Our corporate and non-profit clients are very interested in converting their live events into virtual events because their original plans were affected by the COVID-19 crisis. We work with our clients to produce a wide array of corporate and non-profit events, including but not limited to trade shows, conferences, trainings, workshops, networking events, fundraising events, and festivals. Some of these clients have opted to postpone, but some of our clients cannot afford the lost revenue and exposure and will need to pivot to support their operations.
We have already started assisting our clients in executing their virtual events and we’ve experienced some big successes thus far. One of our clients, the B Street Theatre, recently celebrated Big Day of Giving 2020 with a Virtual Telethon and were overwhelmed with the community support. They fundraised over triple what they had in previous years; it was a huge success!
Here are our tips on how to make your virtual corporate or non-profit event amazing:
- Determine the perfect length of your virtual event.
Every event is different – but keep in mind that the attention span of an attendee sitting in a conference room is much different than one working from home (and all the distractions that come with it). We’ve found that most events will have the best success if you keep the material to 30 – 45 minutes. We’ve also had a successful 6-hour telethon event. An event planner can help you with considering your audience and how you want them to engage to determine the length of your event.
- Consider your audience when choosing the right platform to meet their needs.
Most corporate attendees will be familiar with Zoom, however some demographics may struggle with the technology. Google Hangouts may be a more inherent and embedded app to use. Or if they are tech, Intrado might include tools to enhance the amount of interaction you’d like to incorporate during the event. Your platform may have a max capacity for attendees as well. An event planner can help walk you through your options to determine the best fit for you and your guests.
- Don’t forget to market your event as an event.
If your guest list is outside of your current client list, utilize social media marketing campaigns to get the word out regarding your event. Ask attendees to RSVP to get a handle on your audience size in advance, but also to ensure you’re not speaking to an audience of none. You can also use these opportunities to gather contact and demographic information about your attendee audience that will be valuable for future events.
- Consider branding opportunities.
Zoom, and many other platforms, offer branding opportunities within the technology itself. You can setup vanity URLs, custom landing pages, email templates and even banners displayed during the event. Additional branding opportunities, like custom virtual backdrops for attendees or logo mugs for panel speakers can create a layered branded experience for your event. A fun way to remind guests of an upcoming event is to send a box of branded goodies in the mail. Some clients have even included a cocktail for pre or post-event networking.
- Create a nice balance of live and pre-recorded material.
There are some programs that do best in a pre-recorded format, but they can be balanced with live material for a more customized and interactive experience for your guests. This will allow you to produce and edit the material to a seamless presentation. Keep in mind, that 1 hour of video recording typically requires 3 hours of filming to get it right.
- Always do a dry-run.
Make sure to have a tech rehearsal or dry run before every event, live or not. Consult with speakers and presenters on the artistic aspects of filming, including internet connectivity (we recommend a hardline), backgrounds, lighting, and microphones. Completing a dry run before the event helps work out the kinks and draw out any issues that can be fixed before you go live. Make sure all presenting participants join 30 minutes beforehand to ensure any tech issues are resolved before attendees are present. Create a waiting room to hold attendees while you buffer for late speakers or technical issues. You event planner can create a production timeline for leading up to and on the day of the event to help things run smoothly.
- If your event involves speaker panels, determine the magic number of panels and moderators and a method to communicate.
For a typical 30 – 45 minute event, we recommend keeping your speaker panels to 3 – 4 and have at least 1 assertive moderator who is tech. Your moderator can be even more important than the speakers themselves, in ensuring that the event runs smoothly. Gathering attendee questions in a shared online document allows coordinators to highlight relevant questions for speakers on the fly. Establish a method of communications for speakers, moderators and the production team leading up to and during an event.
- Consider tools to communicate information live during presentations.
There are fun plug-ins like Poll Everywhere and Sli.do that allow you to share information from questions, polls or quizzes sent to attendees before the event. Giggle and Riot offers a virtual photo booth that allows presenters to share snapshots of guests during the event as well.
- Create interactive ideas to get attendees engaged.
You can also get guests engaged during the event, from live polling options during the event, Q & A sessions, breakouts, wine tasting, and silent or live auctions. Remo.co offers the ability to host breakout floors with dedicated tables, allowing you to create a sponsor interaction opportunity as well.
- Have a plan on how to handle tech emergencies.
What would you do if your speaker’s internet suddenly goes down? Make sure to have headshots for each of the panel members, so that you can have them dial in by phone and display the image while they continue to present. A master deck of headshots, phone numbers and email addresses for all participants is key in making quick adjustments during a live event.
Creating amazing virtual events for your corporate business or non-profit is absolutely possible. An event planner can help you determine your primary goals, help connect you with the correct technology to make it happen and coordinate everything so that it runs as smoothly as possible. The event consulting team at Kate Whelan Events is ready to help you make it happen!
Due to COVID-19, the special events industry is experiencing an incredible pivot in how events can be produced safely and effectively. We started the Virtual Events Series to discuss each category of our client events (including weddings, social, corporate and non-profit) and how this pivot can be achieved successfully with the help of a KWE Event Consultant. If you are interested in finding out more about our services, please contact us here.