Event planning is tough in ordinary times. Event planning during a pandemic? Definitely not for the faint of heart. To help, we’ve compiled a punch list to set you up for success regardless of whether you’re planning a virtual event or in-person event, or are in the process of shifting gears from one direction to another.
Ask your invitees (or key stakeholders) to share their opinions
Field a short survey (no more than five questions) in advance of the event to better understand preferences around when the event should be held, what would motivate event attendance and more. Incentivize responding to the survey by entering those who respond into a drawing. This doubles as a way to excite guests about what’s to come early on.
Choose a date and time with minimum conflicts
Let survey results guide the way (giving invitees choices such as morning or evening, weekend or weekday), and choose a time that is most convenient for your group, even if unconventional.
Keep your online event much shorter than an in-person event
Zoom and online meeting fatigue is real for many professionals. Consider keeping your event length to one hour or less if at all possible. A defined beginning and end time is helpful and encourages participation.
Use an online streaming/meeting tool that is familiar for your guests
Is Zoom, Webex or another online meeting tool most commonly used by your audience? Hold your event on a platform that is familiar and comfortable for those who are invited. A new platform can be a barrier to participation.
Build excitement in advance of the event
From social media teasers to email reminders, to the event invitation, use these touchpoints to build excitement and keep the event top-of-mind for your audience.
Send well-timed reminders
Draft well-timed reminders to be shared via email. These reminders can also be used to trickle out details and teasers about the event itself, including award recognition and other event elements.
Develop a run-of-show that engages your audience
It’s harder to keep an audience’s attention for an online event than an in-person one. Keeping things moving with regular shifts in the program is one way to help your audience stay engaged. Depending on your event structure, highlighting and recognizing many people in the audience by name is also important.
Minimize technical glitches
Pre-filming as much of the event as possible is one way to minimize technical glitches. Event practices are also key.
Extend your event’s reach
A post-event message emailed to your email subscriber list that either thanks them for attending or shares the event recording if they were unable to be there expands your reach.
Use design elements to make your event unique and memorable
Design graphics, ranging from invitations and electronic programs to Zoom backgrounds, are special touches that can make a big difference. Online ticketing portals (such as Eventbrite) allow you options to customize and design so even this component of your event is on-brand.
Use video to tell your story
Videography is a compelling storytelling tool for virtual events and can be used to establish a clear event theme. It is also a useful tool for controlling the event flow and keeping it on schedule.
Set measurable goals in advance of the event, and assess whether you met them afterward. A post-event survey can also be used to gather feedback for future events.
If you need our help conceptualizing, producing or managing an event – or any aspect of it, including media relations, marketing or design – please reach out.