How to make your online event a success

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For an event organiser, “online” and “virtual” have been the industry buzzwords over the last year. Here Sarah Weston, who is part of the Redefining Communications collective, talks about what makes an online event a success.

Hosting a virtual event requires the same thought and attention to detail as an in-person event. It is important to remember the fundamental basics for a virtual event are the same for live events – understanding your audience should be at the core of everything you do. Once you have crystallised your event goals you are in a great position to start planning your event.

Today, there are hundreds of virtual platforms available, so finding the right platform is the first step. You need to spend time researching the right solution, exploring the features and benefits of each platform to see which is the perfect fit for your event. The platform is your venue and, whilst you might not have to worry about the travel logistics, you still need to consider your audience journey. Does the platform accommodate your agenda, does the solution provide the right stage for your plenary session, can it facilitate breakouts, is there exhibition and networking functionality?

Production is a huge factor of success and this goes wider than the look and feel of the ‘stage’. How is the content being broadcast, what can be seen, what can be heard, how does this make the audience feel, are there opportunities for engagement, and are these elements contributing positively to the event objectives?

Supporting your team on the front line is another critical factor of success. Similar to an in-person event you need to empower your presenters, help them review their environment and consider coaching or training requirements. What is needed to satisfy those important event objectives? Every event is unique, and it is imperative to consider each of these elements in turn to work out what is the right blend for your online event.

I recently worked with Redefining Communications to support an event for independent research charity, LifeArc. We were asked to support a new, virtual event aimed at creating two-way dialogue about its new organisational goals. This involved providing the event staging, project management support, content writing and design, using a virtual, interactive platform called Airmeet. This project was in partnership with the production team at We Are Resource and other members of the Redefining Communications collective. With a 90% employee attendance rate, this was an immersive and engaging experience for LifeArc employees. The Airmeet platform received great feedback. It was rewarding to see them embracing the opportunity for discussion, as well as demonstrating curiosity and desire to know more. Another event is planned for the summer.

Driving things forward with great events

Jenni and Sarah have worked together since Jenni was the Internal Communications Manager at SSP, back in 2013!

Sarah was part of an agency that supported the annual managers’ conference I organised. One year, the conference became a series of roadshows (being ambitious on what can be achieved as usual)! So with seven conferences in five days across three locations, Sarah’s help became more than just supporting production. Since then, we’ve worked together on global events while at SSP, Christmas parties in later roles, and all client events since founding Redefining Communications. Sarah has also supported CIPR with industry events. When any client asks for support on an event for any audience or any purpose, it will always be Sarah in the team driving things forward.

Jenni Field

If you’d like to chat about an event you might need support on, please get in touch via info@redefiningcomms.com.

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