How to host a successful virtual event
Updated: Apr 19, 2022
Have you ever been to a virtual event that keeps people talking for days to come? When attendees continue to bring up what they enjoyed the most from an event days or even weeks after the event has ended, that’s how you know that it was successful.
Olivia VanCuren, from Socio, says that the key to planning a memorable virtual event is to plan it like an in-person event, so attendees enjoy the same type of experience. The only difference will be
that instead of using a physical venue, you’ll now be using a virtual events platform and a virtual lounge.
However, before you can start concocting your next event, you need to ask yourself what you want to gain from the event and what you’d like your audience to take away from it. Once you’re clear on your objectives, you can then generate suitable sessions for your audience and choose the right platform. Therefore, to host a successful virtual event, you need to carefully consider your goals, curate appropriate content for your event attendees, consider how to engage online audience and choose the right virtual platform. Customization is a key component to a successful event.
Consider your goals
The first and probably the most important step to creating a successful virtual event is to define what success means to you and have a clear criterion on how to measure it. VanCuren also talks about how to set virtual events objectives. Establish the goals that you want to accomplish with your event.
For instance, a very common event goal is to increase brand awareness. This is crucial, especially if you’re a small company or a startup. Even larger companies with more years of experience have seen how beneficial it is to use virtual events to get their company’s name, brand, product, or
mission out there. So, decide on a quantifiable and realistic goal. How many people do you want your virtual event to reach? Factor in how many followers you already have and how many people your virtual events have reached in the past.
Once you have an attainable goal, you’ll be able to use the right metrics to determine your success. By taking a look at the number of people who registered, the number of attendees, and the number of followers you gained as a result of your event, you’ll be able to tell if your event met your goals.
Another lofty goal one can set is to generate more leads. Again, it’s important to be specific. How many new signups do you want to procure? Do you want to focus only on obtaining new clients or
on educating existing clients about new products and services as well?
Knowing the answer to these questions will help you decide which metrics to use. New product or service signups and attendee session number and duration are just a few ways to know if you
achieved your goals and objectives. Post event surveys are another powerful tool that allow your
attendees to tell you what you nailed and what you can improve on. Consider including a short survey with key questions at the end of your event. This lets your clients and potential customers
tell you directly what they’re looking for from your company.
Create your content with your audience in mind
After you have a clear idea on what you want to gain, think about what you want your guests to experience and take away from your virtual event. This will help you to create engaging content for your attendees. Mike LaFollette from Socio, who offers best practices and tips, says to put yourself in your attendees’ shoes. What would delight them and keep them focused on your content? How can you make their experience fun and rewarding, even from behind a screen? How can you keep them from getting distracted? There is no better time to get creative.
Benedetta Fadini from MCI reminds us that content is still king, especially for a virtual event. Invite keynote speakers and give your audience exclusive insights they won’t find anywhere else. Break down large speaker sessions into smaller ones, and in between sessions, include surprises and post exciting announcements to keep your guests’ attention.
Incorporating interactive moments into your event will also foster a sense of community among your attendees, as well as keep their focus on screen. This is why networking sessions, trivia and live Q&A are essential tools that allow your audience to feel like they contributed. These will keep your audience continuously involved and will help them avoid all the distractions at home.
Choose the right virtual events platform
Of course, even if you establish your goals and plan a perfect agenda, you’ll still need the right virtual event platform to execute your vision. Your next virtual event deserves to be more exciting than a standard Zoom call. As Thomas Paris from Hoppier points out, virtual event platforms play a valuable role in creating an amazing digital space where your guests can explore and interact.
Choose a platform that has features like breakout sessions for networking, livestreaming, Q&A sessions, and virtual booths. These full-featured event management platforms grant you and your guests access to tools that would not be available with a video conferencing platform. Some factors to consider when choosing the right platform for your event are ease of use, customization features, and user reviews.
Ease of use. A platform that is user friendly is one that will help you achieve an immersive experience. You wouldn’t want your guests to walk away from your event feeling frustrated because they weren’t able to navigate the platform. This would rob them and you of the opportunity to enjoy the material you have in store for them. To avoid such mishaps, test to see if the tool works well a day or two before the main event.
Customization is another option to look for in a virtual event platform. Creating a unique event tailored to your attendees’ interests will set apart your event from the rest. Customization options are also desirable if you’re looking to make use of sponsorship or exhibitors for your event.
User reviews. Lastly, and more importantly, research what others have to say about a platform before you seal the deal. User reviews offer valuable insight on how a platform works by people who have actually used it. Raw feedback from others will help you make the best choice.
Also, don’t hold back on asking questions and using the “Check out the platform” feature offered by many websites.
Knowing the challenges and best features of a platform will help you select the right one.
So, what makes a virtual event successful? Planning it just as you would an in-person event. Define your goals by thinking about your vision and your audience. If you have your goals in mind, you’ll be able to outline your objectives as well. Having specific, attainable goals will help you use the right metrics to measure your success.
Knowing what you want your audience to experience is also important to your event’s success. By putting yourself in your attendees’ shoes and getting creative with your content, you’ll create an event that will keep guests talking for days.
Finally, choosing the right platform is key to granting your audience the immersive experience they deserve. If you use a full feature platform, you’ll give your guests a feel of an in-person event. They’ll be glad they attended, and you will have achieved a successful virtual event! If you have any questions or are looking to host an event and not sure where to start, we're here to help.