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Virtual events have been groundbreaking in many industries, but the truth is they can be stressful. There are many moving factors, such as marketing, branding, and ticket sales, which can often put people off of virtual events entirely. Is there any solution to the stress of planning a virtual event? Yes: making a virtual events checklist.
Having a virtual events checklist is the best way to stay focused and balanced whenever you develop, design, and host your virtual event.
But how can you follow a checklist without knowing what the checklist should include? Here we will go through the necessary steps when creating a virtual events checklist so that you can continue planning a successful virtual event.
Virtual Events Checklist: Before the Event
Know Your Event Purpose
The purpose of your event depends on whom your event is for, and what you want to achieve with that audience.
This does not necessarily need to be unique; often companies strive to get leads, keep their audience engaged, work on team member performance, launch products, or promote their company brand.
When creating your virtual event, first have a purpose in mind to strive for, and you will be much more likely to achieve that purpose.
Develop a Virtual Event Concept
All events start with an initial concept, and it’s no different when planning a virtual event.
Having a starting concept will help you make better decisions, especially if you are new to being an event planner. Start with the idea, and then rummage around finding more ideas from that starting point. This is where your creativity can shine and make your event stand out.
Understand and Define Your Target Audience
To make an effective virtual event, you will need to understand your audience and what they want.
For this, you will have to develop attendee personas (or profiles) of your ideal audience. When creating these personas, make sure to include all usable information such as age, location, industry, and management role.
Define Your Success Criteria
What do you want to happen in your virtual event? Do you want many people to attend? Do you want people to visit your sponsor booths? No matter how you define a successful virtual event, you need to have your success in mind to be able to work towards that goal.
Identify Team and Contractor Roles
To run any effective event, you need to find the right talent for each job. This is what project managers call “identifying your resources.”
Whenever you begin planning an event, you need to have a list of team members (or potential contractors) that will oversee individual aspects of the event. Find your dream team that can get the job done right.
Create the Virtual Event Budget
This may seem obvious—of course, you need a budget—but it isn’t quite that simple. Virtual events provide many options that can turn a normal event budget on its head. Need to spend money on a location? Not on an online event. Need to spend money on decorations?
Only the price of the computer application. Need to spend money on travel fees? You can travel to Bangkok from Canada in a second online. As you can see, making a virtual event budget is very different than for an in-person event.
Define the Event Format
When starting to create your event, you need to decide which event format (for example, trade show, seminar, webinar, class) makes the most sense for you. Using that information will help you decide on a pricing range, as well as help you decide which contractors you will want to use.
When considering the event style, make sure that you have ways to maintain attendee engagement. Will your event offer breakout sessions? Waiting rooms? Chat functions? Whatever you do, make sure that your event attendees will stay engaged during your event.
Determine Your AV/Production and Technology Needs
Be ready to take in all technical considerations before the event.
This can range from recording sessions, to how the replay of the event will be distributed, and how event attendees will be able to enter the session.
All of these decisions should be well thought out beforehand to lower stress on the day of the virtual event.
Pick a Date and Decide the Length
Depending on your audience and the event’s goals, your event date and time may change from business to business. As an example, a nonprofit fundraiser would normally not be held during work hours, and a virtual event would probably format their business in the same way.
On the other hand, corporate events are most often held midweek. Frequently they are held on Wednesdays and sometimes on Tuesdays.
Choose a Virtual Event Platform
Whenever you want to choose a new virtual event platform, think about how well it integrates with other programs that your company uses. Also, think about whether the virtual platform will catch event attendees’ attention.
Consider Recording Sessions
If your company has a worldwide audience, then consider accommodating different time zones. If you make your recorded sessions open to the public, then this entire part of your audience will be able to attend afterward, which is always nice.
This is easily one of the most important elements of this virtual event planning checklist. Many event attendees often ask for recordings after the event, which further increases your brand recognition.
Plan Social Interaction Activities
Having a specific plan for social interaction and gamification at your event is even more important when you want to go virtual.
Often with in-person events, it can be easy to connect participants, but that is not the case with virtual events. With virtual events, you need to create ideas for your virtual attendees to be able to interact with each other.
As one of the most important parts of any event, speakers are the main way that you can interact with your audience.
This means that you will need to find speakers that can share both your values and the values of your sponsors and attendees. Try to find expert speakers with unique insights and ideas about associated topics.
Reach Out to Sponsors
At this point, you should begin searching for potential sponsors and start creating sponsorship packages. Make sure to keep an open mind toward their suggestions and requests.
Remember, sponsors can be a great way to create revenue from your event, so try to find companies that align with your current brand.
Promote Your Virtual Event
Start letting the world know about your event. There are many marketing strategies such as announcing it on your team’s social media platforms and your website.
You can also talk to your speakers and sponsors and get them to announce it on their social media platforms. Consider doing this in the form of a hashtag, which can help give your event a sort of cohesion.
You can also create a simple website for your event. In it, you can give potential attendees information about pricing and where they can find tickets.
Create Your Event Script
Write down everything. Write what will happen in your event, when each part will happen, and who will be in charge of it. This can be done easily in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, or whatever you can use to coordinate with your team.
Create a Participant Guide
Participants will often need some help to be able to get the most out of unfamiliar event platforms. Often, event platforms already have online guides, but if not, make your own.
You can create many different styles of guides depending on your event. If you have games or a theme, the guide can follow that theme. You can also include ways to interact online with others, or list multiple sessions that will come in the future.
Set up Communication Channels for Your Team
In the ideal situation, you should limit yourself to one channel to ensure that important details or messages won’t be missed, especially during the event. A couple of good options are Slack, Whatsapp, Microsoft teams, Discord, or a private space on the event platform. Whatever works for you.
Plan Networking Opportunities
Networking is the heart of an event, and more so for a virtual event. A huge part of your virtual event should be creating networking opportunities. These can come in the form of breakout sessions, chat rooms, and ice-breaking activities. Anything that improves your networking improves your virtual event.
Virtual Events Checklist: During the Event
Post Event Reminders
Posting event reminders more and more often as you get closer to the event can greatly help improve attendance. When you get to the week of, daily reminders may be appropriate.
Get the Conversation Going
Depending on the event platform that you chose, you will have many tools that can help create a fun and open environment.
You can encourage audience engagement using Q&A tools or answering questions in a chat. If you have the option, you can even opt into one-on-one appointments.
Organize Attendees in Pairs or Small Groups for a More Interactive Experience
Having attendees in smaller groups can help encourage audience engagement. If attendees can respond or take action every five to seven minutes, that’s the sweet spot.
Harvard Business Review studies report that a five-minute rule is the most effective at keeping attendees engaged instead of observers.
Prepare for and React to Any Disruption
In case of technical problems or disruptive people, have multiple backup plans ready. This can range from moderating content to having technical support staff online and ready to help.
When you can’t prevent a disruption, be ready to stop one.
Capture Attendee Data
Using audience data can help you improve future virtual events and help you understand your clients better.
In general, the useful information will come from links clicked, attendance numbers, period of time attended, and videos played, as a few examples.
Stream Your Event as It Happens
Many event platforms have premade streaming options. You can choose to broadcast your virtual event on extra social media platforms to collect more usable information for future events.
You can even share the information with speakers mid-event, which can come in handy.
Virtual Events Checklist: After the Event
Send Attendee Surveys
Send a feedback survey to confirm what attendees liked and what they didn’t like. Then you can use that information to interact with your audience better in your next virtual event.
Also, make sure that your surveys are short and sweet. If a survey is too long, often people won’t stay till the end of it.
Communicate With Your Audience
Thank your audience for their attendance. You can do this by sending an email or by using social media platforms.
Try to send a message soon after the event, while it is still fresh on their minds. You can also include a feedback survey and information on where they can access the event recording.
Analyze Your Data
Review the data that you gathered during and after your event. This data can help you better understand which areas you succeeded in and which areas you can improve on. Then, with that information, you can begin to work on making an even more successful event.
Balance the Budget
Now that you have paid everyone, compare your planned budget with the result of the event.
At this point, you can calculate the ROI (return on investment) and consider direct revenue, attributed revenue, connected sales pipeline, all branding benefits, knowledge exchange, and all the other important information regarding your event.
Share Information About Your Event
The last step of this virtual events checklist: Use all of the photos, videos, and articles from the event.
You can post these on your social media to engage your audience and provide more exposure for future attendees. You can even use these pieces of past events for a future virtual conference or event.
If you enjoyed reading this article on using a virtual events checklist, you should check out this one with virtual event survey questions.
We also wrote about similar topics like adding a virtual events calendar to your site, virtual event best practices, alternatives to the Divi Events calendar, event WordPress themes, and the types of virtual events you can organize.