In this new digital age, where business meetings, education, and even parties are being held online, it is important to conduct your due diligence before hosting such an event. If your business or non-profit is searching for new ways to innovate planning, consider the following steps in order to reach your goals and achieve a successful virtual event each, and every time.
1. Consider Your Audience
While you may want to jump right in and create an agenda for your virtual event, first step back and consider your audience. Identify who that target audience will be. Is it employees? Finance professionals? Stakeholders? Potential investors or partners? Clients or potential customers?
Once you have your audience identified, ask yourself what they may respond to most favorably. Will they embrace this new way of conducting events? What will work best for this particular audience? Create a list of who will be attending your virtual event before you begin to plan and then cater your planning accordingly.
2. List Event Objectives and Overall Goals
Identify your reasons for hosting any virtual event. This will include a set of objectives and goals you wish to achieve. Why are you having this now, and what do you expect the outcome to be? What do you want your audience to come away with? Is your primary goal to inform, educate, brainstorm, or assign roles for a new project? Do you want to train, teach, inspire, or motivate your audience?
Take time to thoroughly identify the goals and objectives for each virtual event. Use the SMART framework for creating these goals and objectives. These are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Not only will this list help you plan your agenda, but it will also help to control your expectations of the outcomes.
3. Plan Wisely
Since this will be an online event, you will need to capture the attention of your audience and keep it throughout the event. As such, you will need to plan wisely, including the following considerations.
Put together a team of speakers or presenters, and make sure they know their role and what they are to cover. Create expectations and guidelines without restricting their creativity and expertise. Create an agenda and timeline which will engage your specific audience. Select a format best suited to this particular type of event, whether it be a corporate meeting or a webinar. Will this be a speaker led event only, or will the audience be able to offer suggestions and ask questions? How much interaction do you require? What will the venue be? Although this will be an online event for your audience, you will need to determine where it will be led from. This can simply be your office, a conference room, or other location which provides the technology and suitability to the subject matter being presented. Related Read: Restructuring the Experience: From Physical to Virtual Events
4. Determine a Date and Time
There are many things to occupy people’s time these days, so it’s important to establish a date and time as soon as possible. This way, your audience can add it to their calendars and commit to showing up. Remember to consider any differing time zones your audience may be in.
Also, create a set of backup dates as well. Unknowns surround us these days, from natural events such as hurricanes to political and economic events, which may require attention. Make sure your speakers and presenters are available for those backup dates as well.
5. Determine Your Technology Needs
While technology is important for in-person meetings, it is going to play an even more important role in your virtual events. You may want to consider the hiring of a company that specializes in these events or pull in your own tech department to determine all your technology and support needs.
Choose a Virtual Event Solution for your next event. Select an individual or group of individuals to be in charge of the overall technology needs of the event. This is someone you can call out to if there are issues with sound, video, or chat and question capabilities.
6. Establish a Budget
Once you have your plan, format, location, date, and list of technology needs, it’s time to establish a budget. Create a range in which to stay and allocate as you see fit. As you hold more and more of these virtual events, you’ll identify where you need to allocate the most amounts and how you can make improvements. Once you have a few of these virtual events under your belt, your level of comfortability and ease of planning will increase. Stay open and flexible to these new ways of operating in the expanding digital age. Adjusting may take time and effort at first, but eventually, these virtual events will become second-nature and can even be more productive than the previous in-person events.
About the author: Dominic LoBianco is a guest author on behalf of Sharpe Group. He covers a wide array of topics ranging from event planning to boosting eCommerce sales.