Six Ways to Approach Small Virtual Events Like the Producer of a Broadway Show
As the world continues to rely on virtual and hybrid events in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, small to mid-sized businesses can use this transition to their advantage.
A virtual event can turn run-of-the-mill affairs into engaging events that can be even more exciting than in-person gatherings.
To accomplish this, small to mid-sized businesses can look to Broadway shows for inspiration. Like any approach, it requires a lot of planning on the front end to ensure the event meets the organization’s objectives.
Provide a Compelling Run of Show Upfront.
The best approach to getting people to join your event is to make it something they want to attend. By sharing a compelling run of show upfront, potential attendees will know what they might learn from the event.
The world is becoming more accustomed to joining events from their homes, but any event must stand out from other items on an attendee’s calendar. Given how chaotic our lives are at the moment, it’s easy to multitask during a session or tune out after a few minutes, so don’t give attendees that option. As the old saying goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Make it memorable.
Define Your Narrative
You are the best person to define your organization’s story. So, as you plan an event, take an honest assessment of what works, what doesn’t, and what areas need improvement.
Be sure to also look at it through attendees’ eyes. Consider where your attendees are when they approach the event. What do they want to take away, and what do you want them to take away? What messages do they need to hear?
Then tailor the event to make sure your narrative is clear. If you don’t take the time to define your story, attendees will do it for you, and their definition might not align with how you want them to view it.
Address Potential Questions at The Beginning of The Presentations
Some virtual and hybrid event attendees may be unfamiliar with the ins and outs of how these events work. It’s best to share a lay of the land upfront to allay any fears.
Let participants know how they can engage and participate. Be sure to answer any potential questions you suspect may arise. Make sure they know what to expect to fully benefit from their time investment.
Keep Speaking Sessions Brief
While many people are working remotely and not commuting to and from the office, their time demands are as great as ever. For businesses staging a virtual or hybrid event, that means attendees may not be able or willing to give their undivided attention for long periods.
This is where Broadway can serve as a guide; think of it as a short production that’s wildly compelling and has unexpected elements.
The key to success is keeping speaking sessions brief and to the point. One way to do this is by producing some elements of a presentation in advance to make sure the event itself runs smoothly. A little bit of production can also make smaller events seem more polished, and therefore, larger.
Have a Dynamic Moderator
Recruiting a dynamic moderator could be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful event. The moderator will be the face of your organization for the event, so pick them carefully.
Many organizations look internally, particularly to their executive teams, to find someone who can moderate. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with selecting someone on the team to moderate an event but be sure they are charismatic and can carry the event with the utmost gusto.
Don’t be afraid to look externally — to a client, vendor, partner, customer, or celebrity – for someone who can host and carry the event.
Surprise Your Attendees Now and Then
With so many people confined to working remotely, people are looking for surprises. If nothing else, it’s a way to help people escape from the doldrums of the everyday routine.
Consider shipping them a gift bag with goodies well in advance, ranging from standard event giveaways like pens and USB thumb drives to a bottle of bubbly so everyone can partake in a toast.
As the world emerges into the “Next Normal” following Covid-19, audiences will take with them the lessons they learned during the pandemic. In doing so, they will view their engagements with companies in a new light.
The pandemic, in many ways, has leveled the playing field. Small-and-medium-sized businesses have an opportunity to reach larger audiences, but it requires they seize the opportunity now available for the taking and produce events that are creative, compelling, and memorable. Carpe diem!
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.