The events industry has been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic which is spreading worldwide. With government advice stating to limit social contact and stay away from large gatherings of people, a lot of face-to-face events have been delayed or cancelled and even weddings have had to be sadly postponed.
But with some businesses relying on events as a main source of income, we’ve been looking at how to keep events running, by trialing virtual options and taking events online.
We thought we’d share some tips on how to get started with virtual events and more importantly, how to make them successful, without losing an engaged audience.
Do your research
There are a variety of different platforms out there where you can stream your event online, from providers such as Skype and Zoom, to Facebook and YouTube Live. They mostly offer basically the same service, so a lot of it is down to personal preference and it’s worth looking around before deciding which to go with. Most services offer a free trial too, so you can perform a dry run before the day and learn how to use the platform effectively.
Practice, practice, practice
Just as you visit an events venue before the big day, make sure you practice with whatever platform you choose to ensure you are confident with how everything works when you have a live audience ready and waiting. Take some time to navigate around the system, get used to the controls and ask a friend or colleague to test out the video, sound and strength of connection with you. That way, if there are any problems, you can hopefully sort them out before the event.
Know your audience
If helps to know what type of audience usually attend you events and whether they’d be up for attending a virtual event, whilst face-to-face meetings are out of the question. If your usual attendees are not as tech savvy, you may need to offer step by step instructions on how to get involved so you don’t lose important members of your audience. Don’t assume everyone knows how to use the technology you do!
Just like a physical event, your virtual event should have an agenda and a clear focus on what you’re trying to achieve. Share the agenda at the beginning of the event, or even email it out beforehand and try not to go off track. Focus on how to keep people engaged as people can log off at any time if they’re losing interest.
Use a variety of media
Staring at a screen with just one speaker and a presentation won’t keep people engaged for long. If you can, try and mix it up and include video conversations with other participants, audience participation via video and chat, polls, and live Q&As to keep the audience interested and involved. At the same time, don’t try to over complicate things – simple but effective is best, so perhaps choose just one or two of these things to try.
Choose your subject matter wisely
You may have had your event ready and raring to go before Coronavirus hit, but be aware that not all subject matters or event ideas will work as well on online. If needed, adapt your subject matter to try and fit in with the limitations of not being in the same room as your audience.
Be aware of choosing a suitable venue
With many offices and event spaces shut down, people are likely to be a lot more forgiving on where you are holding your event. However, naturally event hosts will still want to come across as professional and knowledgeable so try and ensure where you are broadcasting from is quiet so people can hear you properly, well lit, and perhaps request that family members and pets vacate the room whilst you are presenting.
Think about a suitable date and time
Geography doesn’t really matter when it comes to virtual events, but it pays to choose the correct date and time to suit your audience. Be mindful that at the moment some people will have childcare issues, so perhaps an early evening event would be better, when (hopefully!) the kids are in bed. If in doubt, ask your delegates what time would suit them best. Of course there’s always the option to record the event too, for others to download and view at a more suitable time for them.
Most people will have a bit of spare time of their hands now, so why not offer some free resources to all attendees of your event to keep them engaged and interested even after the event has ended.
Ask the audience
Unfortunately the timescale of this pandemic is unknown, so virtual events may be your only option for a while. If you’re struggling for content ideas, why not ask your audience what they’d like to hear about whilst we are all social distancing. They may come up with ideas you hadn’t even thought about yet.
If you have an upcoming event, why not think about taking it online? Our team at Leigh Court would be happy to talk through the options with you so do not hesitate to get in touch.