10 Key Experiences from Organizing a Virtual Event: Lessons for Future Planners


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10 Key Experiences from Organizing a Virtual Event: Lessons for Future Planners

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10 Key Experiences from Organizing a Virtual Event: Lessons for Future Planners

In the realm of digital gatherings, the wisdom of CEOs and founders is invaluable. From conducting a thorough test run to confirming participation to avoid no-shows, we’ve compiled ten key experiences from top executives to guide you through organizing a successful virtual event.

  • Conduct a Thorough Test Run
  • Focus on Engagement and Interaction
  • Deliver Precise, Timely Content
  • Utilize AI for Transcriptions and Recordings
  • Ensure Strong Communication Infrastructure
  • Incorporate Interactive Elements
  • Create Pre-Event Buzz on Social Media
  • Integrate Gamification for Better Engagement
  • Prepare Backup Plans for Flexibility
  • Confirm Participation to Avoid No-Shows

Conduct a Thorough Test Run

One major takeaway from organizing a virtual event is the importance of conducting a thorough test run beforehand. It’s like a dress rehearsal before the big show. Testing everything, from the technology to the flow of the event, ensures that everything runs smoothly on the day. Skipping this step could mean missing potential issues or difficulties that could have been noticed and prevented early on.

My experience with this is when it’s just during the actual event when I find out that one of my presenters’ microphones isn’t working properly. This caused disruptions and frustrated some of the attendees. This simple oversight could have been easily detected and resolved during a test run. So, make sure to schedule that test run and iron out everything before the actual event kicks off. It’ll save you a lot of headaches during and even after the event.

Johannes LarssonJohannes Larsson
Founder and CEO, JohannesLarsson.com

Focus on Engagement and Interaction

Normally, people go to events for two main reasons: first, to learn something new (or to learn more about a specific topic) and second, to connect with others.

So the key experience I’d like to share is keeping attendees focused and engaged.

We all feel that keeping people focused and engaged virtually is much harder than it is in person.

Humans have short attention spans! So instead of beating around the bush, let’s get straight to it. And if you want everyone to feel a part of the event, then you can add polls, quizzes, Q&A sessions, etc., and give people the chance to interact.

To assess whether your event is successful, the quickest way is to see how people react to it. If they show their interest, then you have done a great job.

Cj LooiCj Looi
Co-Founder & CEO, Pixcap

Deliver Precise, Timely Content

I would suggest that you focus on delivering precise, concise information and have enough respect for your audience to, at the very least, be on time. Make sure that your content is calibrated specifically to the subject at hand, as minutes of waffling can swing people’s interest and… patience.

Also, resist indulging in self-indulgent tangents or long-winded backgrounders when captive eyes and ears start to glaze over within seconds. Counterproductive pontificating is destined to lose the room.

Scott SchaperScott Schaper
President, RSM Marketing

Utilize AI for Transcriptions and Recordings

When we dove into the world of virtual events, we quickly realized how tricky it can be to sync up everyone’s schedules across different time zones and places. Sure, remote tools have been a lifesaver, making it possible to bring everyone together in ways we couldn’t imagine before. But the real game-changer? Embracing AI for transcriptions and recordings. It’s like having a magic wand that breaks down barriers of time and access, making every session infinitely more valuable.

What’s really cool about using AI in this way is how it opens up our events to even more people. Whether someone couldn’t make it because of a scheduling conflict or they just learn better by reading, having transcripts and recordings means nobody misses out. Plus, we can share these nuggets of wisdom far and wide, extending the life and impact of what we’ve created. It’s been an eye-opener to see how much further we can spread knowledge and bring people together by adding a touch of AI.

John XieJohn Xie
Co-Founder and CEO, Taskade

Ensure Strong Communication Infrastructure

One of the most important things I learned as the CEO of Messente while hosting a virtual event was the importance of having a strong communication infrastructure.

In a global webinar with attendees from more than 50 countries, we had to deliver a smooth, interactive experience across different time zones and technical environments. This highlighted the importance of having a trusted messaging partner to ensure inclusion and engagement.

Our solution was a two-pronged approach: first, by leveraging our global messaging capabilities, we could custom-tailor messages for each region, ensuring timely, culturally relevant messages.

Second, we built a scalable, secure platform to manage registration, alerts, and real-time interactions, reducing fraud and improving the participant experience.

This experience made me realize that the success of virtual events isn’t just about content; it’s about the security and reliability of your communication platform. We’ve helped companies grow their customer engagement rates by up to 40% by improving their messaging strategy.

My advice? Never underestimate the importance of effective, secure communications in bridging the tech-human divide.

Uku TomikasUku Tomikas
CEO, Messente

Incorporate Interactive Elements

As a Chief Human Resource Officer who has organized virtual events, a key experience others may learn from is the importance of engagement and interactivity. Incorporating interactive elements such as live polls, Q&A sessions, breakout rooms, and networking opportunities can significantly enhance participant engagement and overall event experience. Additionally, providing clear instructions and technical support before and during the event ensures seamless participation for attendees.

By prioritizing engagement and interactivity, virtual events can replicate the dynamic and collaborative atmosphere of in-person gatherings, fostering meaningful connections and maximizing the impact of the event objectives.

Steven MostynSteven Mostyn
Chief Human Resources Officer, Management.org

Create Pre-Event Buzz on Social Media

For a virtual launch event I managed, we leveraged social media to create pre-event buzz and build a community around our topic. We initiated hashtag campaigns related to the event theme and encouraged future attendees to share their expectations and content related to the event. This strategy significantly increased engagement and attendance rates.

Moreover, it provided valuable insights into the attendees’ interests, allowing us to tailor the event content more effectively. The impact was clear: heightened anticipation, greater attendee engagement, and an online community that lived on well past the event itself.

Roman ZrazhevskiyRoman Zrazhevskiy
Founder & CEO, MIRA Safety

Integrate Gamification for Better Engagement

In organizing virtual events at DGR Legal, a key realization was the untapped potential of gamification to dramatically increase participant engagement and retention. Unlike the typical formats that virtual conferences follow, integrating gamification elements—such as points, leaderboards, and rewards for participation—transformed the attendee experience from passive to active engagement.

For example, we introduced a point system for activities like attending sessions, participating in polls, and engaging in Q&A sessions. Points could be exchanged for rewards, such as exclusive content access or a one-on-one session with a keynote speaker. This approach encouraged participation and fostered a sense of competition and community among attendees.

This strategy leveraged the inherent human love for games and competition, making the virtual event experience more interactive and enjoyable. It addressed the challenge of virtual attendee engagement head-on, providing a blueprint for making virtual events more vibrant and interactive.

Alana GibsonAlana Gibson
Chief Operating Officer, DGR Legal

Prepare Backup Plans for Flexibility

In the process of organizing a virtual conference, I learned the importance of flexibility and adaptability firsthand. Despite meticulous planning, unexpected issues arose, such as a key speaker experiencing a power outage minutes before their session. We had backup plans, including pre-recorded sessions and standby speakers, which allowed us to adapt quickly without significant disruptions to the schedule.

This experience taught me that being prepared to pivot at a moment’s notice is crucial in the virtual event space. Anticipating potential problems and having contingencies in place ensured that our event remained professional and engaging, even under unforeseen circumstances.

Shawn PlummerShawn Plummer
CEO, The Annuity Expert

Confirm Participation to Avoid No-Shows

One might assume that the most challenging aspect of organizing virtual events would be technical issues involving internet connectivity or audio and video problems. However, personally, the most challenging issue is when participants show up late or not at all—with no prior notice. Not only is it disruptive, but it also takes away from time you could have given to another opportunity. This is the most challenging because there is virtually nothing that can be done from the perspective of a virtual scheduler, and you simply have to move on.

To mitigate the risks of late or no-shows, I always make sure to contact participants 24 hours before the virtual event’s start time to confirm participation and ensure all other participants are aware of any changes. For sales or other important meetings, I sometimes will contact them multiple days beforehand. These tactics help remind the participants of the event and give them the opportunity to notify you if they cannot attend.

Andrea CuevasAndrea Cuevas
Marketing Coordinator, Achievable

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