How does your offline event calendar look for the remainder of 2020? Do you have in-person events scheduled that look a bit shaky now? Since we don't know what the future holds in terms of social distancing guidelines, now is the perfect time to take your current calendar and make back-up plans for going virtual instead of canceling. Making the switch to virtual can save the day and your events.
- Categorize events remaining on your calendar into three categories: Virtual, Cancel, Postpone
- Reality check: Attendance
- Keep your brand on track
- Decide which formats fit best
- Reimagine, don't just copy-paste
- Gather intelligence
- Call in the professionals
Categorize Events on Your Calendar
Start by opening up the calendar and deciding which of your events can go virtual without losing their delivery and impact, which events can be postponed and which will, in fact, need to be canceled. Unfortunately, some events simply don't translate well to a virtual format, so informing potential registrants as soon as you decide is important. Offer a few virtual alternatives, or work in the idea of a hybrid in-person/virtual event to give registrants more choices for how they would like to attend.
For events you transition to virtual, keep your anticipated attendance size realistic. Prospective attendees are facing some of the unique challenges of working from home, such as parents juggling homeschooling, distractions, and home technology resource demand. That means you may not get the attendance numbers you would otherwise. Recording the live event and making it available on-demand can help you keep attendance numbers where you want and need them to be. Make it convenient for people to attend in some way, and you'll save the day.
Keep Your Brand on Track
What one thing from an in-person event do you need to preserve the "feel" for your attendees? What personifies your brand? Build your virtual events around this branding and voice. If you haven't already, document your brand persona at this juncture to help you with all types of event planning going forward. Key components of documenting your brand persona include: creating a personality image, listing traits of your brand you want to highlight, and detailing how your brand persona speaks, engages, and presents itself visually.
Decide Which Formats Fit Best
With your list of events you have decided can be done virtually, break each one down and choose a format for them. Virtual events aren't all “one person talks and shows slides, everyone else just listens.” It's been exciting to watch how creative people have been with their online functions. Map out which events and possible formats make the most sense, and build in opportunities for attendee interaction and engagement. Whether it's a live panel discussion with Q&A, recorded content with a moderator to keep attendees actively absorbed in the content, or scheduling breakout sessions to give attendees an opportunity to design their own experience, zeroing in on your format is the next important step.
Reimagine, Don't Just Copy-Paste
Uprooting an in-person event and dropping it into a virtual environment is a recipe for attendees to flounce (hop in, get bored, hop out.) Consider this: you get bored at in-person events when you're faced with a screen filled with presentation slides, a recorded speech, and passive audience listening. Build attendee introductions; event messaging; storytelling; interactivity with Q&A, polls and surveys; and even digital giveaways into your virtual event to keep it lively, engaging and, most of all, moving. Remember to keep your content the main focus; tricks and tools can't fix bad, boring content.
Pre- and post-event surveys are going to be a key factor in continually improving and building on what works and what falls flat with your new digital events. Take the feedback, tweak, and experiment. Your goal is to keep them coming back for more, and when you're ready to launch in-person and/or hybrid events again, you'll have a warm, receptive audience waiting.
Call in the Professionals
We're all familiar with event management for in-person conferences and events, but did you know the same services exist for virtual events? Professional online event management people can help you prepare, tee-up your presentation, train your presenters, and provide on-the-spot technical support for your attendees so you provide a seamless experience for them.
You Don't Have to Go It Alone
EventBuilder offers full event management and assistance with our Professional Services. From start to finish, we can get your newly transitioned virtual events ready and make you look like the events maestro you are. Schedule a service consultation with us today!