Just like any physical event, online activity cannot be improvised by shouting "webinar". It's important to prepare properly and optimize your event to ensure an unforgettable experience for all your participants. Here are 5 tips to help you plan yours with the utmost peace of mind!
Types of online event formats
First of all, we need to differentiate between the two main types of virtual events: online, and hybrid. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but here are the basics: online events are 100% online, while hybrid events combine a face-to-face activity (think golf tournaments, gala evenings, maple syrup tastings, bingo, etc.) with an online event (such as a web auction, live stream, webinar, and so on).
1. Set your dates carefully
Everyone says it: winners don't leave anything to chance, especially not the dates (at least, we do). The date and time of your event should therefore be chosen carefully.
For example, for online auctions, we recommend a two-week period, starting on Friday and ending on Sunday night - two moments when people are generally available. However, you will have much more success if you adjust your dates to your target audience. And the beauty of it is that Followmybid allows you to conduct an auction for the duration of your choice: it's really up to you.
Here are several questions to ask yourself about your timing:
- What time zone is your audience in?
- Will it be spread over several time zones?
- If so, is there a time that would be appropriate for the majority of the people you will be inviting?
- Is a party or other event likely to compete with yours?
- Is your audience available on the chosen day?
- Will your persona be fresh and available at that time? (In other words, remember that just because you are available doesn't mean you don't want to go to bed at 8:35 p.m. to recover from a busy week).
In short, identify your target, study it, and act on it. And because we've all forgotten our youngest's painting lessons or Mr. Mustache's appointment for a lion's haircut, make sure you send out multiple reminders before the big day.
2. Choose your tools wisely... and master them!
Nothing better to dampen the spirits of a crowd than a presenter who talks for 10 minutes without knowing that they're on mute. Or even worse: a connection that crashes repeatedly during the presentation.
While you can't always have control over the wifi, choosing the right tools will be paramount to ensuring your back. Know how many attendees you can have, if you have a time limit, if you need specific devices, extra chargers, etc.
Some potentially useful tools:
- Mailchimp. To create and grow your contact list.
- Eventbrite. To promote your event and keep track of interested people.
- Followmybid. A platform to create your own online auctions.
- Prodon. A donation management software.
- Zoom. A classic of video conferencing.
- Google Meet. For video conferences with photo sharing, emojis, and animated GIFs.
- Google Forms. To survey your audience and do even better next time!
Regardless of the combination of tools you choose to use, it is advisable to do a lot of testing and technical research to anticipate any glitches that may occur.
In short, prepare yourself thoroughly to, much to the delight of the whole world, put an end to the ever-so-famous “I'm sharing my screen...do you see it? How about now?”
3. Think carefully about your promotional campaigns
Of course, you'll need to get the audience excited by drawing attention to your upcoming event.
How to promote your event
Here are some surefire ways to promote an event online, but the more original you are, the better!
- Posts on social media
- A newsletter sent to your contact list
- A press release sent to the media
- Direct calls from you and your partners
4. Promote real-time interaction
When the time comes, be prepared to promote interaction. For example, you may want to schedule discussion groups, rooms, or Q&A available throughout the event for people to weigh in. If possible, plan specific times to invite your audience to participate. Also, make sure to provide clear instructions on how to participate, otherwise, your efforts will be in vain!
And because we are human and our concentration has limits, be sure to vary the content so that your audience doesn't lose interest. Also, plan frequent breaks so that everyone can take a breather. These breaks will give you time to deal with any technical glitches that may arise and will allow the audience to come back refreshed.
Finally, schedule the highlight of the show, such as the awards ceremony, at the end of the evening to encourage people to stay until the end. You can also give out attendance prizes to people who actively participate in the conversation to provide extra motivation.
5. Differentiate yourself from others
With so many online events available to the public, you must find a way to stand out from the crowd.
How, you might ask? Easy: make it fun. Yes, a webinar can be effective, but do you know what makes it even more effective? Humour. Sometimes all you need is a great presenter to make sure everyone has a good time.
However, if you want to go even further, you can also make your event an experience. Gamification is a great way to do this.
For example, you can take advantage of the Followmybid platform to wow the crowd with a different experience. We'll take care of all the gamification stuff: double your event with a participatory auction that will encourage your participants to bid and keep them engaged with instant SMS notifications.
Here are some benefits of gamification of virtual events:
- Improves audience engagement;
- Promotes networking among your participants;
- Ensures a greater return on investment;
- Boosts your brand's exposure on social media;
- Increases your attendees' satisfaction level tenfold.
For even more delight, you can also opt for a theme, we actually have another blog post that explains in detail why this is a great idea.
Bonus: don't leap into the unknown, contact us!
As your virtual event partner, we have all the tools to help you set up an online auction that reflects your image. Our last tip is to integrate proven tools like Followmybid into your online event to ensure that it runs smoothly!