Every day our inboxes are filled with yet another event that is transitioning from the traditional in-person format to a virtual event. From the neighborhood 5K to top dollar galas, the future is filled less with nights out and more with nights in. As business consultants working with a wide range of businesses, we have worked alongside many different businesses and organizations as they transformed their regularly scheduled event into a unique virtual event.
If you are responsible for taking your in-person event to a virtual event, we are here to help! Here are 7 tips to a successful virtual event:
- Don’t Despair.
Everyone is by necessity pivoting to virtual events. Your organization will not be an outlier in this. In fact, embracing a safe virtual event can be an opportunity to highlight your commitment to the safety and health of your community.
- It’s a Date
Reassess the date and time of your event to make sure they align well with a virtual event for your organization. One of our educational clients opted to change their traditional weekday morning fundraising breakfast into a Saturday evening family event, while another kept their regular date and time. Both were the right answers for those organizations.
- More is not always better.
Your evening gala of cocktails, dinner and a presentation might not transition well into a long evening in front of the computer. Take time to reassess the optimal length of your event for your attendees and organizational goals.
- Build Buzz.
Your event is likely still critically important for your organization. Take the time to generate interest in your event in advance. Craft talking points for key members of your organization to share with their friends, family and community. Create the aura of an event “not to be missed.”
- Define Your Goal
If your event is normally a highly social affair with a fundraising presentation, you are likely to find greater participation in your virtual event if you clearly define your one goal early on. If it is to fundraise, make that clear. If it is to build community, keep your content and speakers focused on community building. Keep the content and meat of the virtual event light and easy to follow. Keeping participants interested and engaged is critical to the success of your virtual event.
- Practice Makes Perfect.
Even if you normally do not invest a lot of time rehearsing in advance of your event, you must do a trial run prior to your virtual event. While we might not all be comfortable speaking at a podium in a large room, we all know how to get dressed and walk up to that podium. In a virtual event a speaker must test out their audio, lighting and camera angle. If you plan to produce a live event, schedule your trial run at the same time of day as your live event. People love to situate their desk by a window, but sunlight is not your friend when appearing on video.
- Embrace the Medium.
We know. You have a lot of thought and vision invested in your in-person event. It’s ok to take a moment to mourn the loss of your initial vision. Give an online event a chance to win your heart. With no event rental and pricey catering, your expenses are likely to be far less than if you met in person. Less expenses mean more funds for your organization. That’s a clear win. Virtual also means people do not need to be in your area. This allows you to invite individuals from across the state, the country or even the world. Those cooped up friends and relatives might be the ticket to increased fundraising or brand awareness for your virtual event.
Our last bonus tip is to smile. You can do this!