Hosting a virtual event doesn’t sound like a big challenge when you start. A few webcams, the right event platform with engaging features, and exciting speakers who are able to inspire the attendees. Hosting a virtual event made easy, right?
But there are some indicators that it might not make this such a smooth ride as expected. When your own developers replace the blood in their veins with coffee 24 hours before the event, the marketing department starts sweating due to the unexpected flood of registrations and the streaming partner sets up half a film studio in the office kitchen. Yes, this is the moment you know: Hosting your own virtual event is going to be an exciting challenge.
As an event software development company with our own platform, we had an advantage and disadvantage while hosting our first own virtual event, the Event Engagement Session. We had full control over content, features, and integrations, but also full responsibility for technical challenges. Still, it was clear: we couldn't wait to share our brand new Virtual Event Platform with the world.
During the session, 260 attendees heard speeches on participant engagement during virtual events, listened to presentations, and also actively participated in the event through our tool integrations. We as a team, on the other hand, learned a lot about hosting our own event. This is why we want to share these learnings and 5 tips on hosting a virtual event.
As an event manager coming from the world of on-site events, aka the "old normal", you are often confronted with huge demands from your clients regarding their event. The result often has to be bigger, louder and fuller, and not without reason. All stakeholders are under a lot of pressure to deliver a unique experience to the participants - every time.
When hosting virtual events the situation is slightly different: Due to the limited possibilities, it makes sense to concentrate on the essentials: good cameras and microphones, a visually appealing studio setup, and well-chosen speakers to keep the participants happy. You get extra points for using an interactive event platform that increases participation and engagement.
While real events often offer the opportunity to have a quick whispered chat with the person sitting next to you or to raise your hand in a Q&A session, participants often don't have this opportunity at virtual events. As a result, the time in front of the screen can sometimes pass quite slowly for the attendee.
Our tip: Don't ignore the power of survey and chat tools and make them a part of the event. Use the variety of tools that the market offers. They allow the participants to share their opinions or ideas with other attendees and therefore indirectly influence the outcome of the event.
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As a host of virtual events, you naturally choose your online event platform very carefully. Ideally, it should offer all functions, such as polls, live chat, individual sessions, and much more. This should all come directly out of the box and cover all situations and necessities you have hosting a virtual event.
Spoiler alert: This perfect platform for hosting your virtual event does not exist. The reason is obvious: Developing all the features yourself is simply not feasible for many SaaS companies.
The good news: We have a "work-around" that has already passed the test! The MATE Virtual Event Platform works via integrations and therefore gives you the possibility to integrate third-party software when hosting a virtual event. This way, each event becomes a small construction kit, tailored exactly to the needs of the organizer, the event, or in the best case: the participants.
Online events depend on good speakers. Only those who have an opinion and can convey it well will reach the attendees. Always keep this in mind when you host a virtual event.
In order for a speaker to be able to do his magic, he or she needs one thing above all: a good briefing. What is often easier behind the scenes at on-site events is more difficult when hosting a virtual event. Platforms and integrations can change shortly before the virtual event, new tools are added and the interface suddenly looks different.
Therefore, you should always ask yourself: Is my speaker up to date? Are all the tools still in the same place and do they still work as they did at the briefing? It helps to invite all speakers together again shortly before hosting the virtual event and go through all the remaining questions in peace.
Now is a good moment to say once again: Dear speakers, thank you very much, you did a great job.
For some time now, we at MATE have been looking into our storytelling. Part of this process also involves the language we use, to communicate with our clients and participants. If you know more about the German language, you will also know that we differentiate between “du”, which is an informal version of “you” and “Sie", which is a formal version of “you".
Before hosting our virtual event, we asked ourselves if a young software company like MATE can be on a first-name basis with its audience? We were not able to agree internally and decided to address the question directly to our attendees. The result was a little surprising: 98% of the attendees asked for an informal "du".
Now we know it doesn’t hurt to ask and asking can yield very unexpected results.
Hosting virtual events is a challenge. The potential for technical errors is high, keeping the participants engaged is not that easy and especially the first steps are hard. Like so many things, this area is a continuous learning process. The reward for the effort is the number of attendees, the commitment, and the great feedback you receive after a successful event.
Also: we have not had enough of hosting virtual events. This was just the beginning, and we are looking forward to hosting many more MATE Virtual Event Sessions with you. Many thanks to all participants of the Event Engagement Session.
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