With the COVID-19 pandemic causing unprecedented disruptions around the world, more and more companies were challenged to offer remote working to their employees. This also meant that all the events, training, meetings, and conferences began to be hosted exclusively online.
Are you one of these companies? If so, you could benefit from learning all about virtual conference planning. Sound interesting? Look no further, then: we are about to reveal the top six ways to make your next online conference an utter success.
1. Brief the Speakers Thoroughly
The first thing you want to do is to pick engaging, professional, and experienced people as your keynote speakers. Once you’ve nailed this, you are going to need to brief them on a few different aspects.
First, some basic elements: what is the conference about? And which areas is their speech going to cover? Why is their contribution important? How much time do they have?
Then, you’re going to want to brief them of the different nature of this specific conference. Because it’s entirely online, they might experience slightly different issues in terms of audience engagement, for example. Or they might come to you with questions and doubts.
Be sure that you cover as many potentially tricky areas as possible ahead of the conference start. This will make you and your speakers feel a lot more confident and at ease that you’re able to deliver a fantastic event.
2. Cater for Your Virtual Audience
Now that you have your speakers all briefed and ready to present their material, you want to focus on your audience. This time, unlike your previous conferences, your delegates will probably be sitting in their home office, so you need to cater to their different needs.
There might be background noises, technical issues, and difficulty in staying engaged throughout the conference. So, make sure that you do a bit of technical housekeeping before the conference begins, and remember to ask your participants to mute their mics.
Try to keep their attention; for example, by ensuring that each speaker has a fairly short slot in order not to overwhelm your audience. Another great idea is to send your delegates some informative material about the event. A simple email with the conference program and some background with interesting facts about the speakers is often enough to keep them engaged.
If you want to go the extra mile and customize your event, then check out this awesome swag box.
3. Schedule Virtual Coffee Breaks and Q&A Sessions
Something that must not be left out of a virtual conference is coffee breaks. Of course, they won’t be the same as coffee breaks of live, in-person events, but they can still be a pleasant feature for your participants. Prompt them to take a break after every couple of speakers or so, maybe play some ambient music, and open a live chat.
Similarly, you want to allow plenty of time for Q&A sessions. It can be tricky to get them started, sometimes, but you’ll find that once someone has broken the ice, then lots more people muster up the courage to ask questions and participate more actively.
This can be an excellent way to make your remote audience feel more connected, involved, and interested despite the physical distance.
4. Choose the Best Video and Audio Quality
It might sound pretty obvious, but you’ll be surprised at how little attention video and audio tools often get. If you want your conference to go as smoothly and efficiently as possible, then do not compromise or aim to save money on your tech equipment.
Surely, you wouldn’t do that if this was a live, in-person event, right? Then, there’s no reason why you should skimp on such an important aspect for your virtual conference.
5. Have a Plan B if Tech Things Don’t Go Smoothly
Sometimes, even if you followed all the virtual conference best practices, some bits here and there might go wrong. We’re mostly referring to technical issues, which annoyingly can happen to anyone and at any time.
If that happens to you, then don’t panic. In fact, the best thing to do is to plan for things to go wrong, so you know exactly what to do to fix them quickly if the worst was to occur.
Your plan B needs to include options to keep your audience connected or get it back online ASAP in the case of network problems. Another good idea is to ask each speaker to send you (or the conference host, if that’s not you) their presentations. So, if any of them loses connection or experiences any technical issues, the host can quickly step in and move ahead with the event.
6. Ask Your Participants for Feedback and Suggestions
What worked? What didn’t? You might think you know it, but you’ll do best by asking those who were directly involved: your speakers and your audience at home.
After your event, send each one of your delegates a thank you note as well as a quick feedback or survey to fill in. Ask them questions relating to the quality of the conference in itself (in terms of content, speakers, and general organization) as well as questions about the more technical aspects.
Make sure you go through each response in detail and try to spot whether there are any repeated patterns, issues, concerns, or praises. Incorporate the feedback into your next conference planning to ensure that you deliver even greater results.
Take Virtual Conference Planning to New Heights With Our Tips
Hosting a virtual conference at the time of the coronavirus is not difficult. Hosting a great online conference, though, is a whole different ballgame.
If you are serious about going the extra mile with your virtual conference planning, then follow our tips and you’ll be off to the best possible start.
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