How To Organise A Virtual Event

Rob Newton 3 April 2020

There can be no doubt that a virtual event or webinar can replace the live experience. However event organisers can use this period to organise virtual events which still inspire, motivate and prepare their audiences for the challenges which lie ahead.

At Speakers Corner we’ve been working closely with many event organisers to transition their planned live experiences into virtual events. We’ve come up with a cheat sheet of the lessons we’ve learnt to help you organise a successful virtual event or webinar.

Clarify Your Aims and Objectives

As with any event, be that live or virtual, it’s vital for organisers to be clear from the outset what their aims are and what they hope to achieve.

This linear approach will allow you to work closely with the speakers to ensure the messages delivered are aligned with your goals and the context delivered is closely matched to the desired outcomes.

Once this is agreed, your communication with attendees needs to clearly set out the timed agenda, a title and synopsis which draws clear parallels with what your stated aims and objectives.

Test, test and then test again

Organising live experiences requires plenty of preparation and coordination. A virtual event is no different.

If you are about to organise your first virtual event it’s highly recommended to set up a test event on the platform you are using. Invite colleagues to be speakers and attendees and aim to break the system. This way you’ll see where the issues lie and how to avoid any major issues during the event

It’s also recommended to look at what tech requirements are needed for attendees to log on. If there is a requirement to download some software, connect audio or visual equipment for instance, then this needs to be communicated to attendees in advance.

Choose Your Speaker Line-Up

The process to choose your webinar or virtual event speaker  isn’t any different to a live event. A great speaker will still be able to use their story and experience, interwoven with the background and objectives of the event, to inspire your audience.

The delivery is naturally going to be different of course. The speaker won’t be able to walk the stage, but they will be able to look directly into the camera and connect on an intimate level. This is the one event where each time the speaker talks, it will feel to the audience member that they are directly talking to them.

During a virtual event the speaker needs to deliver a high impact talk, lasting no more than 15-20 minutes. This allows the attendees to become fully immersed in the delivery and have the spark ignited to ask questions and probe the speaker after they’ve finished. This intimate setting, where the speaker spends an extra 20-30 minutes answering questions, is rich with insight and knowledge.

The Role of A Moderator

A moderator, be that an external professional or internal colleague, will introduce the event and outline the aims of this virtual event. While they will then introduce the speaker, it’s the moderator’s job to select, amalgamate and pose questions to the speaker on behalf of the audience.

If there is more than one speaker then the moderator is able to facilitate a panel Q&A just like a live experience. However the moderator will be able to ‘mute’ speakers and even turn off their video, so the focus is just on the one speaker discussing or presenting at that moment in time.

A key role of the moderator however is to step in and address technical issues as they arise. It can be very simple from asking the speaker to repeat their sentence if their internet connection reduces the sound quality, to working behind the scenes with the organisers to check what issues attendees maybe experiencing and have them fixed.

This is why it’s key for event organisers to have a designated point of contact with the moderator during the virtual event. The POC can liaise with other colleagues of course, but the single point of communication will ensure the moderator is clear on any action that needs to be taken.

Deliver A Quick Follow-Up Campaign

Just like the live experience, there will be attendees who can’t make it for whatever reason. Or there’ll be attendees who want to re-cap on the messages delivered so they can clarify their thoughts and future actions.

Virtual events provide the capability for the entire event to be recorded. This allows the follow-up process to be much quicker than a traditional live event recording.

One of your team can stand by post-event to tidy up the footage and upload it onto your website. Within 24 hours you’ll be able to have delivered a follow-up message, providing not just the full recording, but also actions, thoughts and messages to ensure the sparks of innovation and creativity are kept at the forefront of your attendees mind.

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