2020 has made sure we’re all much more familiar with virtual events than we were 12 months ago. Zoom quizzes, webinars and online conferences have become a mainstay in our lives, but swapping an in-person event for a virtual one can come with its own challenges. Here are 5 things to consider before planning your own online event.
1. Lead Time
There is a misconception that virtual events have a shorter lead time, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Depending on the complexity of your event, the platform you decide to use, and your entertainment and catering choices, lead times can really vary so it’s important to make sure you allow enough time.
Briefing your speakers, scheduling individual and full dress rehearsals and collecting RSVPs and addresses correctly can take time, so be realistic and discuss your full requirements with your Event Manager at the outset.
2. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
And, then rehearse some more. Presenting or speaking in a virtual setting can feel quite different to the ‘real world’ – there is less instant feedback or audience participation, which can initially be quite off-putting. There’s also the technology to factor in.
Preparation time is all important here. Making sure your speakers or hosts are comfortable with how the event will run and how the technology or platform works is the best way to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Take the time to rehearse with everyone involved (more than once, ideally) and encourage your speakers to book in some individual rehearsal time too.
3. Get Technical
It can be easy to assume that everyone knows how to use virtual platforms. But there is a huge variety to choose from, each with their own nuances and quirks. Teaching or training participants remotely can also create its own challenges, so allowing time for this and having lots of patience is key.
This is where the rehearsals come in, and where a detailed technical briefing will help too. Assume that your users don’t know anything about the platform, that way you’ll cover off every eventuality and minimise any awkward “you’re on mute” situations.
4. Gifting Is Always Good
Adding catering to a virtual event might not be your first thought. But, sending a little something to your guests to accompany your event adds an extra dimension. Whether it’s a box of ingredients for a cook-along or cocktail making, Champagne and canapés or perhaps some fancy dress to add to your theme, one thing’s for sure – everyone loves getting something in the post.
If you decide to send a hamper or gift there are a few things to consider. Collecting RSVPs and dietaries, for example – it’s likely you’ll need a form, website and email. This means you’ll need to put your marketing hat on to help get everyone excited about what’s to come.
You’ll also need to consider the lead and delivery times for any catering or gifting you choose, particularly if you’re sending internationally as there will be additional costs and longer lead times. Timings and costs will vary from company to company, so make sure you have all the information you need when you start planning in order to make the right choice.
5. Cost is Key
It’s easy to assume that a virtual event will be cheap. And, whilst it is the case that they usually cost less than an in-person event, they shouldn’t be seen as the ‘cheap’ option.
Planning and running a successful event takes times and expertise in the same way that an in-person event does. Choosing the right suppliers, specialists and technology should all be considered when deciding your budget, so be realistic about what you want to achieve and cost it accordingly.
Virtual events can be really flexible, with hundreds of combinations of entertainment, activities, technology and content. With an open mind and a bit of creativity, you can create an engaging, fun event that is sure to exceed your expectations.
From conferences and Q1 kick-offs to team building, social activities and of course, Christmas parties there is a huge variety of events you can host virtually. If you need help planning or have an idea you want to turn into reality, get in touch here.