Creating Engaging Events in a Virtual World
June 8, 2021
“Cause we are living in a virtual world, and I am a virtual girl…you know that we are living in a virtual world…” I’ve been working in events almost all of my career in one way or another—talent events, golf tournaments, spa days, premiere parties, employee lunches and everything in between. I would never have thought our world would change to such an extent that events would come to a screeching halt. But they did, and we have to be nimble.
It’s an important time for connection, which can be challenging when in-person events are not an option—at least for right now. Creating virtual events that are engaging and creative has never been more important. Whether you’re trying to engage new clients or remain in touch with current clients you’re forced to do it virtually on Zoom, Teams or a similar platform. Is it possible to deliver a successful interactive experience, with talent, in a digital world? Absolutely!
Audience and Event Goals
There are a number of diverse marketing styles and strategies out there, and it can be easy to lose sight of your event goals. Realistically, only a handful of principles are necessary for a successful event—whether virtually or in person. The first thing you’re going to want to look at is who your audience is. Who’s attending? An event you might be hosting for a B2C group is going to look different than one geared toward a group of VIP B2B clients. Knowing your audience is going to set the stage for your event, and help to establish the tone and appropriate voice of your content.
Prepare for Your Event
Before you start any event, it’s important to establish a game plan. Not only will you have to set expectations with your audience (both internal and external), but also with any talent you might be working with. Establishing those goals and expectations up front will make sure everyone is aligned on the key objectives. Once everyone is on the same page, you can begin working on event logistics.
Build an Interactive Experience
Zoom fatigue is a real thing, so you’ll want to make sure your event is as interactive as possible, while still keeping the overall objective of your event at the center. An online event experience can (and should) be much more than just your attendees viewing a live feed. Think about the attendee experiences you would have created if your event were in person. How would they be interacting with talent? They’d be asking questions, taking photos, etc. Just because you are removing the in-person element from your event, doesn’t mean it can’t be personal. You can easily personalize your event experience with interactive chat, live audience Q&A, with the potential to have questions submitted to your host or moderator in advance to help guide audience questions. Another way to personalize your event is by sending your at-home attendees a surprise gift that ties into your event— a bottle of wine, a box of ingredients or even network swag can be a nice way to further personalize your event. It’s small touches like these that can make a huge difference.
Even after the event is over, your event still isn’t really over—you want to connect with your audience one last time by thanking them for attending. You can do this with a simple email from internal stakeholders, some screenshots from the event as keepsakes or by creating an event sizzle reel that includes recordings from the event.
Ultimately, the keys to success for a virtual event are extremely similar to those of an in-person event. Know what success looks like, and find creative ways to adapt to the virtual format, and your attendees won’t feel like they’re missing out on a thing!
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