There’s much to love about a conference, but we haven’t had too many opportunities to sample the benefits that they can bring in recent times. 2020 was the year of many things, including the year of the canceled event. There were many conferences that had to be postponed because the coronavirus pandemic meant that it wasn’t possible to gather in large groups. While it might be some time before in-person events like these are brought back, in the meantime there is a more than worthy alternative available: the virtual conference.
However, while a virtual conference can bring about the same results as an in-person event, the process of achieving those results will be different. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at some useful tips that’ll ensure that your online conference is a resounding success.
All conferences need a lot of planning. You might not need to find a venue or provide snacks and drinks, but make no mistake: you’ll still need to engage in plenty of planning if your event is going to be a success. At a minimum, we’d say that a couple of months will be required, but it could be longer — it all depends on the size and scope of the event. Planning will involve coming up with themes, reaching out to speakers, finding the right platforms. It’s a big process that can sometimes take longer than you might think.
If you’re going to go through all the trouble of planning an online event, then you’ll need to make sure people turn up. It’s often easier to get people to commit to a real-world conference because they make additional plans, such as booking flights, hotels, and so forth. When it’s online, it can get lost in the sea of events! So make sure that you’re starting the promotion of your event as early as possible. As well as simply posting the information online, engage in marketing. It’s all about building the hype. If you’ve put in as much effort as you can, then there’ll be a lot to be excited about — it’s all about ensuring that your potential attendees understand just what’s in store for them.
What Are Your Goals?
There are a million and one different things that you could make a conference about. If yours is going to be a success, then you’ll have to narrow things down, so that there’s a theme for the audience, and an objective for your business. Given the amount of time and effort involved, nobody hosts a conference for no reason whatsoever. So when you’re in the planning stage of your event, have a think about what you’re hoping to achieve from the conference. It could be about raising awareness, gaining the interest of investors, creating leads, or anything else. Defining your goal or goals will influence your decision-making process.
There’s one advantage that real-world conferences have over their virtual counterparts: it’s much easier to stay engaged and listen to a speaker when you’re listening to them in person. For your virtual conference, people will likely be sitting at home or in their office, staring at their computer screen. As such, there’ll be no space for boring content. It’s much, much better to focus on offering high-quality content, rather than offering as much content as possible. As well as the nature of the content, look at the length of each seminar. People will be happy to spend an hour or two listening in person, but more than an hour would be challenging when you’re staring at a computer, especially if the talks are back-to-back. Keep things snappy — your attendees will thank you.
A Light Touch
You’ll have some serious subjects to discuss during your seminar, but there should also be space in the schedule for something a little bit lighter. For example, one popular move in recent times is to include topics relating to wellness. There’s been a huge emphasis on employee wellness in the past few years, across all industries. If you’re able to provide something along these lines for your attendees, then you’ll be giving them something valuable, and also helping to break up some of the intensity that can be induced by the heavier talks.
Engage the Attendees
When you visit a real-world conference, you’re not just a passive receiver of content; you’re a participant. After all, there are always freebies to gather, people to meet, fun dimensions that get you involved. This is an important component of real-world conferences that you should include in your online event. There are plenty of ways to boost attendee engagement, including having a virtual photo booth, hosting online happy hours, and having a Q&A section where attendees get to ask questions. All of these things will help your guests to feel like they’re an active participant of the event, rather than just a passive observer.
Do a Mic Check
If there’s one piece of advice that should be taken above all, it’s to ensure that you perform a mic check before the conference takes place. There’s nothing worse than having everything all planned out, getting started, and then realizing that no-one can hear what the speaker is saying. As well as the sound issues, double- and triple-check all of your conference software ahead of time. The flow of the event will be greatly compromised if there are recurring technical problems.
Remind Your Attendees
Finally, be sure to remind your attendees that the event will be taking place in the run-up to your event. Nobody forgets a real-world event, because they’ve booked travel, accommodation, etc. A virtual event can sometimes slip the mind, especially if it’s free. In the run up to the event, be sure to send nudging messages that keep it in your attendees’ minds. Include some words about the exciting things that’ll be taking place, rather than just a boring old reminder message. Doing so will ensure that your virtual conference is full of people and a resounding success.