A virtual event planner?
Yes! Virtual event planners are now a thing! A new job proficiency has formed during COVID-19. If you want to have an experience that comes really close to a live event, you will need to work together with professionals.
Meetingbox has been working with event agencies for over 20 years, and now that we are hosting virtual events on our platform we needed to ask some important questions.
The key to any great event is planning to ensure it goes off smoothly. Below is a checklist of everything you’ll want to consider when planning a virtual event and how you can make that virtual event perfect with the Meetingbox platform.
1. Before the event
- Determine your event type
- What are your goals?
- Who is your target audience?
- Determine your attendees
The first question to ask is what type of event you want to put on. Then you’ll need to ask: What do you want to come out of this meeting having gained? Once you’ve defined the type of event and what you want to achieve, now you know who you’ll want to target. Who are you targeting and why? Now that you know your audience, you can figure out who to invite.
Develop a virtual event concept
First, participate in some creative brainstorming to think about what your concept will be. Then do market research. Find out what other people with similar goals did for similar events they held. Once you’ve brainstormed and done your due diligence, it’s time to create a theme. Finally, as a way to visualize your event and bring it to fruition, create a vision board.
Follow a plan
- Plan your content
- Set up registration
- Build your team
- Create a timeline
- Assign roles
- Set expectations
Now you’re reading to develop your event plan and put it into action. The first element is to develop content for the event. Then you can turn to the logistical side of setting up registration online. After that, you can turn to build your event planning team. This will include event planners, meeting facilitators, and IT specialists to assist in setting up the meeting itself.
Once you have your team it’s time to create a timeline of all event-related tasks, prioritized appropriately, with accompanying deadlines. With your timeline set up, you can now assign roles with expectations for your team members.
Create the virtual event budget
- Determine income
- Track expenses
- Have an emergency fund
- Compare estimated vs. actual expenses
- Stay up to date
Track your virtual event’s income and expenses. In case of any unexpected disruptions that arise, you’ll also want to have an emergency fund. As you estimate your expenses for the event and you start spending money, it also helps to compare your estimates expenses to your actual expenses. The Meetingbox Cash Flow feature gives you the ability to do this. Once you’ve determined all these figures, ensure you stay up to date on your spending and income.
Consider the logistics and format of your event
- Pick a date/time
- Set up your webinar
- Live stream
- Panels and Forums
- How do you want your virtual event to look?
Pick a date and time that will work for the majority of your attendees. Set up your webinar. A webinar is the best format for a virtual event — your attendees can simply tune in from their computers and listen using a speaker. Also, consider how you plan to live stream the event.
Who will monitor your web chat during the event to log attendee questions? How do you plan to have any presenters or panelists interact with attendees?
The most important consideration here is how you want your virtual event to look. By using Meetingbox TV, you can combine your webinar, live stream, chats and panels into one platform. You can also create a virtual event 3D animated environment, linked with our event management features for a one-of-a-kind, streamlined event experience.
Determine A/V, technology and production needs
- Connect your talent with your production company
- Build an onboarding phase into your planning
- Link the event manager to the production manager
- Ensure integration
- Consider your attendees’ needs
- Remember security concerns
- Focus on features
- Enable chat
Your presenters will need to coordinate with your event producers, so connect your event talent with the production company. You should also build an onboarding phase into your planning to give your production team time to get up to speed. Make sure that the event manager and the production manager are in contact and communicating regularly on both of their needs. Additionally, check if Meetingbox has all the integrations you need. If not, Meetingbox has its own development team that can work with you on options. Consider the IT needs of your attendees and make the experience as easy as possible from a usability standpoint. Remember to take security into account — concerns such as GDPR and enterprise security are a must for you to consider. Focus on providing the best features for your attendees, as you can make your virtual event as engaging as a live one. Give your attendees a chat feature to encourage dialogue between attendees, presenters, and meeting organizers.
Be proactive about content and development
- Select the right speakers
- Check their credentials
- Find the right entertainment
- Connect all content contributors with the production team
It’s important to be proactive in your content planning and development. Select topics, speakers, and presentations that align with your attendees’ needs and will provide maximum value for them. Do market research on what your competitors and others in your industry are doing in this area — who is speaking at other events? Have you heard positive reviews of speakers you can then book for yours? Check your speakers’ credentials — do your vetting to ensure they’re legitimate. You should also find the right entertainment for your event. Find an act that matches your audience and the theme of the event. Request a talent fee to save on cost and accommodations — this will also allow you to pick a better performer.
- Sell your virtual event
- Research sponsors
- Make a list
- Create sponsorship packages
Sponsors are the lifeblood of your event, so you’ll want to go out and sell your event to potential sponsors. Also, make sure to do research to find the right sponsors who are appropriate for your industry. Once you’ve done this research, create a list of viable sponsors. You can then create a sponsorship package for each sponsor extolling the benefits of sponsorship before reaching out to them.
- Create A Marketing Plan
- Make An Event Name
- Make An Online Presence
Create a marketing plan to determine how you’ll conduct outreach for attendees. Then create your event name. Your event name should be short, catchy, and descriptive. Finally, create an online presence for your event. This includes a website landing page, registration site, and social media accounts if applicable.
2. Two months out
- Create your agenda
- Format your content
- Promote, promote, promote
Within two months of the event, you should have your agenda fully mapped out. You’ll also want to have your event content in the right format, ready to present. You’ll also need to promote your event using the online channels you’ve built up. Send out invitations to your target audience. Look for promotional opportunities (guest blog posts, social media content, email newsletters) to see where you can create interest in your event.
3. One month out
- Confirm date and times
- Request payments
- Virtual command center
- Digitally distribute materials
- Establish a dress code
- Set up a virtual communication system
- Plan a run through
One month from the event date, reach out to all attendees, sponsors, and vendors with a meeting reminder to confirm the event date and times. Make sure that any pre-event payments are made — you don’t want any last-minute surprises. Handle all your bookkeeping prior to the event so you can focus on execution rather than financial issues. Establish a virtual command center — get your entire staff using the same mobile event app as a communication tool to keep everyone organized. Digitally distribute all event information to all involved parties. Ensure you establish a dress code and communicate that to presenters.
Establish a virtual communication system that allows your entire team to connect throughout the event on a consistent basis. Once you’ve accomplished all the above tasks, plan a final run-through to test your team. Hold a mock event testing the staff on how to use the software.
4. One to two weeks out
- Review final details
- Address expectations
One to two weeks before the event, schedule a final run-through with your staff to review all final details. This should include a review of everyone’s roles and responsibilities as well as how to get in touch with everyone. You’ll also want to address expectations for the event. Make sure everyone understands the overarching goals of the event as well as their own personal goals to know what success looks like.
5. The day before the event
- Run final tests
- Confirm all agenda times
- Create a final task matrix of all event-related tasks
The day before is the time to run final tests on all IT systems and event functions. You should also reach out to all participants to confirm all agenda times. Make sure everyone understands when they’ll be due to participate. You can then use these final tests to create a final task matrix that includes all event-related tasks. This will serve as a handy reference guide or “cheat sheet” for event staff during the event.
6. During the event
- Have fun
- Start the recording(s)
- Be comfortable
- Know your team
- Check-in with attendees
- Conduct live polls
- Gather event feedback
Once the event is underway, remember to have fun. When the presentations have begun, don’t forget to start recording at the appropriate times. It’s easy to forget once you get started, but not recording it will make you unable to make your event available to those who couldn’t attend. For the event itself, make sure you have a comfortable seat you won’t mind sitting in for an extended period of time.
Also, have all your communication tools at the ready in case any of your team reaches out. Know your team by listing out your staff within Meetingbox’s tool — that way attendees know who to contact if they need assistance. You can consult with attendees to make sure all of them made it “inside” the event. Conducting live polls is a great tool for taking the room’s temperature. Finally, once the presentations wrap up you can gather attendee feedback on their experience. This will be invaluable for planning future events.
7. After the event
- Go through the Meetingbox reporting and analysis
- Review the connections you made
- Review your feedback
- Send follow up emails and thank you notes
- Be organized
- Update your budget
- Follow up with sponsors
- Check your progress on your goals
- Debrief your entire staff
Once the event has concluded, go through the reporting and analysis provided by Meetingbox. This can tell you many valuable insights such as who was active during the event as well as who was inactive. Review the connections you made and follow up with them. You can then update your leads to reflect the networking you did at the event. Review attendee feedback to tease out potential improvements as well as to see what your major successes were. Don’t forget to thank your presenters and attendees with follow-up emails and thank you notes expressing your gratitude for their participation. Be organized as you gather all event data. Carefully store all reporting and analysis so you’ll have it to generate reports later or review for future events. Update your budget once all numbers on income and expenses are in.
Use this time to settle any unpaid bills from the event — you don’t want these clogging your books going forward. You should reach out to your sponsors not only to thank them but to share your data from the event. As your final acts to wrap up your event, review your goals, and whether you achieved them. Try to determine why you were able to achieve them, what you missed, and what you can change going forward. Then hold a final debrief for your staff highlighting major wins, where you came up short, and how you can improve for the next event.
The final word on planning a virtual event
By following the steps listed above, you’ll be sure to have a winning event that brings value to your audience while helping you get closer to your goals. Of course, your event is only as strong as the tools you use to pull it off. That’s why you should partner with Meetingbox. We can provide you with a platform that can address all your meeting planning needs. From the time you have the idea for the meeting up until the time you’ve pulled it off, Meetingbox can give you the expertise and resources you need to make it a success. For more on how our platform can help, contact us today!