Photo by Nadir Syzygy

Organising an Online Event? Avoid errors you must

By Becky De Laurenzy

Need to create a compelling webinar/webcast or virtual event? Read these top 6 common mistakes to become a Jedi master & ensure your webcast is a big success.

#1 Tuned to your audience your content is not…

Whether a virtual experience can ever match up to the energy of being in a darkened room with presenters standing on a stage is a moot point. A virtual event is inevitably a different medium. One thing’s for sure though, on a virtual event your delegates aren’t trapped in a room until the coffee break, so truly engaging your audience to keep them watching is more critical than ever. So ‘Use the Force’ and tap into what they’re feeling and thinking.

To be really effective online, you have to understand who your audience is and carefully tune that content to them. Talk to your target audience ahead of shaping the content. What are they concerned about, inspired by, excited about? Then tune your content to reflect what they’re thinking and reference it throughout the process.

Next, find your event’s ‘why’: Why are you holding the event? What do you want your audience to think/feel/do as a result of attending? This is your Why and ideally, you need to keep measuring everything you plan to do in your event against it.

Finally, find the relevant, human stories that will resonate with your audience; the stories that support your ‘why’ and bring them to life. This is the genius of Star Wars – we love the characters, their humanity and it’s the characters that make us care – it’s just the same with communicating in business. Human stories simply have more cut-through.

Video is the lightsabre of online events. Use it to increase audience interest and retention online. Create compelling video content such as case studies or feature pieces with human angles and plan to do it well in advance so you don’t have to compromise. Use videos to break-up presentations and create context and variety. You could also pre-shoot interviews or get attendees to send in user-generated content to bring alternative perspectives. This could lend a little of that community feel to your event that may otherwise be lacking online.

#2 Not engaging your audience, you are...

A common mistake is to approach an online event as a one-way lecture as opposed to an interactive two-way street. If you design a virtual event like you would a live event, you’re missing a trick. If you simply plan to have a series of presentations delivered to camera by succession of speakers doing what they’d do usually on a stage – just online, you risk missing the unique opportunities online events offer. Virtual events are an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with your audience so that they feel more involved with your brand and more engaged with your business, so think about ways to enhance 2-way communication between viewers and presenters by designing interactive moments into your event. And be creative! Tools such as Glisser, Poll Everywhere and Slido are great for creating interactive polls and hosting live Q&A’s. Make sure you choose the right one for your situation and needs and get your audience to rate each presentation & give feedback. The opportunity to learn what worked and what didn’t is hugely valuable. Use the force Luke…

#3 Promoting your webcast enough, you are not…

You’ve got a great programme, you’ve put in the effort to make it compelling, so you’ll want to be sure that you don’t end up with a poor turnout on the day. Gaining commitment to attendance can be easier online but it’s also easier for people to forget, re-prioritise and opt for viewing on-demand later which is fine, but can kill the buzz.

To help mitigate this, be sure to start promoting your virtual event at least four weeks before the date of the livestream and encourage pre-registration to the event so that you can be confident that you’ve met your goals and in enough time to allow you to flex your marketing accordingly.

Create a promotional campaign that teases the target audience in advance. Create short video ads to give a sense of what will be covered and give your event a tone of voice so that it becomes a ‘must attend’ occasion. Services like Eventbrite can painlessly help promote, manage, pre-poll and diarise events for attendees.

#4 Not rehearsing often enough, you are...

It might be useful to think of your virtual event as less of a presentation and more of a performance on a live TV show. But bear in mind that professional TV presenters are the Jedi masters of their trade! A lack of confidence when presenting to camera will definitely show when your audience tunes in. Be sure that both the host of the webcast and any other presenters rehearse each segment like Jedi knights in training prior to the webcast launch so that everybody featured knows the technicalities of how to use whatever platform you’re using, how to share slides and how to present with confidence to camera. And rehearse, rehearse, rehearse – both presenters and technical crew. The more you rehearse, the slicker it will be.

#5 Use the technology Luke…

If you’re unsure of the technology you’re going to be using, make sure you have a team on board who can give your virtual event the best chance of success. Unexpected technical issues and a lack of preparation for how you intend to fix them could risk everything you’ve worked for.

If you’re concerned that the broadband for remote contributors might not be fast or stable enough, technology exists to combine cellular and Wi-Fi connections to ensure the livestream doesn’t go down half-way through. Manage your risks rather than hoping for the best and plan what you’re going to do should the worst happen.

Clear audio, good lighting of contributors are other basic but critical details to get right. Ensure that you’re able to troubleshoot any potential technical difficulties ahead of the event and mitigate risks during the livestream.

#6 Schedule your event at the optimum time, you must...

Be sure to consider your audience demographic and time-zones when deciding on a suitable time to schedule your webcast. Ensure that your webcast is available to stream on-demand after the event to allow flexibility for as many people as possible to view it.

Avoid people missing the start of your webcast by encouraging attendees to install any software needed in good time before you start, so your online event starts as smoothly and as professionally as possible.

 

Virtual events are a great tool for engaging employees, building leads and sharing knowledge. By being careful not to make these common mistakes, you can produce a professional-looking virtual event that gives a true return for your investment.

May the Force be with you.

The WHY Agency are creative communications specialists, creating engaging live & online events. We help companies & individuals tell their stories by creating inspiring, engaging content: video, animation, presentations, design & technical event production.