This past year brought a rise of virtual events, particularly in the events industry. Which makes sense, because event planners and speakers were trying to figure out how to deliver our experiences in a virtual setting. Every other week, we were presented with the opportunity to learn ‘How to Plan a Virtual Event’, ‘How to Make Your Virtual Event Engaging’, ‘How to Deliver a Virtual Presentation and Keep Your Audience Engaged’. There has been a lot of supply in terms of content that’s available.
While there has been a large supply of events, as entrepreneurs, we are selective on what events we want to spend money on, so free events were highly attended. For us, event selection was primarily based on speakers or content and how it relates to our business.
Events that allow for networking in which the attendee can engage based on their intentions or needs for that event were a highlight of mine in the past year.
One event I attended was Untethered. What I liked was that they offered the opportunity for attendees to create their own content. You could schedule roundtable discussions, and it would show up in the main event agenda. It allowed for you to set a topic, time and allowed anyone in the event to opt in or out. I took advantage of this opportunity and it allowed me to practice moderating, but it also was a chance for me to meet other people. A handful of people that I met, I’m still connected with on LinkedIn and Instagram. This served as an introduction, and now there’s more of an ongoing social media relationship.
While networking is a highlight of the events I attended in the past year, I had very limited engagement with the sponsors of these events. For virtual events in the future, it’s essential to get past the ‘hard sell’, and focus on showcasing sponsors as thought leaders to engage and create a connection. When the attendee needs services in the future, they will think of that person/company first.
The last thing I want to highlight as one of my favorite things about virtual events, is speakers that engage with their attendees on a personal level. This includes utilizing the chat feature and keeping attendees focused.
An example of this is Ramon Ray who spoke at Techsy Talk. His delivery was just so compelling. I had to stop in my tracks and pay attention because I didn’t want to miss any of his nuggets. It was those short bites of content, a 10 to 15 minute talk, so I knew he was going to dive right into the concept. Sometimes, when speakers are delivering something for 45 to 60 minutes, there’s a little bit of a preamble, because they’ve got plenty of time to cover the message, but I heard a saying on LinkedIn and I’ve adopted it – “scarcity breeds clarity”, and it can apply in a lot of settings. For example, having a short meeting, means that you’re only going to cover the most important topics and you’re not going to hem and haw you’re going to make better decisions.
We’d love to hear from you in the comments, what were some of your favorite things about events you’ve attended in the past year?