We take a look at how to hold a virtual event and 10 do's and don'ts
SiGMA Group is a global company well known for holding excellent and entertaining physical events all around the world. Due to the pandemic, SiGMA has had to overcome several challenges, with the main obstacle - replacing physical events.
This resulted in creating successful virtual events in 2020, virtual events that people always look forward to. Our virtual event back in November was a highlight with many praising our innovative platform which included 6,500 delegates, 150 exhibitors, 100 speakers, 4,500 total active people and 1,485 maximum concurrent viewers.
This year is no different as we are holding our famous SiGMA Roadshow as a virtual event. Therefore, we look to help the industries around the world to know how to hold a successful virtual event. After choosing your platform such as Youtube Live, Facebook or Periscope, one must consider the following steps:
1. Innovative platform
Your platform is what sets you apart from other virtual events. People like seeing something new rather than the same thing every single event. Generate innovative ideas which can act as your competitive advantage. To give you a little idea - SiGMA incorporated a fully interactive, state-of-the-art virtual events space, including a brand new cutting-edge expo floor with a career fair involved.
2. Know your Audience
Tailor your content in the virtual event to cater the audience you target. You should already know who your overall audience are - provide them with content that they will find useful and reliable. If you do not? That's not a problem. Prior to the event send out surveys, questionnaires, engaging posts on social media to know what your audience is looking forward to. It'll help keep your audience engaged throughout the whole event.
3. Virtual event Format
You have your platform and you know your audience. Now you need define the format of the virtual event. How will your virtual event look like? Will it be group discussions? One person seminars? Take on a workshop approach? There is no right or wrong answer here. SiGMA incorporated all these in our virtual events - so why shouldn't you? One tip though: Always do something different from what your competitors are doing.
4. Hosts / Moderators
These are a must have in a virtual event. Hosts will be able to keep your audience entertained during breaks and between seminars. This person must be able to speak clearly and concisely without a script and must think on their feet. Moderators are also vital to a virtual event. They will ask questions to the speakers and also make sure that the seminar will not skip the stipulated time. Moderators will also be responsible to make sure that each speaker gets the same speaking time.
5. Social Media
This is what will take your event to the next level. Nowadays, to reach high traffic you must use social media. SiGMA advertise their virtual events through many social media platforms. Yes, Facebook and Twitter are the easy go to options but you must use other platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn. Fill your social media accounts with blogs and content from your speakers such as past studies, articles and speaker bios.
Now that you have an idea on a successful virtual event skeleton - we take a look at:
10 do's and don'ts of virtual events
- Do differentiate your event -
As mentioned before, make your virtual event different from what there is. Do not make it look like everything else out there. This is a common feature in this article, highlighting the importance of this. Being different is good. Users are more likely to remember something that is new rather than seen everywhere else.
- Do rehearsing
Go over the content and rehearse the whole event over and over again. This is not a small video call but its a large virtual event with many participants. By rehearsing, you will be able to get everything ready - from the tech side to speaking in front of the camera. In the rehearsing stage you'll make sure that the internet works properly as well as the microphones and cameras. This will enhance the user experience and leave a good impression.
- Do make sure speakers are briefed on subject topics
This will make sure that the speakers can provide good quality content as they will be able to prepare from before.
- Do involve attendees
Don't let your speakers just speak, speak, speak. Involve your audience. It may be more difficult than a physical event but there are ways on how to involve your live audience. SiGMA included voting polls on their favourite exhibitors and speaking panels. Not only does this include your audience but it helps you identify what to focus on in future events.
- Do invest in backup devices
What if something unexpected happens? You must be prepared for all types of challenges and obstacles along the way. Having a backup device/platform will help you counter the worst thing that can happen to your virtual event. From microphone and camera issues to internet and laptop crashing. Backup devices are pivotal to be able to hold your virtual event with a peace of mind.
- Don't take engagement for granted
Never take audience engagement for granted. Just because you have 5,000viewers it does not mean those 5,000 are engaged. One must prepare the virtual event in a way that these viewers will be engaged. Include a KPI or tracking app that can determine how engaging the event is.
- Don't ignore testing
As mentioned in points 2 and 5 in the "Do's" section, testing is extremely important. If you do not test and have a contingency plan then you are setting yourself up for failure. If you are extremely lucky then this might work as a one off but more often than not, something is always bound to happen.
- Don't Ignore feedback
What makes your next event better than the recent one? Feedback. Do not ignore feedback from past viewers. Attendees might encounter certain glitches on specific browsers that only a small amount are aware of. Give them a platform to voice their feedback and build on it for the next virtual event.
- Don't underestimate good tech
Sometimes spending a bit more goes a long way. Tech is at the center of a good virtual event. Investing in certain tech products will be able to take your virtual event to the next level. Go cheap on tech and your virtual event will be quickly forgotten.
- Don't let panels go on for so long
Your audience are already sitting down at home. With distractions all around them such as other videos and TVs you must keep your virtual event seminars and panels to a short amount of time. Long panels might push your audience away. Keep the panels to around 20-25minutes each, like that you are able to change topics frequently, keeping your audience engaged.
It may be a while till fully fledged physical events are re-introduced due to the pandemic so virtual events may be the way to go this year. Through this guide you will be able to hold a successful and planned virtual event, ready for any obstacle or challenge you may encounter.
This guide is the first part regarding virtual events, with several other tips and tricks ready to be released shortly. Keep an eye out for more content related to this topic!
The SiGMA Roadshow
The SiGMA Roadshow is stepping up its game; now virtual, the webinar will take on a new jurisdiction every month, targeting a global agenda of gritty conference topics and a small, yet buzzing expo floor. Hosted on an interactive platform, the 2 hours mini conference will delve into 5 key areas of debate, bringing key themes specific to the region - such as regulation, tax and compliance, and emerging tech, to a table of thought leaders and academics at the top of their game. The SiGMA Virtual Roadshow will reflect SiGMA’s global events opening in 5 major regions over the next few years, specifically Europe, the CIS region, Asia, the Americas, and Africa. The monthly event, which launches with a worldwide tour of 14 countries, starts off with the recently legislated Ukraine, and will be published via podcast.