You’ve stayed up all night, run through your lists till they’re ragged, double and triple checked to make sure everything is ready – and boom. Gotcha! Yup, the dreaded gotcha. That one little detail you were SURE you’d covered sneaks up and bites you. It could be an outdated logo, a broken link – and now you’ve got a virtual event in jeopardy, with an expectant audience chomping at the bit for some dynamic content, clearly delivered, in an easy-to-consume fashion.
You know virtual events encompass many things. And while figuring out exactly what you need to do to run one successfully can be time consuming, not doing so means you risk your event’s success.
A successful virtual event, just like its live brethren, lives and dies based on how well prepared the event owner is, and how thought-through the details are.
In this post I’ve compiled a group of the initial questions we at Worktank ask new and recurring event owners. Run through this and see what’s missing – and avoid those gotchas on your next event!
- Content: What material do you need to share? Will it be best consumed via slides? Screen demo? Prepared video? Live video of yourself?
Knowing what you’re trying to convey and how your audience will best absorb it will focus your content well.
- Audience Size: How many people are you talking to?
From an interactivity standpoint, the expectations for an audience of 50 and one reaching the hundreds or thousands are completely different (while your poll data will get better, the Q&A and chat experience will degrade).
- Audience Expertise: What is their level of interest or expertise in the topic?
While it is important not to have your content be too complex for a beginner audience, it is equally important for your content not to speak down to a more experienced group. Nothing sends people scurrying faster from a virtual event than content they already know.
- Interactivity/Functionality: Do you want your audience to be able to ask questions? Participate in a group chat? Engage via Skype or Yammer? Receive content via closed captioning?
Including Q&A is best if it’s managed by the presenter or someone on the presenter team, rather than a group Q&A, which can quickly get overwhelming. Conversely, a collaborative conversation is great for smaller audiences. As for closed captioning, certain industries or companies find it much welcomed by their audiences; others are required to provide this as part of company commitments or other regulatory requirements.
- Risk tolerance: What is the profile of the virtual event? Senior-level executive all-hands, sales training, investor relations meetings, customer- or partner-facing presentations? What happens if the event fails? How critical is the event for your presenter, your team, or your company’s brand?
While no risk can be completely mitigated, being clear about the fallout gives you a clear idea of what you can and can’t accept in terms of risk.
- On-demand: What do you want to happen after the live event is over? Do you want people to be able to watch it later? For how long?
This is an excellent way to extend the value of your event and make the content available to those who missed the live event.
- Data/Reporting: What do you need to learn about your audience? What metrics will mean it was a successful virtual event?
This is one of the most important parts of a virtual event. Simple metrics, like how many people joined, where they were from, and when and how long they stayed, are obvious. But beyond that, what do you need to know? And more importantly, what are you expected to know?
While there are many other topics not included in this list, these questions are a great start. Knowing the answers to these will mean that you’ll have the best chance of not having something come up at the 11th hour that’s one of those dreaded gotchas.