Organizing a virtual event may seem easier than a physical event as there are several items you don’t have to worry about, such as location, authorizations, catering, security and more. However, planning a great virtual event can be just as time-consuming and difficult when it comes to keeping participants engaged all the way to the end.
Leading or promoting a virtual event typically relies on drawing in the right audience. With enough time and the right know-how, as well as a focus on providing participants with fresh, interesting information and networking opportunities, a virtual event can be a raving success.
Yet even the best-laid plans will run into hiccups from time to time. Sadly, there are several mistakes that professionals can make when leading or promoting their virtual events. Here, 15 experts from Forbes Business Council highlight these mistakes in the hope that your organization can avoid falling into these traps when you’re working on your own virtual events.
1. Not Having A Plan Or Agenda
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is not having a solid plan or agenda. People have very short attention spans today, and having an unstructured event is a sure way to have people leave early. As the saying goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Other issues I see are poor audio or Wi-Fi connection and not generating enough hype and promotion for the event to draw a crowd. – Damien Coughlan, Ecomgraduate
2. Trying To Recreate An In-Person Experience
When planning a virtual event or workshop, the top mistake I’m seeing is that we are trying to recreate an in-person workshop but in a virtual space. We must think about what humans need when dispersed and virtual that will garner the same outcomes we would receive in person. We must think about this differently as there are many benefits, such as online, real-time collaboration! Humans first, tech second. – Isabelle Perreault, Differly Inc.
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3. Focusing On Demand Generation
The focus tends to be on demand generation rather than adding value. With all initiatives, there has to be a ROI. However, think big-picture here—with events, you can absolutely generate demand, but if you focus on the value specifically, you will draw a lot more people into your marketing ecosystem to then nurture with various inbound (and targeted outreach) initiatives. Give value, get value. – Fadi George, Kalungi, Inc.
4. Not Facilitating Networking Capabilities
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when promoting a virtual event is that they do not facilitate the networking capabilities of the event to those who are attending. The truth is that professionals want to meet other professionals. However, hosts rarely offer to make introductions and do not share a list of who is on the video call or in the webinar. Oftentimes, guests would like to know who else is attending the meeting and how they might connect once the meeting is done. – Jean Paul Paulynice, Empowering Confident Youth
5. Forgetting To Plan For More Breaks
When leading or promoting a virtual event, people forget to plan for more breaks and novel ways to keep the audience engaged. They approach them like a poor alternative to in-person events when they could be even better. Staying engaged virtually also requires things like breakout rooms and gamification since the event has to compete with other pulls for attention in an audience member’s space. – Marie Elizabeth Mali, Relationship Alchemy LLC
6. Not Preparing Participants For The Event
The best virtual events prepare their participants by sharing the web tools available to them and a list of the virtual booths, rooms, vendors or other participants they can interact with. With simple screen-recording software, event hosts can even film a short instructional video on how to best participate. Hosts who fail to prepare their participants end up playing IT help desk for half the event. – Jordan Smith, Jet Dental
7. Assuming Viewers Know Who Everyone Is
Since the very inception of our business 10 years ago, we learned immediately not to limit our business to a location, thereby expanding our business model to virtual platforms and other unexpected locations. The biggest mistake we have noticed is that hosts assume viewers know everyone’s title and experience. Titles must be listed before names—for example, CEO Kat, Dr. Bob or Marketing Pro Mary. – Kat Conway, The Scott ©️
8. Not Considering The Participant Experience
One of the biggest mistakes people make in leading and promoting virtual events is not considering the participant experience. People attend events because they want to feel good. They want to enjoy themselves. Create opportunities to surprise and delight participants and you’ll leave them wanting more instead of wondering why they showed up. – Andrew Olsen, ResourceOne Fundraising Group
9. Underutilizing The Power Of Others
Virtual events can be very powerful and lucrative when marketed right. However, underutilizing your power partners, speakers, industry leaders or even your sponsors’ reach and influence can lead to a mediocre event. While social media ads can bring in a lukewarm audience, the power of first-hand referrals and affiliates can take your event to the next level. – Nona Djavid, Part Time Million Dollar Business
10. Assuming That People Will Show Up
One mistake is assuming that people will show up. We’ve been overloaded with content and virtual events during this time, so when we see that event reminder pop up, it’s too easy to dismiss. One successful tactic I’ve seen is sending a “thank you” voucher or a treat to high-priority people to ensure you have a minimum number of the right people attending. This keeps them accountable and invested. – Sarah Neill, Mys Tyler
11. Ignoring The Drip Campaign Strategy
A critical mistake is to ignore the drip campaign strategy. With so many virtual events going on, the event manager must make sure to drip-feed useful and relevant information to the registered participants at regular intervals. – Biju Chandrasekharan, ByteWave Digital Inc.
12. Underestimating The Time Commitment
A common mistake is underestimating the time commitment. Hosting a virtual event sounds like a breeze at first—you don’t have to hire a caterer, florist or bartender. However, it takes far more coordination to find a great virtual platform. It is also extremely time-consuming to market the event online, engage attendees and handle technical difficulties. – Indira Hodzic, Image Spa MD
13. Failing To Fully Test The Software
Most people fail to fully test the software they will be using for the virtual event. However, testing the software alone or during a standard team meeting is not enough. To ensure the success of the virtual event, you must do a completely live dress rehearsal with your entire internal team and as many external speakers as you can get to commit to the rehearsal. – Isaiah Hankel, Cheeky Scientist
14. Not Having A Sense Of Connection
Not having a sense of connection is a common mistake I’ve seen, but promotional products will help. The event is digital, so having an event logo and colors helps bring people together. Promotional products are tactile, tapping into the five senses and creating a tangible experience. Send a swag bag. Think about logo placement on the shoulder of apparel so it can be seen on camera or the bottom of a coffee mug so it’s visible when sipped. – Valerie Hayman Sklar, Corporate Specialties LLC
15. Lacking Engaging Content And Conversation
A frequent mistake is monotony of content and conversation. Remember your classes at school? There’s nothing that pushes people to drift away into their own thoughts and activities than a monotonous, repetitive stream of similar sounds and conversation. Make sure virtual events regularly change the pace, the speaker, the volume and the type of content (speaking, videos, music, etc.). Don’t get trapped in monotony. – Will Russell, Russell Marketing, LLC