If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that we better embrace the remote work, distance learning, and online events that will forever be ubiquitous with this year. With that in mind, being able to successfully shift your in-person events to virtual spaces will be a crucial skill if you want to grow your brand.
Aside from being able to educate your audience on topics related to your organization, virtual events and webinars can offer major lead generation and nurturing benefits. While some make hosting these events look easy, that’s all by design. Hosting and promoting a digital event is no easy feat, but with the right preparation and targeted promotion, you can feel like a pro (even if you aren’t).
Prepping for Your Webinar or Virtual Event
- Have multiple speakers. The lead up to your virtual event will undoubtedly require a lot of planning, strategy, and forethought. If you are hosting a webinar or virtual speaking engagement, you may want to consider seeking out multiple thought leaders in the subject area that is being covered. No one likes sitting through an underwhelming presentation with a monotone speaker. Leveraging additional experts can add a layer of fluidity to the presentation. When speakers can play off one another it turns the event into a discussion, instead of a one-sided monologue.
- Secure a moderator. While having a few extra speakers can really liven up your virtual event, keep in mind the conversation can go off the rails quickly if no one is moderating the discussion. As such, designate one of your presenters to play a virtual “host” to kick off the event, introduce speakers, take questions from the audience, and conclude the session. And to fully ensure your virtual event goes smoothly, make sure you meet with all speakers, and the chosen moderator, multiple times so that panelists are confident in the topic and get to know each other before the event.
- Create engaging slides. When it comes to the presentation itself, you will need to create an engaging slide deck. Remember, showing paragraphs of text on a plain background will not keep your audience interested. Make sure your presentation is clean and simple, but still includes relevant visuals like images, charts, or data visualization infographics. When possible, use a high-quality video to explain your point as sounds, moving images and voiceovers are sure to keep your audience engaged. Conduct two to three live polls during your presentation. Real-time feedback from attendees is not only valuable to the presenters, but it also enables greater audience participation.
Promoting Your Virtual Event for Maximum Engagement
- Set clear expectations. Alongside the preparation is the event promotion. For in-person events, setting expectations is an important promotion tactic; virtual events and webinars are no different! Not all virtual events will look the same, so make sure your audience knows what to expect from this experience. Are you covering technical topics or high-level subjects? Will there be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions? Similarly, make sure your registrants understand the purpose of this event, and why it would be valuable for them.
- Segment invites. When beginning your initial outreach, try to segment your event invites. If your event is covering a broad range of topics, you may want to segment your outreach based on different registrant “personas” or demographics. A seasoned professional may attend your event for different reasons than someone new to the topic.
- Leverage co-branding. Co-branding can be another powerful way to promote your digital event. Leverage your panel of experts and have them share out event invites on both their personal and company social media channels. The more people that share out the events registration details, the wider the reach. Word of mouth marketing should never be underestimated!
Ultimately, it will take time and patience to successfully host a virtual event. While excellent preparation and strategic promotion will go a long way, your audience will get more out of an event filled with meaningful content.