With an increase in virtual events and more content readily available at our fingertips, the quality of our virtual experiences has varied from “I’ve just fallen asleep on my laptop” (a real quote) to “this has been the best day of my life!” (another real quote).
At Fundraising Everywhere not only do we curate our own virtual events and conferences, we also partner with other organisations to bring their events online.
We’ve supported many event organisers with hosting virtual events.
Here are the common mistakes we fix and how you can avoid them yourself.
You’d be surprised at how many speakers can stand in front of a room of 200 people with no problem at all but are flummoxed by the idea of presenting to a responseless screen.
Clear communication is key to making sure your speakers know what to expect and so that you get your content in on time.
- Make sure speakers know the cancelled event is now virtual and whether they’re still speaking. I was surprised to find myself on two virtual line-ups of previously cancelled conferences and hadn’t been told I was still featuring on the virtual event!
- Create clear briefs for content expectations, deadlines and how/where to submit content – and expect people not to read them. Always follow up and set up calls with speakers who don’t respond
- Use mediums speakers are familiar with for submitting content; Google Drive, Dropbox etc.
- If possible, host supported recording days for speakers with limited tech knowledge and/or confidence
- Send a session example so speakers know what the end result will look like. Virtual events are new for a lot of people and the end result may be hard to picture.
Picking Your Platform
Sure, you’re familiar with Zoom and it’s cheap – but are you creating a conference experience attendees will want to come back to?
With the rush to push out virtual conferences organisers have become fixated on the numbers of views and not the quality of content. We’re seeing rushed out content on cold platforms that do little to ignite the spark of inspiration or create an online community.
Picking the right platform for your virtual event can have multiple benefits and will ensure attendees come back again and again.
They’ll feel connected, part of the event, and so impressed by your event they’ll be telling their friends and colleagues to book onto your next one immediately.
- Engagement tools like banners, tickers, call to action buttons, and overlays
- Text and video chat rooms, both private and public
- Attendee engagement data for partners and sponsors
- Choice for attendees to participate in whatever medium they’re comfortable with
- Library to host and re-watch content at a later date
- Personalised pages and URL
- Seamless, edited interviews and interactions
- Live hosting and entertainment
- Project management including on-the-day logistics
- The capacity to handle thousands of live viewers on event day
At Fundraising Everywhere we support virtual event curators as little or as much as they need and create experiences that leave viewers wondering what kind of magic is happening in the background – imagine leaving attendees wowed by both the content and delivery?!
Forgetting the Basics
With over twenty-five years charity sector experience combined we understand our clients’ audiences and that makes it easy for us to be able to support in bringing their events online and ensure a successful result.
The success of a virtual summit relies on many similar factors we as fundraisers tell each other and charities in how to run successful fundraising programs – easy to use, simple language, and a clear focus.
- Easy – minimal clicks to book, limited information to collect, and instant response with joining instructions
- Simple – drop the fancy terms on virtual conferences and use your copy to highlight exactly what they’ll be getting, including your conference name
- Focus – Think about what you want the attendee to do after your event and have an event strategy and sign-post attendees to the next step
Confession time: the more comfortable I’ve gotten with public speaking, the later I create my presentations.
And I’m not the only one.
Unfortunately, with a high-quality virtual event there is a lot of editing to be done before ‘go live’ day that night before submissions end up being problematic, including transitions, holding slides, timings and honing your running order to invite live guests and speakers.
Be clear with speakers about deadlines and the work involved post-submission and work together with them to get it in on time. Often a speaker going quiet on you or missing a deadline means they’re unsure about what they’re supposed to do (whether subconsciously or not) .
Reach out, be supportive and offer to help where needed.
Attendees are pretty chilled about virtual events and the rush you’d see for booking traditional events isn’t there for virtual.
Organisers panic and the enjoyment disappears as the stress takes over.
Create a sense of urgency with limited uplift offers or discounts if you need early bookings, and don’t freak out if launch day is a little quiet.
This graph from the last five virtual events held on Fundraising Everywhere show the peak points for booking and this is typical with virtual events.
If your promotion budget is small focus your attention on the week before the event.
Over 75% of your attendees will book within this time with the majority booking within 48hrs of event day – you’ll even see a spike on event day itself!
Getting Your Price Wrong
There is a lot of free, virtual content out there which might seem like it’s helpful for customers and leads, but in the long run might end up becoming a regret for those who become known for offering free content.
The truth is, people don’t value free stuff.
Having a free event will mean you have thousands of attendees but the reality is over 50% of them won’t show up and the ones that do, do they really value your product if they can get it for nothing?
And when you decide to charge $300 for an event they’ve previously had access to for nothing, what do you think they’ll do? Look for another free event.
There is a lot of work that goes into curating an event, especially a virtual event where many of the speakers need more support to create content than usual.
Your time and their expertise is worth something.
Charge a reasonable fee and reinvest back into the sector or do what we do and pay speakers for their time and cover bursaries for fundraisers who would like to attend but have no training fee.
However, charge too much and you alienate your community.
Hit the sweet spot of high enough to show value but low enough to be inclusive. Virtual conferences are all about more people giving smaller amounts.
Virtual events are exceptionally powerful for organisers wanting to make money from conferences.
With low set-up costs and unlimited guests, every fundraiser held on Fundraising Everywhere has beaten previous income targets and increased ROI.
Having a library of instantly available content isn’t a virtual conference and is no different from the experience you’d have watching a bunch of YouTube videos.
To create a truly virtual conference experience it’s all in the engagement with attendees and capturing as close to a traditional conference experience that you can get; networking, surprises, live chat and a break from the norm.
Factor in breaks and schedule surprises, have separate meeting rooms for group and private chats, and ensure there are live elements throughout where the attendee can get involved and feel part of the event.
We’ll be writing another article on virtual conference engagement soon so check back here in a few weeks.
As you can tell, running a quality virtual event experience that attendees will love (and you’ll love organising) is a little more than setting up a video and hitting play.
Much like any event it takes skill, time, and a lot of behind the scenes work to create something that looks smooth and professional to attendees.
Picture your attendee sitting down to their computer, clicking your event button, and sitting through your event.
How will they feel throughout?
What do you want them to do when it ends?
How will you keep their interest?
And put together what you can to make that happen.
If it still all seems a little complicated get in touch with any questions you have about virtual events and conferences.
At Fundraising Everywhere we provide as little or as much as you need.
Whether it’s running an event from start to finish and you get income and leads, or you hire us to run the day’s virtual logistics only, we’re here to help increase your virtual audience and ensure a successful, professional event.