A virtual event is a gathering of people for an event that meets digitally instead of physically. There is no physical location for the event, and every participant joins from the comfort of their preferred location. The participants can be on any gadget, be it a phone, laptop, tablet, or desktop. With the development of technology and the advent of a worldwide COVID-19, virtual events have become the norm. Online events will continue even after the pandemic based on their popularity and success.
Virtual events are economical as they save logistical costs such as venue expenses, décor, transport costs, refreshments, and many other such expenditures. The participants are as well safe from the transmission of the coronavirus as there are no physical contacts. It is also possible to have a wider reach of audience than a traditional event would. To be able to plan a grand virtual event, the following checklist would be pretty hardy;
An event has three phases, which an event organizer must be prepared for adequately. It would help if you had a checklist that breaks down what happens in each stage and at what time.
Have a Checklist for
- Before the Event
- During the Event
- After the Event
Before the Event
1. Clearly Define the Purpose and Goals of the Event
Identify the purpose of the event to give you a definite focus to guide your planning process. Will it be an anniversary celebration, a fundraiser, curtain-raising for a new product, or a marketing event? Whatever the purpose, it will influence your checklist plan—set goals for each stage. You could refer to past traditional in-person events to guide you. The goals should be SMART, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. SMART goals will be possible to evaluate once the event is over.
2. Create a Budget for the Event
Put together a budget that includes all the expenses anticipated for the event. Use past budget templates but add extra and new costs like online event hosting and IT expert expenses. If the event depends on ticket sales, make a safe estimate based on past experiences of how much you may rake in.
The budget will be a helpful guideline as you outsource services. The sound and lighting systems are crucial when it comes to accomplishing the success of the event. There are many companies offering Sound & Lighting Solutions For Events on hire. It’s advisable to look for a company that offers all the items, and at a price that suits your budget. Good thing about going for a distinguished company is that they can offer their technicians. This means that you won’t necessarily spend extra cash to hire a specialist to operate the systems during the event.
3. Put Together Your Support Team and Contractors
Identify and put together a resource team of dedicated persons to assist you in planning the event. These may be volunteers or workers who are committed to seeing the event succeed. Assign each of them a role based on their skills and abilities, and agree on the timelines. Outsource service providers for the event. These are masters of the ceremony if you need one, speakers, venue, security providers, décor team, sound and lighting, and other required services. Ensure you have a binding contract with each of them in case of any eventualities.
4. Identity the Platform to Use
There are many virtual platforms through which you may host your event. The most common programs are Livestream, Zoom, Webinar, Periscope, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live. Evaluate the different options and establish if they will match your needs. Ensure the platform you choose has all the features you wish to use in the event. Please familiarize yourself with the platform to be able to run it efficiently one the material day. Be sure to address cybersecurity concerns, hire IT experts to man the system, and ensure your audience can access the platform.
5. Market the Event
Promote your event far and wide to your target audience. Have a promotional plan to use, preferably email marketing. Use social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, Telegram, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, SnapChat, etc. Create a website for the event with a simple registration option to make the process as short and efficient as possible. Invite your clients, partners, and past attendees, and participants. Use them to share the promotion message further.
6. Familiarize Your Attendees with the Virtual Platform
To have a hassle-free event:
- Ensure you prepare and familiarize the event participants with the virtual program.
- Invest time and resources for this to happen before the material day.
- Follow up with every attendee registered for the event to ensure they can use the platform.
- Orient those that will be interacting with the program for the first time. The prior preparation will ensure members join in quickly.
- Have IT experts on standby to assist attendees who may get stuck in the course of the meeting.
During the Event
1. Follow Up on Support Team and Vendors
Be in touch with the volunteers and workers to ensure they are at their station and all is smooth. Actively engage with the service providers to ensure all equipment is working well, and all services have been provided as per the agreed terms and schedule. Address any challenges, and provide solutions or alternatives. Check with the IT support persons to ensure the attendees can log in without any hassle.
2. Participants’ Profiles and Engagement
Record the date of the event attendants during the live sessions. You may take a screenshot of the logged-in attendees or write down the names as the event progresses. The attendee profiles will be helpful for the event’s follow-up and also for future events. As the participants log in, ensure the participants can interact with the program and its features as the event progresses. Assist those that have a challenge using the program. Keep the attendees engaged as this makes the event lively, warm, participatory, and reduces loss of attention.
3. Provide a Live Chat Option and Create a Hashtag of the Event
Be sure to have a feature through which event attendees can post questions and provide immediate feedback. Ensure it has both group and private features to suit the participants’ preferences based on their questions. After every session, have a time when participants can comment, give feedback, ask questions and get answers. This depends on the type and length of the event. Start a hashtag on social media immediately after the event goes live. Ensure it is posted and reposted as many times as possible. Have someone track and monitor the progress of the hashtag as the event progresses.
4. Create Networking and Interactive Opportunities
Introduce the participants to each other, and allow them to interact. Facilitate break-out sessions and one-on-one appointments. You may pair out the participants or split them into small groups. Involve them in activities as the event progresses for active engagement and avoid a speaker-observer possibility. Participants remain alert and engaged when their virtual presence is acknowledged. Interactive virtual events have a more profound impact and are considered warm. They create a memorable experience that may inspire a participant to come for future events.
5. Address Any Issue that Arises
As the event organizer, ensure you have smooth communication with the support team to actively follow up and ensure every piece of equipment is running and operating as expected. Check and establish that sound, lighting, and live streaming are up to the required standard. If there is any disruptive challenge to the event, acknowledge it to the attendees and let them know you are working on it. This will be sure to keep the participants engaged, reduce loss of attention and disruptions.
6. Stream Your Event Live as it Progresses
If you have pre-arranged live streams options, broadcast your event live to get potential and future attendees. Livestream on social media platforms such as Facebook live, Instagram, Snapchat, Slack, and Reddit. Take note of the feedback from the livestreams. Where there are questions, have someone provide answers, or inform the client you will respond after the event. Maximize this opportunity to build your brand.
After the Event
1. Have a Debrief Moment and Conduct a Post-Event Survey
Follow up with the attendees to find out their thoughts and feelings about the event. You may send out a post-event survey for them to fill in anonymously. Use the feedback provided to make the next event you host better. Have a debrief moment with the team to assess what went well and what didn’t. Do a post-mortem with the vendors, speakers, and other facilitators? Review the event’s goals to establish if all of them were achieved and what happened for the unachieved.
2. Compile the Feedback from Participants
Use the event’s data gathered by the previously installed apps. Also, compile the data received from the participants’ feedbacks. Do an online survey to find out the participants’ thoughts on the different aspects of the event. Request the attendees to rate the various speakers and facilitators, the online platform used, availed features, marketing plan, lighting, sound, engagement level, and satisfaction level. Find out which part of the event got their most interest.
3. Analyze the Data Collected from the Event
Compile the participants’ data based on registration, attendees, demographics, engagement in the event, session feedback and ratings, social media feedback, and post-event survey. Also, record ticket sales, if there were any, and any sales of products. Update your contact register with the potential clients’ data collected during the event.
4. Share Event Data and Feedback with Stakeholders
Give the sponsors feedback on the event’s data as per your sponsorship agreement. The input includes the number of attendants, demographics, participation and engagement levels, and interest. Let the sponsors have the feedback and comments from the participants from the live streaming platforms. If the event included sales, provide feedback on the brand popularity, sales, and market analysis based on the attendees’ response. Provide the stakeholders with the contact information of potential clients and future attendees engaged during the event.
5. Reconcile the Budget
Settle down all pending expenses and pay all suppliers. After that, reconcile the budget. Compare the anticipated budget with the actual budget results and find out the variances. Establish the event’s ROI, return on investment. Did the event meet the company’s expectations? Was it worth the investment and time spent on it? Find out if the budget was below or above expectations. If a similar event was to be held in the future, find out which financial aspects of the current budget would be essential to consider.
6.Send out Thank You Notes
Remember to acknowledge and send appreciation to all the parties that made the event a reality. A thank you letter creates an avenue for future contracts and partnerships. Send appreciation messages shortly after the event to make it relevant. Thank the donors, sponsors, attendees, and other stakeholders. Remember to appreciate the vendors as they also promote your company despite their commercial interest. Appreciate the speakers, facilitators, and support team. Maximize this opportunity to get feedback from these stakeholders.
7. Follow Up on Any Enquiries
Any question raised by an existing or potential client signifies the event’s success as it has elicited feedback. It is an opportunity to market your brand further. Make a follow-up on any clients’ inquiries made before, during, or after the event. Do this soon after the event for the interest of the customer’s engagement. The questions may be on subscriptions, donations, pledges, new membership, enrollment, or a sale. Use the opportunity to as well get the client’s views about the event.
To organize a successful grand virtual company event is no mean feat. Regardless, it is possible as this has happened in many companies in recent years. It has become the norm due to the current circumstances. To be a successful event planner, you need to be a detailed oriented and proactive person. With a click of a button, you will access information such as this helpful checklist to assist you in planning. The guidelines will help you as you put together a successful virtual event. Thorough preparation takes time, so it is crucial to have a checklist to assist you with timelines. You will also remember what you need to take care of as it may not be possible to recall everything off the head. Incorporate all the measures enlisted, and you will be on your way to a successful grand event.