need of the hour. A superior online platform provides an opportunity to stay relevant and connect remotely with your target market efficiently. 

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