Getting your first virtual conference or event up and running can be a daunting task – but it’s really not as big of a hill as it may seem initially. Remember the old adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time*.” It’s the same with an event.
The really great thing is that there are several areas you can focus on – and they typically happen sequentially. This can give you the time you need to put the effort into each area:
- The public site – these are the micro-pages, the web site devoted to getting the word out about your event. Put this up as quickly as possible and begin taking registrations. Remember, you can update this page (or pages) as you go along, adding speakers and other information about your event. However, the most important thing is that you provide information about your event. As you talk with speakers and potential sponsors, they’ll want to see what your event is about and this will be the starting point.
- Speakers – who is presenting the content? Whether you’re hosting a single webcast/webinar session or a full virtual conference event, you’ll need to have content and speakers. The speakers (and, more specifically their content) drive attendees. Attendees drive sponsors. Sponsors base their expected attendee counts on your content. Speakers and their topics are key.
One interesting thing we found in talking with attendees at various events is, while the speaker is important and big-name speakers can help an event, it’s really the topics that drive people to register for and attend your event. In nearly every survey we’ve conducted, we’ve found that attendees look at the content (the session title and abstract) to be presented, then the speaker to see if they are qualified to talk about it. If so, and it’s a topic they’re interested in, they’ll register. People don’t typically register solely based on the speaker’s name and reputation. There are clear exceptions to this for celebrities and such, but generally, it’s all about the content.
- Sponsors – who will be sponsoring your event? Start talking with them early, but the real process of signing them up will get underway as you beef out your content and show your attendee interest. Create your packages, know what you’re offering, but talk with them as your event starts to fill out in terms of content, direction and the style of event you’ll be having.
- The event platform – there will likely be things about the platform you need to set up. This includes getting the content into the system, doing housekeeping and making setup decisions that will impact attendees during the event. This can be done fairly late in the setup process as no one will be seeing this until the event is open. Know what you have to do, but save this to the last portions of your set up calendar.
By attacking the things you need to do in a serial way – instead of looking at all of it at once – you’ll be able to work through the steps and have a great virtual event, without losing your sanity.
* Of course I’m not saying you should actually eat an elephant. That’s just not a good idea on so many levels.