The COVID-19 pandemic has led to businesses increasingly moving their operations online. Some have discovered that they can do everything online and intend to keep it that way even after the pandemic ends.
However, some things are arguably better done face-to-face. As people complain about Zoom fatigue, you may be wondering if it’s possible to successfully move your business event online.
The answer is — absolutely! You just need to think everything through carefully. Here’s how to move your business event online and ensure it’s a success.
Don’t Simply Adopt the Format of an In-person Event
Even if you’ve done dozens of similar events before but offline, you can’t rely on their format. You can draw inspiration from them, but bear in mind that people will have a lot less patience and focus online.
The most compelling reason for visiting business events is their networking aspect. The networking part is extremely hard to recreate online, so you need to give your potential attendees a really good reason to attend.
You should also have great event facilitators who will ensure people are involved and interested.
Think About What You Want to Achieve
As we’ve said, live events are different because the networking component is enough to draw people in and make them interested. When it comes to online events, you need to make sure you know exactly what you want to achieve with them. Do you want to expand your reach? Build trust? Start a conversation?
Once you establish the goal of your event, you can proceed to plan how to reach it. You’ll also be able to communicate to people why they should attend. With so many online meetings happening these days, you need to be really convincing to make them sit through another one.
Pick Your Platform Carefully
Before you choose your platform, there are many things to consider. There are many video conferencing tools out there, and picking the right one is vital. While many are free, you may opt for paid services as they will allow for more options and help make your event appear more professional.
for paid services as they will allow for more options and help make your event appear more professional.
Some things to think about include:
- The number of potential attendees
- Any special features your event requires
- Networking functions
- Data analytics
- Ease of access
- Ease of use, etc.
You need to be especially careful if your target audience may include people who don’t have much (or any) previous experience with these kinds of software. It’s vital to make attendees feel at ease.
Prepare Well in Advance
Because there are many logistical elements to think about when hosting an online event, you need to start preparing early. You need to prepare an agenda, even if you’re planning a more laid-back gathering because otherwise, it might fall flat.
Do you have any guest speakers? Work out the lineup and prepare them well in advance. If they need to use any special features, make sure they know how to. Set a time limit so that none of them gets carried away.
What specific activities will you include? How do you imagine they will unfold? What is your plan B if a part doesn’t work out or produce the desired effect?
Know How to Promote Your Event
Once you figure out the date and time of your event, it’s important to start promoting it. You can send email invitations, promote the event on your social media accounts, use paid ads, announce it on your site, and more.
Make your registration form easy and quick to fill in and be clear when it comes to what the event is about. You may even offer a kind of preview of what the attendees can expect. For example, you may include some interview snippets or quotes from the guest speakers.
No matter what promotion techniques you opt for, make sure to remind your potential attendees about the event by posting a bit every day so that they don’t forget about it.
Make It Easy to Follow
We find it much harder to stay focused in a digital environment, which is why you need to make your event as structured and compact as possible. For starters, you need to cut it into smaller, easily digestible units so that the audience doesn’t doze off.
No one wants to listen to an hour-long speech, no matter how interesting. In fact, keep any talks shorter than 15 minutes for the best effect. Vary the activities, speakers, and whatever is happening on the screen and involve the attendees whenever you get the opportunity.
Your event is successful if people look at the time when it’s over and think, “Wow, that flew by so fast!”
Get Your Attendees Involved
Depending on the nature of the event, it may be more or less difficult to involve the attendees. However, that interactive element is vital for your event to succeed. An event is not the same as a lecture, and even lectures are becoming more interactive these days.
If it’s not an open discussion, you may allocate some time for a Q&A, for example. You could also include some polls and get instant insight into the audience’s interests and preferences. Another idea is to gamify some aspects of the event to make it more interesting and engaging.
If you don’t engage the attendees, there’s a high chance they will get bored and frustrated.
Try to Predict Any Technical Challenges
Once you establish the technological demands of the event, try to anticipate any potential technical issues and challenges. Now, you’re bound to experience at least some glitches, but know how to work around them.
For example, speakers could give up on using video because it might make their talk more glitchy. Instead, they could have a slideshow accompany their talk.
The attendees could cause issues too. Maybe some of them are not experienced in using similar tools. If you can mute them yourself as they join in, for example, you can use that feature to avoid an intercepting clamor of voices.
Make sure to try all the features of the tool that you plan to use, and if there are any problems, contact their tech support well in advance. They’ll help you set everything up and prepare for your online event.
About the Author
Jennifer Wilson is a writer at Qeedle.com She knows business processes and operations management inside out. As she understands all the challenges of running a small business firsthand, it’s her mission to tackle the topics that are most relevant to entrepreneurs and offer viable solutions.