I’ve been connecting with a lot of people in the event planning industry over the last few weeks. Most of us are having to make major adjustments to programs – cancelling in-person gatherings, scrambling to reschedule, or like so many are doing, going virtual.
Most of us have probably been a part of some sort of virtual event before in one way or another, especially in the current COVID-19 world where we’re watching an interactive webinar or panel discussion, or maybe we’re online for a happy hour over Zoom with co-workers or friends. But what really makes a virtual event a success?
Building an agenda
When you get into the details of exactly what your virtual event will look like, you will start to notice differences. For one, not all of your attendees are in the same time zone as they are when you meet in-person. We are based on the east coast, so we start our virtual days later to accommodate our west coast customers. We also schedule our keynotes for later in the afternoon rather than the morning so we can be sure we will have the greatest number of attendees watching live.
When building your agenda, make sure to factor in plenty of breaks and gaps for people to eat, check in with work, and — these days — take care of their kids. Studies show that 90 minutes is about the maximum amount of time someone can participate virtually without a break. Another key factor to consider when building your virtual agenda is whether or not your content will all be livestreamed or be pre-recorded and played later. We’ve found that a mixture of both is most ideal for us. We livestream our keynotes and our sessions that we anticipate having the most conversation around, and we pre-record other content, playing it either at a dedicated time with live Q&A in the chat room, or making it available strictly on-demand.