#171: Defining and Planning Your Online Event

Grow Your Business, Office Operations

In a world that thrives on connections and shared experiences, events hold a special place in our lives. Whether it’s a captivating conference, a virtual get-together, or a thought-provoking seminar, events bring people together, foster collaboration, and create unforgettable memories. The impact of events is undeniable.

Over the past decade, and especially during the past few years, the world has seen a significant shift towards virtual platforms. Online events, when done right, can reach a wider audience and offer unparalleled convenience.

Just like an in-person event, the virtual environment also comes with its unique challenges. Organizing an event isn’t just about switching on your webcam and talking into the void. It requires thoughtful planning, seamless integration of technology, and an in-depth understanding of your virtual audience’s needs.

The theme this month is Mastering Online Events: A to Z Strategies for Success and we kick off this series with Setting the Stage: Defining and Planning Your Online Event.

Welcome to Systems Sunday.​ In a world that thrives on connections and shared experiences, events hold a special place in our lives. Whether it’s a captivating conference, a virtual get-together, or a thought-provoking seminar, events bring people together, foster collaboration, and create unforgettable memories. The impact of events is undeniable.

Over the past decade, and especially during the past few years, the world has seen a significant shift towards virtual platforms. Online events, when done right, can reach a wider audience and offer unparalleled convenience.

Just like an in-person event, the virtual environment also comes with its unique challenges. Organizing an event isn’t just about switching on your webcam and talking into the void. It requires thoughtful planning, seamless integration of technology, and an in-depth understanding of your virtual audience’s needs.

The theme this month is Mastering Online Events: A to Z Strategies for Success.

I am Lisa Wells, your Virtual Assistant Trainer.

Defining the purpose and planning an online event in advance are essential steps that contribute to a well-organized, engaging, and successful event. They ensure that resources are used efficiently, risks are managed, the attendee experience is prioritized, and the event’s objectives are achieved.

In today’s episode we kick off this series with Setting the Stage: Defining and Planning Your Online Event.

The first step in planning any successful online event is defining the purpose of your event.

You should be clear in your goals. What are you hoping to achieve with your event? Are you looking to educate, entertain, network, or sell a product?

You can start by asking, “What do I want to achieve by hosting this event?” Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). For instance, rather than having a vague goal like “increase brand awareness”, a SMART goal would be “Attract 500 attendees to our event from our target industry and increase newsletter subscriptions by 20% within a week after the event.”

After identifying your goals, it’s essential to understand your virtual audience and align with their Needs: Consider what needs or interests your event addresses, and who would most benefit from it.

• Who are they?
• What are their interests, needs, and online behaviors?
• What time zones do they reside in?

If you aren’t clear about your audience, you can always analyze Past Events if you’ve done them before.

For example, when I looked at attendee data, I noticed that roughly half were on the West Coast and half were on the East Coast, so I added an additional webinar to accommodate the different time zones and it made a big difference in the number who showed up.

Social Media Engagement: Monitor your engagement on social media platforms. See which posts are getting the most interaction and what kind of content resonates with your audience. You can also directly ask your followers what they would be interested in through polls or direct messages.

Online Forums and Communities: Visit forums and online communities related to your industry or event topic. See what people are talking about and what questions they are asking.

Competitor Analysis: Look at similar events hosted by your competitors or within your industry. See who is attending these events and what kind of content is being offered.

By defining the purpose of your event and understanding your audience you’ll set a strong foundation through the planning. It gives direction to your event, aligns your team towards common objectives, and ensures your event resonates with your attendees, setting you on the path to online event success

Now that you are clear about the purpose of your event, it’s time to do some planning.

Planning an event, whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, requires meticulous organization, foresight, and a good dose of creativity. From selecting the perfect date and time to ensuring every detail is in place, there’s a lot to consider. I’m going to go through the key elements of planning an event and I’ll share essential tips and strategies to set you up for success.

1. Selecting a Date and Time
Choosing the right date and time is crucial for maximizing attendance and ensuring your event runs smoothly. Consider the following:

  • Audience Availability: Know your audience. Are they working professionals, students, or perhaps international attendees in different time zones? Select a date and time that accommodates their schedules.
  • Industry Events: Avoid scheduling your event during major industry conferences or events that your target audience might attend.
  • Holidays and Weekends: Be mindful of public holidays and weekends, as these might impact attendance.
  • Event Duration: Clearly communicate the start and end times, and ensure the duration is appropriate for the content and format.

2. Defining Roles and Responsibilities
A successful event is a team effort. Ensure everyone knows their role:

  • Event Coordinator: Oversees the entire event, ensuring all elements come together seamlessly.
  • Technical Support: Manages any technical aspects, particularly crucial for online events.
  • Speaker Liaison: Acts as the point of contact for speakers, ensuring they have everything they need.
  • Audience Engagement: Manages Q&A sessions, polls, and other interactive elements.

3. Creating a Realistic Timeline and Checklist
Stay organized and on track with a detailed timeline and checklist:

  • Start Early: Begin planning as early as possible, allowing ample time for unforeseen challenges.
  • Break It Down: Divide tasks into manageable chunks and assign deadlines.
  • Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular meetings with your team to track progress and address any issues.
  • Final Checks: Conduct a final run-through of all event elements a few days before the event.

4. Embracing Flexibility and Contingency Planning
In the world of events, not everything goes as planned. Here’s how to prepare:

  • Plan B: Always have a backup plan, especially for crucial elements like speakers and technology.
  • Test Technology: For online events, test all technology in advance and have technical support on standby.
  • Communicate Changes: If changes occur, communicate them to your team and attendees promptly and clearly.
  • Post-Event Flexibility: Be prepared to gather feedback and make adjustments for future events.

Planning an event is no small feat, but with careful consideration of these key elements, you can create a memorable and impactful experience for your attendees. Remember to start early, stay organized, and be prepared to adapt as needed. With these strategies in hand, you’re well on your way to hosting a successful event.

If you enjoyed this episode and want more tips and strategies for planning and executing your online event, check out Digital Event Pro Pack: Streamline Your Planning Process. In this template pack, I include tools and templates to help you plan and host your event more smoothly. You can find a link to the product below or visit my VA Business Builder Boutique by clicking on Shop in the menu bar.

Join me next week for “Crafting a Captivating Experience: Designing Your Online Event.”

See you then!

Did you enjoy this episode and want to put it into action? Grab this Template Bundle!

Digital Event Pro Pack: Streamline Your Planning Process

$20.00

Apple products facilitate them. Small businesses organize them online. Individual coaches conduct them virtually. What am I  referring to? Hosting successful digital events.

In our digitally-driven world, virtual events have become integral in creating connections and shared experiences. From engaging webinars and live-streamed conferences to interactive online workshops, these events unite people, encourage collaboration, and create lasting memories. The influence of digital gatherings is profound and far-reaching.

Over the last decade, we have witnessed a substantial transition to online platforms for event hosting. In 2021, the global virtual events market was valued at $78 billion, and it is anticipated to surge to an impressive $774 billion by 2030. This rapid growth is attributed to the ability of online events to connect with a broader audience and offer unmatched convenience.

However, hosting a virtual event comes with its unique set of challenges. It’s not as simple as turning on your webcam and speaking to an online audience. It necessitates meticulous planning, the seamless integration of technology, and a profound understanding of the virtual attendees’ needs.

This pro pack is crafted to provide you with essential tools and insights to effectively plan, host, and execute digital events, regardless of their size or purpose.

Here’s what you get:

  • Insider’s Guide – filled with insights and information to help you plan, design, and execute your event.
  • Speaker Information Sheet Template (Editable) provides a standardized format for event planners to collect necessary details about their speakers.
  • Event Budget Template (Editable) provides a pre-designed format for planners to track their income, expenses, and overall budget for their online event.
  • “Hosting Successful Events” Checklist (Editable) helps to ensure nothing is overlooked.
  • “Successfully Planning Your Event” Workbook comprehensive customizable workbook to guide you through each stage of planning your event, helping you stay organized and ensuring successful event execution.
  • Online Platform Resources List (Editable)

As you can see, everything included in this template bundle will help you stay on track when planning your event.

#171: Defining and Planning Your Online Event
#171: Defining and Planning Your Online Event

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