The growth of virtual events in 2020, has meant their ability to increase reach, reduce travel expenses and help us celebrate with loved ones is finally getting some well deserved recognition.

But in a sea of online events all clamouring for attention, how can you stand out from the crowd — and reach your personal or business goals?

These 20 tips and ideas will help you host a memorable virtual event that will attract, engage and delight your attendees in 2020 and beyond!

What is a virtual event?

A virtual event is any location-based event that’s held online instead of in-person. This means that if you’ve ever attended an on-demand workout class, used a video conferencing tool, or sat in on a webinar, you’ve already participated in a virtual event!

As COVID-19 physical distancing requirements have been introduced, large scale online events such as virtual conferences, concerts, fundraisers, trade shows, shareholder meetings and even weddings have become the norm. This doesn’t mean that taking your event online is easy. They can take a lot of hard work and careful planning to pull off successfully.

1. Know exactly what you want to accomplish

Having defined and realistic goals for your virtual event is essential for shaping the content, themes, and even the target audience of your event. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Is it brand awareness, lead generation, general PR or even just a fun event to thank your community for their support? Make sure that your goals are very clearly defined before you start planning any initiatives.

2. Find a point of difference

If you’re trying to attract attendees or your virtual event is ticketed, it’s especially important to  find a point of difference that will make you stand out in a crowded market. You can’t just expect that your event’s going to cut through, so find your “hook” and make sure that it’s relevant to your business and the audience you’re trying to attract. Why not try:

  • Inviting industry influencers or leaders as speakers or guests
  • Creating a unique ‘theme’ 
  • Trying something you haven’t seen done before
  • Adding an element of fun to dry topics or events 

 

3. Be hyper-prepared with a brief and runsheet

Hosting a virtual event is the same as hosting live television— it requires exceptional organisational skills and a keen attention to detail to avoid potential on-air disasters! While you can never completely eliminate the chance of something going wrong, being hyper-prepared with a tight brief and runsheet is the best insurance you’ll have against anything falling apart on the big day. Communication is key here! Make sure everyone in your team is on the same page and have copies of your event timeline.

4. Consider partnerships or sponsors

The benefits of working with a partner or sponsor to increase awareness of your brand and help market your event is just as valuable when you move your event online! They can help you secure quality speakers, increase advertising revenue and attract a whole new audience of consumers to your business. Wondering how to find a sponsor? Reach out to other businesses who are relevant to your industry— but not a competitor— with a personal introduction, detailed event plan and well thought out partnership proposition that outlines how they’ll benefit from working with you.

5. Invite or interview an industry influencer 

To give your event clout and attract attendees, invite an industry expert or influencer to either speak, be interviewed, or if you’re hosting an entertainment event—simply turn up! Not only will it help attract a larger audience but if you develop a good relationship, your partnership can be mutually beneficial for both parties long into the future.

6. Theme your virtual event

If you’re worried that your virtual event could end up a little boring, creating a theme is a great way to get people excited and provide a point of focus to the occasion. If you’re hosting a corporate event, think about the message you’re trying to get across and build your theme around it. If your event is a fundraiser, virtual get-together or conference, have a bit of fun with your theme and choose something engaging, fun and that will create a talking point that encourages interaction between attendees.

7. Have a promotion plan long before your event date

Make sure you have a promotion plan in place long before your event date. As your event is taking place online, it’s important to focus your marketing efforts online also. Consider a multi-faceted campaign using social media, blogs, emails and newsletters that all include a clear link to your event registration page. And don’t forget to be creative! You want to excite people about your event, so make sure your copy, visuals and even the name of your event is catchy and engaging!

8. Style your venue for maximum impact

How you style and present your virtual event venue sets the tone and perceived professionalism of you and your event. Drab decor, tired furniture and styling that hasn’t taken into account the event theme or natural lighting and acoustics of the venue will be a big turn off for attendees. If you’re unsure on how to style your venue, it’s best to get in touch with an event stylist who can help you.

9. Choose a charismatic event host

To make your event memorable, choose a charismatic host to lead the proceedings. You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional— just someone with confidence, a clear speaking voice, bubbly personality and an ability to think on their feet if something goes wrong. Remember that it’s much easier for guests to become distracted or zone out in a virtual setting, so having a host that knows how to hold people’s attention will be invaluable.

<10. Start with an icebreaker (they don’t have to be corny!)

Although the idea of icebreaker games can feel a little corny, there are many benefits in getting people loosened up before your event kicks off. If you’re trying to encourage group brainstorming or networking, there are plenty of icebreaker games you can start with that aren’t cheesy. Sorting people into teams for a quick trivia or pop quiz is a good example of an easy game that will get attendees chatting away without the cringe factor!

11. Find creative ways to involve attendees

Listening to back-to-back speakers or long presentations can lead to people zoning out and not absorbing important takeaway messages. To help keep the energy of your event up, it’s important to encourage audience interaction. Polls, competitions, games and Q&A sessions are just some of the ways you can improve event engagement. If you’re holding a virtual social event such as a party, include some party games to keep things interesting! You just have to get creative! 

12. Send out engaging reminders

People get busy, and just because they’ve RSVP’d to your event doesn’t mean they’ll make it on the day. Whether it’s grandma’s birthday party or a virtual conference for 500 people, make sure you send out engaging reminders in the lead up to the event reminding them to save the date and tune in!

13. Be strategic in your virtual platform choice

Choosing the right virtual platform for your event is essential. There are so many options available with different features, costs and security protocols, that it can feel overwhelming making the choice. Doing your research is paramount here! Take into consideration the needs of your audience. What type of technology or devices would they use? How many guests do you need to connect at once? Is it a social or corporate event? Shop around as much as possible and don’t be afraid to get in touch with different providers directly to see how they can help you.

14. Send an intro tutorial video before the event

Once you’ve chosen a virtual platform, create an intro video that walks attendees through any technology or equipment they’ll need to participate, as well as a simple step-by-step guide on how to access the event. Not only will this help your event run on time, but it will start building rapport with your attendees early so they trust you and get the most out of their experience with your organisation.

15. Include pre-recorded content

When it comes to building authentic experiences and valuable engagement with your audience, nothing beats a live event. In saying that, using some pre-recorded content such as videos or stakeholder interviews can help add colour and variation to your event. It also means that speakers who couldn’t make it on the day can still have a chance to be involved. 

16. Give away swag bags to encourage engagement

People love giveaways! And if it means that they have to come out of their shell and ask a few questions during a Q&A session or complete a feedback survey, they’ll do it if they think they might be rewarded for it! Swag bags are a great way to encourage interaction but they’re also great marketing material and an easy way to get sponsors involved in your event. 

17. Have some fun with it

Sometimes the content of a virtual event has to be serious or studious and that’s ok! Just keep in mind that no matter how important your event is, it can be hard to hold people’s attention online, so including some element of fun is advisable if you want to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more! Always keep your audience front of mind!

18. Record your event for follow-up communications

Don’t forget to record your virtual event. There is so much juicy goodness that you can use for future marketing activities and follow-up communications, that it would be a waste not to use it. Consider hiring a video editor to make a slick highlights reel you can put up on social media and streaming sites and make sure any sponsors or partners you work with are encouraged to share the footage through their networks as well.

19. Practice, practice, practice (and test everything twice!)

The importance of double testing your technology, doing run throughs of your program and brainstorming potential issues prior to your event cannot be underestimated. As we all know, technology loves choosing the most inopportune moments to fail on us, so you have to be prepared with a backup plan for every possible scenario. Practice, practice, practice and test everything twice!

20. Hire a professional virtual event planner

If you’re planning on hosting a virtual event and you want to make sure that it’s a success, your best option is to hire a professional event planner. These experts know exactly what it takes to not only make an event look and feel professional, but also how to secure great deals with sponsors, suppliers and even marketing professionals who can help get the word out about your event. 

Let Evviva Events turn your next virtual event into a success. Our event planning experts can provide a full end to end service, from concept development to the final packdown, or simply step in to support and manage your event on the big day. From event styling, to equipment hire, run sheets to talent management, let us take the stress out of your next virtual event and create a unique and memorable experience you and your guests will love.

Get in touch for a complimentary consultation, so that we can start making your virtual event a reality, today!

Dani McEwin

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Dani McEwin is the owner and Head Event Manager and Stylist at Evviva Events.

I started Evviva after deciding to follow my passion for entertaining and creating beautiful celebrations. I bring years of industry experience and knowledge to Evviva, thanks to my background in corporate event planning and project management, and a passion for design and styling.

Coming from a large Italian family, you could say I have the celebratory blood coursing through my veins!

I’m really obsessed with event styling and interior design. Growing up around an Interior Designer (my mum), I developed an appreciation for beautiful things, and now I’m so happy that I can use this when creating looks for events. I love coming up with styles that really speak to the personality of the hosts and guests, something they wouldn’t see anywhere else, that makes them say “Wow, that looks amazing!!”.

The main thing I love about my job (I hate using that word as it’s not just a ‘job’, it’s a passion) is the people. I work with amazing clients and suppliers and we often end up forming friendships and really bonding over the process of organising their event. I strive to create a happy and wonderful experience, not just for the event but during the planning process itself. My aim is to deliver event perfection with passion and a flair that my clients won’t see elsewhere. The joy I get when I see the amazed expressions on my client’s faces when they walk in the door to their event really gives me satisfaction!

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Hiring a Professional Wedding Planner or Wedding Coordinator

If you have started looking into planning your own wedding, I’m sure you have realised there’s a lot of work involved.

Of course, it is exciting choosing your wedding dress and tasting cake, but when it comes to the organisational challenges of arranging catering, photography, flowers, wedding styling, and entertainment, sourcing suitable accommodation for guests, planning a schedule for the day, and making sure it all comes in on budget, it can all become a bit overwhelming.

This is the reason that many brides and grooms-to-be turn to a professional such as a wedding planner or wedding coordinator to help them plan their special day.

What Does a Wedding Planner do?

If you want someone to take over all the hard work of planning your wedding and make sure everything goes smoothly on the big day, a wedding planner is a great investment.

Wedding planners handle the logistics of your wedding from sourcing vendors and negotiating contracts through to making sure everything is executed perfectly and runs to schedule on the day.

A wedding planner will ensure that absolutely every detail is taken care of and that you are able to enjoy the leadup, and also your wedding day, without the stress of worrying about whether things are going to run smoothly. They will make sure the lead up to your wedding is as stress-free, fun and memorable as possible.

Most wedding planners also provide design services and will help to style your wedding venue and ensure everything looks beautiful, while others will ask that you hire a separate wedding designer to handle the creative side of things – make sure you’re clear on exactly what services your wedding planner offers before you commit.

Typical wedding planner services include:
Finding vendors (most wedding planners will have a list of photographers, florists, caterers, and other vendors that they work with so you can choose from a curated directory, sometimes with special rates)
Negotiating vendor contracts and attending meetings with vendors
Creating schedules and floor plans for the day
Touring venues
Managing accommodation and transport for the wedding party and guests
Overseeing venue styling
Helping to manage your budget
Making sure everything on the day runs to schedule and dealing with any problems so you can enjoy your wedding day
– A wedding planner will normally put in between 150 to 250 hours planning your wedding, so if you are considering using the services of a planner, be prepared to pay fairly for their considerable time and expertise. Most wedding planners also get you access to industry discounts so their service usually pays for itself in the money they will save you.

A wedding planner is especially helpful if:
You are planning a wedding on a short timeframe or you have very little free time to plan yourself
You don’t know where to start planning and find it difficult staying organised
You work full time or are time poor
You find wedding planning stressful
You have extensive décor or you want a beautifully styled event
You are getting married overseas, or you are planning a schedule of separate events held over a weekend or several days

What Does a Wedding Coordinator do?

If you cannot afford the full services of a wedding planner, a wedding coordinator can help you get everything organised as your big day approaches, but at a lower cost.

Wedding coordinators are mainly focused on logistics. They work on a much shorter timeline than wedding planners. They won’t usually find vendors for you but can help to confirm vendors and ensure they all know what they are supposed to be doing on your big day!

Their main job is to make sure everything is coordinated and runs smoothly on the day. You will be in charge of your budget and the earlier planning stages but hiring a coordinator is a good option if you feel like you need a hand pulling everything together in the month or two leading up to the wedding.

They are typically responsible for:
Checking in with your vendors to finalise details and confirm
Creating a floor plan and a schedule for the day and communicating this to all suppliers and appropriate parties
Coordinating your décor setup for the day
Conducting a walkthrough of the wedding ceremony and reception
Pointing out any details or arrangements you may have missed in your own planning
Managing the rehearsal
Making sure everything runs smoothly on the day

You should think about hiring a wedding coordinator if:
You want to plan your own wedding but would appreciate some professional help to tie everything together
You are well organised and wedding planning doesn’t stress you out
You are on a smaller budget and hiring a full-service wedding planner is out of the question

wedding-choosing

Choosing a Wedding Planner or Wedding Coordinator

Whether you are planning on hiring a wedding planner or a wedding coordinator, it is important to find one that you work well with and who understands your vision for your wedding.

Book well in advance – popular wedding planners and coordinators get booked up fast.
Prices can vary a lot but you can typically expect to pay between $10,000 and $40,000 for a full-service wedding planner, depending on the size of your wedding. A wedding coordinator will cost around a quarter of this.
There’s no licence or certification needed to be a wedding planner so hire carefully – ask for reviews and references and use recommendations from friends and family wherever possible.

Of course, we highly recommend getting either a wedding planner or a coordinator for your big day. There is a lot of work involved in planning and executing a wedding. Costs can blow up pretty quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing. There is nothing worse than spending the leadup to this major life event stressed out and overworked.

You should let a professional take care of the hard work so all you need to do is sit back, and enjoy your amazing wedding day!

Dani McEwin

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Dani McEwin is the owner and Head Event Manager and Stylist at Evviva Events.

I started Evviva after deciding to follow my passion for entertaining and creating beautiful celebrations. I bring years of industry experience and knowledge to Evviva, thanks to my background in corporate event planning and project management, and a passion for design and styling.

Coming from a large Italian family, you could say I have the celebratory blood coursing through my veins!

I’m really obsessed with event styling and interior design. Growing up around an Interior Designer (my mum), I developed an appreciation for beautiful things, and now I’m so happy that I can use this when creating looks for events. I love coming up with styles that really speak to the personality of the hosts and guests, something they wouldn’t see anywhere else, that makes them say “Wow, that looks amazing!!”.

The main thing I love about my job (I hate using that word as it’s not just a ‘job’, it’s a passion) is the people. I work with amazing clients and suppliers and we often end up forming friendships and really bonding over the process of organising their event. I strive to create a happy and wonderful experience, not just for the event but during the planning process itself. My aim is to deliver event perfection with passion and a flair that my clients won’t see elsewhere. The joy I get when I see the amazed expressions on my client’s faces when they walk in the door to their event really gives me satisfaction!

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