5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event
A conversation with our Co-CEO, Deb Lemon
Our Co-CEO, Deb Lemon had the pleasure of sitting down with Authority Magazine to discuss what it takes to create a successful live virtual event. Below is an edited version of the interview:
What are the “Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event” and why?
- Align on Objectives & KPIs. Virtual events generate a ton of data, but it’s important to identify which metrics will be most useful to your clients and stakeholders. Set a plan from the get-go to outline what you’re tracking and how. Who counts as an attendee? What counts as an engagement? How are you tracking user behavior and satisfaction? If you don’t align on those definitions early on, you may end up with data that doesn’t fit a client’s needs.
- Create a Holistic Journey. For our in-person events, we pride ourselves on thinking through every detail of the consumer/attendee journey. For virtual events, this is just as, if not more, important. To be effective, you must take a truly 360-degree deep dive into all touchpoints of the experience, keeping your attendees at the center of every decision you make — from how they find out about the activation, to what hiccups they might experience in navigating the virtual event space to when they’d be most willing to provide feedback and input. In addition, it’s important to inspire your audience to be part of a brand’s story by facilitating authentic, personalized moments and inviting dynamic interaction. We’ve found that at-home attendees are more easily distracted and prone to multi-tasking, so it’s even more imperative to create an engaging and immersive experience that considers every moment where people are interacting with your brand and the event property.
- Test, Test, Test. You don’t want to get to event day before realizing your event website doesn’t work properly on mobile devices, or that your registration flow is too difficult. Instead, have a dedicated QA/QC team that is focused on the user journey and identifying pain points in advance of your event before it’s too late. In addition, get a plan in place for full end-to-end testing to ensure your video, audio, closed captioning and other technical elements of your show run smoothly. You can never over prepare.
- Involve the Audience. And not just through polling and traditional Q&A and chatbots. Bring them in as guests, as hosts and as authentic voices at your event.
- Accept Distractions. You don’t have to like it, but you have to accept that when it comes to virtual events, you have much less control over the environment of your attendees. They are going to get distracted, and it’s your job to keep them engaged and coming back. This is especially true for long-term virtual events, like our Currency Conversations program with Chase and ESSENCE, where we continued to adapt our approach from one event to the next based on key learnings and insights.
Let’s imagine that someone has an idea for a live virtual event that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
The first steps in developing a virtual event are like any other marketing activity and/or event:
- Establish your objectives.
- Define what success looks like for the event.
- Secure sufficient budget.
- Identify your target audience and develop a deep understanding of their needs, expectations and desires to ensure the experience is worthwhile for both the brand and its audience.
From there, you should evaluate the context around the virtual experience to define what type of virtual event serves your audience and effectively helps your brand reach its goals:
- What are the pros and cons of live versus pre-recorded? Which is the better choice for my objectives?
- Will I stream to multiple platforms? Will the content be available on-demand, and how soon afterwards will it be available?
- How does my audience want to interact with the event content? With each other? With the brand?
- What are the key elements of the experience that I need a virtual venue or platform to deliver? Do those elements all have to be housed in the same space, or can I leverage several platforms in a way that still feels cohesive?
- What are my company’s cyber security requirements that I need to take into consideration? Are there contracts or SAAS products that are pre-approved by DevOps and legal? Can we leverage those existing tools or platforms?
Asking yourself these questions can help steer you in the right direction.