Want to set up your own virtual event or webinar? We have some good tried-and-true tips on how to succeed in today’s “new normal” way of event organization.
Think about the format of the digital event. What parts of the “real” event can be easily transferred? What parts should be set up differently or be left out completely? Consider if you should create a whole new format. Imagine yourself dialing-in to your own event and envision what you would want the participant experience to look like.
This is relevant at all times, but from our experience, digital events or webinars work better if they have a specific topic rather than presenting on a more general topic. This way, the audience is really interested and engaged and thus more likely to ask detailed questions during the event. You can also combine different topics in one event by splitting people up into different virtual groups.
That one tool that can do it all? So far, we haven’t seen it. Especially for smaller events with a tight budget, the selection of the right tool can be really challenging. To get the best customer experience, combine tools that work best for you. Most of the time there is even a free version available which can be used for a limited number of participants. Another resource to consider is giving young startups in that field a try. Software startups might be open to working closely with you and further test their product.
One of the most challenging things with webinars or virtual events is to attract and keep everyone’s attention. Most of the time people start to do other things while listening (or at least pretending to listen). Less is more, try to limit the time to a maximum of 60 minutes for a webinar, including Q&A. And try to include interactive parts where people have to participate, for example, a poll or a survey.
Just like at in-person events, you don’t have to do all the things yourself. At digital events, you also should get support for registration (waiting room/admitting attendees), with moderation and timekeeping, and with the technical set up (settings and restrictions for participants). It certainly takes a team to run a great event.
Even though the (technical) set up of a digital event might be faster than a real one, you still should schedule in enough time to thoroughly plan and come up with different scenarios and backup plans.
This is even more important at digital events than in-person events. Ensure that speakers are familiar with the agenda and know what their roles are. You cannot whisper into someone’s ear that it’s their turn now.
Calm your nerves by doing a dry run of the event a few days before to check your technical equipment. Invite a few colleagues to play different roles (moderator, participants, panelists, etc.) and to test if the overall set up is working smoothly. You can also do a test run with the real speakers/panelists, if they are available, some might be even grateful to get that extra support and practice time. This way, they also get used to the look and feel of the digital event and they feel more comfortable going “on stage”.
Your “home office”, a comfortable environment, makes you feel safe and should improve your self-confidence. However, you need to ensure your background, clothes, and energy level feel more like a real stage than your sofa!
Even though most webinars and virtual events are about knowledge transfer or talking about facts, please keep in mind to also entertain the crowd somehow. A moderator, for example, could loosen up the situation a little bit by leading through the event, adding some jokes, and raising questions to the audience. Keep in mind the audience: Not everyone is an expert but everyone loves a good joke.
Always make sure you know all the rules when it comes to GDPR. Depending on where the organizer of the event is based, different regulations will apply. In Germany, all personal data of the participants which will be collected and stored must be visible at registration and require approval by each person. If you want to record your virtual event and publish it afterwards, make sure you have a declaration of consent to photo and/or filming from each person visible (with name, picture and/or video).