Online/virtual meetings and events began to spring up like mushrooms as the world moved into remote and online mode. Since we are slowly getting back to “normal”, offline meetings are ready to come back, but that doesn’t mean online events are going to disappear. They have become a convenient way to meet with people, teach, and learn from anywhere in the world. Numerous business events have been held online, and plenty more will be in the future too.
How to organise such an event and stand out from the crowd of online classes, webinars and virtual meetings? We have some ideas. To begin, let’s define what virtual events are.
What is an online event?
As the name suggests, it is an event that takes place online. It gathers groups of people who may or may not have paid for an entrance fee in front of their laptops or mobiles to watch a broadcast over the internet. Such events can be hosted on a variety of platforms:
- dedicated ones like Zoom, LiveWebinar, or ClickMeeting, etc.
- social media like Instagram or Facebook (mostly live streams)
Moreover there is also the ability to broadcast your e.g. LiveWebinar meeting to Facebook.
Such virtual events could be conferences, online classes, webinars, or private live streams. Furthermore, if we focus on the term event, we can say that business fairs and employee training count too.
This can all be summed up in the one sentence that a group of people meet online, using their digital devices to speak with and listen to one another. It may be a situation where everybody is allowed to talk and contribute a few words to the conversation, or only an invited expert is given a speaking role.
One of the biggest advantages of such events is that they are relatively easy to organize. All you need is an electronic device, an internet connection, and people who wish to participate or attend.
How to organise an online event?
Organising a physical event may involve lots of planning – a venue, guest list, food and drink, invites, the agenda, etc. The process is so much simpler with online events! You do not need to book a venue or choose a caterer. Nevertheless, there are a couple of issues worth discussing, which we will do below.
#1 What is your goal?
Setting goals determines the whole process. Why do you want to organise your event? To gather a few specialists and let them share the knowledge, to present you business/offer, or promote new products? And an even more important question is what do you want to achieve? Here are some examples of such goals:
- Increase brand awareness
- Boost lead generation
- Promote a new product launch
- Present your brand on the new market
Determining your goal is the first step to organising a blockbuster event! You have probably heard about the SMART rule. It is a very common and simple principle, yet it is proven to work. According to this rule your goal should be:
- S for Specific – you have to be precise and clear about what you want to achieve (what, when, and who will be involved, etc.)
- M for Measurable – “how many” or “how much” questions are here to help you, this way it will be easier for you to follow the progress.
- A for Achievable – when setting goals you should keep both feet on the ground, otherwise it could be hard to achieve aims that are too ambitious.
- R for Relevant – on the other hand, your goals should be meaningful for your business, so they should bring (positive) change.
- T for Time bound – setting a time frame is crucial for achieving your goals and progress is crucial in order to consider them as achieved.
#2 Select the right type of the online event
Before you start organising, choose the event type. Here is a list of the most popular ones:
- Webinars give you the opportunity to network with professionals around the world. By hosting a webinar, you can increase your brand recognition and expand your network in the virtual world. It is also a great way to present yourself as a professional and share your knowledge with others.
- Virtual conference – large gatherings can be hosted online without the need for costly venues or many staff, and this is the beauty of online events. They are official occasions during which you and the guests can talk about business-related issues and exchange your experience with one another.
- Live streaming allows you to meet with your audience in real-time, without the need to send loads of invitations in advance. Such events can be more spontaneous and less formal. Also, they are a great way to meet your followers and answer some questions or show them new products.
#3 Choose your fighter i.e. a platform
The software you choose is the online equivalent of a venue, but it is definitely easier to arrange. There are dozens of possibilities out there, you just have to choose your perfect tool. What element should you pay most attention to? For example, audio and video quality should be as high as possible. Moreover, take a glance at pricing options, sometimes one tool’s business plan can cover the same basic features as another’s standard plan. Also, it would be nice to use some advanced features to improve the comfort of the audience and their user experience, so do some research on what is offered and the pricing plans.
There are many popular platforms to choose from, but check out LiveWebinar if you want to offer amazing content directly from your browser (no need to install another app on your laptop). There are four pricing options (custom included), so simply choose the most suitable one for you and move to step four.
#4 Invite the speakers
If you want to invite a few experts, you should ask about their availability in advance. Each of them should be given limited time so they do not drag out the whole event. Of course, each of them should have an extra few minutes after speaking for little Q&A sessions. The guests you invite are making an investment of time to share their knowledge, which could raise audience engagement as well as present your brand as professional and well-positioned on the market.
As you may have noticed, great speakers increase the quality of virtual events, so it is worth putting in a bit of effort to invite outstanding people from the industry to share their insights. Don’t forget about the formal aspects of such cooperation – contracts, terms, and payments should be covered at the very beginning of the discussion. Be professional about that.
#5 Set the agenda
After you invite the speakers, you can create the schedule, which will be very helpful for promoting your online summit. All you have to do is to decide on the limited time span that each of your guests will have, then add a few minutes for Q&A sessions, and consider the order that they will speak in. Of course, as an organiser, you should start the event by saying a few words to introduce the guests and explain the reasons why you are all gathered there. If your online event is expected to last for a few hours, short breaks will be required too.
By planning the schedule, you will be able to deliver your participants clear messages about what is coming and when. This will be useful information for people who can’t (or don’t want to) participate in the whole event.
Speaking of the agenda, there is one more issue to cover – what time and day of the week is the best to organize an online event? It is clear that weekends are a big no if you are running business training. If you want to plan a hobby related event, like yoga classes or something like that, then the weekend may actually be a good choice though. But let’s get back to the business model – if you have plans to arrange a virtual summit for IT business owners or a webinar about improving skills then you should schedule it on a weekday. Wednesdays are said to be the best days, right in the middle of the week. Mondays are not the right choices because very often, everybody has tons of work to catch up on after the weekend and that may last until Tuesday. Thursdays and Fridays are the second half of the week, during which everybody is looking forward to the weekend and relaxing. So Wednesdays it is, when that is possible.
Now what time is the right time? It depends on the form of your event. If you want to organise workshops for a whole team, it would be great to gather them around their lunch break (11 am to 2 pm, say). This way your audience will be in a good mood and still have a fresh and open mind, ready to learn. If you want to arrange a webinar that people will attend privately or from their home offices, not as an employee of a given business, then early evening around 6 to 7 pm should be good. Also, when you are choosing the perfect date and time, remember about time zones if you are aiming to attract a global audience.
#6 Ready, set, promote!
You’ve got the theoretical plan so now it is time to work! You know who, what, and when so let people know about your event! What should you do first? Use your email list or social media platform to spread the news. Set up a Facebook or LinkedIn event and invite people to a page on which you present an online program, show the agenda and… ask people for help! If you want the potential audience to engage, use referrals! With the right referral marketing tool, you can give each of your participants links thanks to which their invited friends and/or themselves will receive incentives like a coupon for your store or discount code for your next event. Thanks to referral marketing you will be able to acquire qualified leads, so it is an amazing option for creating bonds with potential clients. All you have to do is to create a referral program, and with EarlyParrot you can in a flash!
First, create an account, then choose your goal, and let the tool do the work for you. It indicates what step is next and what information is required. Once you have created a whole referral program, you can brand referral URLs and spread the news to your whole email list. Moreover, you can encourage the speakers to share referral links so that information about your event reaches a wider audience.
To sum up
Organising an online event can provide your users with a whole new and better user experience. As you will obtain a bundle of new leads, you can prove your expertise in your field and demonstrate your brand’s strong position in your niche.
Moreover, you will likely rank higher in people’s minds and remain there longer by inviting some famous names to speak at your events. This will also cause people to associate you with a willingness to share knowledge and experience.
If you want to arrange an online event, keep in mind this article. You can come back to it every time you are planning something new, use it to organise your work, and check what has been completed or what needs to be done before each event.
Are you ready to conquer the online events market?