Businesses worldwide have pivoted their flagship events to virtual spaces in record time.
While virtual events have been around for years, we can expect that they will become more commonplace and used to complement in-person events even after the pandemic is over. Crowd anxiety, decreased budgets, fear of travel, and other concerns are likely to linger for some time. As companies negotiate the challenges that come with transforming their face-to-face conferences to digital experiences, they’re also discovering valuable lessons.
IN THIS ARTICLE, WE’VE COMPILED SOME IMPORTANT ADVICE FOR MAKING A SEAMLESS TRANSITION INTO THE REALM OF ONLINE EVENTS.
Allocate sufficient time and resources.
For digital events to deliver a robust return on investment, there needs to be an adequate budgetary and manpower commitment. Virtual conferences, trade shows, and exhibits can be turned orchestrated fairly quickly if necessary, but there are often misconceptions about the time to market and cost involved. Depending upon its size and complexity, an online event can require the same level of planning as a physical one. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming you can get by on a shoestring or orchestrate a fabulous digital affair in no time.
Choose a format that’s aligned with your goals.
Numerous virtual event formats exist, from webinars, webcasts, and videoconferences to presentations that mimic physical spaces such as 3D conferences or virtual trade shows. They can be used for everything from intimate training sessions for a handful of participants to massive virtual conferences with thousands of attendees. It’s important to assess their various strengths and weaknesses relative to your specific needs. Start by considering your audience, outlining your objectives, and envisioning what you want your event to look like. Are you launching a new product or service, for example? A webinar is often a good choice for getting the word out. It’s short enough to deliver exciting introductory information but long enough to inform and educate your audience. For complex topics, boot camp-style workshops that incorporate several sessions might be appropriate.
Plan your content carefully.
In the virtual conference setting, content takes center stage. If the online event you’re creating is a replacement for one that was originally intended to be in-person, another key consideration will be how to best transition that existing content to a digital format. For example, you may want to shorten the duration of individual sessions to accommodate the shorter attention spans that come with the virtual setting. Ensure that your content is also accessible for the visually challenged and hearing impaired. And if you’re expecting a global audience, consider translation services for captioning.
How will you engage your audience?
Streaming content is relatively easy, but how can you incorporate elements of interaction? People are more likely to connect with brands and organizations when there’s a two-way flow of information. That’s why it’s so important to promote audience involvement in the form of online Q&As, games, polls, quizzes, and open discussion forums with a variety of speakers. Social media can also be used to share event highlights and preserve that crucial two-way, live interaction.
Reduce potential technical obstacles.
The audience you fought so hard to attract may jump in and out frequently or leave altogether if technical issues are present. To prevent attendees from quitting your event over blurry images or broken audio, it’s wise to invest in tried-and-tested technology. Your presenters shouldn’t be overlooked, either. Conduct an individual dry run with each speaker to demonstrate how to use the platform, ensure their comfort with it, and to work out any glitches in advance.
Don’t overlook signage and branding.
While you may not need the traditional physical signage that you would for an in-person event, there are still many opportunities to leverage your brand in the digital environment. Think prominently displayed logos emblazoned on step and repeat backdrops behind your speakers, slick slide decks and videos, and creatively designed apps that reflect your brand’s personality. And of course, many of these tools will also be useful down the road, when hybrid event settings become customary.
Choose the right time.
Before you send out any “save the date” emails, conduct some research. Make sure there are no holidays or competing events that would interfere with attendance. Take time zones into consideration, too, and try to select a time that works for as many potential attendees as possible. After live presentations, it’s generally a good idea to make sure that the content is accessible to those who were unable to attend.
Tap into the power of promotion.
Think about the key selling points your virtual event has to offer. Will you be showcasing a noteworthy speaker? Are you offering valuable networking opportunities? Whatever value proposition you choose, make sure the benefits are clear in your marketing. Share the event details by email and on social media platforms. Research indicates that registrations tend to peak two to three weeks prior to an event, so ramp up your promotional efforts at that time.
Virtual events offer a safe, cost-effective way to reach people all over the world. With the proper planning and tools, they can also increase audience engagement, generate leads, and build your brand. Online events have the potential to be more than just a replacement for canceled in-person sessions—they may even become a vital part of your company’s long term event strategy.
For more than 80 years, Adler Display has been the preferred source for captivating visual communications solutions. Rely on our friendly experts to help your company deliver appealing, robust online and in-person events. Please contact our knowledgeable team to learn more.
About Adler Display: Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Adler Display brings more than 80 years of experience to organizations in need of high-quality recognition displays, lobby and corporate interiors, custom exhibits, historical timelines, trade show displays, and signage and graphics. For more information about Adler Display, please visit the website at https://www.adlerdisplay.com/ or call 855-552-3537.