“Hello, hello, do you hear me? Maria, we lost you, can you rejoin the conference call?” By now we are more than familiar with this situation happening at most of the online events. The quality of the connection and the equipment, the unclarity of the business model, etc. is what may prevent more companies from professionalizing their online events. But with the right preparation, a web conference could also be a huge win.
Less than a month ago the innovation media Trending Topics organized the web-adventure THE BIG RESET DAYS that turned into a successful 4-day live online conference with more than 1700 registered participants, 50+ speakers a list of supporting companies and organizations. It could have been a disaster, people are still calling to ask how they managed to secure a connection with quality that doesn’t drop. The answer is – with timely preparation and thanks to a technical partner called Launchee.
After going through the whole process of planning, preparation, production, and execution of THE BIG RESET DAYS, the two teams are convinced – a virtual conference could be as successful as an offline one, with the right plan, digital tools, equipment and partner next to you. Moreover, a virtual conference has the potential to attract many more attendees if marketed well, as it basically has no limitations in terms of the number of people that can register. With the right platform, one of the main concerns – attracting sponsors & partners of the event – can also be solved and the organizer can even add value to their exposure. How?
Here are the 10 tips & tricks
Have the plan ready – topic/budget/speakers/time-planning/promotion
This is a point you can never skip. A successful event, whether being an on-line conference, webinar, training, or meeting, can never go without a good initial plan. Think of a trending and engaging theme that has the potential to attract the targeted amount of visitors. Consider the budget in terms of how much you can spend in hiring famous speakers, renting headquarters of the conference (the place from where professional streaming can take place), design of marketing materials and promotion of the event, human resources, and tech expenses. Here we can already name one of the big advantages of virtual conferences – they cut a big part of the expenses – no need to hire a big venue for several days, one can simply rent a professional studio for on-line streaming that can host the event, the main stage, and the hosts. One can also cut on staff, as just a few people can coordinate a virtual conference with thousands of attendees. One cuts a lot on logistics – no heavy trucks with tech equipment, stages, lights, sound; no travel expenses and bookings for accommodation & hospitality of guests; one also cuts on security, stewards, ticket controllers. Spending on advertising is also much less – in terms of print & distribution of promo materials.
All these savings give the event organizers the opportunity to invest more in good, well-known and highly valued speakers, the presence of which can boost the credibility, promotion, and sales of tickets of a web conference. Search for the best experts in the field to take part as speakers, presenters, and coaches. What is good in this case is that one can have an outstanding name in a certain field as a guest during your conference, without the need to book expensive flights and accommodation as the person can participate even from his/her home. In addition, famous speakers have now cut their fees for participation as it requires them less effort in terms of travelling and also in one day they can participate in more than one event.
Time-planning is also an important point. A conference that is well planned, considering participants’ schedules, the timing of the event, and timing of the activities in the different sections of the web-conference is a step towards greater satisfaction of the attendees. In terms of time-planning of the preparation, the earlier one starts, the better, especially when speaking of promotion. However, here we have another advantage to add in favour of the on-line conferences. There are already records of companies that managed to organize web-conferences from point “0” or to move their planned conferences on-line for less than 2 weeks, which opens for you great opportunities for on-line events you never thought before.
In terms of promotion, the on-line space gives so many opportunities: saving budget by skipping unnecessary print an distribution, staring the promotion immediately, targeting the right people and having a less negative impact on the environment by making a “greener” promotion and cutting on printing big quantities of posters, leaflets, programs, banners, designs for billboards and so on! A big plus is the fact that digital promotion can lead the potential visitors of an event exactly to the platform for ticket sales and registration, urging their decision to take part and register immediately.
So, having the content and promotion plan ready, move forward to choosing the right tools and partners for executing your virtual conference.
Choose a reliable platform for on-line events / webinars / conferences
One of the most important tools for maintaining the experience value of an on-line conference, making it interactive, keeping all features of the offline-conference on – line, is choosing the right platform for the streaming of the event. A good online event platform gives options like making registration of attendees online, directly being also the sales-system of the event, offering different segments to the web-conference like event reception, main stage, event networking rooms, live event chats, sessions rooms, event booths that are very important fragment for the potential sponsors and exhibitors of the event. A good platform will also ensure a reliable quality of the stream, opportunity to register thousands of visitors with almost no limitation (very important for the sales and attendance of the event); good accessibility: user—friendly platform where you can sign in from any device without additional download and installment of applications. In recent months, more and more new platforms appeared because of the big shift of the business to on-line events.
For the BIG RESET DAYS, we could take advantage of the Webex conferencing equipment available in Launchee that allowed us to rely on high-quality connection with our speakers and participants from all around the world. We organized various thematic sessions that were part of the web-conference and that were streamed directly through a platform called hopin.to. The same platform also secured the successful registration of the attendees and the ticket sales. During the event, we already had valuable statistical information about the profile of our audience.
Set the conference segments/rooms: reception/stage/networking/sessions/booths/registration
After choosing the right platform for the web conference, make sure to use all the opportunities it gives to build an engaging live event that will keep the interest of the attendees constant and that will also maintain their steady participation by giving them options to become a part of the audience at the main stage, take part in various discussion sessions, go to the networking room for fast meetings with related leads and people, take part in the online chats and discussion, directly putting question to the panelists or visiting the sponsors booths where they can learn more about the supporters of the event and experience brands and services. Make sure to have strict planning of each segment and also valuable content that can keep the interest of the viewers. With the right online event platform, viewers will be able anytime to hop into the different rooms/halls/segments of the conference based on their interest.
THE BIG RESET DAYS, for example, was based in Launchee where we also set the main stage and situated the hosts and the moderators. The Opening Session of the conference was streamed from Launchee, where the hosts/moderators were in direct contact with the main speakers of the event through the Webex system installed in the venue, following the time/thematic schedule of the web conference. At the same time, we also had various webinars as part of the conference. Our integration with the Webex infrastructure made it possible to send the real-time video and audio feeds to the video-mixing system in the studio for additional control and flexibility during the live show. This way we were able to easily choose what to show the viewers at any time – switching from cameras in the studio, presentation slides, remote panelists, etc. Using the vMix professional video-live-streaming-software gave us more opportunities as playing back pre-recorded videos, bumper videos, adding overlays as on-screen logos as well as triggering lower-thirds with the names of the participants in the live show. We used restream.io to redirect the video and audio feed to hopin.io stage and YouTube platform at the same time.
Book an event place with great tech equipment and experienced professional team for live online events to be the headquarters of the event
A major point for creating a successful and impressive web conference is choosing the right place (venue) for hosting the production of the event where the main stage will be situated and where all the “magic” of blending live the different parts of the conference will happen. The production space of the web conference is the place where you host the main stage of the event, the place where you situate your hosts and moderators/facilitators, the place from where they connect to all the main speakers from all around the world and lead the program of the conference. Ideally, this will be a hall with systems installed for live-streaming, with set stage or an available green screen that can make the whole stage customizable, giving the option to brand it, to stream sponsors’ videos, the program or any kind of visual content while the presenters and speakers are on-air. This hosting space-studio shall have the necessary professional team to manage the whole process of mixing video, sound, and lights, to coordinating the host, speakers, and facilitators, acting immediately in cases of technical issues and generally, this space will be the one thing that will make your web conference stand out with great experience, quality, and presence. Such hosting venues could be professional studios equipped for live streaming and video/sound production situated in the city where your team is.
Currently, in Sofia there are barely any affordable event spaces with integrated studios so we can proudly say that Launchee already had several successful web – conferences and webinars, one of which was THE BIG RESET. Actually, we are so happy and satisfied with what we did for this event because it challenged our limits – we had less than 5 days to organize the whole process/production and streaming of the conference, adapting to the request of Trending Topics to make a conference with speakers from all over the world, to have a main stage, networking rooms, sponsors booths, discussion sessions and constant chat with the attendees. The audience was very active, the opportunity to be in constant contact with all the speakers, presenters, hosts, to give different perspectives of what was happening, was making the experience very alive and special for all parties involved – the audience, the hosts, and the team behind the scenes. As we say here, the charm of Launchee is in the experience :).
Register the coming on-line event at portals that support the promotion of the event
There are a number of very well-known web-portals that list the forthcoming online events, present a calendar of events, sorted by topics and fields of interest. Such event media portals are frequently browsed by the on-line audience in search of future events related to their field of interest. Facebook and Linkedin are a must but also keep in mind pages like eventbrite, eventspro.bg (for Bulgaria), allevents.in, when promoting your on-line conference, as they are a great way to place better your events on-line and spread the word about them.
Explain your partners and sponsors the brand exposure opportunities
We could say that this is one of the very important advantages that an on-line conference gives. Probably some event organizers are still not aware of the branding and exposure opportunities they can offer to potential sponsors and partners of their event. On-line platforms like hopin.to provide the chance to include sponsors & exhibitors’ booths in the event where various targeted brands can present their products and services, offer attractive on-line activities to the attendees, have on-line chats with them and boost the brand awareness of their organization. In addition, using a professional on-line streaming studio, like Launchee, gives you the opportunity to also offer to partners and sponsors the displays of various promo-videos during the conference, branding of the main stage, inclusion of sponsors logos and spots during the streaming of the event. These are just a few of the exposure opportunities you could offer to the supporters of your on-line event.
Have a meeting place/networking room for the attendees of the conference and provide more options for interactions between the people in the audience
High-rated experiences at events are always connected with the inclusion of the audience in various activities and for business events, very important is the networking opportunities offered. Online conferences shall not skip this point and fortunately, the well-developed online event platforms offer the option to set a networking room for your web-conference. Networking rooms are the place where attendees can enter and have fast person to person chats and on-line meetings with people in their sphere or people with profiles of interest. Some quite important contacts are made in those networking rooms so do not skip them when planning your web event.
Prepare a plan for audience engagement during the event
This is another point that relates to the engagement and experience of the audience. We have already mentioned hopin.to that offers also various options for keeping your audience engaged during the online event. Study and apply segments like live chats, live polls, quizzes, questionnaires, discussion, where attendees can place various questions to the speakers and presenters and other attendees can vote for the best questions. These are great tools that can not only activate the participation of the audience but also provide you with precious statistics during and immediately after the event.
Have an online Help Desk
This is a segment that will contribute to the overall smooth run of the event and the satisfaction of the audience. For many people your virtual conference might be the first on-line event in which they participate so there need to be a dedicated part of the organizing team whom they can contact at all times with questions related to the setting of the events, technical issues, participation in various rooms, chats, networking and all types of requests that always pop-up during a live run of an event.
Do not skip the party!
Well…parties and after-parties of conferences are something one might think to skip when moving virtual but if you skip, it will be a miss! Having a platform that gives the opportunity to include so many participants from all over the world, event-organizers could actually fix a time for an after-party and invite well-known artists and bands to become a part of the event from their home or, if there is a studio from where the event is being streamed, one can even invite them to perform at the studio. In addition, there can be contests between the attendees for best home-performance, best song cover, best Tik-Tok dance…Plan a virtual jukebox from where people are able to choose the songs to be played during the party and also use chat applications where people dive into fast chats about the band/artists who perform or any topic that can enhance the networking experience of your web-conference. Use the after-party for promotion of related brands that make interesting activations and contests with the audience. Simply, be brave and make the experience complete!
Bonus trick: Don’t try to do everything yourself, there are companies specializing in this that would love to partner with you. Reach out to Launchee.