Planning your virtual event
By Carla J. Alonso, Event Production Consultant
Without a doubt, the pandemic has driven us into a virtual world for a long time, due to the call to avoid face-to-face encounters to reduce the possibility of spreading Covid-19 until a cure appears. However, this does not mean that our events have to be put on hold; we can carry out not only meetings and webinars, but also conventions, exhibitions, conferences, shows and even fundraising activities in the digital space.
Planning a virtual event is not just connecting to one of the platforms, turning the camera on and starting to speak. Like any face-to-face event, the precision of the planning details is central to producing results.
Virtual events expand the potential audience reach and available resource options; lower costs and increase the return on investment; their impact can be measured immediately; they are eco-friendly; and facilitate the content’s application to different formats to maximize the investment.
However, achieving engagement in virtual events is a challenge for the planner. Recent studies reveal that in video calls, 65% of the participants do other work, 55% are eating and 21% are shopping online. Imagine the challenge of a long digital event.
Therefore, when planning a virtual event you must consider multiple elements:
- Objective: Clearly define the purpose and goal of the event.
- Audience: Know it, understand its demographics, characteristics, capabilities and adjust your content and marketing accordingly. Respect your audience’s time and remember that their attention span will be shorter.
- Registration platform: to record participation and establish promotion strategies.
- Content: must be current, interesting.
- Resources: It is doubly important to make the correct selection. Consider utilizing a host to organize the topics and manage the session so resources can focus on transmitting the content.
- Production quality: robust and entertaining, it should be appealing to your audience, with graphic elements, videos, animations that inject dynamism into the exchange. And that despite the distance, the connection, the human warmth is felt.
- Interactivity: stimulate interaction via simultaneous chats. It is important to promote human interaction, which is a challenge at any event and more so at a remote event. Allow for conversation; ask, listen to their voices.
- Platforms: There are multiple options on the market—and new ones will continue to appear. Therefore, before choosing, research and evaluate their reach according to your event and the audience to which you are going to appeal. You can enrich the experience by opening your event to social media channels, but make sure that the operation and connection with the meeting platform are perfect.
As you can see, there are many challenges, but none insurmountable; proper planning and the power of technology make it possible. Without a doubt, we can visualize a post-pandemic future with hybrid events in which the best of both worlds will be combined—the magic of the face-to-face meeting with the convenience of virtual space.
Carla J. Alonso Vélez is a licensed independent producer and has more than 20 years’ experience in the conceptualization and production of events. She now specializes in supporting clients with moving face-to-face events to the digital ecosystem.