Just a few months ago the event planning process looked like this: have an idea, form a team, book a venue. Well, a few of us would have imagined that step 3 would vanish into thin air for quite some time. Now event organisers face a challenge: engage an audience that is not in the same room. But what does that mean for event organisers (from anyone that hosts a Zoom meeting to annual conferences) and what are the challenges with organising online events?
Every event needs to have a purpose and we can help describe it with the 5W’s :
Having an online free event implies that anyone can join. Now, this means that event organisers need to think about their target audience – do they create an event for an audience with a niche interest or this is a more broadly appealing event. Once this is decided the programme needs to be well planned and structured beforehand. Online viewers are used to other media channels like TV or YouTube videos, which are fast-paced and interesting to watch. A common mistake that newbies might make is to think that an online event is just a streaming with a camera in front of the speaker. Well, that will not do the job if you want your attendees fully immersed into what you are talking about.
Timing is flexible, as most people are now at home, so this depends on the type of event. Educational events are best likely to be attended in the late hours of the afternoon, as people are done with work and would like to learn something new. Marketing events, which focus on familiarising audiences with a product would be best scheduled during the weekend. Another thing to notice is the length of the seminar: a shorter but more saturated content would be better assimilated by your audience.
You would need to communicate why are you hosting your event with the audience, so the expectations can be met and exceeded. Maybe it is a networking event, maybe you would like to master hybrid events and you are testing this opportunity, whatever it is it would be best to include in the events’ description the reason why this event is being produced.
There is an abundance of livestream platforms and some of the best you can find here. If you already have an audience on Facebook it would make sense to use Facebook live, as users will be familiar with the platform and will receive notifications. However, if you are just starting out with building your online audience it may be best to use Twitch, because millions are already on the platform and are just waiting for good quality content. Don’t forget to advertise the event in advance on multiple social media platforms and maybe publish the event on Eventbrite, as internet audiences right now have plenty of choice and you need to grab their attention!
This is the key to an online event’s success. What is your content? This has become so central because now “visitors” cannot respond to physical stimuli, there is no catering, no beautiful set up and no cool resort with breathtaking views. Therefore, online events need to be planned ahead just like all events thus far and organisers would have to focus on content. For example, a charming facilitator would make participants comfortable and engaged; pre-recorded videos of speakers will demonstrate professionalism and will keep the pace of the meeting; the money otherwise spent on a venue can be relocated into supplying a higher value speaker. Can you think of an interesting person with valuable knowledge about your topic that can be invited now, given that this person wouldn’t need to travel?
What are your thoughts on the topic and what would you describe as the most crucial element for an online event?