- Virtual events executed using the right approach can prove to be very valuable to attendees
- Although they lack face-to-face interaction, virtual events compensate with other benefits that are missing from live events
- Communicate the value of your virtual event to help invitees justify their attendance
A lot of companies are offering virtual events, summits, and conferences these days, but if you build it, will they come? The answer lies in whether your invitees can see and communicate the value of your virtual event internally. The good news is that virtual events can give attendees as much or more value than live events can. Here are some advantages that only virtual events can offer, followed by a few tips you can share with your invitees to help them capitalize on these advantages and communicate the value internally:
- Opportunity to get out of the office and attend from almost anywhere. Although in-person events get your attendees out of the office, travel to a specific location can be a hassle when everyone is trying to get to the same hotel and conference space. Because people can attend your virtual events from almost anywhere, get your invitees excited about blocking out their calendars and getting out of their typical workspace to a place they really enjoy. If they need to work from home or stay in the office, recommend that they choose a location that allows them to relax and focus on the event content and the pre- and post-event networking opportunities. Share an out-of-office email template with your invitees so they can let their colleagues know they will be away.
- Ability to attend more tracks and sessions. Virtual events allow your attendees to fill their calendars with live-stream sessions and meetings as well as recorded presentations. Highlight the live streams and recorded content in your event agenda, and use “add to calendar” links so invitees can easily add calendar placeholders. Recommend that your invitees block extra time before and after presentations to read questions and comments in chat rooms and to reach out to anyone interesting who participated in the chat rooms.
- Ability to network and interact continually. Live events don’t allow your attendees to talk and network during presentations, and live events limit networking to only the people at the event. While attending virtual events, however, attendees can talk with internal and external colleagues continually during live-stream presentations to share insights and observations relevant to their business. In addition to encouraging invitees to engage in chat rooms during live stream presentations, show them how to set up private chats and follow-up discussions with an expanded audience. For example, share invitation templates that your invitees can use to set up chats or follow-up meetings with fellow attendees and other contacts who may not be attending the event. You can also show your invitees how to set up private chat rooms or breakout rooms so they can lead discussions with their colleagues outside of the event’s public chat rooms.
- Opportunity for more team members to attend. Virtual events eliminate travel costs, so invitees’ event attendance budgets can cover more attendees. Give invitees plenty of options for spreading out and collectively attending multiple tracks, presentations, and virtual networking opportunities. Recommend that they schedule time with their internal teams for retrospectives and follow-up working sessions to translate their virtual event experience into takeaways and action items.
Virtual events can really pack a punch, but your invitees may not immediately see the value the way you do. Don’t overlook the need to help your invitees justify the time they plan to spend on attendance. Help them show their colleagues how they are leveraging virtual event attendance, maximizing their time, attending more sessions, meeting more people, and following through on more great ideas than they would if they were limited to only live events.