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Don't cancel your events, move them online

With ‘social distancing’, restrictions and lockdowns being the overarching theme for most of 2020, it’s been difficult for many of us to safely host events like we’re used to. Thankfully, like in so many other areas of our pandemic-impacted lives, technology has come to the rescue.

Earlier in the year, our resident Operations Manager—and all-round events guru—Sarah Jackson-Ambrose, found herself needing to adapt our plans so we could continue to bring the value-add events we love to produce for our clients. She shares her top tips to make a successful online event.

Sarah’s six top tips for great online events

Find the right webcast platform for you

Think about the whole process and what you want to be seamlessly integrated into the one platform. Can it set up a landing page that integrates with your website, send email invitations and reminders or follow ups, manage registrations? Will it provide insights and data on interests and who’s in attendance to help you plan future events?

Find engaging presenters

In reality, this is the same whether you’re hosting an event in person or online. But it’s worth thinking about what type of event or topic is suited to online, and whether the presenters’ styles are suited to the screen.

Have a detailed run sheet, and keep the personal touches

While, as a presenter, you might feel like you’re ‘just talking to a screen’, you actually have an engaged audience out there. Having a detailed plan is just as important for an online event. While you can cross ‘let people know where the bathrooms are’ off the list, it’s still great to have an MC who talks your audience through the agenda (and then keeps your presenters on track with it!). Have a Q&A process for interaction, and tell your audience how to engage with you at the start

Check the tech

Give your presenters confidence with a run-through a couple of days before the event. This ensures you all know the flow of the event, and have the technical requirements on your computers. Presenting nerves might still be a thing, but knowing what to expect will alleviate some of it. We also provided our registered attendees with a link to check their systems in advance of the event, and they’ve told us they appreciated it too.

Think about what’s in your frame

You’ll most likely want to avoid being the next viral sensation, with an awkward situation unfolding in the frame behind you. Let your family or housemates know what time you’ll be presenting online, and close the door to avoid unwanted guests or extra audio. If you have a branded banner, why not put that in your background for extra brand recognition, and a professional look.

Ask for feedback

Send a quick post-event survey to understand what worked well, or what you might do differently next time. A small competition could help to encourage attendees to share their thoughts. Think about how you might acknowledge the feedback, and use what you can for future events.

The upside of online events

While not all of the face-to-face benefits transfer (and believe us, we’re as excited as anyone to meet in real life again!), there can be extra benefits to online events. To start with, the location is convenient for everyone! How many times have you been invited to an event, only to find it’s on the other side of town, and in the opposite direction to home? Attendees can join an online event from almost anywhere.

It can be easier for attendees (and even presenters) to find the time. Before or after work events can clash with family or personal commitments, creating a barrier to attending. An online event requires no travel time, so attendees ‘only’ need to keep the event time free—though we know that’s not always as easy as it seems!

We also found we could host more people for an online event than we might have been able to in-person. Over 250 people registered for our last event, allowing us to share valuable insights and support with even more clients and prospective clients.

Take your event online

So whether you’re looking to start hosting events, or you’re missing meeting face-to-face, an online event could be what you need to engage with your clients on a new level. Try it out, we’d love to hear what you think.

If you want to know more, please give us a call on (03) 9662 9900.

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