Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many events were held in conference halls and event centers in cities across the globe, networking was easier with handshake openings and wide smiles, and the food served was splendid. But since the pandemic limitations on physical interactions, virtual events have quickly sprung in their stead, with meetings, classes and even weddings now being held online. In this simple guide, we would be sharing how you can make the best of your pivot to virtual events.
A major benefit and perhaps the most exciting about this pivot to virtual events is the reduction in costs per head and increase in ROI. Now, event organisers can extend their reach, compared to the physical limitations of event centres, and the best part is you do not even have to wear shoes!
Some examples of virtual event platforms include but are not limited to
• 6connex: Available on any browser or device, with no download required. Features include flexible registration, social media integration, and real-time analytics.
• Crowdcast: Can be joined through a single URL. Tools include built-in registration forms, analytics, replays, and more.
• Demio: Allows for pre-recorded or live webinars—or a mix of both. Includes private chat, interactive polls, call-to-action buttons, and other features.
• Livestorm: On-demand webinars from Livestorm include integrations with Google Analytics, Slack, and various engagement tools.
• WebinarNinja: No need to download software for this platform, which offers paid and free events, 1,000+ app integrations, and even Facebook Pixel ad tracking.
• Zoom: Can have one host, group chat—and even offers breakout rooms. Plans cover from 100 to 10,000 view-only attendees.
• YouTube Livestream: A free and easy option for streaming live webinars
• The possibilities are truly endless
However, as you plan to pivot or move to hosting events virtually, below are some tips to ensure your transition is effective.
• Increase participation. The most exciting thing about virtual events is that there are no physical limitations. Thus, anyone around the globe can participate. The best thing you can do is make the best of this and push your online presence and advertisement. Aim for a global audience and reach out to new regions.
• Use the most suitable platforms. There are several video conferencing platforms out there. Since your event would be entirely dependent on technology and the platform being used, it is really important you find one that is suitable for the number of participants you want, feedback system, level of interaction and so on. Before you decide on a video conferencing platform, there are several questions you should ask: Does it have interactive or feedback tools? Is it a full service or self-service platform? How many people do you want to host? Is it a free or paid version? What are the limitations? Does it have a mobile event app? If yes, for android or Apple Platforms? Or both?
• Prepare for Tech troubles. While physical events have hitches, virtual events have glitches. Normally, it is always ideal to have a tech team on standby in case there are issues – and there typically would be. Before anything, test your internet connection since it is basically the backbone of any online engagement. Test your speakers and microphones also. If possible, it is always best to run rehearsals as it helps to identify possible issues earlier on for speedy resolution. You should also keep in mind that not all your participants would be tech savvy so you can have a moderator that can guide the participants especially when they want to unmute themselves, make enquiries or ask questions.
• Make it Interactive and Inclusive. Perhaps a major issue with virtual events is the lack of feedback. Most times, participants have their videos turned off so there is no eye contact whatsoever. This can make it difficult to understand if your participants are truly following or doing something else entirely. So, try and be as audible as possible. If it is a presentation, make the fonts large enough, so those using their mobile devices are following. Ask questions from time to time and ask for feedback, include interactive content and possibly intermittent polls that drive discussion.
Virtual events can be as equally effective as on-site events. It is just that this time you get to save money while you deliver value. So, for those waiting for the pandemic to be over so they can have their annual events, you can decide not to keep stalling and pivot to virtual events because this does appear as though it is here to stay!
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