How to become a virtual event expert

In Events, News by Courtney Lancaster

Since March 2020, DRIVE has hosted 48 online events with a total of over 1000 attendees across three different software platforms. Behind the scenes, I had stress beyond belief and planned for every worst-case scenario; but once a smooth and successful event (virtual or otherwise) comes to a close there is no greater feeling. Throughout the pandemic, we have strived to support our event clients and guide them through the unknown and ensure that they are able to hold events offline.

In contradiction to this blog title, no one can be a virtual event expert due to the ever-changing online platforms, software and skills needed; but I can lend you my expertise and experience to help you become an expert for today - because who knows what new technological advances there will be? I will explore the flexibility needed from a platform and advise you on tailoring your choice to create the perfect virtual event. A successful online event is not solely down to the software; much of its excellence will come from the planning and management in the lead-up.

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Software:

This is an important decision and I’m sure you are as overwhelmed with the choices out there, as was I! Zoom was very popular from the start; Google was being scrutinized for not living up to their technological genius reputation and there were thousands of competing platforms claiming to be the best in the industry. DRIVE had limited time before we had to become online event hosts, so this meant we had limited time to make decisions. I signed up for multiple free trials and made a decision based on what our clients required but remember - it’s not the tools we use that makes us succeed, but rather how we use them.

Requesting free demos are worthwhile but sometimes you can explore the offerings within a short phone call with the sales team or simply browsing the website. When you have limited time to source a platform to execute your online events, you need an action plan. I had a list of requirements to fulfil and discovered the software platforms which met my priority list. I’ve conducted so much research and I still don’t believe there is a platform out there with everything you need and within budget!

Organisation:

Now this is a vital skill for mastering the online event world – you must know the content, schedule and software inside out; but as do your speakers, panellists or hosts. I would recommend holding at least one rehearsal for all panellists or speakers, to ensure they are comfortable with their role and any practical aspect (such as screen-sharing). I prepared for every worst-case scenario; loss of internet connection, attendees struggling with hearing, panellists saying incorrect information and so on – anything can happen live! Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Be flexible and prioritise:

Keeping informed on the new and now (a whole other blog article), is important but in order to succeed and excel there has to be a huge part of you that is willing to react and adjust when needed. This is a not only a key skill for online events but also in everyday life. There will always be a new piece of technology, social media scheduler, task planner and webinar software; this can cause your brain to go into overload, and you may feel pressured to stay on top of it all. It may feel overwhelming and I’m aware it is not just as simple as ‘stepping back’ but stepping back and reflecting truly is the only way to clearly see what you need to prioritise right now, and what can wait until later on.

DRIVE TIP: Make lists! In whatever format works best for you – pen, Trello or a good old ‘fashioned spreadsheet!
I have enjoyed nothing more than executing fabulous online events for our clients through these times in which they had no choice but to do so and I would certainly expect that they will continue holding online events even once it is safe to hold physical events. This is the new ‘new’.  

You’re the expert in your business and we are experts in marketing

If you or your business would be interested in hosting an event, whether that is a team building exercise, Friday night quiz, seminar or conference, please contact me for more information and a tailored quote.

Get in touch today: courtney@drive-marketing.co.uk