Virtual event planning is taking the stage as the next big thing in the industry. Ponder this – in a world where technology develops and improves at an impressive speed, it’s our job as events profs to keep up with the motions. So why not be the one who takes the first step into more engaging, sustainable events that can connect thousands of people from around the world at lower costs and increased flexibility?
And we realize that this might be extremely new to you. We’ve already covered certain aspects of how to turn your in-person event into virtual. But we figured that you might need an extra helping hand. So to help you, we put together the ultimate virtual event planning checklist! If you want to skip straight into the complete document, click here. But if you want to get a little taste of what you will find inside, keep reading for the abbreviated version. Happy planning!
Before The Event
Establish Virtual Event Goals & Objectives
Just like with an in-person event, defining the goals and objectives of your virtual event is a crucial step in planning. At this point, you’ll want to define why you’re putting together this event, and what you’re hoping to achieve. What will your brand and attendees get out of the experience? What are your marketing and financial goals? In the process, you’ll also want to define your target audience clearly, since this is a stepping stone for many aspects of planning and execution. The better you can identify the personas, the more you can cater your virtual event to them.
Develop A Virtual Event Concept
Developing the concept of your event is extra important when planning a virtual experience. This will help you make the right decisions, especially in a field that is relatively new to event planners. Start with ideation, and let your mind run free. Picture the theme you’ll want your virtual event to follow, and make sure you stand out! Learn from what others have been doing in the virtual event sphere – what did they do right and wrong? How can you draw inspiration from them? Market research can be a powerful tool here. A great way to give a visual representation to your event is to put together a vision board. Take everything you’ve done so far and make it into something more tangible.
Follow A Plan
You can’t spell virtual event planning without plan! Remember that just because you’re going virtual, it doesn’t mean it’s all up to you. So in this stage, you’ll want to put together a team that includes people who are familiar with this particular format. Additionally, you’ll want to create a timeline to guide you, make everyone’s roles clear, and set clear boundaries and expectations. Leave no room for doubt on who’s supposed to do what, how, and when.
Create The Virtual Event Budget
In order to successfully plan your virtual event, you need to know your numbers. Without a clear event budget, you risk spending a lot more than necessary, or cutting corners you didn’t need to cut. A budget will help you clearly understand where to allocate money. It can help you decide where to splurge and where you may need to cut back when creating your virtual event. This should include both the income, the expenses, and the estimated versus actual expenses. Make sure you keep the budget updated and create an emergency fund – you want to be proactive in case last-minute expenses pop-up.
Virtual Event Logistics
Your virtual event also needs a date and time, as well as back-up dates. When it comes to virtual events, you’re no longer just competing with other events that are taking place at the same time, on the same day. You’re competing with, essentially, everything. So consider what else that is going on and whether or not it’s a good idea to hold your virtual event on that date.
Consider The Format Of Your Virtual Event
Virtual event planning will obviously deviate from in-person event planning. Perhaps one of the biggest mindset shifts you have to make is considering the format you want for your virtual event. Do you just want a speaker talking to the audience? Do you want the audience to engage? Do you want attendees to be able to go from a virtual room to another? These are all things to consider. Webinars, live streams, webchats, pannels, and forums…everything is a possibility. But which one fits the goals of your event?
Determine Your AV And Production Needs
At the end of the day, you still want to put on a show your attendees will remember for years to come. Virtual events have their own set of AV and production needs that have to be met. This is a good time to go after the best Virtual Event Production company that is already familiar with the game and can walk you through the details. Once you have them booked, you’ll want to connect them with the talent, learn the lingo, and ask for a quote walkthrough. Go about this exactly the same way you would with an AV company for an in-person event. Be educated, ask questions, and look for the best possible deal.
Be Mindful Of Your Technology
In virtual event planning more than ever, technology takes the driver’s seat. This is where you might want to consider spending a big chunk of your planning or make sure you have the right company by your side. It’s yet another moment where you’ll need to shift your mindset. Because with virtual event planning, venue restrictions, rigging, and so on won’t be the things you’ll have to worry about. But rather things like platform integrations, cybersecurity, platform features, your event app, and chatbots. Make sure you read the whole checklist to know what to look for with each of these details!
Be Proactive About The Content
The content will be one of the stars of your virtual event. So be proactive about this! Ask your content creators for credentials, previous virtual event experience, and review their portfolios. If you think you found the right match, then it’s time to connect them to the production company.
The speakers are one of the most important parts of the show. And because you’re changing things up and going virtual, you will 100% want to ask them about previous virtual event experience. If it’s clear that they don’t know how to keep the audience engaged and only thrive in traditional settings, it’s best if you decide on another person. You’ll also want to choose those who align with the purpose of your event and will add value to the experience as a whole.
Having entertainment in virtual events is still possible! YouTube is ripe with DJs, bands, and artists live-streaming for the entire world to see and enjoy together, even if they’re apart. So if you want to hire a band, and actor, or any other kind of entertainment for your virtual event, go ahead. Just because the audience isn’t physically there, doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy it. On the contrary – they might even feel more comfortable to enjoy and let loose! Here you’ll want to keep the audience in mind when choosing the entertainment. And don’t forget to request the talent fee!
2 Months Out
Promote Your Virtual Event
Now that your event is getting close it’s time to really build the excitement! Ask your speakers and influencers to post on their social channels about your event. Let them promote your event and themselves by sharing what interesting topics they will be discussing. Also, send out all press releases to media outlets to spread awareness of your event.
1 Month Out
This is the stage in virtual event planning when you’ll want to start tying all the loose ends. Contact all the necessary people to confirm times and find out if there are any last-minute questions, concerns, or needs. This is also the time to request payments so that all pre-event bills are done and dealt with.
You’ll also want to create a virtual command center to give your team a virtual space of their own for the duration of the event. And let’s not forget to digitally distribute information to your team! Timelines, contacts, social media guidelines – all of this needs to be in the right hands. On the same note, four weeks before the big day, designate a way to communicate virtually. Whether it’s a private chat room or a specific tool for your team, they need to be in constant contact with each other. Particularly during a remote event!
During The Event
The day of your virtual event is finally here! So make sure you have fun and have a comfortable space around you. Yes, it’s remote, but you won’t want the event to take place while you have a pile of socks on your desk or space! Make sure the atmosphere is pleasant and comfortable for you.
Know who’s who and who’s responsible for what, and consistently check-in with your partnerships. Use your event app to crowdsource and check your event’s hashtag for immediate attendee feedback. This allows you to make program changes at the moment should you need to. And last but not least, collect feedback from your attendees. The easiest way to do this is through your event app, but you can also administer online surveys. Give them some sort of incentive to fill them out!
After The Event
The Staff & Team
Have a post-event meeting – sooner the better! Debrief with your entire staff, share all the data, and get all of the problems and successes out in the open to discuss. Review your event goals, whether or not you achieved them, and if not, document why. Make sure you keep notes of this meeting for future planning!
Go over the budget by reviewing budget versus actual expenditures, and calculate your ROI. This is a good time to tie up loose ends post-event. Be sure to send sponsors the data from your event, store away the feedback and data you have collected, and use it to decide what worked and what needs changing for your next event. Finally, send thank you notes to sponsors, speakers, donors, media, and partners.
Did you like a little taste of our virtual event planning checklist? Are you eager for more? Then make sure you click below and download the complete checklist and get your virtual event going. You can always chat with us if you need the helping hand of a Virtual Event Planning company – we’re here to help!