The other critical step in planning a virtual conference is picking a hosting platform, launching the conference, and keeping your audience engaged.
With Coronavirus lurking around and no hopes for a possible cure, many organizations have had to replan their upcoming events, particularly conferences. While virtual conferences are still a new concept, how do you take an in-person conference and turn it into a virtual event? Here is a guide as to how you can go about it:
- Get to know your audience
You cannot start approaching possible speakers and developing ads without identifying your audience. If you have ever hosted a similar event, you may already have an audience but you still need to expand it. The advantage of virtual conferences is that people can attend them from anywhere. Also, given that there is no traveling involved, this opens a chance for more people to attend. To identify your audience, you first need to define the event that you wish to host and establish why it is essential. The next step involves creating an attendee persona followed by reaching out to them via your networks. You can also promote your event on social media to see just how many people would be interested in it. If you can access people’s emails, you can also utilize email marketing to reach out to a vast audience.
- Identify the speakers
When you have figured out the content for your conference, the critical thing is to identify suitable speakers for your event. You can source them from your networks such as LinkedIn. While perusing through these platforms, check whether the speakers are good at public speaking before you even engage them. Another approach is asking for recommendations from professional associations. Such organizations will recommend someone who has done the job before thus you are likely to have your expectations exceeded. You can also leverage social media, where you go in search of authority figures in that particular sector. It does not have to be a prominent public figure. Once you find your preferred speakers, you need to enquire whether they will be available on the selected conference days. Where your attendees are people who speak different languages, you should consider hiring translation services to help you relay information in a manner that can be understood by everyone.
- Choose a hosting platform
While in-person conferences are tied to a particular location, virtual conferences allow you a chance to access a wide range of audiences from different countries and time zones. Given the rise in virtual events in 2020, there are a lot of platforms that you can choose from including Zoom, Hopin, ClickMeeting, Accelevents, Whova, or BigMarker. Each of these platforms has unique features like breakout rooms that you can leverage to host various sessions. However, you need to request the service provider to give you a demo on how they work so that you pick the right platform. Once you choose a hosting platform, ensure that you do some pre-recording and share it with your audience to get your audience interested in tuning for the whole conference. To pre-record sessions, you require thorough organization and coordination, which means, you need to choose the right platform early enough.
- Launch and engage with attendees
According to communication experts from U.S. Translation Company, “Inclusion and getting the best ideas verbalized is critical. This is how organizations excel because they get those ideas and then execute them. Therefore language barriers cannot be an issue or you will only end up only with ideas of people that speak your language.” Keeping attendees engaged and excited is another sure way of bypassing minor language barriers to get your message across.
With that in mind, how do you keep your virtual attendees engaged? For a start, incorporate short breaks between the session, preferably after every speaker’s address. However, you need to be careful not to lose people during these breaks. One way of ensuring that all attendees come back after breaks are by promising them surprise giveaways during and after the conference. People love free things so they will most likely hang around for all the sessions. Presents also arouse the competitive nature of human beings, so you will have successfully tricked attendees into getting interactive during the proceedings.
Another way of keeping attendees engaged is by giving the event live coverage on social media. Attendees will get active and engaged throughout the conference just in case someone sees them on the live broadcast. You know, to boost their social media reputation. While at it, advise your presenters to interact more with your audience to maintain their concentration and to make their sessions social media worthy. Lastly, because technology is not entirely reliable, you need to have a backup plan should something unexpected happen.
The initial planning process of a virtual conference resembles that of an in-person event, especially where you have to identify an audience and get the speakers. The other critical step in planning a virtual conference is picking a hosting platform, launching the conference, and keeping your audience engaged. If you use these tips, you will succeed in hosting a virtual conference for your business.