3 Tips for Effective Virtual Event Organisation
February 2021 / 5 minute read
Whilst organising and managing client events isn’t exactly a stress-free task, it is one that can be extremely rewarding in terms of marketing strategy, especially during these times where how we host and organise events has had to change drastically – from the physical in-person to virtual. So as virtual events become more the norm, we thought we’d share our 3 top tips for effective virtual event organisation.
#1: Anticipate everything
We’ve learnt to always think through every single step of an event in detail to look for things we might not have anticipated. For virtual events this becomes even more important.
Unfortunately, more likely than not, the glitches will be tech-related and not every person is tech-savvy! Fortunately, there are things you can try out in advance, to ensure that the “easy-fix” problems will not cause issues on the day, that we’d like to share from our own experience of running virtual events.
It’s always a good idea to plan out the user journey. No, not a literal journey – unlike an in-person event, you won’t have to pick up delegates from the airport or figure out where speakers have gone right before they’re due to present. This user journey outlines each step the attendee will experience and through that, you’ll be able to determine what their needs are and foresee any technical issues they may encounter. From there, it’s essential to do a dry run or rehearsal. This further sifts out potential hiccups and helps make it as seamless as possible for everyone. Of course, not all problems can be eliminated entirely (some issues just can’t be anticipated), but at least you’ll have dealt with as much as feasible beforehand and have back-up plans in place to help combat the unexpected.
#2: Creating the event content
At this point, it’s worth going through what content you’ll be sharing during your event. If you’re using photos or videos, ensure that all the media you’re using is high-quality. If you’re using presentations, ensure that they’re well-designed, clear and easy for your speakers to use, as well as interesting for your participants. Avoid presentations that are so complex or busy that people are reading them and not listening to the presentation -or, worse still, so intimidated by the overwhelming density that they do neither and get on with their emails instead. Please note complexity ≠ brilliance, quite the opposite. (You can read more about the key to great presentations design and what not to do here.)
Speakers are also a vital part of the event content. It’s worth noting that whilst being connoisseurs at presenting in-person, giving the same presentation through a computer screen requires a very different set of skills. On the technical side, it’ll take some practice to know when to click and advance the slides in order to deliver the visuals and presentation most effectively. It’s also important to plan how your speakers will be presenting – will they be speaking whilst presenting slides? If so, do you want them and the slides in the frame, just one or the other, or a mixture of both? Yes – you can control that in Zoom and other real time streaming platforms. You should also consider things like background or lighting. It’s worth making sure that they’re setup in a room with good lighting and have a good camera and microphone. However, do watch out when using virtual backgrounds – they could ‘feather’ the presenter (give them the little halos around their heads) whether you have a green screen or not and, in some cases, actually end up removing body parts like some digital mortician.
If you are viewing the presenter (and you almost certainly will at some point), will they be full-screen, close-up, standing or sitting? You might think that since it’s a virtual event, everyone, naturally, will be sitting down. However, similar to presenting in-person, when standing, speakers are more energetic and lively, which increases engagement with participants. In fact, this is one of the major differences between good in-person presenters and good live presenters. A bit like some actors who can work best on one medium or another, speakers often find virtual presentations a bigger challenge. The main reason that they don’t translate well is, that it’s much harder to convey your energy and enthusiasm over a computer or tablet screen that someone is watching in their home or office. Overall, it’s key to dedicate some time to plan and brief the speakers, so that you can ensure they’re comfortable with the whole process of presenting in a virtual setting.
Yes, we know, some of these things might seem tedious to go through and check, but this all contributes to the professionalism of your event and the lasting impression it leaves on your attendees. And not doing so may leave a lasting impression that you don’t want to be associated with.
#3: Finally, consider the “little things”
What may seem to you minute detail, could impact the perception of the entire virtual event (and you as organisers) – even factors right down to speakers dressed properly, for example. That’s not to say a hoodie-wearing presenter is not suitable, but strictly in the right circumstances with the right audiences. I may expect a presenter who’s an expert hacker to be wearing a hoodie but not an expert on investment banking. This would be the time to show how well you understand and know your audience. These things all send messages to your attendees so it’s important not to leave these ‘little things’ out. We know a company that recently lost a seven-figure deal because a lead presenter was all hoodied up.