Supporting stakeholders with their switch to virtual events

Blog | Corporate Events, Online Event Management

Previously we wrote about how you, as an event organiser, can support your attendees at a virtual event. The next in our mini-series of ‘support’ articles focusses on helping the stakeholder when they are a bit nervous about making the change.

The government recently announced updated information on business events and that more people can attend, but this is all Tier dependant, which can change fairly quickly if more cases develop locally. Therefore, we predict virtual events won’t be going anywhere for a while yet!

So how can you can support the nervous stakeholder, or one who has had a bad experience? 
The intention and will are there but there maybe a mental block about translating to online. You now need to work with your stakeholder to shift that initial perception.

Here we share some of the main concerns we have come across, and overcome, from our stakeholders:

“The live event will not translate to virtual”

  • Work with your stakeholder to review the objectives for the event – have they altered now the event is online or are some more important than others in this new environment?
  • Once you have clear measurable objectives and required outcomes in place, they can start to visualise the event – duration, structure, format, sponsors, attendee profiles
  • The online platform is selected to suit the aims and objectives for the event in the same way that a venue is selected. If you are using a platform the stakeholder isn’t familiar with then hold an onboarding session for them and record it so they can watch as many times as they need to
  • Don’t forget to schedule plenty of refreshment breaks to refresh tired minds!

“People come for the networking”

  • Many event platforms have fantastic networking opportunities which can be randomised or filtered by attendee type. If you can, why not set durations to move people along to the next person – no more being cornered by the coffee!
  • Highlight the online chat functions and any opportunities for people to ‘connect’ and stay in touch after the event

“How do delegates interact or ask questions?”

  • There are a multitude of interaction tools available. Some are integrated in the platform and some are simple plug-ins
  • Use the in-built poll or questioning functionality – most platforms support basic options
  • Raise the game with word clouds, quizzes, polls, slide sharing and more. There are free options with and you can pay for more functionality with Glisser

“Home provides too many distractions”

  • Face to face events need to be interesting and it’s the same, if not more so, for online events
  • Maintain pace and keep the programme short and snappy
  • All plenary and slides will not to work – panel discussions, breakouts, interviews all help change the pace and provide interaction
  • Make it fun with some activities – from something simple like a quiz to brain busting challenges to be creative

“Sponsors won’t sign up as you can’t have footfall without feet”

  • Switch up their exposure and integrate them into the event
  • Involve them in the programme – can you interview them or they have a presentation slot?
  • Turn the refreshment break an advert break and get short promo films to broadcast
  • Some platforms provide an exhibition area – allow dedicated time on the programme for this
  • Is there a budget for delegate packs? Include something from the sponsors. Plus attendees may share on social media and give kudos to the sponsors this way!

Quick wins

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Even if they are seasoned presenters, it’s a different ball game without a physical audience to respond to.
Communication behind the scenes is different, there are lots of messages to share with the audience and timings really are down to the minute. Rehearsals will make your client much more relaxed and in control on the day.

Why not…

Engage an event host – whether it is a professional host or the stakeholder themselves, having someone holding the event together helps enormously and this really is a key role!

So for all the obstacles presented there are a multitude of solutions and positive outcomes! 

If you want to find out more about how we have supported our clients and stakeholders to make the switch, then do get in touch, we would be delighted to talk. 

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Paola Davis

Senior Project Manager
Author Bio:
I have been working in the events industry for the past 15 years in various guises. In-house corporate and non-profit, freelancer and co-founding an events trade show. Working with ZiaBia gives me a fantastic opportunity to bring all this experience together.

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