Virtual events can bring up a lot of questions to organizers. From “How will I engage attendees?” to “What kind of content should I focus on?” or even “I’ve never done this, where do I start?” Our team has organized and supported numerous virtual events, and we are happy to share our experience to help ease your mind. Here are our Top 10 tips to hosting and organizing a great virtual event:
Some of the top questions to consider when evaluating a virtual event platform include:
These are a great starting ground for comparison points between each platform you investigate. Ask us for a demo of LoudSwarm to see if our all-in-one integrated virtual experience is the right fit for your event.
Despite being virtual, online events can still incur costs - from the event platform to ticketing or even swag. If the cost of your virtual event is a concern, sponsorships can bring much-needed value and credibility. These are a great resource to tap into for new/exclusive content, door prizes, special offers to attendees, and brand visibility. Virtual events aren’t going away anytime soon, and sponsors are looking for creative ways to stay in front of consumers. A community sponsorship in partnership with user groups are a great place to promote to a highly targeted audience and request feedback on event improvements if they are your specific target attendees.
You’ll want to be able to hear and see your presenters, they’re the main component of the virtual event experience. If you have the budget to send them equipment or just offer suggestions, here are our suggestions for recording equipment:
As far as cameras go, we recommend the Logitech Brio if money is an not object. This is a great 4k camera with ability to set custom FoV. If you are looking for a great all around webcam for under $100, the Logitech C925-e is your best bet.
With regards to microphones, we have 3 favorites: the Blue Yeti is the gold standard for capturing your voice. The Rode Wireless Go is your microphone if you want to present like a pro and get the quality along with it. However the Microsoft LifeChat LX-4000 is the best sounding headset for meetings — that is, if you can find it.
What are your attendees looking to gain from your event? What are they interested in? If networking is a must, a chat tool like Slack will allow your attendees, speakers and sponsors to participate in a constant stream of “hallway chatter.” Slack is also a great tool to coordinate the backstage work with your various speakers. If you opt to use Slack, be sure to set aside time to teach your attendees how to use it, how to fill out their profiles, and how to get the most out of the tool.
To boost engagement, a poll application like SliDo is worth looking into; attendees can ask questions, upvote others’ questions to push them to the top, and participate in quick polls. This is a great way to make your virtual event feel as interactive and as “live” as possible, with real-time feedback and discussions on the topic being presented.
Physical swag packages, either on their own or an addition to a digital swag bag, are a great way to help your attendees feel like they are going to a real event. Swag also helps promote your event through online chatter, which can draw more speakers/attendees. Items like lanyards, stickers, coasters, or even conference t-shirts are a great start. Encourage recipients to post a picture with your event hashtag to start the conversation and create the hype.
The more information and activities attendees have available to them, the more likely they are to stay within your platform and engaged in the event. So do overschedule your event. You want your attendees to feel like they can’t attend everything so as to create a feeling of scarcity (= value) and urgency (= attention).
Content planning is where many events struggle, but this is a great time to rely on your speakers, sponsors, and organizers. Encourage your sponsors to hold side activities in their Slack channel, such as live demos, polls, breakout sessions, etc. Another option is to suggest speakers have a post-talk session to answer more questions, network, show off the content they ran out of time for, etc.
After the sessions are done for the day, socials or “after-event” sessions are a great way for attendees to unwind and connect. Many folks come to conferences and events to network and hang out with their peers, so these are a great way to emulate those interactions on a virtual scale. Dry to develop experiences. This could be a social hour led by a whiskey connoisseur, a virtual game of Jack Box, coach-led discussions through breakout rooms, etc. - this is another area you can be very creative with to make your event unique!
Once you’re ready to organize your event, be sure to work off of a checklist and a rough timeline of milestones leading up to the event. When do you need to open up your call for presentation proposal? When will you need to have your schedule finalized by? When will you need to have your abstracts by, your speaker information, your sponsor assets, your swag items, etc.? Work from the date of your event and plan backwards.
Since there is not a physical location to run around and check for last-minute logistics, it’s also important to keep your digital resources and documents in order to avoid any bumps during the planning process. Pick an online storage tool like DropBox or Google Drive to store your assets.
Whether you’re running this event as a solo venture or have a large team of organizers and volunteers running around behind-the-scenes, assigning clear roles and deliverables will make the day-of logistics much smoother. In many cases, you might not see your organizers every day or even every week, but there’s a lot that needs to get done before your event can go live. We’ve seen the best success with a lead organizer assigning roles and responsibilities among their team with clear deadlines to ensure all the moving parts are on track. Slack is a great tool for quickly keeping everyone up to date.
The LoudSwarm team is here to support your event, and we encourage you to ask for help if you need suggestions, ideas, or just need to bounce something around with us to improve your event experience. Don’t hesitate to drop us a note.
If you’d like to see if LoudSwarm could be a good fit for your upcoming event or conference, send us a message and our team will schedule a demo to walk-through LoudSwarm’s features and white-glove service.
We are excited to help jumpstart your next event: let's make it amazing.