With stay-at-home and social distancing orders still in place, there’s no better time than now to host a virtual event. While it may sound as simple as setting up a Zoom meeting, if you want your event to be valuable to your business, you’ll have to put in some work to make it successful. Lucky for you, we’ve talked to some of the experts in the field on what it is that makes virtual events successful, and why you should hold them. Here’s what we’ve learned.
Why You Should Host a Virtual Event
Before getting to the nitty-gritty, you’re probably wondering why you should invest time and money into a virtual event.
- Stay Connected: “The biggest value events bring is connection, and you can still make this happen virtually. Focus on creating memorable experiences through thoughtful and relevant content and opportunities for attendees to engage with speakers and other attendees.” — Taylor, cred
- Provide Thought Leadership: A virtual event allows you to demonstrate thought leadership. You can do this by spotlighting someone in your organization, bringing together like-minded leaders, or bring an external expert in to present.
- Stay Relevant: You can use virtual events as a forum to present your latest advancements and meaningfully talk about trending information. “In the current climate, your audience may be looking for helpful resources, and you can provide that in an educational format that also allows for a sense of community and shared experience.” — Gina, The Craftsman Agency
How to Increase Engagement at Virtual Events
The million-dollar question. While creating content for your next virtual event might feel straightforward, strategizing on how to increase engagement is a little more challenging. Especially now, people are dealing with different stressors at home and may not feel like attending a webinar is the best use of their time. So, how do you make it worthwhile? Here’s what the experts say:
- Run promotions or give away swag for attending (Re: Give them free things!)
- “Add a gamification program to digital experiences, rewarding attendees for behaviors such as attending a breakout session or asking speakers a question” — Gina, The Craftsman Agency
- Utilize polls, Q&A, and discussion via chat and video
- Encourage sharing via social media through hashtags
- Host your event at a convenient time
- Run a contest or sweepstake for attendees who stay for at least half of the event
- Make sure your presentations are concise and visually appealing (SlideShop can help with that!)
What makes a virtual event stand out?
Before you even get to the engagement part, you’re going to have to attract attendees. As there are a lot of virtual events occurring now, you will have to be strategic and convince people to attend your event instead of a competitor’s.
Here are five creative ways to do make your event unique:
- Bring on a celebrity speaker. As long as they are relevant to your industry and topic, celebrity speakers are a great way to draw people to your event and get them to attend.
- Market your event. “Don’t cut marketing efforts. Make a list of the marketing deliverables you would typically create for a live event and brainstorm how to make those relevant to virtual, whether it’s stage backdrops, sponsor signage, break slides, etc.” — Taylor, cred
- Add a physical component. “Send care packages—snacks or other thoughtful little items—for your attendees to enjoy. As things open up and teams are in one place, you can even send things like pizza to a group.” — Gina, The Craftsman Agency
- Increase accessibility. “Make your event accessible to all by incorporating elements such as captions, live ASL interpreters, and dial-in options.” — Taylor, cred
- Plan for the future. “Focus on immersive storytelling, which can bring the event to life in a more engaging way. If you do it right, you have a digital experience that extends beyond the event itself. You also want to think about more than just one single event. Taking a campaign approach is more effective for your investment and your audience.” — Gina, The Craftsman Agency
As you can see, there are lots of creative ways to strategize that will differentiate your virtual event and make it a huge success! And once you’re ready to start building the content for your event, you can leverage our expert virtual presentation deck, free for you to download today. Good luck!