Many people will doubtless try to tell you that, however hard you try, you just can’t organize a virtual event that would have quite the same appeal as one held the traditional way. To a certain extent, they would be right – but you could still give it a good go.
Given the pandemic, you might not have any practical option but to digitize your next company event anyway – in which case, you might as well follow these tips for recapturing some of the usual magic.
Build a community
Typically, when an in-person event is marked on the calendar, the budding attendees can interact with each other over social media to excitedly discuss what is coming up. There’s nothing stopping all of this from still happening when the event is a virtual one.
Once someone has indicated an interest in your event, you could point them towards a social media group where other potential or confirmed guests have started gathering. You could also create a specific hashtag and encourage these people to regularly use it.
Choose a suitable software platform for your event
Of course, at traditional, in-person events, people could wander through a fair few physical rooms – including auditoriums, expo halls, product centers, networking lounges and resource libraries. Would it really be possible for you to replicate all of these through virtual means?
Perhaps surprisingly, yes, you could – and even with just one piece of software, like ON24’s Virtual Conference offering, which lends itself well to hosting conferences and trade shows online.
Make room for enforced breaks
An in-person event doesn’t always need built-in breaks, as attendees can inadvertently enjoy time out just by wandering from one hall of the venue to another. However, it’s a different situation with virtual events, as each guest is required to sit in front of a computer for long stretches of time.
This is why Newsweek suggests that, rather than tightly scheduling sessions back to back, you separate them into half-day segments leaving attendees with time for breaks away from the screen.
Enable guests to book virtual one-on-one sessions
For many people, a major attraction of attending a conference is the opportunity to connect face-to-face with influential members of the same industry.
So, if you will be holding a conference, you could reserve a certain amount of time in the schedule for one-on-one sessions. These can take place as video calls and let you integrate “real-time conversations, live demos and business card exchanges” with the event, as a Forbes piece suggests.
Put on some live entertainment
Think about it: when you are a guest at a press event, your excitement could more easily be fuelled as pumping music plays just as a keynote presentation is about to begin.
Your online event could include some live-streamed entertainment – and it doesn’t have to be just music that you leave playing in the gaps between sessions. You could always hand the stage to a comedian or magician instead, if you reckon this would fit in with your branding better.