Field and event marketers are turning to virtual events as a means of keeping their event programs running. Webinars, virtual panels, and online conferences are just a few of the many formats marketers are embracing in the shift. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind as you and your team make the switch to virtual experiences.
1. Get your team on board
The first step is to make sure all of your internal stakeholders are on the same page. Let them know why you’re making the change, outline the potential impact, and tell them how they can help.
2. Notify your speakers
Before announcing the shift to your attendees, make sure your speakers are in the know. Have a plan for how the new format will impact the presentations they’ve been working so hard on. Do you plan on repurposing their presentation for the virtual event? Or saving it for a case study? Or a future webinar? Approaching your speakers with a concrete plan will keep them reassured and confident in your planning.
3. Find a platform
There are a variety of great virtual event platforms to consider and there is a good chance your marketing team already has a program in place. If not, finalize exactly what platform features you need to run your event. A virtual conference may need a robust program that supports breakout sessions and multiple tracks, whereas a 30-minute webinar needs a great Q&A feature and the ability to share content.
4. Connect with your vendors
Everyone connected to the event industry (and beyond!) is being hit hard by COVID-19. Keep your event vendors in the loop as you make changes to your event format - they are your partners. Together, you can make a plan for rescheduling your in-person events, and they might have some great ideas on how you can use their resources to put a unique spin on your virtual events.
5. Update your registration page
Make sure your website and event landing page are updated to reflect your new virtual format. Your registration forms will need to be updated so everyone that registers gets their unique login information for the event.
6. Let your registrants know
Don’t forget to let your current registrants know of the changes. Send out an email updating them on the new format. If possible, go ahead and re-register all your current guests so they have access to the virtual event. Also, give your sales and accounts team some messaging around the change so they can keep their contacts informed.
7. Expand your target audience
Hosting regional events can limit your target audience. Now that you’re going virtual, can think about expanding your invite list. This is also an opportunity to reach out to anyone who couldn't attend the in-person event and see if the virtual event works better for their schedule.
8. Convert the content
Switching to virtual means taking another look at your planned content and reevaluating how it will work in a virtual environment. Panels and fireside chats easily translate into a webinar, but hands-on demos and workshops may prove a little trickier. Approach your planned content with a critical eye and work with your presenters to adapt where needed.
9. Have a practice round
A quick practice round is a great way to make sure all parties involved feel comfortable. This is an opportunity for you to test A/V and to make sure everyone can access the event. A run-through will help you mitigate some of the unexpected things that can pop up when you host a virtual event.
10. Show off your home office
Or at least what shows up in your video chat! Video is a powerful tool, especially with so many people working from home. Don’t overlook the fact that you and your presenters might be broadcasting your space to a large group of people. This is a great opportunity to showcase who you are and to add some character to your events. Don’t be afraid to have some fun with it!