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For the past few months, many businesses have had to contend with the reality of virtual events. Companies that had crisis plans in place for last-minute transitions to virtual events were few and far between. With COVID-19 changing the approach to event planning, a contingency for digital options is now a must for organizations. On top of presenting a humanitarian crisis, the current pandemic has left businesses feeling rushed to learn new technologies and systems. For this reason, it’s crucial to learn from the past months rather than dwell on cancellations. To maximize what you take away from this pandemic for your business, let’s discuss best practices for virtual event planning and how to prepare for the next three months, the next year, and beyond.
Planning for a virtual event is different logistically but holds many of the same goals as an in-person event. Whether your event aims to educate attendees, introduce ideas to peers, connect business contacts, or brainstorm with industry leaders, those outcomes can still take place in a virtual space. It is essential to take the time when planning your virtual event to learn the tools and platforms you wish to use. If you don’t have experience in any, it is smart to assess which one will best meet your needs based on features, support, and reliability.
A virtual event checklist can help you get started, no matter your familiarity with the available tools. From finding a partner with a platform, to planning logistics for your event, a checklist helps keep you on track and prepared for anything. Ensure you know what platforms support events, rather than merely providing a space for small group meetings. This way, you can focus on the impact of your event and meet your organizational goals.
Virtual events allow for a much larger impact for your organization. Without the need to take into consideration travel, expenses, and logistics of reaching an in-person destination, virtual events inherently provide you with a significant increase in potential attendees. Likewise, generating leads from these attendees is much easier on a digital platform. Insights like contact information and purpose of attendance are much easier to collect upon registration for a digital platform. This provides you with an organized and detailed list of people to contact with follow-up inquiries and offerings that are specific to their needs.
Lastly, the impact of your virtual event is maximized when digital spaces encourage and facilitate engagement. You might not be face-to-face with your audience in a virtual event, but you do have a communication channel that lends itself to a diverse array of options for engagement. Chat rooms, Q&A, Polls, and interactive exhibitor experiences are just a few examples of tools that can offer additional engagement at your event. With integrated solutions for social media sharing and email, you’ll likely make more meaningful connections online with more people than you would in person.
Over the next three months, we will likely see most events move to virtual platforms or postpone. Postponing should be considered a last resort and only if the logistics of your event cannot translate to digital spaces. Even in the next six months, things might not look that much different in terms of non-essential business travel. That means virtual event planning will continue to be of the utmost importance. For those who hold in-person events, it will be necessary to also offer virtual options for those who are uncomfortable or unable to travel and attend.
Even once the spread of COVID-19 begins to slow, virtual event peripherals might make sense for your future event plans. Learning these tools now ensures you are ready to enhance your hybrid events moving forward.
Whatever path you choose to take, a key element to consider will always be a reliable and experienced technology partner who understands both the live and digital realm. With a strong partner and virtual event preparedness, you can reach more people in a more effective way.