With six months under our belts, it’s time to step back and look at what we’re seeing work in the planning, design, and implementation of virtual events. By adopting one or more of these strategies and tactics, you’ll see an immediate benefit in the results of your next virtual event, meeting, or trade show. Here goes...
- Develop an “event blueprint” that considers the multiple segments of your audience, and let this guide the overall experience. This is not a show flow or minute-by-minute schedule; it’s the experience framework that ensures you get the “forest” right. The other tools can make sure you get the “trees” in the right place.
- Pick the right technology platform. No new news here, but we’ve learned one platform alone seldom works. After you’ve designed the event blueprint, unpack what job you need your technology to do, and select tech partners that are best in class and assemble the right foundation of tech to do the job your event needs done. But remember, the platform is only 20% of the experience, and it’s your event design that adds the magic.
- Be sure you have a clear plan to make money. As we’ve all learned, the old rules of sponsorship and exhibit sales don’t work. You must now monetize “eyeballs and time blocks.” Many organizations are now doing better and have learned what it takes to deliver value to your events sponsors. Two of the biggest wants: thought leadership and small group interaction.
- Break up the schedule. Think like a media planner and design using “day-parts,” just as a radio program does... drive-time, day-time, and weekend programming is all geared to the mindset of the audience at the moment they are tuned in. Three days with eight hours of continuous programming doesn’t work in virtual like it used to for in-person events.
- Audition and train your speakers to be the best they can be. Share the five things that every speaker at your event must do to be part of your program. Everyone is better now with six months of practice. It’s time to level-up.
- Have a host. Every event needs a voice, central figure, and navigator. Pick the most charismatic, energetic, and credible person you can, and allow them to help your online audience get the most from every part of your event.
- Make it fun. Games, gamification, humor, puzzles, and entertainment are a must. Adults learn best and engage most when they are enjoying themselves. There are so many great ideas for how to do this that are now mainstream. Don’t miss this piece of the puzzle.
- Connect people in advance of your event. Use LinkedIn or your own community building tools and create a forum for “event buddies,” mentors and mentees, and like-minded people to meet and have a partner to experience your event with.
- Music and art can be used to break up the monotony of faces, words, and images on the screen. The interstitial use of music, art, cartoons, bursts of color, and short videos can really make a difference. As always, be sure you have permission or a license to share copyrighted material.
- Promote your virtual event differently than your in-person event: you’re selling a very different product than you were seven months ago. Use different language, promote different benefits of attending, be real about the way everyone feels living in these challenging times, know what makes this virtual event irresistible and indispensable, and tell your audience about that.
As you’ve heard me say over and over, your second and third virtual events have to be better, make more money, and create an on-ramp to 2021 when the bar will be higher and your audience’s expectations will be even greater.
So much is possible with imagination, stealing every best-practice you can, hiring the right partners, and embracing the new job we all must do to make virtual events exceptional.
Now is the time as we begin Q4 2020 planning to prepare for a new year that’s just around the corner.
Founder & CEO
360 Live Media