The global COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the event community in 2020-2022, with everyone and everything making their way into the online world. While this may have been quite a challenge for some companies, we used it to our own advantage. In 2020-2022, the event management team of CFC Big Ideas organized numerous successful online events, such as Davos Energy Week, Djooky Music Investment Summit, Global Inclusion Online Forum, and CEE GR Forum, converting some of them into permanent global event platforms.
With things slowly going back to normal, the event industry is making a long-awaited comeback to offline events, with some of them being held in a hybrid format that combines both virtual and in-person components. Keeping online audiences engaged remains the key challenge for event organizers, so the lessons we learned from online events could be useful for many hybrid event organizers in the near future:
When organizing an online event, one thing should always remain at the forefront of your mind – simply replicating the format of offline events online doesn’t work. In-person events happen largely for networking purposes, while the core of the virtual ones is educational. This should be taken into consideration when creating an agenda for an upcoming event.
You shouldn’t underestimate the necessity of a great event management platform, since many technical possibilities depend on it, directly affecting the event’s success. Will there be a networking feature? The possibility of having two or more virtual stages? Good quality auto-generated captions? These are only a few questions every event organizer should ask him/herself when making a decision on which platform to opt for.
Organizing a successful global online event is also about finding the right time for it. While it’s obvious you can’t cater to everyone, you should still focus on making it at the most suitable time for your key audience or the bigger part of it. The event itself must be recorded, so that everyone who can’t make it on time will be able to watch it at a time that works for them.
Creating titles and descriptions that are relevant and catchy and that reflect the pain points of the target audience and indicate solutions for them is another must for an event organizer. No one would want to attend a discussion with a generic, boring title, even if it would be the most interesting talk of all time.
Panels, presentations, interviews, and any other speaking slots on the agenda must be short and dynamic: enough for the audience to understand the topic, but not enough to overload it with too much information.
Online events are much more demanding in terms of content, which is more about education than inspiration, compared to on-site events. The content is expected to provide recipes that can be implemented immediately to solve key problems. It is also essential to conduct better preparation work with speakers, meaning the organizer should check the speaker’s presentation beforehand and put certain limitations on what the presenter can say. Otherwise, there might be an unfortunate situation in which the speaker is advertising their company for 15 out of the 30 minutes allocated for his/her speech.
No matter how captivating the speaker’s talk is, the participants can easily get distracted during an online event when attending from the comfort of their own homes. The not-so-secret solution to that is constant engagement and interaction with (and among) your audience. Interactive elements may include (but are definitely not limited to) polls with questions relevant to the discussion or various contests. A primary example of this could be giving a prize to the author with the best question during a session.
Even though it may not be the main selling point for people to attend, it’s still important to dedicate time for networking and organize it properly. Networking may be arranged, for example, through creating thematic breakout rooms with moderators, using AI-powered match-making on the event platform, or, if it’s not an option, the event manager can manually match attendees with similar profiles together.
To save everyone’s time during an event and avoid unnecessary technical problems, it’s essential to conduct testing sessions with speakers, moderators, and presenters prior to the event. That way, if something goes wrong during the test run, there’s still time to fix things.
You can’t be certain that everyone attending your event will be able to use the sophisticated event management platform you have chosen. Most of the attendees will be first-time users of the software, so everything has to be explained to them in detail – how to join the platform, where to click to watch the live stream, where the networking lounge is, and so on. By failing to do so, you risk losing some of the audience at the time of the event, as well as receiving negative feedback afterwards, since many people won’t be able to figure everything out on their own.
Feedback is crucial, so don’t hesitate to ask for it. Negative feedback is especially valuable, as you can use it to substantially improve your events in the future. Yes, you may think at first that your event went flawlessly, considering how much effort you put into it, but trust us, an honest opinion from your audience will make your next event even better.
We hope that these key lessons extracted from organizing online events will come in handy in the preparation process for your future conferences, discussions, and presentations. The new era of hybrid events is coming up, and we are ready for it. Now, hopefully, so are you!
If you’re interested in learning more or discussing a possible collaboration, we invite you to schedule a video call with our business development manager.