As COVID-19 changes the way we do business, we’re bringing our audience expert advice on how to adapt to the new normal. The rise of virtual events presents as many opportunities as it does drawbacks— if you know how to take advantage of what they have to offer.
This insight on virtual events comes from Julia Sousa, Growth Marketing Manager at Attendease — an all-in-one event management solution for virtual, hybrid, and in-person events.
In 2020 we all had to pivot — and as much as we had time to make mistakes and learn, in 2021 we should be stronger at the virtual game. Just a Zoom meeting won’t cut it anymore – since digital fatigue is at its all time high. So how can you plan a memorable virtual event? In this article, we will discuss 5 strategies to consider to plan memorable virtual events in the new year.
Event Design First
One thing that we learned in 2020 is that event design precedes event technology. Before rushing to find out the next shiny object, you should look at your event goals first. What do you want to achieve? As the event guru Tahira Edean puts it, “it’s about creating the purpose and telling a story”.
Whether you want to provide better opportunities for sponsors, more connection time for attendees, or provide education content to your audience, identify what you want to accomplish first. Once you nailed your goals, you can think about the best ways to achieve that in an online environment.
Versatile Event Technology
Once you have a clear goal and know what event format would best achieve your objectives, then it’s time to find the right technology for your event. While in 2020 most event professionals were scrambling to find a virtual event platform to host their virtual meetings and events, in 2021 they may find themselves searching for new technology to run hybrid events.
As vaccination plans roll out worldwide, conversations about hybrid are more relevant than ever. If you are choosing a new solution to manage your virtual events — you may want to consider a platform that can also host hybrid and in-person events. This will allow you to keep your entire event portfolio in one unique system.
All-in-one event management software like Attendease can help you manage your entire portfolio, whether virtual, hybrid, or in-person, throughout the entire event lifecycle – from registration to website management, session scheduling, event marketing, analytics, and more.
Building excitement around virtual events is not as easy as with an in-person event. People love traveling, fun entertainment, networking, and everything that comes along with events how they used to be. Now that we have shifted to virtual, think about ways that you can make some of these elements present in a virtual environment.
For example, you can start building excitement before the event even starts by mailing a box filled with branded swag items that are fun and thoughtful. This is also an opportunity to give sponsors more visibility – which has been a challenge for event planners in 2020.
More inspiration: 9 Swag Ideas To Make Your Virtual Event More Engaging
During the event, make sure you provide enough time to network and participate, including Q&A sessions, polls, AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions, breakout rooms, etc. It will all depend on your event objectives. You may also consider online entertainment – this year’s HubSpot INBOUND Conference brought in a duo of comedians for some much needed break during the 2-day event.
Although live virtual events tend to draw more engagement and excitement, not all elements of your virtual event need to happen live. Mixing pre-recorded segments can make your event more dynamic and interesting to attendees and can go a long way in regards to fighting digital fatigue.
For instance, you can have pre-recorded videos in between sessions or add music to a pre-recorded introduction session. Think beyond what we know about virtual live events and borrow from other media – such as TV and streaming platforms.
Make Sponsors Happy
Unfortunately, most planners focused on the technology side to pivot to virtual, but few put attention into making their sponsors happy. The result: many events saw monetization as a big challenge in 2020, since sponsors were not seeing as much value on the exposure they would get online, versus in-person.
The sponsors make an important piece of many events – so make sure you create enough exposure for their brand to make their investment worthwhile. In addition to sending sponsored swag by mail, you can also consider to have:
- Sponsor logos watermarked on the video broadcast screen;
- Pre-recorded advertising messages from sponsors in between sessions;
- Sponsored giveaways;
- Dedicated web pages for each sponsor with the opportunity to add a quick demo video, have a lead gen form, downloadable content, etc.
Whether you will manage virtual-only events or are already planning for hybrid, these five strategies will help you put together better events in 2021.
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