Key Considerations to Creating a Dynamic Virtual Event
In a world of virtual event burnout, what is the best approach to stand out, capture the interest and attention of your audience, and create a memorable experience to advance your organization’s goals?
Over the past 24 months, we have helped clients create dynamic virtual gatherings, always with an eye to helping them stand out from the crowd in a way that will capture and engage the attention of their attendees.
As COVID continues to disrupt the feasibility of in-person programs, we have continued to refine, enhance and perfect virtual events, dialogues and exchanges. Here are a few key considerations when creating your next virtual meeting.
When selecting a platform, be mindful of:
- Goals. What do you want out of the event? Choose a platform best suited to meet your goals. Not every event needs extra bells and whistles but considering what type of attendee engagement/interaction is needed will be a key factor when deciding on the platform.
- Usability. Consider your audience and make sure to match the platform with their comfort level. (e.g., Zoom Event, Pathable, or ON24).
- Scale. For those times when you want more interaction, be sure to explore how the platform works with outside apps/programs (e.g., digital whiteboards such as Jamboard or Google Sheets and networking apps like Wonder, Lunchpool or Rally).
Planning and Programming
- Establishing the length: Keep the event agenda to a manageable length of time. The average duration of an event is best kept to between 2 and 4 hours.
- Create sessions that are 60 minutes or less. Based on our experience, most engagement happens the first 25 minutes, so keep this in mind when building your program.
- Make sure to include enough breaks. Mix up the length of your breaks—shorter times for quick tasks and longer times for lunch, to check email, phone messages, etc.
- Format. Mix it up – presentations, videos, fireside chats, discussions and Q&A sessions. This allows for varying amounts of attendee interaction.
- Engagement tactics.
- Keep virtual breakout rooms to a manageable number of participants to allow for ease of interaction.
- Make sessions as interactive and engaging as possible. Incorporate polls, Q&A sessions and applications that gather attendee thoughts/responses like a digital whiteboard, Google Sheets, or word cloud.
Once you have outlined these essential elements, the next step is to build a strategy and approach to create that memorable experience. We have found that creating time and space for networking or adding an element of fun helps build connections and can make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.
Some successful (winning) approaches:
- Add a virtual coffee hour, a networking lunch or a cocktail hour. Using designated time(s) of the day feels natural and helps bring some normalcy into the experience.
- Explore new tools or apps like Wonder, Lunchpool or Rally, where attendees can “roam” from table to table to meet/talk with as many attendees as possible.
- Include stretch breaks throughout the event or plan mild movement-focused activities lead by al fitness professional.
- Bring in talent — a comedian, magician or guest speaker.
- Create an interactive trivia, quiz or knowledge sharing experience.
Throughout our 45 years of working with organizations to reach and engage with educators, we know no two events are the same. However, a thoughtful approach to creating a meaningful event — online or in-person — can drive conversations that will build your influence as a thought leader, help you forge new relationships and support progress toward your marketing and sales goals.