I love planning and hosting events, but the Coronavirus has put a stop to most events in the Netherlands. It’s not impossible to organize events right now, but it isn’t fun due to all the restrictions. I decided to start hosting online events, because those are safe in any situation. I’ve also gotten a lot of questions on how to plan and host an online event as an event planner or a business owner in general. So today I want to share my best tips to plan an online event. This way you can still connect with your customers, clients or colleagues. Here we go and don’t forget to check the video!
Find the right software
Let’s get the technique out of the way first, because that’s the most important part of planning and hosting an online event. Thankfully there are many free and paid options. I’ll zoom in on my favorite free ones because they usually have paid options too. And you can upgrade anytime you like if you need extra services. There are probably even more options out there, but these are the software tools I’ve been using. First up Facebook live, which is a wonderful way to host an online even in a private group. It’s free, easy to use and you can even download the video if you want for other uses.
Another one I really like is Zoom. This company has been upgrading their services very fast since Corona happened. Using Zoom is now easier than ever. They have so many options, it’s very easy to use and you can host a lot of people in Zoom. I’ve also tried Youtube live a few times, but I personally wouldn’t use that for professional online events. Unless you also have a professional that can help you set it for the best quality. Doing Youtube live can be very beneficial if you work with bigger companies and public events. Otherwise I’d stick with Zoom, a good webcam or a nice professional setup for the best quality. You can also try Twitch, Streamlabs and Streamyard which is very easy to use.
Time to plan
Yes, an online event needs to be planned out too. It seems so easy: You just hit live and go! But hosting a live event for yourself or a client needs to be planned out too. First of all, the software that you’re going to use needs to be tested well ahead of time. Nothing is worse than having a planner who doesn’t understand the software. Your clients are relying on you to help them with running a smooth online event. So make sure you understand how the software works or hire someone to help you.
Yes, some countries may be on lockdown, but people still have things to do. Make sure you send out invitations for the event at least a month in advance. Since it’s an online event you also have to make sure you send them the right link with the right password. Password? Yes, a password because some provides like Zoom can help you host private online events. Which is very important when it’s a paid event. Don’t forget to plan email reminders that your attendees get at least halfway, the day of and about thirty minutes before you start. Online events are easily forgotten, so you have to help remind your guests.
Create the program
Jimmy has left the chat… Right, that’s not what you want to see when you’re hosting an online event. However, leaving an online event is very easy as you simply click away the screen. It’s very different from an event on location where people tend to hang around longer because they’re already there anyway. This is why creating a program and sticking to it is very important for online events as well. Don’t forget to practice the program with your team and the client. Everyone needs to be on point, so the event goes smoothly.
An online event can take as long as you want. I personally love events that take no longer than forty-five minutes to one hour. Most people’s attention span only lasts about ten minutes, so online events over an hour can be a bit too much without a break. Create a program that can be easily followed by the attendees, your client, your team and yourself. In this case, less is more! As an attendee you only have one screen to look at, so forget about balloons and decorations. The program needs to be on point with helpful information.
How to host an online event as an event planner
It doesn’t matter if you are the host or your client, make sure you both know your lines. Think of yourself watching a Youtube video. If the person in the video rambles on too long or doesn’t get to the point, you click away just like that. Keep that in mind for your own event. Make sure everyone on your team and your client know the program inside out and what to say. Create a short but sweet intro in which you tell the attendees what they can expect. Then go to the core of the online event and give them what you’ve promised them.
The outro should be a short roundup of the best takeaways from your online event. Leave room for questions and thank your attendees for hanging out with you. Maybe you give your attendees a virtual goodiebag in the form of a digital gift they can download. You could also let them register their addresses, so you can send them a gift through the mail. Make sure you end your online event with a bang! You want your attendees and/or customer to see how fun an event can be. Keep them wanting more!
How to plan an online event
Well, now you know how to plan an online event. I do have some extra tips for you. For starters, make sure your audio is amazing. Invest in a good microphone and/or camera if you can. Test your software beforehand and make sure you have backup plan, like a second laptop. The internet connection should be steady as well, you don’t want to lose your attendees over a bad connection. If you have any digital items like workbooks, presentations or videos, make sure you have them lined up. Don’t forget to make sure you’re able to share your screen.
Last but not least, have fun with planning and hosting your online event. Put your happiness, passion and most of all personality into it. Hosting an online event comes with its own set of challenges, but when the vibe is right people will love it! Keep your energy high on screen, create beautiful backgrounds and make sure you’ve got plenty of water and snacks nearby. Ask your attendees questions, give them a chat option or let them come on screen as well. Engagement is very important during online events, so get everybody hyped up!
Now it’s time to plan and host your online event. Don’t forget to let me know how it went,