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Your Virtual Event Planning Checklist

Veronica Brundle - Aug 23 2021, 4:35:00 PM

Virtual events have established themselves as the best way to bring people together no matter where they are. Some individuals and businesses don’t even have plans to return to the old way of working any time soon!

Pulling off a great online event carries many of the same challenges and considerations as its offline counterpart, but there are a few more things to think about. So ensure your next event goes off without a hitch with our handy planning checklist!

Before the Event Begins

Most of the heavy lifting takes place before the event, so let’s get straight into it!

Decide What You Want to Achieve

Some events used to be an excuse for getting dressed up, but that doesn’t really apply anymore. You don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary to make an event worthwhile, but if you can be clear about what you want to achieve, you can guide the rest of your planning strategy. It might be sales, it could be engaging your social media following, or it might just be a good old-fashioned celebration!

Set a Budget

One of the best things about online events is they cost much less to put on. You don’t need to scope out a venue any longer. Instead, you just need a Zoom account. Nevertheless, great virtual events are rarely free. Spend what you would on a venue on presenters, gifts, or additional software to create something to remember.

Outline Your Running Order

Most people have some experience when it comes to online events. There’s an expectation among attendees that everything will run smoothly. No matter how laid back you might be about your event, it’s crucial to have a general outline of what happens and when. That will not only help you in the planning phase but ensure your guests know what to expect and when.

Check Your Tech – And Any New Additions

Whether it’s your first event or the latest of many, it’s vital never to get complacent with technology. Instead, decide ahead of time what you might need beyond the usual, and don’t be afraid to experiment with additional tech that can help your event stand out in the crowd.

Create a Mini-Marketing Plan

You might be in the fortunate position whereby your online event is all about the internal staff. They’ll be there no matter what. However, if your event requires people to sign up and make time to attend, it’s worth putting together a plan. From website publicity to social media campaigns, it’s vital to get the word out if you need people to attend.

Reach Out to Partners

If you’re a dab hand at putting together online events, you’d be surprised at how many people still consider them uncharted territory. Event sponsors are nothing new, and your network might be packed with brands that want to get their name out there but haven’t had enough events to attach their names to. Whether you want financial support or merely someone notable to make an appearance, your network holds the answers.

Choose Your Contributors

If you plan to go an hour plus, you need more than just one presenter. A change of face and approach can help to break up an event and insert natural breaks. Again, you might have people in mind, or you might need to look beyond your trusty network. Either way, it’s vital to find the right people to make your event go off without a hitch.

Prep Your Attendees

It’s easy to say that everyone has attended a virtual event at this point. However, this could be someone’s first time. Even experienced people may never have attended one of your events before. Don’t leave anything to chance. Create a guide around accessing the event, meeting controls, a schedule, and what to expect while the event takes place.

While The Event Is On

Fortunately, you won’t need to walk around and make sure everyone has a drink. However, you still want to ensure the best possible experience.

Ensure You’ve Got Tech Support in Place

Virtual events are more technologically intensive than their offline counterparts. Something as simple as switching slides to keep up with a presentation should be planned out in advance. If you want to do anything more exotic, such as breakout rooms or third-party software, ensure you have the proper support and that they know exactly what to expect.

Have a Plan for Questions and Comments

No matter the goal of an offline event, people always have an eye on networking. When you hold these events virtually, you’re responsible for facilitating interaction. Prepare yourself to answer questions and plan ahead to manage comments effectively. Let attendees know in advance whether your hosts plan to answer questions as they’re asked or if there will be a dedicated Q&A session at the end.

Go Beyond the Basics to Boost Engagement

Virtual events are so commonplace today that there’s no shortage of software packages and addons to differentiate your event from others. From quiz software to specialist tools to engage attendees and direct them towards your funnel, your work on what you want to achieve comes into its own at this stage.

After You’ve Wrapped Up

Following a successful event, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief. However, there’s still potentially work to be done.

Check Your Attendee Data

What better way to know how your event went than to look at how many people attended and, where possible, where they came from. No matter what your business does, unique information is always a strength, so plan to disseminate that data after the fact to guide future decisions.

Ask for Feedback from Hosts and Guests

Pure numbers can help guide future plans, but nothing beats first-hand experiences from those there. No event planning checklist is complete without a plan to contact attendees and find out what they think. Remember, negative views can be even more valuable than positive ones, so prepare yourself in advance and encourage honesty.

Compile a Report on the Event

If you’re a small business, you might be the only person that needs to know about what went well and what fell short. However, if you’re responsible for holding events on behalf of a larger company, there will undoubtedly be numerous interested parties – some of whom may not have been in attendance. So prepare yourself to pull together data and opinions in a way that gives other parties insight into what worked and what didn’t.

Plan the Next One!

Being the driving force behind online events can be addictive! It doesn’t ultimately matter how an event went. Once you’ve done one, you’re primed and ready to do another. Prepare yourself to take on board the good and bad from whatever went before, and use that to create a brand new checklist and get ideas and plans for the next event underway!

Originally published at Aug 23 2021, 4:35:00 PM. Updated on Oct 3 2022.

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