Early in 2020, the global pandemic imposed many great disruptions on our everyday lives. However, the world quickly adapted. We learned on the fly. The world of events specifically, saw widespread cancellations due to COVID-19. Event organisers began innovating, adopting new technologies, and moving to a new virtual normal. The simple webinar quickly evolved into full-fledged virtual experiences. But that evolution meant there was going to be a lot of trial and error. And with each passing event, we learned how to host a better experience.
Today, the world has seen the benefits of virtual events. No matter what size or kind of organisation you are, hosting an engaging virtual event experience is now a necessary skill.
So we have compiled a list of common mistakes that organizers should avoid while creating an online event. Eschewing these could keep your engagement and attendance up, and have your customers coming back for more.
Not planning content for your virtual event properly
At the heart of any great event is a great design. No matter what domain you are in, designing a great agenda requires engaging content. To make matters more challenging, virtual events require you to work harder to retain your audience's attention. As your attendees are in a digital space, you can safely assume that your audience may easily be distracted - online shopping, Netflix and social media channels are only a tab away. Not to mention the distraction of consuming content on multiple devices simultaneously.
Therefore, the content you plan for your event is paramount. It is essential to move your content beyond just presentations and into a more interactive setting - the usage of a fantastic Welcome Experience for your event or interactive virtual booths equipped with live booth staff, for instance, are unique and novel ways to keep your audience intrigued.
Planning the ideal length of each piece of content is also essential. Too long and you may find people getting screen fatigue or losing interest in your online event. Too short and you run the risk of your audience undervaluing your event.
Find the right balance with a good amount of breaks in between to avoid virtual event fatigue. For instance, simple popups to remind your attendees to stretch their legs or grab a cup of coffee during your online event gives them time to clear their minds, refresh, re-energise, reset their focus and in this way, you can drive better attendee engagement once they return.
Not preparing your event presenters for a virtual session format
For any live event to stay engaging, you need an experienced set of Speakers, as well as a facilitator or a moderator to keep your panel sessions and group discussions running smoothly. However, virtual events operate under different rules for speakers to keep their audience engaged.
Now, you need to make sure your speakers, facilitators, and moderators are comfortable and adept in hosting virtual sessions. Plan ahead with them about the tools that are available that they could use to make their talks interactive - such as Chat, Polls, Q&A and more.
Give your speakers the opportunity to do a Dry Run before your event so they are more comfortable with your event setup. And before sessions start, let your speakers relax and rehearse ahead of time at a private greenroom.
Not rehearsing your agenda ahead of time
No matter what size your virtual event is, rehearsals are key to a successful and seamless experience for your audience. Even if your event is small, it is never a bad idea to do a run-through so that you can ensure that all areas of your virtual event are easily accessible, or all touchpoints for branding are visible front-and-center, for example.
Some virtual event platforms offer team onboarding with CSM as well as dedicated account managers to help run the event. Take advantage of both.
Receiving assistance with setting up the event as well as having a professional on hand to respond directly to your every need, will make you feel better prepared for your event, and provide you with a previously unknown peace-of-mind.
Not accommodating Networking
One of the most overlooked aspects of virtual events is networking - but many organizers fail to ensure that attendees at their event are able to expand their social or professional networks of like-minded people. It’s simply not enough to assume that attendees at a virtual event will be able to connect with each other via a Chat.
Organizers should - and can - do a lot more.
After assessing the size of your audience, organisers can create virtual spaces in their event where attendees can interact with each other. This could be creating a virtual lobby before the event starts where attendees can socialize, or using breakout rooms for interest-specific discussions, or even creating activities or games in smaller spaces to help attendees break the ice.
It’s even better if organizers choose virtual event platforms that accommodate AI-powered 1:1 smart networking. Not only does this take away the stress of attendees having to make the first move, but it also increases the chance that attendees will be matched with the right people. Win-win.
Not using the right technology
It goes without saying that technology plays a vital role in virtual events, but choosing the right virtual event platform really does make the difference between a good event and a great one.
Some platforms simply may not offer the configurability you need to create an event that truly looks and feels true to your brand. We all know that the devil is in the details, so imagine wanting to play a product video in the lobby, or offering useful media downloads to attendees at a booth, or even setting up a helpdesk - and then learning that you are unable to do so because the virtual event platform does not have the features or tools to let you do so.
Choosing the right technology, or partner platform, for your event will make or break it.
To sum up...
Organizers must realise that planning a virtual event is a completely new ball game. While the fundamentals remain the same, you need to approach each virtual event with a new set of eyes; consumer behaviour, as has been evidenced by the pandemic, is constantly shifting and adapting - so picking a virtual event platform that meets and leverages new behaviours is critical.
Concurrently, planning a virtual event also requires a new awareness of the fresh opportunities a digital platform can provide. With Zuddl, we've built you an all-in-one virtual event platform that provides real-time engagement with a seamless experience. Built by event organisers for event organisers, we help you create, engage, and manage your event is the best possible way you can. Book a free Zuddl demo today, and walk through the creation of a virtual event, from start to finish.