Transitioning your in-person event into an online experience isn't easy. And you don't want your event to feel like a boring seminar. Keep your attendees engaged and delighted with some thoughtful touches you can carry out at your next virtual event.
In Person Concierge ➡️ Digital Liaisons
In Episode 12, Sarah Hatter spoke about the digital liaisons she uses at her event Elevate CX – and how they help support fellow attendees. This helps ensure even new attendees are in-the-know and don't miss a thing. Consider bringing tech-savvy folks aboard to provide friendly assistance when navigating your new digital event platform.
Sarah Hatter: If there’s someone who I know has come to the last four events, I will contact them and say, “Will you be a liaison for us?”
We promote those experienced attendees into admins within our Slack community. They get a badge that notates them not as a "Digital Liaison" and someone you can talk to or ask if you need help with something. The vibe that we want to consistently be encouraging people with, is that supportive and inclusive attitude.
Stand Up Q&A ➡️ Slack Q&A
Sarah Hatter: At Elevate CX we don’t do Q&A after our talks. We don’t do panels. We don’t do any of that stuff, because we prefer that people do it one-on-one or in groups with the speakers during our social events.
We tell people, “If you have an immediate question and you need an immediate answer, ping them in Slack or ask in our community group.” We have 1,600 attendees that are in our Slack community and it’s very active all the time.
Lunchtime Table Topics ➡️ Zoom Topics
In episode 5, Mark Littlewood of Business of Software shared one of his favorite lunchtime touches. "Birds of a Feather" (aka table topics) that give attendees some guidance on what table to sit down at and participate in at the conference. Knowing what you're getting into encourages introverted attendees into sharing more - whether its learning how to pitch better or dishing about your favorite podcast.
Much like a lunch table, you can restrict capacity to a Zoom room. Setting up multiple table topic Zoom rooms will give your attendees a rare chance to chat face to face with their other virtual attendees.
Venue Accessibility ➡️ Online Accessibility
In episode 10 Chris Schmitt & Ari Stiles, the duo who has run dozens of web based conferences, share how they created a successful virtual conference series and the simple changes you can do to make your event more accessible and diversity friendly.
Ari: It’s not much more effort to add captioning to in-person events. It’s even easier for online conferences to add captioning. It’s a small extra bill and it adds so much more to the conference, you have a transcript after!
Chris: Also make sure your website is accessible. There are some vendors out there who sell tickets and their site is not accessible. Meaning their order button is not right.
I had someone call me up and complain because they didn’t know where the order button was, and I didn’t understand until I was listening to his screen reader try to find the order button and it wasn’t there because of the way the site was built.
So I had to find some other alternative method just so they could attend my event. They were so interested in my event, they called me up!
IRL Icebreakers ➡️ Icebreaker Bots
Just because your event is online doesn't mean you lose the magic of networking and mingling. Use this Slack integration called Donut — basically an icebreaker bot that introduces your members to each other via DM. Helping members make friends will give them more motivation to stay involved.
Swag Bags ➡️ Digital Goods & Discounts
They say that 80% of the products in conference swag bag ends up in the garbage at the hotel and never even makes it into the suitcase for the flight home. This doesn't mean you should ditch swag all together. Not only will you become more eco-friendly, but you'll be giving your attendees things they might actually use like promo codes and subscriptions from your sponsors.
Happy Hours ➡️ Small Group Video Chats
Natalie and Tara Try Stuff, a YouTube show, live-streamed a virtual happy hour for their online fans. Natalie told the New York Times suggests keeping it to groups of 10 or less because too many people in a Google Hangout will becomes chaos and you'll just end up with less engagement.
If you have a handful of speakers or some of your event organizers want to hop on a live-streamed happy hour, encourage your attendees to make a drink and tune in. If you want to open the hangout to a large number of attendees, appoint a moderator to help keep everybody involved and provide some basic structure.