Beyond selecting virtual conference platforms to handle the logistics, what else goes into organizing an online event?
Consider this your virtual conference planning guide. Let’s dive in!
It’s a simple question: Who do you want to attend your virtual conference? The answer, however, isn’t always so straightforward.
The most successful events are usually the most targeted. Your audience will impact everything from the speakers you enlist to the content you share. It affects the tone and style of your event, your marketing, and ultimately the leads you will generate.
Simply put, you want to ensure a great fit between your event topics and attendees. So, work backwards: think about the purpose of your event and what you want to happen, then start thinking about the type of people you need to attract and the interests they share.
Building out event personas can be a useful exercise here. Write down the average attendee’s pain points, challenges, characteristics, and other details, then try to target people just like your persona.
Choosing a virtual conference platform will be one of the most important planning decisions you’ll make. The right platform enables all the things you want to do during your event, plus it collects all the data and analytics to help you calculate ROI and build on your successes.
With this in mind, let’s look at some criteria you may want to use to choose a virtual conference platform:
Your event platform will be responsible for delivering content to your attendees. You need to know ahead of time what this delivery will look like: will it be easy for the event host, speakers, and end-users? Do you have a variety of options, such as live, on-demand downloads, chat rooms, and interactive features?
Truthfully, you might not have these answers ahead of time. Choosing a platform that can do it all gives you the utmost flexibility so you can make these decisions later.
Ideally, you should be able to facilitate all aspects of your event through one platform. This includes the registration process. Again, we want to look at this through the eyes of the event hose and the end-user.
Managing your attendee list can be challenging, especially if you have a limited capacity. You may also want to track each attendee’s activities during the event so you can easily find your most engaged leads.
Do you need an online event management platform to integrate with another app you’re using, like Slack or your CRM? Each virtual platform may offer different integrations, so never assume compatibility.
Even though your event is virtual, you can still secure sponsorships to help offset the cost. Some event planning software will include sponsorship features, such as brand exposure and marketplaces.
Every virtual event needs an agenda, not just for the host’s sake but also so attendees can maximize their time. Agendas set the right expectations for all guests and keep your event on track.
So, what goes into planning a conference agenda?
First and foremost, you need to treat your virtual event as similar to an in-person event. No one wants to sit at their desk and drill into session after session. You need to plan breaks in between speakers and infuse enough variety (e.g., speakers, workshops, panels, etc.) into the day to keep your audience engaged.
If you are hosting an event filled with pre-recorded sessions, then you might even opt for a choose-your-own agenda approach. Let attendees decide the order of the sessions so they can get the most for their time.
Preparing your agenda ties directly in with choosing and prepping your speakers. They need to know what kind of presentation they’re doing, such as a panel, workshop, or lecture. They also need to know how to deliver their speech and content through your virtual conference platform.
Once you know how they’re going to deliver their content, you can offer tips to set them up for success.
One of the benefits of using a virtual conference platform is the ability to track your event analytics. See which features participants are actually using so you can get better engagement during future events.
Spreading the word about your event is key to increasing attendance. You not only need to choose the right channels to promote it, but also give yourself enough time to collect sign-ups.
Most experts recommend starting marketing about two months before the event. Send invites via email. Promote on social media and your own website. You might even partner with your clients or industry influencers to expand your reach.
How did things go? Your event conference platform should offer insights into signups, engagement, and other key activities so you can see what worked well and what you can improve on. Then, get ready to do it all over again — bigger and better than the last event!
At Canapii, we’re dedicated to your virtual event’s success. Learn more when you schedule a demo of our virtual conference platform!