Tips for Planning a Virtual Event: A Parent Volunteer’s Perspective
In light of the recent pandemic, the entire world has essentially shifted to a virtual lifestyle. While it has been a more comfortable choice for some, it comes with its set of unique challenges that aren't exactly easy to overcome. Our podcast, The Multipurpose Room, discusses the strategies that teachers and parents have found most useful for planning successful virtual events in their community. Organizing a virtual event is a relatively new idea for the majority of the population, and we would like to share some of the tips we have learned for planning such an event.
1. Planning and Organization
Firstly, you should begin by setting your goal for the event - it may be monetary, social, or both. Next create a plan for the event. It should include the target audience, date and time, location, how you will advertise and a list of things to do leading up to the event.
2. Budgeting and Sponsorship
Outline a comprehensive budget for the event and use it to monitor the expenses. You can put in placeholder numbers until you get specifics on venues, hosts, advertising and the platform that will broadcast the event. You should also budget for sponsors. Find sponsors that would be relevant to the content and activities of the event.
Sponsorship, if you choose to do it for your event, should be an area you spend some time on. You may want to create sponsorship packages for the event - a primary sponsor and a few secondary sponsors, for example. The sponsorship packages should focus on the benefits they offer to the sponsor. Once you have packages, identify potential sponsors and reach out.
3. Spread the Word (and the details)
Promoting an event has become much more manageable with the rise of social media and effective digital tools. Design creative evites with details of the event, sponsors and activities. Create a Facebook page for your event (or advertise on your existing Facebook group). Email your guest list the invitations and allow them to forward them to their list. If you wish to advertise, reach out to local papers. Design an event countdown on Instagram and use a unique hashtag for it. Ask your sponsors to share invites to the event on their social media pages. It will help create greater visibility for your event and allow it to reach hundreds of people.
You will also want to share all the logistical details in advance of the event. Since some people will be attending their first virtual event of this type, it is helpful for them to have any systems requirements, and logistics of how things will unfold.
4. Find a Dynamic Host
Finding a good host for the program is essential. The host should be able to engage everyone and keep them connected. The platform of the virtual event may be new to most people, and the host should help the audience adjust to the platform, and navigate through the initial learning curve.
5. Find the Right Platform
Choose a platform that has a simple interface and is readily available to your audience. For example, live videos can be streamed across various applications (e.g. Zoom, Facebook, and YouTube live). Make sure the event is showcased on a platform that is reliable and accessible for everyone, has chat features, and has all the functionality you will need for your event. YouTube live has become increasingly popular due to its uncomplicated system and a comments section to interact with the guests.
6. Build in Extra Time
On the day of your event, build in 15 extra minutes at the outset of the event for questions. Not everyone will have had a chance to read the instructions and the 15 minutes can be used to go over the instructions and field any questions. You will likely also want a bit of time to make any last minute sales.
Lastly, arrange a survey to receive feedback after the event. Find out what the people liked the most and what they would have done differently. Hear about their overall experience at the event and discuss what they would like to attend next time. Give them a chance to share the difficulties, technical issues and hurdles they faced during it. Thank everyone for taking out time and send reminders of any upcoming events.
With virtual events becoming a necessity for most people, it is crucial to know how to plan a successful event. I hope these tips enlighten your thought process and help you plan an unforgettable and unique event for your audience.