4 ways to make your virtual event stand out

4 ways to make your virtual event stand out

Virtual events are being produced in a very competitive space right now. After all, they are pretty much the only game in town for event planners.

Therefore, every virtual event is shouting for attention. They all need to deliver a positive ROI. Some attendees are said to be suffering virtual fatigue. And sponsors are seeking to understand how they can maximise their investment from the event.

If event planners want their virtual events to stand out from the competition, they need to work even harder than before.

In this blog post, we highlight 4 ways in which you can step away from the crowd and differentiate your virtual production.

Be the content detective

For your event to stand out you need it to be what your attendees want. This is where you need to become the content detective. Find out what your likely attendees want? If you don’t know, then it is time to find out.

For example, find out how important networking is to your delegates. Find out how much they will pay for your event? Find out what content is most highly sought after.  Establish what session length is best. And so on. There are many questions you can ask.

In being the detective have your notebook to hand and write everything down. It will help you later. With virtual events, the best results come from having undertaken some content detective work at the beginning. Otherwise, you could be searching for clues in the dark.

Manage expectations

Managing expectations is another way in which your virtual event will stand out. It is always best to let attendees, speakers and stakeholders know exactly what will happen.

For example, some attendees go to a virtual event fully expecting to be able to see and hear other delegates. If that expectation isn’t met, they are going to get upset. To prevent this, it is best to be super clear about how the virtual event will work and how they can maximise their attendance.

And the same management of expectations needs to apply when you are talking to your speakers and other stakeholders. Some virtual speakers will be very good at presenting to a webcam and not being able to see delegates, whereas other speakers will absolutely respond better if they have sight of the audience. You will need to carefully select your speakers based on the design of your virtual production.

And the same applies to other stakeholders. Make sure they understand what sponsoring or exhibiting opportunities look like.

Work on your pre-engagement

Long gone are the days when you could advertise the date of an event and people would simply turn up. They would turn up because the event planner or their organisation had a solid reputation for delivering great events. But with the amount of competition, especially now as virtual events are in abundance, much more work is needed to get attendees to sign up.

This means that work has to be put into the pre-engagement activity. Details of the speakers and the subjects they will talk about are good ways of building interest. And if you can get your speakers to express why they are delighted to be at your event then even better as the message will be stronger.

The same applies when it comes to sponsors and exhibitors. If they talk about the reasons for playing an active role in your virtual event it is better than coming from the planner. This should be in addition to the marketing and social media activity of the planner.

If you go deeper and discuss some of the sessions or services on offer at the event it will create more impact.

Rehearse

This is by far the biggest tip in making your virtual event stand out from the rest. Rehearse. And rehearse until you are happy that it is going to be a great production when you go live on the event day.

The “it’ll be alright” idea is fuzzy thinking and, in our experience, often leads to disaster on the night. Professional actors and producers never accept “it’ll be alright on the night” because it’s a recipe for disaster. The only way to be sure to avoid it is rehearsal. They have been doing it for generations. Why think amateurs will be better than pro performers? It’s crazy to assume that.

If you want to deliver a quality production, you must test everything and rehearse.

And rehearsals are a good thing. They enable speakers to understand exactly what they need to do. It enables the bumps in the road to be ironed out before going live. It enables you to test timings. It enables you to plug any gaps. The list of benefits from doing rehearsals is a long one. But you get the idea.

I cannot stress enough the importance of rehearsals and how learning from them will benefit the results and ROI of your event.

Conclusion – Allow enough time

You can see from the tips above that sufficient time is needed to bring everything together. Unfortunately, one of the big mistakes that some planners make is to miscalculate how long it will take to put a quality virtual event together. And it can be easy to see why. The advent of platforms such as Zoom and Teams enable small uncomplicated meetings to be easily put together. And this is where confusion can come in.

For virtual events that are a step up and where you need a higher production value, then a greater time allowance needs to be factored in. The amount of behind-the-scenes work needed to make them a success is as big as for in-person events if not more so.

After all, you need professionals to deliver what your event needs. You need a technical crew, you need visuals, you need videos, you need people coordinating all of this. In other words, the virtual event producer has a lot of moving parts to pull together and align and that all takes time.

If you want to make your virtual event stand out, then allow enough time and you will be on the path to success.


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Paul Cook has been immersed in events for over 20 years, as a writer, researcher, speaker, facilitator, educator, advisor and producer. He is a content writer for the events sector. When he is not writing, he is a producer of virtual or hybrid events. Paul has been nominated as one of the 100 most influential people in events by the Eventex Index. Building on his event risk management roots, his experience at Pinewood Film Studios and working with new technologies has naturally led him to working in and developing virtual and hybrid events for business growth. He is the author of two books. His first book, Risk It! Is all about event risk and his second book, Remotely Engaging is a guide to how to engage virtual attendees at events.

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