10 Steps To Hosting A Virtual Event

Were you planning on hosting an event in the next few months? Due to the current coronavirus crisis, two options remain – cancelling your event or hosting it online. I know it isn’t the same but let’s look at the flip side. The advantage with hosting events online is that more people will be able to partake as it’s hassle free. People no longer need to travel; they retain more of their own time and who isn’t grateful for an opportunity in these circumstances to benefit from a fun and knowledgeable experience with likeminded people? So, how does this entire online event thing work? I have put together a guide on how to transform a real time event into a virtual event.

#1 – Make sure you have a stable internet connection

This goes without saying but still worth mentioning, a reliable internet connection is key to a successful online event.

#2 – Choose a Video Conference provider

There are so many providers out there to choose from but in my opinion the market leader is Zoom. Zoom offers high quality, reliable video streams in addition to some excellent features such as breakout rooms, screen sharing, phone dial in options, co-hosting features, and being as easy as it is to use, absolutely everybody can benefit.

Note: In case you’d like to use Zoom be aware that the app needs to be downloaded on phones, whereas by using a laptop this is not required. It might serve you well to mention this to participants.

#3 – Create an event

Once you have signed up with your preferred provider, simply schedule a meeting or event at your preferred time, event duration and description. Upon completion, you will be provided with a link that you can include in your invitations or registration confirmation.

#4 – Send out invitations

This is not much different to a real time event – send invitations out via Meetup, Eventbrite, your website or via email.

If you are hosting a paid event, make sure to include a link for payments.

#5 – RSVPs & Workshop material

Platforms like Meetup and Eventbrite make it very simple to track your RSVPs. For channels who don’t provide that service, create an excel table to stay on top of attendee numbers.

In case you need to send out workshop materials, it would be good to include this with the RSVP confirmation or alternatively send a separate email a few days prior to the event.

#6 – Test it

Do a Video Conference test with a friend or colleague to familiarise yourself with the tool you are using and make sure that all the features you would like to use are working.

#7 – Get prepared

A day before the event, I suggest sending out an event reminder which can be done automatically via Eventbrite and Meetup.

On the day be sure that the device you are using for the online event is fully charged, your internet connection is working and that people around you (family members, flat mates, etc.) are aware of the event and are quiet throughout the duration.

#8 – Dial in & AV check

Dial in a few minutes prior the event to check that everything is working and be sure to wait until everyone has joined the event. Begin the event by greeting the participants and ask everyone if they can see and hear you clearly. In the case that you are sharing your screen, make sure that everyone can see this too.

At this point I would suggest mentioning a few rules, if you have any. I.e. that everyone should mute their device and only unmute when they would like to speak. Let them know the best way of communicating within the group. Perhaps they could raise their hand or type questions into the chat.
-When I am doing Elsa I mute everyone else except the birthday child.

#9 – Hosting the event

Start off with a game to get everyone connected and make the event more fun. If you are using Zoom, you can effortlessly do this by using breakout rooms where you break people into small groups to avoid everyone speaking together at the same time. As a host or co-host, you can step into all groups and see how each group is doing. When you want the exercise to finish, simply start a timer until all participants will be re-joined. Note: With Zoom you can have up to 50 breakout rooms.

#10 – After the event

Make a list of things that worked well and not so well and try to adapt those lessons you learned to the next event.

Write a thank you note to those who have attended with a recap of the event or share your presentation.

Thank you to BThriven for this blog. For more information you can see her checklist that reviews everything she has talked about in this blog on her website.

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