How to put together an experiential virtual event
From associations, to member-based companies, to for-profits, in-person events have proven to be the most largely impacted revenue generators.
While it may seem daunting to transform a hallmark annual event, one that members look forward to and plan for months in advance, into a virtual experience, it's really all about digitizing your content in a way that's meaningful to your audiences.
So, how do you capture the energy of a live event via screens? How do you keep your attendees engaged? How do you convey your message in a powerful way without seeing each other face-to-face? Well, everyone has their take on bridging the experiential gap from onsite to online.
- Set your goals
- Assemble your team
- Develop your ideas and content
- Select the right technology
- Involve leadership
- Spread the word
- Make sure your goals are big enough to motivate your team while still being attainable and realistic.
- Set balanced goals; keep an eye on both retention and growth.
- Clearly communicate the goals to your team, and set sub-goals where necessary or appropriate.
- Use the goals as a guide when budgeting and prioritizing specific event elements.
- Consider inviting or selecting individuals from a variety of departments or teams within your organization to bring fresh perspective to the planning process.
- Involve the planning committee in your goal setting process where appropriate, or clearly communicate the goals as determined by the leadership team.
- Enable your planning committee to think outside the box by encouraging creativity and initially removing the question of “how."
- Nail down your event theme first so that you can weave it throughout session titles and other pieces of the event.
- Strike a balance between staying “on theme” and “on trend.”
- Consider shortening presentation times to allow for interactive Q&A.
- Consider tapping different speakers to share new perspectives.
- Keep the tone fun and playful while still being intriguing and smart.
- Automation - We determined early on that we would record the sessions in advance and then open it up for live Q&A. This balance enabled us to avoid unnecessary day-of pressure while still engaging with our attendees in a meaningful way. BigMarker made that transition seamless, and it allowed us to automate the order of the sessions for the entire day.
- Interactivity - In addition to the chat feature we used for live Q&A, we also knew we wanted to include some additional branded content in the form of downloads and videos that attendees could view before and after live events. BigMarker made it easy to include intro and outro videos and share useful content for attendees to download.
- Ease of use - It’s important to remember that, first and foremost, the platform you select should be intuitive for the end user (attendee), while also being intuitive for your team to set everything up in advance.
- In addition to paid ads, keep in mind existing (free) opportunities to promote your event, such as within scheduled presentations or in your organization’s email signature. Your entire staff, along with speakers, can play a role in creating awareness around the event.
- Know your audience: be sure your messaging makes sense and is specific to each group you’re targeting with your communication.
- Stay top of mind by continuing to engage with attendees once they’ve registered with reminders, teasers, and other exclusive content to get them excited about the event.
About Maneesha Manges
Maneesha Manges is a seasoned digital marketing professional with over 15 years of experience working in multiple markets and global companies. She currently leads HighRoad's Client Services team after having spent three years helping to develop and launch ExxonMobil’s Next Generation digital marketing properties in the US, Russia and China markets. Her prior experience includes consulting roles in digital marketing strategy, data analysis, field marketing and social media. Maneesha holds a Master of Business Administration degree in High-Tech Marketing from American University’s Kogod School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Concordia University in Montreal.