Virtual Events Will Be Key in 2020  - Here’s How to Transition Yours 

In recent days we’ve seen some of the largest conferences and summits in the world decide to move to virtual events. Microsoft, Google, and even presidential candidates are switching formats in light of COVID-19. Thinking about converting your upcoming event into a virtual format? Great idea!

We believe virtual events are a smart way to inform your audience  – but we also believe moving to virtual requires adjustments. In this blog, we’ll talk about some of the changes you should make to ensure a smooth transition into virtual events.

Virtual events are valuable alternatives to large and small events.

Ensuring the safety of attendees, staff, and the larger community is, of course, the main reason to go virtual during these trying times. There are, additionally, many other reasons why virtual events are a valuable method for connecting with audiences.

Virtual events enable hosts to reach a wider audience than with physical events. While there may have been individuals who couldn’t attend your physical event, due to location or other logistics, with a virtual event, travel isn’t an issue. For organizers, that means you can invite those individuals you might not have expected to otherwise attend!

Virtual events also present organizations the opportunity to save money on many events-related expenses. Your venue, catering, design, and decor add up. With virtual events, you don’t have to worry about these expenses.

If you are looking to turn your upcoming engagement into a virtual event, but don’t know where to start, check out our tips for going virtual.

1. Rework Your Format

Keep in mind, what works for live events may not work for virtual events. You may have to incorporate additional breaks into your program or break up sessions into smaller chunks to account for your audience’s needs.

Additionally, if you’re converting a multi-day event into a virtual event, you may want to think about hosting a series of virtual events. This is an opportunity to extend your activities and saves attendees from content overload.

2. Pick the Right Technology

There is a wide range of options for hosting your virtual event.

Open platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube Live are great options if you’re looking to broadcast your event openly, and are also perfect if you’re on a limited budget.

Zoom, GoToMeeting, and GetResponse are webinar platforms created to handle large audiences and facilitate audience questions. These platforms do require a subscription to use the service (Zoom does offer a free limited version),  but can up the virtual event experience.

Just with any live event, virtual events benefit from supplementary event tech.

An event app is just as useful during a virtual event as it is during a live event. Features like polls, surveys, and chat keep attendees involved. Further, you can use event apps to house event materials, send updates via push notifications, and more.

Social Media can also be valuable during virtual events. Encourage attendees to tweet out their takeaways or snap selfies of themselves enjoying speaker sessions. As much as it is valuable feedback for you, it keeps your attendees engaged, active participants.

3. Choose Engaging Speakers

Maintaining audience attention can be more difficult during a virtual event. With families, busy neighborhoods and more, you’re battling against more elements than you would with a dedicated live audience. This is why it’s so important to choose speakers you can captivate an audience online.

4. Optimize Your Content for Virtual

Similarly, in order to keep your attendees engaged, your content needs to be top-notch. Supporting presentations, graphics, and videos will help keep your attendees engaged throughout your virtual event.

Empower your audience to follow along with your content or supplementary content. Make sure your presentations, slides, or videos are viewable by your audience – this means optimizing your content for smaller computer screens, rather than large displays. You may also want to provide materials for attendees to view at their own pace. A mobile app makes this possible; just load your documents ahead of the virtual event, and attendees will be able to flip through materials as they watch the meeting.

5. Promote Your Event

Virtual events require promotion just like any other event. Just as you would email your community about your event, you should do the same for virtual events. Include a calendar link to keep your virtual event top of mind or a registration link if your event requires registration. Use your other event tech to promote your virtual app – with Guidebook, you can send out push notifications periodically to keep your virtual event top of mind. Many virtual event platforms come with promotion tools, so be sure to utilize those as well.

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