Many mastered the basics of hosting a virtual experience during the pandemic and many may well want to continue organising virtual events. After all, they don’t just connect you to a broader audience, they can help to build your brand online, too.
In the world of events, there are always things you can do to boost the impact of your offerings. So whether you want to smooth out some logistical issues or streamline the production of your online events, this handy checklist will help. Keep reading to find some important steps to tick off before the big day.
Select a theme
When planning a virtual event, you’ll first want to choose a theme – the more specific, the better. You might want to tie it in with an occasion, like the Wimbledon tennis tournament or the summer solstice. For an informative webinar, you could pick a niche topic that attendees will find useful, like how to use Instagram to boost their business. Remember: if your theme’s too broad, you may find it difficult to attract your target audience. Always ask yourself the following:
- What’s the purpose of your event?
- Who’s your target audience?
- What are they looking for right now?
To help answer these questions, you could ask for feedback from previous attendees or poll social media followers on what they’d like to see in a virtual event.
Choose your format
Your virtual event can be anything you want it to be, from a trade show with global attendees to more intimate online workshops. Thinking about the format at the beginning of the planning process will help you to figure out your next steps, potentially saving time and money later on.
- Will you have just one presenter or require multiple speakers?
- Do you want there to be plenty of engagement with attendees with the likes of a live Q&A session or minimal interactivity between speakers and guests?
- Will your event be livestreamed or will certain elements be pre-recorded?
Determine your budget
While you don’t always need a huge budget to organise a virtual event, there are still costs involved. Some platforms do charge for usage, especially if you have a large number of attendees, and high-quality livestreaming equipment or virtual venue technology can be expensive. Plus, if you have speakers, you may need to pay them a fee. When budgeting, there are a few other things to consider, too:
- Have you factored in staff costs? Will anyone be required to work out of hours for the event?
- Do you need to purchase any props or send attendees anything for the event in advance?
- Are you planning on working with any agencies or service providers to run or promote your event?
Choose a platform
There are a number of different platforms you can choose from to livestream events online. It’s a good idea to consider how your audience will be watching your event and on which device. That way, you can select a platform that works best for mobiles, tablets, or computers. Other key things to ask yourself include:
- What kind of interactivity or features would you like for your event? For example, do you want to do live polls or share your screen with attendees?
- How much are you willing to spend?
- What is the platform’s attendee capacity and does it suit the number of tickets you’re planning to sell?
- Does the platform offer technical support if needed on the day?
Sort your equipment
One of the most important aspects when planning a virtual event is the equipment. Choosing the right equipment will not only help to make sure the streaming quality is as high as possible, but also go a long way to helping your entire event run smoothly.
- Will you work with a production team? Do they provide all the equipment that you need?
- If not, what equipment do you already have in-house?
- Do you need to purchase the equipment outright or can it be rented?
- How many cameras do you need? Will you shoot from more than one angle?
- Will your speakers need a microphone each or will they share one? What type of sound equipment will work best for your event format?
- Have you thought about lighting? Do speakers need help in setting up lighting equipment if they’re remote?
- How good is your internet connection? Is there anything you can do to make sure it’s speedier and more stable?
Select a time
Finding an ideal time to hold your virtual event depends on your target audience. Put yourself in their shoes to find a time that best works for them, taking into consideration the following:
- Whereabouts in the world are they located? Do you need to find a time that works for multiple time zones?
- Are they busy professionals? If so, it might make sense to hold your event on a weekend when they have more spare time.
- Are your attendees likely to be parents? Think about times when they won’t be required for childcare, such as after bedtime.
Create your content
Once you’ve decided on the logistics, you’ll want to plan the content of your virtual event. If you’re holding a presentation, it’s best to keep it as concise as possible to keep your virtual audience interested. A few key words on a slide are much more effective than long paragraphs of text. And if your event is a Q&A session, try and plan the questions in advance of the interview to make sure you stay on topic. Also think about:
- What media can you use to make your content even more engaging? For example, utilise videos and images.
- How can you encourage interactivity with the audience? Think quizzes, polls, breakout rooms, and more.
- Can you ask a professional designer to create high-quality graphics?
Determine safety aspects
It’s still important to be aware of any risks, even if your event is online rather than in-person. To make sure that everything goes to plan and all of your safety considerations are met, put together a pre-event checklist that includes:
- Carrying out a risk assessment
- Adding a password or other authentication requirement for attendees to access the event
- Selecting a virtual platform that includes security features
- Sharing guidelines for behaviours that attendees are expected to demonstrate throughout
Securing sponsors for your virtual event can be a great way to boost revenue and attract a wider audience via shared promotion. From social media to e-newsletters, there are plenty of sponsorship opportunities. To find the most lucrative sponsors for your event, you might want to:
- Think about how you can feature a sponsor on your website to maximise traffic to their channels
- Put together a digital event bag that contains discounts on products or access to virtual workshops with your sponsor
- Use email marketing to showcase your sponsor
- Create sponsored social opportunities during your online event, like a virtual happy hour
Work out a ticketing strategy
To increase the revenue of your virtual event, you’ll probably want to charge for tickets. But there’s a fine balance to strike between making a profit and offering an affordable event. Use the following questions to help:
- Do you want to charge attendees or keep your event free?
- How much will you charge? Factor in budget, likely turnout, and any help from sponsors to decide on your final price.
- Will you have one fixed price or tiers?
- Will you have add-ons, like merchandise, that can be sent before or after the event?
- Could you give attendees lifetime access to on-demand content at a cost to boost profits and give greater value?
- How will you sell tickets? Will you use event platforms like Eventbrite to streamline the process?
Put a promotional plan in place
To get the word out there about your virtual event, it’s a good idea to create a comprehensive promotional plan, including marketing methods like emails, websites, and social media. The key to marketing any kind of event is thinking about the wants and needs of your attendees. Consider these questions:
- What do your attendees want to know about your event? Does it have a USP that will appeal to them?
- Where can you find your audience? Which social media channels do they use the most?
- Do you have previous data and research you can use to inform your marketing strategy?
Decide on a communication plan
It’s important that you stay in touch with your attendees so that they have everything they need to access your virtual event on the day. Some things to consider when putting together your communication plan include:
- How will you communicate the rules of your virtual event?
- How and when will you send a link to your attendees so they can access it?
- How often will you send them event reminders to make sure that they don’t miss the event?
- Will you engage with your audience after the event? For instance, you could send them a thank you message or feedback survey to fill out.
Hold a run-through
Last but not least, it’s important to do a run-through of your event prior to the big day to lessen the chance of making any livestreaming mistakes. Try and run the event all the way through at least once with staff and speakers, then note down any technical issues that crop up, and allow yourself enough time to fix them. Here are some other things to do when holding your rehearsal:
- Map out each step of the event in a detailed minute-by-minute schedule prior to rehearsals.
- See if you can fit all your planned content into your time slot and check that all links work.
- Test any pre-recorded content on your virtual event platform.
- Put together a day of event checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.
- Factor in enough time for a second full rehearsal in case adjustments are needed.
Upgrade your virtual events
By following the above checklist, you’ll be well on your way to successfully producing an online event. From seamlessly integrating with livestreaming platforms to tiered ticketing options, Eventbrite offers a suite of tools that can help you take your virtual events to the next level.