5 Virtual Event Planning Mistakes to Avoid in 2021

virtual event planning mistakes to avoid in 2021

Yes, it’s only October, but who’s ready to look ahead to the new year? We sure are. And we’re doing so with optimism, enthusiasm and important lessons learned. Our industry has been undergoing a revolution – quickly navigating virtual event planning and now making the transition into hybrid events. Maybe the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants path is not the one any of us would have chosen, but here we are, rocking it.

Now the question is, what can we do better?

Most of us know by now the ins and outs of this virtual world: how to unmute ourselves (after making that really insightful comment that no one heard), and how to go from pjs to video-chat-ready in minutes. But we’re aiming to instead drop knowledge about some of the broader planning mistakes that you, as a promoter or event organizer, want to avoid moving forward.

Mistake #1: An overly engaging live stream

You read that right. It might sound counterintuitive, but you actually don’t want every minute of your live content to keep virtual attendees locked in, because that will mean they’re not getting a chance to enter booths and engage with your vendors. Instead, plan for an appropriate cadence of entertainment, speakers, and ‘background noise’ to make sure vendors get attendee traffic. Remember, programming doesn’t always have to be complex, but it does need to balance and compliment the vendor experience.

Mistake #2: Making your event too long

It’s not as though there’s a perfect formula for the right amount of time to hold your virtual event and/or live stream content. It’s just really important to keep in mind short attention spans. Squirrel! Wait, what was I saying? Oh, right. Not only the attention spans of your attendees who are sitting at home finding all sorts of distractions, but also those of your vendors. If your vendors are logged in for the third straight day in a row or finding attendee traffic to slow down after the first few hours, they’re bound to get bored. If they decide to log off or go take a nap, the event experience suffers for any remaining attendees.

Mistake #3: The ‘if you build it, they will come’ mentality 

You’re probably really excited about your event. We are too! But trust us, your audience won’t just magically appear out of the vast internet cornfields. They need to hear from you. More than once. They also need a clear description of your event and how to join it. Don’t assume “virtual event” means the same thing to Sue as it does to Bob. You’re putting on a LIVE virtual event with real-time engagement, not a static webpage or Facebook event. Will my camera be on? Can I pause or watch it later? Do I need to log in right from the beginning? Try to provide answers before your audience even asks the question.   

Mistake #4: Showing up to the game but skipping practice

The virtual event space is new or newish to a lot of people, so all the more reason to make sure you practice, practice, practice, and practice a little more. We recommend AT LEAST one fairly comprehensive run-through of your event with staff, vendors and/or performers. Just like with running an in-person event, dedicate time to making sure your tech, lighting, sound and team are all ready to go.

Mistake #5: Not setting vendors up for success 

When your vendors do well, your event does well. Give them as much support as you can, including clear communication about how they can make the most of their virtual booths. It can be hard wrapping your head around how a physical 10×10 space can translate into a digital tile, but awesome photos or graphics will make the difference between an attendee stopping to chat or scrolling on by.    

Feel smarter? Good. If none of these scenarios rang any bells for you, congratulations – you got to learn from someone else’s mistakes! If you’ve made all 5 yourself, don’t worry. Just keep your head up, keep learning, and give us a call. We’re here to help >

Written by The BoothCentral Team

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