It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the meetings and events industry greatly. Most event planners are feeling the pressure to postpone their event to the fall, and in essence, re-plan their event all over again. Some event planners have had to cancel their event entirely.
But there is another solution to saving your upcoming event – going virtual.
Making your event virtual isn’t easy, but it is a good solution to ensure all your delegates close and far away can enjoy your event you worked hard to plan. We spoke with Victor Paan, national director of digital innovation at Freeman Audio Visual Canada to discuss how to make your next event virtual, and more importantly, how to make it a success.
The first step, according to Paan, is to think about the attendee experience.
“You want to start thinking about what the attendee is going to see and hear at your virtual event,” he said. “What I’m consulting right now is to make sure your attendees get those moments of microlearning. You want to have smaller bursts of information – so that means you need to keep your sessions tight – don’t go over the 45-minute mark. If you have a keynote, make sure it’s engaging. You want to keep it under an hour. And most importantly, make sure you have breaks – even when your attendees are at home, they need bathroom breaks, and time to make their own snacks and coffee.”
The good news is, says Paan, any event is right to go virtual, whether it’s an annual general meeting, conference, or anything in between.
“Any event is right to go virtual, it just depends on how you plan it and design it,” he said. “A good tip is to try and get speakers to have prerecorded messages and talks ahead of time. As well as having a good Q & A system in place where attendees can pose their questions and get answers in real-time.”
Other than the obvious positive virtual events bring to the table (ie. adhering to social distancing policies put in place by governments everywhere) there are others, too Paan said.
“I think virtual events will be more popular than ever even after this pandemic is over,” Paan said, so the more practice planners have planning virtual events, the better. “Another big benefit of hosting a virtual event is for the planner. Virtual events require less time on-site and allow planners more time to do other duties that come with the job.”
Also, virtual events tend to be less costly than live events, and more people could virtually attend your event because of its ease of access.
Another big tip Paan offered those planners who are thinking of making their next event virtual: partner with a service who has experience in the space.
“Make sure you get with a team who knows what they are doing,” he advised. “Taking on the virtual world on your own is hard to do. And most companies who offer the service for you, tend not to come with the white-glove treatment. You need a team to help you who have a technical understanding of running a show. You want a quality virtual event, just as much as you’d want a quality live event. So you need to make sure you get the folks to help you do that.”