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The (almost) absolute guide to online events

Carina
August 18 , 2021

Tradeshows and events have been the backbone of multiple industries for years on end. But with the coming of Covid, everything went from offline to online and at this point, there is no escaping: virtual events have proven in the past year that they are here to stay. For good.

And in this long (and way too crazy) year, we learned the hard way what an actually good online event is: what to do, what not to do, what to wear, say, and even present.

So here it is, the absolute guide to planning online events. Successful ones, at least.

Consider the type of virtual event your are holding

It all starts from here. Deciding in what way you will present the information will define an event. The path is figuratively chosen. We talked about the differences between virtual events, the different types of events that you can create for your audience, in a previous article, which we recommend checking out. You can have webinars, conferences, networking/ virtual meetup events, classes / courses, concerts, trade fairs, summits, just to name a few. The industry is forever changing and innovating, so tomorrow you could hear about a new way to hold an event online.

Each type of event will have its specific requirements: some can be entirely online and a small room in your home might be enough, others might need a full stage production. It entirely depends on the type and scale of your event. And this doesn’t even include hybrid events. Either way, these tips will certainly make your life easier, so continue reading for more info on the matter.

 

Understand the type of audience you will have

Not everybody might be as tech-savvy as you are. What might work for Boomers will bore Gen Z (I mean, what did you expect?), and what might go for Millennials might not work for Gen X. Either way, you need to plan ahead and adapt the way in which you construct your online event. A good team of developers and the right events platform will know the ins and outs of UI and UX and will make the right decisions when it comes to your event.

 

Use the right platform

And understanding the audience type will definitely help when you are choosing the right platform. Why? Because different age groups have different needs, expectations, mind sets.

It’s easier to host events on different social media platforms, of course. LinkedIn and Facebook have quite the reach when it comes to live events, but, more often than not, hosting a professional event on these platforms is quite similar to throwing a link into the abyss; the only difference is the fact that the abyss will not look back at you, like it did to Nietzsche.

Mobile apps for events are also a solution that quite limits the span and reach of your event. The majority of people may not enjoy sitting hours on end on a small or, at most, medium sized screen to participate in your event. And let’s not get started when it comes to people with bad eyesight, yours truly included; they might be able to participate, but their not so perfect vision on a terribly small screen won’t help the situation.

Not to toot our own horn, but the general consensus is that virtual event platforms, like VEEP, are the happy medium everybody should strive for: easy to access (just a link), easy learning curve, customizable, professional and scalable for future events.

 

Cut, edit and rewrite

About the program: as we mentioned in our previous articles, depending on the type of your event, you should propose a certain schedule; for example,

That’s also why we recommend specific hours for hybrid events. The usual 8 am to 6 pm agenda of an in-person conference might not be the best solution for a hybrid event. Shorter hours, like 10 am to 4 pm, ensure the fact that online attendees do not get ZOOM fatigued while also having a few hours before and after for the in-person participants, such as networking gatherings.

 

The importance of rehearsals

Running a rehearsal is one of the most underrated elements of the event industry. There is no shame in being extra prepared for the day of the event. It’s the best method to highlight all the ways things could go horribly, horribly wrong and still being able to stop them in time. Take in consideration every possible glitch that could happen, from WIFI and internet problems, to your software and hardware acting up just right when you need it to be at peak performance. This, of course, goes for both live-streamed content and pre-recorded one. Checking in with presenters, testing microphones, cameras, lighting, even presentation slides or supporting videos. Going through the event as if it were actually live also helps settle in the timing and the flow of the whole day of the event.

 

Have an events pro by your side

Learning how to actually create an event isn’t quite the thing that you learn how to do overnight. It takes a lot of dedication and attention to detail to know the in’s and out’s of the events industry. They have the experience and expertise. The people in the industry just live, eat and breathe events, so it would be a shame to not capitalize on that. They have answers for the toughest of questions. Even more, if they personally don’t have the solution for your exact requirements, they certainly know people that can help you. They always think long term and focus on scaling your event for future instalments.

 

Keep focus

During the actual day(s) of your event you need to find ways to keep your audience’s attention. And it gets quite a feat
Also, a hybrid event is not putting the live audience before the online audience or vice-versa. Interacting with your audience, regardless if it’s in front of you or behind a screen is the key in making a successful hybrid event. Keep in mind that adding 3D renderings of your event aren’t the solution for audience interaction. Quite the opposite! You never know how tech-savvy your audience will be, so adding the complexity of 3D events can scare-off your attendees.
Instead, build a hybrid event should focus on a great user experience and user journey that keeps both your online and offline audience entertained. Think of it as a talk show that captures audiences in the studio and at home; something is always going on: there is always a presenter, guests home and go and a moderator that directs the online content. Keep your audience focused and you can already consider your event a success.

 

Remember to measure your success

As boring as it sounds, taking a look at analytics before, during and after your event are the key to measuring the success of your event. And forgetting to do that is a big no no. Absolutely major.
To be able to do this, think a few steps ahead. Before actually launching into organizing any kind of event, be clear on what you are hoping to achieve with it; ask yourself why you are having this event, what are the goals and the key things to convey to the attendees and what metrics will be used to measure the success of your event.
Setting things on paper and getting (and keeping!) the big picture in mind will help you keep everything in line with your brand guidelines.
What is also useful in measuring your event’s success is having a post-event survey. Judging by the number of people joining or the revenue you made is one thing, but don’t forget about attendee satisfaction. Send a survey to the attendees, sponsors, speakers and staff, each perspective is useful; it can shape the way in which you think about the future events that you will have.
Or just dropping in to say a quick “thank you” is one way you can never go wrong. Everybody deserves to feel a lil’ bit special. 🙂

 

Keep in mind the little things like:

  • Try to add as much interaction as you can with your attendees. Live polls and Q&A sessions keep the audience listening and help you get the pulse of your event.
  • Remember to dedicate time for networking. Be they in real life breaks, lunches, post-event happy hours, rounded tables during live-streams, or specific group chats, networking gets the people talking and they will remember the event well after the event is over.
  • And, most important of all…

 

Use the right events platform

There are many, many types, versions and forms of events platforms out there; and not all of them are quite that solid and reliable, you know, like VEEP. You knew this was coming. But, in all honesty, we’re quite good at what we do. So don’t count us out, we might be the solution you didn’t even know you were looking for.

 

Ready to learn how to make the most out of your online events with VEEP?

Let’s talk!