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Speakers.com is here to make hosting your next virtual event a breeze! In the wake of social distancing, live events have been forced to move to virtual. While hosting a digital event is a great way to adapt to current events, executing a successful virtual or hybrid event is much more than turning on a camera or downloading a live streaming mobile app. By following the dos and don’ts listed below, you’ll be well on your way to providing your audience an extraordinary experience.

DO get the right tool

Not all virtual events are built the same. It’s crucial to find a partner who can deliver your brand’s goals and vision. Since there are many tools available, you should analyze what you need from a tool to realize your vision for your event: Do you require distribution technology that can store and broadcast content to audiences both locally and globally? Would you benefit from an e-commerce space for your content? Do you need video conferencing functionality, or does your content need to integrate with social media? The more questions you ask, the clearer your production-vision will become.

DON’T use the wrong tech for the wrong crowd

These are exciting times, bringing forth a constellation of brilliant and accessible digital technology options. But what’s good for the Millennial goose is not always good for the Gen X gander. In other words, know what types of digital media and event technology resonate with your audience. For example, younger participants might prefer a “light-weight” virtual event optimized for mobile devices, requiring minimal login processes. More mature audiences might prefer a more secure login with richer content and higher-production-value – since they traditionally have more disposable income and in turn may be more inclined to transact through a paywall.   

DO get your audience to participate

The days of passive audiences are over — viewers are more likely to engage with brands and organizations when it’s a two-way conversation. Whether you decide to utilize Q&A, polls, quizzes, or social media (i.e., live-tweeting, Instagram Stories), it’s crucial to allow presenters and audiences to have the most intimate relationship possible. 

DON'T forget about the story 

While using the right tool is essential, you should not forget that technology is simply the medium used to create a larger narrative. Bill Gates famously said, "content is king," and that is still relevant in a competitive landscape with more skeptical crowds. But sitting in an adjacent throne, context is now queen. Whether you're streaming a single event or producing a webinar with many presenters, there should be a beginning, middle, and end to a very personal story that resonates with each unique participant.

It's important to remember, though, storytelling is just as important as the story itself. Due to the lack of a live audience, you will need a speaker who is compelling in their storytelling and will connect with your audience, despite the physical distance. That's why it's even more crucial to find the right speaker(s) for your virtual event. 

DO prepare your presenters, moderators, and any other audience facing staff

They say practice makes perfect - and for virtual events, this is 100% true! As you would make a detailed game plan for a live event, you must do the same for a virtual one. And while some of your guest speakers may have experience with virtual events, it is always in your organization's best interest to schedule rehearsals, over-communicate the agenda, and ensure every document they may need are prepared and distributed.

DO get sponsors involved

Audiences come first, but sponsors are the backbone of events, including virtual events. Sponsors can easily be woven into webinars, videos or other platforms in non-intrusive ways. Due to the fluidity of online events, package levels can be developed that come with different commitments and price points. A blend of large sponsorship packages and customized items will help you reach a wide selection of potential sponsors.

DON'T forget about metrics

Digital tech is second to none when it comes to capturing specific lead information and audience data. Most of all, it will help your brand’s ROI and optimize KPIs. Some software packages and providers even offer built-in dashboards or support that can break down your audience and event performance, and make the story easier to tell.

DO prepare for tech troubles 

If physical events have hitches, virtual events have glitches. Before kicking things off, test your Internet connection—and have your speakers do the same. Prepare backups of visuals and presentations in case a file goes wonky or awol. If possible, run a rehearsal. The sooner you identify problems, the sooner you can identify solutions. Remember that not all of your guests are tech-savvy. Anticipate the troubles people may have by preparing easy to follow guides or FAQs. If you have the resources to provide support, even better. Make sure it’s easy to find where and how to ask for help.

DON’T make it a one-time event

Repurposing content is the smart way to keep an event going long after it’s over, whether that’s in person or online. Ask yourself how can you continue to leverage the content in different digital channels. Some examples include producing bite-size videos for YouTube, recap blog posts, shareable slides and audio content for iTunes or other podcast outlets. Of course, providing sessions or speaker content behind paywalls can greatly help manage costs and audiences seldom have a problem paying for what is relevant and valuable. What’s important is that your virtual event is part of your year-round marketing strategy.

NEW TO VIRTUAL? We're here to help.

Now more than ever, having the right speaker will make or break your event. With events moving online, it is paramount to have a  prepared and profoundly engaging speaker in all types of event settings. Contact Speakers.com today to discuss how we may be able to assist you with your next event! 

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