Earlier this year we published our initial Virtal Events Do’s and Don’ts insights. As virtual events have had time to evolve, we thought it would be timely to note some of the trends and best practices we have noticed and heard about from our client community. The late summer and fall seasons have been packed with virtual events, which have created many experiences to learn from. As going virtual quickly became normal, the programming and technology advances had to be made to keep up with the demand. Take a look at the latest and updated do’s and don’ts for virtual events: 

 
The Do’s 

  1. Do utilize the virtual event experiences and resources after the event is over. Your virtual events do not have to be a singular point in time. Invest in curating the videos in post-production and host them as assets on your site so that the information and knowledge sharing lives on. Just because your event has ended does not mean you cannot collect further leads afterwards. This is a critical point to focus on for your virtual events.  
     
    Stacy Bradshaw and Tara Jacobs of Annex Business Media contributed to this first point and have elaborated on how they have found ways to use their virtual events to cater to their audience and generate further revenue after they are over:  

“The event doesn’t stop after event day. You can make the event a launch point for engagement and interest from your audience. Some exhibitors have bought more media post-event in order to continue to push content.” 

  1. Do invest in lighting and tech for your presenters at home. Ship them the necessary tools to help with their ambiance. Don’t forget that most people working from home don’t have optimal lighting and in order to keep people engaged it’s best to ensure your speaker is looking their best. In this way too, the speaker will feel more in the moment during the presentation and the video production afterwards will be a better quality. 

  2. Do use polls and other interactive features available to drive engagement. Through both sponsoring events and in speaking with our clients, we have watched polls keep the audience engaged throughout the virtual sessions. Polling the audience is a great way to get the pulse on the audience and to keep them engaged in real-time. It helps to foster the sense of the audience coming together. Attendees and speakers gain from understanding the audience. 

  3. Do continue to listen to your attendees. Just because the event is virtual, doesn’t mean that you can’t take away the same kinds of learnings and input as you would at the end of an in-person event. Katie Atwood, COO of Becker’s Healthcare contributed this “do” and elaborates below:
     

It is critical to always listen to your attendees and to have a plan to iterate and improve. Track and measure engagement to understand what resonates with your audience and double down there. Do consider how that might influence future hybrid programs.

 
 
The Don’ts 

  1. Don’t sort out the data later. Instead, concept for the type of reporting you will want to provide to sponsors so that you can collect it and easily share it after the event. While at the beginning of the pandemic, event organizers were trying to ensure that the technology worked, now there is more time to create the type of reporting to entice sponsors to support you and return. This point came in from Joyce Neth of WATT Global Media who says,   
     

“From the audience development point of view, virtual events provide a treasure-trove of data. The key is to think ahead and strategize how this data will be used. It’s tempting to “collect it all and sort it out later,” but that can lead to wasted time and mis-allocation of resources. Think ahead and sketch out the reports that you’ll want to provide to your sponsors to demonstrate ROI. Determine were the data will come from and where it will go in order to create the report. Think about how the data in your database can enhance the behavior data from the event (and vice versa) to further qualify those leads that are associated with your sponsors and to further target your readers by interests that are revealed by their event behaviors.” 

  1. Don’t make your offering for exhibitors and sponsors a one size fits all model. Annex Business Media has been extremely creative with their exhibitors for their virtual events this year. Their goal has been to make the process easy for their partners and to work with them to provide attendees the content that they want. Instead of requiring exhibitors to fulfill specific requirements for the event, they give them options. There were multiple sponsorship offerings available such as the ability to put out product demos and videos and the opportunity to create web pages and gate content. 

Stacy Bradshaw and Tara Jacobs said, “Make it quick and easy for exhibitors. Exhibitors are looking for leads, not a project to work on without the resources to do so. We tried to give a level of flexibility to meet them where they are at. We have learned through this process.  

We offer all our sponsors and exhibitors an ability to provide the content of their choice. Some companies are just looking for exposure, but some are trying to narrow their leads funnel and find their truly engaged, top prospects. When this is the case, putting that gate on their content becomes extremely valuable.” 

3. Don’t overdo it on sessions. Instead of packing in many sessions and multiple panels, take into account exactly what your attendees are looking to learn and hear about. Identify what will benefit them in order to make the event most valuable. Katie Atwood, COO at Becker’s Healthcare contributed this point and explains,

“Be focused and intentional with your content and speakers. Consider quality over quantity as to provide best value to your attendees and keep them coming back for future events.”

4. Don’t assume when the pandemic is over that everyone will automatically get back to in-person events. As we researched for this blog, we found that many aspects of virtual events are working work well to drive revenue. Virtual events allow for audiences to attend who may not have had the means to attend an in-person event. Consider whether your future will be a mix of virtual and in-person events and how to best engage your audience.