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Pivoting for Success: Making the Move to Virtual Events in 2021

A year ago, you were probably opening a new 2020 planner, sharpening your pencil and starting to work on your marketing and events plan for the upcoming year.  Strategic meetings, annual conferences, team outings and client lunches.  Then March roared in and all your plans came to a screeching halt.

If you had told me that by January 2021 we would still be working remotely, wearing masks daily, and donning our winter coats to dine out – I wouldn’t have believed you.  But 2020 has been the year where all traditional activities and plans have gone out the window.

Many organizations have been dabbling in digital for years, but 2020 was the year everyone learned how to Zoom, Hangout and Hopin.  People had to figure out how to turn their in-person events into digital events without missing a beat.

After helping several organizations pivot for success, here are some tips on creating a successful virtual event:

Respect Attendee Time

  1. Time Zones Matter – make sure that you communicate clearly when your event will take place. The beauty of hosting virtual events is inviting attendees that may be brand new to your organization from outside your region.

  2. Follow a Strict Run of Show to keep things on time – having a detailed outline of who is responsible for doing what, and when, keeps things running smoothly and keeps attendees engaged.

  3. Publish the Complete Itinerary in Advance – send any handouts and schedule information in advance of your event so attendees can prepare questions, comments and feedback ahead of time.

  4. Insert Plenty of Breaks – Zoom fatigue anyone? Everyone appreciates a coffee break, whether it is during an in-person conference or online.

Take Advantage of Technology

  1. Webinar vs. Meeting – based on your goals for the event, select the format that will best serve your needs.

  2. Use Polls / Q&A – keep your attendees engaged by using interactive elements sprinkled throughout your presentation.

  3. Virtual Backgrounds and / or Filters – Something as easy as consistently branded backgrounds for all of your event speakers can elevate the professional appearance of your event.

  4. Breakout Rooms – separate your breakout sessions from your keynote just as you would during an in-person conference. This allows attendees to customize the event and participate in sessions they find valuable.

  5. Share a Presentation or Video – Engage your participants by giving them visual elements to your presentation, not just your face on the screen. Make your presentation come alive by inserting yourself INTO your slide deck.

Interactive Options

  1. Include Typical Conference Activities – incorporate games, trivia and even a Happy Hour into your event. Just because your event is digital doesn’t mean it can’t be FUN!

  2. Meals – Save the standard chicken dish for next year – by using Door Dash, Grub Hub or other meal delivery services, you can make sure attendees all get something delicious for lunch or dinner.

  3. Award Presentations – Roll out the virtual red carpet and present your awards in style. Present your plaques, certificates or trophies on screen and have the physical awards delivered ahead of time.

  4. Swag – Don’t forget the attendee or speaker gift boxes! Sending physical or digital gifts ahead of time brings a memorable touch to your event.

Make the Content Work for You

You’ve worked hard putting content together for your virtual event – NOW, use that content post-event in a variety of ways:

  1. Soundbites and Social Media Images

  2. Podcast Audio

  3. Recordings on YouTube

Just because 2020 changed the way things are done, doesn’t mean you can’t put on a killer virtual event.  Not only can creativity, planning and execution turn your virtual event into a success, but it can continue to keep clients, customers, members and employees engaged in your business or organization in the year ahead.

If the thought of planning this yourself makes your palms sweat, rest assured, V2 Marketing & Management is available to jump in and help!  Here’s to 2021!


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