Covid-19 has put a stop to a lot of things and one of the first to go was in-person events. In times of uncertainty, staying connected is more important
than ever. Events have always been a fantastic way to do this and we think they still can be, but with a twist.
You will have a whole range of stakeholders including members, sponsors, speakers and suppliers who are feeling disconnected and unsure. Finding a way to keep things as normal as possible will help everyone.
Many businesses and organisations have made the decision at this point to postpone their events however this is a short-term solution to what is proving to be a long-term problem. How long is too long to postpone your event – 3months, 6months? With the uncertainty out there at the moment around how long this pandemic and its associated measures will last, we believe now is the time to be innovative in looking at online solutions for your events.
Running an online event however isn’t just a matter of popping your speaker on a video call and hoping for the best. There are a range of things that need to be considered when planning an online event.
1. Your Event Objectives
When planning your event, you will have put in place a number of event objectives to measure your return on investment from the event. These are the most important element when planning your online event and whilst some tweaks may need to be made, they should still form the basis of your online event planning. The way that these objectives are met however will likely need to change so you need to think through what your online event will look like, what elements will be included and whether these will tick off your event objectives – if they won’t it’s time to get creative about how you run your online event.
2. Your Stakeholder’s Expectations
Your initial event will have multiple stakeholders – attendees, sponsors, merchandise/promotional suppliers, host company, venue, audio visual suppliers and entertainment. These businesses and people were all attending your event with a specific mission in mind, whether that be to learn, connect, advertise – the options are endless. When you make the decision to move your event online you need to consider all of your stakeholders and look at ways that you can plan the online event to ensure that all stakeholders needs and expectations are taken care of.
3. Schedule/Show Flow
As we mentioned at the start of this post, putting your event online does not mean simply popping your speakers up on a Zoom call and hoping for the best. You need to consider the schedule for the event and how you will plan it to ensure you maximise your attendee’s attention and get your key messages across. This may mean that you need to shorten your speaker’s timeslots, schedule breaks, offer alternate entertainment options etc. Putting your event online with exactly the same schedule you had planned when it was “in person” will not work and you will not achieve your event objectives.
Online Events really are a different “kettle of fish” so to speak and you need to ensure that your speakers are informed on the tone that an online event needs the speakers to have. This will vary per speaker but jumping on Zoom as if you were on the stage in an auditorium won’t convey the correct message to your audience. Elements such as the lighting, angle of the camera, sound and tone of voice/body language can all affect whether your online event is portrayed in a professional manner.
5. Event Follow Up
As with all events, the follow up and debrief process is extremely important – how will you know what you can improve upon next time if you don’t ask for feedback! Attendee feedback can be taken during the event by way of polls etc and you can also send a feedback survey to all attendees at the conclusion of the event (We love Survey Monkey for this). Please ensure that you also seek feedback from all of your stakeholders and aim to utilise the feedback you collect to help you improve subsequent events.
If the above all sounds like too much work please don’t stick your head in the sand and wait till this is all over. We have devised a solution that enables you to run your event and meet your objectives all done without the need to gather large groups of people in the one space.
Events Outsourced will meet with you (via Zoom) to discuss your business and event objectives. Based on this we will develop a recommendations report that details how you can meet your objectives and continue to connect with your key stakeholders. From there you can choose to implement the recommendations in house or engage Events Outsourced to assist you with meeting your objectives.
This is a difficult time for all of us but there are opportunities to find new and interesting ways to work and connect. We are here to help – let’s make it happen!
About the author: Celia Wouters, Founder of Events Outsourced, is an event management professional who has worked in the events industry for 14 years.