Running Virtual Events – The lessons I learnt

Posted by on June 12th, 2020

At the end of April and last week, I organised two virtual events – Elevate Your Events Career and Elevate Your Events Career 2 for event professionals. I have live-streamed events before but there has always been a live element to the event. These events were the first time that the whole event was virtual.

I decided to organise the two ‘Elevate Your Events Career’ events as I know how badly the events industry has been affected by COVID-19. I know many event professionals who have been furloughed or had their hours and salary reduced or some who sadly have been made redundant. Some members of my Facebook group, Get Ahead in Events are facing difficulties now. I really wanted to do something to help them so decided to organise an event that would give them tips, tricks and strategies from industry experts that can be implemented now so that when lockdown is lifted and the events industry is back again they are ready. All the events that have been postponed or rescheduled will mean that the events industry will be very busy at the end of this year and into 2021 so now is the time to get those CVS updated, be active on social media and keep building those new connections.

Here are some of the lesson I learnt:

1) Have some technical support, help or backup. I decided to use Streamyard to live stream my event onto my Facebook Page. Most of the speakers had never used it before so I spent time with each speaker on the days prior to the event running through the tech, explaining how they could show their presentations, doing sound checks. All the things you would normally do with a live event. But on the day, I had a power cut at my house. Not something that normally happens but it did happen right in the middle of the first session. So how could I have prevented this? I don’t think I could have. Normally when running a live event, I have an AV person or technical support on hand throughout for any issues. This time it was just me. So how did I fix it, I quickly moved the Wi-Fi onto my husband’s Bluetooth. Next time I do a live event, I will have the Bluetooth sat next to me the whole time in case anything goes wrong.

2) It is important for attendees to have that whole event experience from initially registering to receiving a schedule of the event and event follow up. This does not matter if this is virtual or a live event. The anticipation and buzz of attending an event starts from that initial registration all the way through to that post event communication so I ensured that all attendees had the same experience.

3) Virtual events work on a different timeframe. With a live event, delegates are usually at the venue for the duration of the event and apart from taking calls on working on a laptop, you have their undivided attention. With a virtual event and at this present time, they are working from home, so they are more likely to leave the event if the content isn’t engaging or they don’t know what the next session is. So, try to keep the content as engaging as possible, explain what value the sessions will give them and explain what is coming next on the schedule as there will be no electronic signs outside the meeting rooms or a way of making announcements like there are with face to face events.

4) Try to add some fun elements to the event like you would with a live event. We had some live entertainment from Manic Stage Productions in the form of a live singer who performed after the lunch break before the afternoon session. Those who watched the live entertainment really enjoyed it and it added a light-hearted touch to an otherwise business type event. There are lots of other fun elements you could add and lots of virtual networking options out there so find something that works with your audience and budget.

Posted in: Events

Samantha Salisbury has been working in events management for over 20 years. Her event management career started at the old Wembley stadium. She has since managed events all over the world covering sectors including sport, academia, pharmaceuticals, banking and public sector.

Email: [email protected]