Following the successful virtual launches of the Kirklees Top 100 Companies and the Sir George Buckley Leadership Centre, and events featured in the West Yorkshire Innovation Festival, our events officer, Jordan Furness, has the following tips for organising a successful virtual event.
Virtual events have become a lifeline for many organisations over the last 12 months. Conferences, meetings and product launches have all gone digital, and this has meant event organisers have had to adapt their skillset to deliver their events online.
With some advantages over physical events, online webinars and conferences look set to become mainstream options even when we can meet in person. Where people are travelling from far afield to meet, the savings in time, travel cost and carbon savings are hard to ignore now that most people know how to use Zoom or Teams. Some organisers report higher attendance levels online than for physical events, particularly when participants already know each other.
On the other hand, concentration can be difficult when people are multi-tasking whilst watching a webinar and the intangible value of small talk between sessions can lose many of the informal benefits of meeting up. For those in event management, our repertoire will inevitably include a blend of online and face-to-face events, as we adapt to a post-pandemic world.
As with any event, either virtual or physical, it is important that the event plan accurately reflects what both you as the event organiser and the attendee want to take away from an event.
Here are a few tips for organising a successful virtual event:
- Choose a good MC
- Even more so with virtual events, choosing the right person to host the event can be crucial to its success. This individual will need to be able to make the introductions, changeovers and endings all seamless, as well as engage the audience.
- Create speaker briefings
- Ensuring that the speakers are aware of their roles and responsibilities is crucial. The clearest way to inform them of these is through an in-depth speaker briefing note. A call beforehand is beneficial to talk people through the agenda, make introductions between speakers and clarify any queries.
- Practice, practice, practice
- The more times you can run through the event with your speakers the better. This will ensure everybody is aware of their role in the event and will improve the flow of the live event.
- Know your platform
- There are several platforms that can be used for virtual events, take your time to decide which one is right for your event and for your audience. Having control of who speaks and when by being able to mute and unmute the audience is a must, to avoid interference from background noises and ensure seamless changeovers.
- Prepare for technical troubles
- Often events can have their technical hitches and this can increase when running a virtual event. However, risks can be mitigated by having several backup strategies in place that can be used if the worst does happen.
- Encourage audience participation
- Ensure that the audience is fully engaged with the event by providing the opportunity to ask questions either throughout the event or at a certain period. Most platforms offer the ability to post comments during the event. The easiest way of managing this is nominating a member of your team to take a note of any questions and presenting them to the speaker to answer. Having breakout rooms throughout the event will also encourage audience participation.
- Live Social media updates
- Keep engaged with your audience through live update posts on social media using a hashtag specially created for the event.
- Make a recording
- Most virtual event platforms allow you to record the event for those unable to attend. You will need to make sure that all speakers and attendees are aware that the event will be recorded and may be used for social media and marketing purposes.
For some events, you cannot beat the physical format, where delegates can mingle, share contacts and enjoy hospitality in an informal setting. This can also be crucial for training sessions, where bonds between the participants and tutors are crucial to successful learning.
At the 3M BIC, we have a suite of conference, training and meeting spaces ready to host ‘live’ events once the restrictions are eased – view our spaces here.
Contact us at info@3mbic for provisional bookings with flexible postponement if required.