Virtual events--from webinars to conferences and even online courses--can be an incredible community-building tool for the right business. Done well, they are a relatively low-cost way to engage customers with great content, regardless of location.
But they can also be stale, boring and difficult to promote, very real pitfalls you should be aware of before planning your own.
To help you avoid those mistakes, we asked several founders from YEC to share some of their must-know do's and don'ts for virtual events.
1. Keep your audience awake with interactive content.
Attendees of conferences or events, whether virtual or not, get attention fatigue. There are several ways to combat it but a good general rule is to keep them engaged by keeping them involved. Ask them questions throughout your presentations and break up any information to be easily digestible. -Basha Rubin, Priori Legal
2. Plan to record everything (and use it for follow-up).
If your conference or event was great, people will want to re-watch it and put what they learned into practice. Reward them by sending them a link with a full recording, which you can also use to re-engage with them--and to reach those who couldn't attend.--Pablo Villalba, 8fit
3. Be consistent with your promotions.
You need to be consistent with promoting because we know that only 1/3 of the attendees will actually show up. Make it fun, make it eye-grabbing and have a secret to give out!--Ilya Bodner, The Shipyard
4. Be available for follow-up questions and requests.
Hang around after the event has concluded so you can answer any additional questions from your attendees. Chances are they'll want some additional information you didn't cover.--Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
5. Get partners to help with attendance.
Depending on the industry, events are more challenging than people think. Getting together hundreds of busy working professionals is no easy task, but what can make it much easier are the right partners. Let synergistic companies co-host the event so you're getting the word out to multiple audiences and promoting your brand to new people. Let other companies sponsor or offer free products; they'll promote and draw people as well. Even virtually, it's crucial that an event is well-attended, as a poorly attended event can be bad for your brand, your company and for you.--Carlo Cisco, SELECT
6. Don't forget the details (before, during and after).
Donald Trump says, "God is in the details." You must communicate in your promotions for your event and in the itinerary exactly what you want attendees to do during the event. Say, "Here's a tweetable." Weave in a fun contest with prizes your guests desire. And have your overall communication strategy set for before, during and post-event.--Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority
7. Focus on the big idea; leave the logistics to an expert.
You have to be able to keep your eye on the macro idea behind why you're putting on the event and simultaneously allocate the proper resources to make sure the small details are taken care of. As the owner of a Top 100 event marketing agency, we help keep our clients on track so they can keep their mind focused on the big picture (what's the rationale behind the event, what's the benefit for event patrons, etc.) and we worry about the event logistics. You can't do both--especially if you're not in the business of events!--Alex Frias, Track Marketing Group
8. Include dynamic visuals.
An amazing Slideshare really does make a world of difference, especially in a virtual event or presentation. Virtual communications are by their nature far less dynamic than in-person, so you need visuals--something to engage and stimulate. Slideshares are simple to put together, even for nondesigner folk.
9. Always ask questions.
Some of the most engaging speakers are ones that check in with the audience every now and again--otherwise, it just feels like someone is monologuing to you. Though it may seem nearly impossible to have that human element in your virtual conference or event, having key points for checking in and reiterating the feedback you're getting from your attendees is what keeps their attention on point and your event a success.--Rob Fulton, Exponential Black