How to Host a Successful Virtual Event

Virtual events and conferences aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, they’re likely here to stay as event planners anticipate the rise of hybrid experiences — events that integrate virtual and in-person interactions — post-COVID.

From the angle of cost and accessibility, businesses have a lot to gain from incorporating online events into long-term customer engagement strategies. Here are a handful of ways to host one successfully.

Invest in the Right Virtual Event Platform and Tech

The content planned for an event is only as good as the ability of your attendees to consume it. No one wants to attend an online fitness class where the video stream stalls on the instructor mid-push up.

Do research on virtual event software and what makes sense relative to your specific business needs. And if you’re not sure what your business needs, attend one of the virtual events taking place in our Spotlight space or elsewhere for inspiration.

Tech-wise, you should also have equipment on-hand to enhance the basics (i.e., lighting, audio, and video). Cover multiple bases with a video conferencing kit or piece together your own setup with help from our in-home tech services experts.

Put a Plan in Place for Event Promotion

Another thing to consider when organizing a virtual event is how you’ll get people to attend. Regardless of your budget, there are ways to market your efforts and drive engagement.

Encourage your employees to share the event on their social media pages. If your event features speakers, have them cross-promote it across their channels. Send an email to your list of contacts. Put a small budget behind digital ads.

Additionally, think through how you’ll engage attendees after the fact. Will you provide a recording of the event? You want to keep communications open and incentivize previous attendees with reasons to sign up for more events in the future.

Expect the Unexpected

You can’t prepare for everything — but you can be ready for anything. This is why it’s a good idea to run through an event or online class schedule prior to going live. It also doesn’t hurt to have tech support on speed dial for moments when malfunctions need troubleshooting. Additionally, consider having backup speakers and/or teachers at the ready in case someone backs out of an event last-minute. You can also invite field experts to sit in on an event for help answering questions from attendees and stepping in for someone experiencing technical difficulties.

Gather Attendee Feedback Early and Often

You don’t know what you don’t know. And one of the best ways to find exactly how much you don’t know is to plan an event, host it, and gather feedback after it’s done.

Survey participants (both attendees and those on-screen) on their experience — the pros and the cons. Use their responses to help inform and grow future events, and ensure you’re producing high-value content for target markets.

By Staples Canada

July 08, 2021