Discover Vievma's comprehensive guide to planning and preparing for a successful online event in 2023. The advancement of technology has transformed the way events are organised and experienced. As a result, virtual events have emerged as a popular choice to replace traditional in-person events, offering cost-effective and efficient opportunities to connect with a wider audience. Whether you're planning a conference, product launch, webinar, training, or networking event, virtual events offer a solution for every type of event. Utilising the benefits of the latest technologies, you can target a global audience, enhance participation, and reach your event objectives easily, efficiently, and affordably.
In this guide we break down our framework for success, taking you step-by-step through out tried and tested method for planning an event.
If you're interested in finding out more, or working with us on an upcoming event, please get in touch to book a call with one of our event management experts.
1. Agree on goals, objectives, stakeholders, and budget
Having well-defined targets and objectives is essential for planning a successful online/virtual event. By determining the purpose of the event and the target audience, as well as identifying the desired outcomes or deliverables, you can develop a focused plan that will accomplish your goals. For instance, the objectives for a conference might include boosting brand recognition, attracting potential clients, reaching a worldwide audience, or imparting information to participants. These objectives also play a significant role in choosing the right platform that caters to the needs of the event.
It's crucial to create a concise budget for the event at this stage, taking into account the costs associated with different elements and activities, including those specific to the digital format of the event.
It's also important to thoroughly consider the needs of all stakeholders involved, including attendees, speakers, sponsors, partners, and vendors. Make sure that their requirements are met, including providing technical support if necessary.
2. Deep dive discovery - a thorough look at all aspects of your event
At this point, it's crucial to take into account all the components of the event and construct a comprehensive solution that accomplishes all the targets and objectives. It presents an opportunity to work together with your event manager or team to develop a thorough plan that aligns with the goals and objectives, ensuring a seamless experience for all stakeholders.
This "deep-dive" approach also clarifies the identification of the necessary technology, platform, metrics, personnel, and other resources required for the event.
3. Figuring out your logistical and technical requirements
It is imperative to clearly specify the technology, personnel, and other resources needed to successfully execute the event. Producing and conducting online events effectively takes time, energy, and specialised skills, so you may want to consider engaging the services of specialised providers or partners, such as ourselves, to handle one or all aspects of the event production.
Our team of virtual event management experts have 20+ years of industry knowledge and experience, by working with us you can save time and resources as we take care of the sometimes complicated technical stuff.
4. Choosing the right platform and technology for your online event
Specific attention is also needed to consider which event platform and technology delivers the event objectives, along with what special production needs are required e.g. Branded on-screen graphics or videos. There are many platforms that use a standard “cookie-cutter” model which can be limiting in scope.
Unlike other online event providers, Vievma produces a bespoke platform, tailored perfectly to the client's specific goals.
5. Blending in-person and online events? You may need to think about hybrid integrations
If the event is going to integrate in-person and virtual attendees, speakers, or sponsors, how is this going to be handled?
Hybrid events are growing in popularity, with the demand for a dual experience rising. The key to planning a successful hybrid event is to clearly define how the event will integrate the hybrid elements and at what level.
Additional considerations will need to be made around event space and location, attendee management both online and in-person, ticketing, audience participation and more. You must get clear on what you want your event experience to look like for both sets of attendees.
6. Networking opportunities - using your events to provide a meaningful platform for connection
Hand-in-hand with events comes the opportunity for attendees to network and connect with each other. Taking your event online doesn't have to limit these opportunities. You just need to get a little bit more creative in how you offer this experience to your attendees.
Some key questions to consider:
How will you manage peer-to-peer networking among attendees and stakeholders?
What resources and technology are required to ensure this is a seamless experience?
Can your chosen platform or the production resources handle this?
Who will manage the online networking sessions? (i.e. do you have a host?)
7. Marketing and promotion - how will you ensure people attend your event?
With all the work and planning that goes into an event, it can be easy to overlook the essential marketing and promotion that comes along with it. As much as you wish attendees would just materialise on the day, building a strong marketing funnel around your online event is key to success on the day.
Consider strategies such as email campaigns, social media, and paid advertising. Use digital tactics like SEO and video to reach potential attendees and generate interest, and if relevant, sell tickets. These methods can be used to communicate the event details, schedule, speakers and registration information, creating buzz and interest.
8. Designing and branding your event
Creating a cohesive look and feel for the event is key to creating a fully branded experience and improving brand awareness. Include all visual elements such as on-screen graphics, videos or virtual backgrounds. Sponsor logos and designs can also be incorporated. Many platforms are limited in how much of a branded experience you can offer.
Vievma offers a complete bespoke platform solution, fully branded and customised to your specification at a fraction of the cost of most virtual event platforms.
9. Sales and ticketing - getting paid for your ticket sales
So you're ready to promote your event, but have you considered pricing and ticketing solutions?
You may wish to run a free event, and cover your overheads out of your own pocket or through event sponsorship. For events where you wish to charge, you will need to assess ticketing price points. This may include creating ticket packages of different tiers and promoting sales to potential attendees (such as early bird discounts).
You will also need to consider how you will sell tickets. Some platforms utilise Eventbrite which can be expensive or difficult to integrate. At Vievma, we developed our own platform to handle all ticketing elements, linking securely and safely direct to your chosen payment handler (e.g. Stripe or Paypal). Automated integration with your CRM using webhook and API technology can also be included to create a seamless link with your existing systems.
10. Content, speakers and schedule - the main pull of your event!
When planning for an online event, you will need to spend time focussing on content, speakers and the schedule! Your content and speakers will likely be the main draw for your attendees, so it's worth investing time and effort into making sure you provide high-quality and engaging content and work with exciting and dynamic speakers.
This may include identifying and inviting speakers, panellists, and other content contributors, and considering their participation in the event. You should also agree on the type of schedule and timeline for the event, including specific sessions or activities and their timing.
It is important to define what the programme will look like. Consider time zones if you plan on having an international audience, and comfort breaks are a must! Very often virtual events will neglect breaks in the programme which can backfire on attendance levels. Short breaks every hour are essential to a well-attended and enjoyable event.
11. Create an overview event plan using all the steps above
As the final step in the online event planning process, all the above elements need to be agreed upon and only then can a full event plan be created.
The plan is crucial for ensuring a successful event and involves outlining the steps and tasks necessary to deliver the event from start to finish, considering all the elements. The plan should include timelines, responsibilities, and milestones, as well as the budget and any necessary resources. Communication and co-ordination with all relevant stakeholders should also be outlined. This will serve as your roadmap for the event team and helps to ensure that all details are executed smoothly and efficiently.
All of these elements require experience and expertise to fully explore. If this feels overwhelming or if you simply need advice, please be in contact and we will happily discuss these issues with you at no cost or commitment. The Vievma team have been producing virtual and hybrid events since 2009 so we have the experience and expertise to assist you. Given the specific needs of every event and audience, we will work with you to curate the optimal programme. You can book a call with a member of the team here.