20 tips and ideas for hosting a memorable virtual event in 2020
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!
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!