Most event managers have organized one or more virtual events in the past year. But, how does that actually work? Where do you start, and what do you need to take into account? What are common mistakes? We put these questions to one of our Event Consultants, Meike Paternotte. She is in daily contact with event organizers, and can tell you everything about virtual events.
Practice makes perfect
Think back to the feeling when you first organized a big event at the RAI (one of Amsterdam’s large event venues). How exciting that was! There were so many different aspects to take into account, there was stress about the catering, and the most important question: will the visitors arrive on time? Over the course of months, you have organized more and more events, and gained experience. The organization is becoming easier, and the tension of your first event has faded into the background. Practice made perfect!
“Practice makes perfect” also applies to digital events. Organizing your very first virtual event feels more complex than a live event, simply because you have little to no experience. Organizing your second or third virtual event is a lot easier – guaranteed. But, where do you start when organizing a virtual event? Meike told us the following:
1. Start drafting your programm
Put together most of your program before looking for the right online platform. What elements do you want to include in your virtual event? Think about pre-recorded content, live content, interaction with the audience and the way participants can network.
Think carefully about how you see your own program coming forward in an online environment. Perhaps you want to host a cooking show in the lobby! The program doesn’t have to be worked out in detail, but make sure the big picture is clear. Why is this important? Meike sees a lot of people who purchase the Let’s Get Digital platform first and then figure out what they want as a program and it’s not always possible.
Compare it to organizing a wedding. Imagine you are getting married, and you first chose the location before thinking about what you want to do. Unexpectedly, it turns out that no bouncy castle is allowed at the location, and an outdoor barbecue for 250 is not possible. This is a major setback for your wedding – and this disappointment is easy to avoid.
So, outline your program, think about what components you need, and only then choose your location or platform.
2. Set-up meeting
Once you have chosen the Let’s Get Digital platform as your venue, it is time for a Set-up meeting. This takes place with your personal Event Consultant. That’s Meike, or one of her colleagues. She asks about the event program. She needs to be sure that the idea you have in your head about the event is correctly translated into the platform. During this set-up meeting you can ask all the questions you can think of. Your personal event consultant will get your event off to a flying start.
3. Create an experience
A virtual event provides a different experience than a live event, but the experience is still just as important! When organizing your virtual event, consider the aspects below:
The hospitality is often forgotten during a virtual event, and that’s a shame. Make sure you create an experience for your visitors before, during and after your event. There are many possibilities: send your visitors a package with coffee, snacks, appetizers or something else that suits your event, for example. Maybe even a yoga mat, if it fits the program of your virtual event.
The lobby stream is considered the most interactive part by many event organizers and visitors. It makes visitors feel welcome and immediately creates an experience.
Lobby streams are frequently streamed from professional studios, but that is not necessary. Not all event managers want a lobby stream from a professional studio, and that’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, a lobby stream from home can also give visitors that same warm welcome.
Put your laptop on a standing table or platform in the living room, take an active stance and have fun. It’s often perceived as awkward that as a digital speaker or lobby host, you don’t interact with your audience and you only see yourself. But don’t forget – the visitors do see you!
The sky is the limit
Online, the possibilities are endless. We have seen yoga, cooking classes, and even a theater play happen on the platform. Let your creativity run wild while coming up with program components.
4. Do not underestimate the time commitment
A digital event is just as much work as a live event. The tickets have to be sold, invitations sent out; at the ‘venue’, items have to be prepared, sponsors have to be attracted to the event and the speakers have to be arranged. Your personal Event Consultant will help you make this process as easy as possible.
To conclude, Meike mentioned that you should take a particular look at the advantages of digital events. Here’s a small example: you don’t have to worry about whether visitors will be on time. Travel time has never been so short! With all the travel saved, you as an event organizer are also making a positive impact with your event!