Part 2: Virtual Event Playbook: Must-Dos to Get Ready During your Virtual Event

Part 2: Virtual Event Playbook: Must-Dos to Get Ready During your Virtual Event

Virtual Event Planning: What to Prep for your Virtual Event?

And so, the big day has finally come – it’s showtime! By now, all invitations and reminders to participants have been sent and completed, along with many other preparations that should be done before holding your virtual event. For a review of these pre-show preparations, read part 1 of this Virtual Event Playbook: Before the Online Event .

This playbook is written to guide you in planning your virtual events, Hybrid events, live webinars, online trade shows and is presented in three parts to discuss what you need to focus on Before, During and After the event.

Part II: During the Online Event

Staging a smooth, hiccup-free event (whether face-to-face, virtual or hybrid) does not come as an accident. It requires plenty of preparation, practice and pro-active anticipation of what’s to come from start to finish.

Remember the KISS Approach

No matter it’s your first or hundredth time to host a virtual event, it will save you a lot of worries to remember the KISS Approach – Keep it Short & Simple. When you don’t have the ability to physically interfere, troubleshoot and explain when matters don’t go your way, making sure that things are kept as short and simple as necessary is key to minimizing potential problems and interruptions during your online event.

Audience not engaged? Keep the presentations lively and short. Presenters and attendees not tech-savvy? Stick to a simple format and choose a virtual event platform that works as easy as plug-and-play. Below are a few more tips to keep in mind during the days leading up to show time

  • Set a clear agenda and follow it.  

Make sure to communicate a clear agenda in your website, emails, and other communications regarding your online event. Include details such as speakers, topics, and timeframes so your audience knows exactly what to expect when attending your event. Sure, last-minute changes can happen. This should not be a big problem as long as it is communicated as early as possible.

There is no set rule on length, but typically 25-30 minutes is enough for a one-speaker presentation, plus 5.-10 minutes of Q&A at the end. A panel or round-table discussion with multiple speakers is usually set for an hour. Online workshops that are designed to be more in-depth and extensive can be scheduled longer, however setting a limit of 3-4 hours should be considered to keep the interest and fight screen fatigue. Note that even for the most entertaining and visually stunning movies, audience still complains if it goes beyond 3 hours!

VVIT (Very very important tip): Start on time.

Being late – at your own event – is probably the worst possible sin an event organizer can commit. It makes you look unprofessional and is a major audience turn-off. If for some unforeseen reason you have to delay the event start time, make sure you have an announcement ready (instead of a random error message) for the attendees to see explaining the delay and provide the new expected start time. If technically possible, have the moderator on hand to engage with the attendees while waiting for the event to start.

  • Don’t skimp on a moderator.

Newbie event organizers might think little of a moderator’s role – they are there only to introduce the speakers before each presentation which anyone who can read is able to do.  Nothing can be farther from the truth – especially for online events. In fact, the moderator is like the conductor of an orchestra or the captain of the ship. With their skillful guidance, the orchestra delivers beautiful music and the ship travels safely from point A to B.

An adept moderator can keep control of presentation times and create lively interactions between speakers and attendees. They can minimize awkward “dead-air” moments and cut short (heated) discussions and banters, if needed, in the interest of time management. The moderator can also help to monitor the chatroom, highlighting any important questions or comments raised there, while also looking out for inappropriate or abusive behavior.

If your event includes breakout sessions, each group should have a moderator to manage discussions. The speakers can be among the moderators of the breakout groups (if they are available).

Lastly, the moderator can help to present the “big picture” to the audience, connecting the different speaker presentations to one another and providing a summary at the end to neatly tie up everything that transpired during the online event.

  • Practice, Practice, Practice.

One cannot stress this enough. Make sure presenters have familiarized themselves with the online event tech/platform. Conduct a proper run-through or dress rehearsal before the event to detect any potential problems early. Here’s a sample checklist of important things to take note of:

  • Find a quiet area in your office or home to join the virtual event, devoid of any distractions and noises (colleagues, children, pets, traffic or construction noises, etc)
  • Test all tech including Wi-Fi strength, camera and lighting, audio quality
  • Turn on “Do Not Disturb” mode for the entirety of the event, or disable app notifications for new emails, meeting reminders, system upgrades and others

For online trade shows, make certain that exhibitors are ready with products to display on their virtual booths. Also product descriptions, MOQ and price quotations, FAQ scripts and other information to facilitate a successful negotiation or sale.

Take it from the pros: Don’t forget your visual branding. Especially important for virtual events which are usually held from multiple locations, a prominent and uniform visual branding brings cohesion, identity and recognition to the event’s organizers and sponsors. Make sure you prepare one, and have your speakers and exhibitors use them properly during the rehearsal, and the online event itself.
  • Prepare to troubleshoot.

It happens to the best of us – even to the most prepared ones. Have a tech team on standby. Discuss with your online event platform partner in advance regarding the support they can provide to you and your attendees during the event.

Learn what is Global Expo-Net and how we can help you.

When problems arise during your event – be it technical issues, speaker availability or scheduling delay – be upfront and transparent to your audience so they can understand what’s happening, and accommodate and adjust with you, as needed.

At-show engagement

One of the biggest challenges in holding virtual events is keeping the audience engaged from start to finish. Making sure you have relevant content plus knowledgeable speakers are key components towards making this happen. During the presentations, you can break the monotony of one-way screen presentations through any of the following actions:

  • Questions, polls & quizzes

Not only are these effective in fighting boredom, but they also allow the presenter to get important insights from the audience. For example, quick poll ranking situations or keywords from most to least important lets you understand your audience’s mindset and possibly modify your presentation to adjust to the poll results. On-the-spot quizzes let you understand what information has been retained and allow you to review/reinforce information if the audience were unable to answer correctly. Q&As at the end of every presentation are standard to pick up on areas of the presentation that may need more clarification and give you a clue on possible topics you can use for your next online webinars or seminars.

  • Activities & games

Having ice-breaker activities are a good way to spend the start of any online event while waiting for the rest of the attendees to log in. Simple games during the presentations can keep attendees alert and ready to take in information.

  • Lucky draws

Who doesn’t want to win prizes? You can hold lucky draws at the end of the virtual event to entice attendees to stay up to the last presentations. Prizes can be a coupon for online purchase, discount or free entry to your next paid seminars, an ebook on a related topic, among others.

Note that the above activities can eat up time if not managed properly. Make sure you have taken these into consideration when you are planning your event timetable.

Lastly, don’t forget your social media! Keep an eye out for @mentions from presenters and attendees regarding your virtual event – reposting positive comments and addressing not-so-positive ones timely and subtly. You can also live report what is happening at your online seminars or trade shows to encourage more attendees to join, especially for multi-day events.

You can learn more from 7 most effective way to boost the audience engagement.

Summary

Having “good luck” is the result of good planning in the same way that a successful event can be made certain when you put in the effort to plan, prepare and practice.

Stay tuned for part 3 of this playbook about post-event must-dos. In the meantime, check out other articles available at https://globalexpo-net.com/blog/ for more helpful tips and tricks related to virtual events.

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