If you’ve been holding out on hosting events in the hopes that we would get back to in-person gatherings soon, think again. It’s time to start exploring how to handle your company events virtually. Should you produce a webinar? Or is this an event that should offer so much more?
Before the pandemic hit, conferences were the norm: in-person panels, cutting-edge information, networking with your peers and customers and keynote presentations with music and amazing lighting that made you feel like you were experiencing a rock concert.
But with everything moving to virtual platforms, how do you decide between a traditional webinar or a show with virtual stages, videos, music, networking and vendors? It depends on these three things: audience engagement, format and budget.
Determine the role of your virtual audience
The reason for hosting any kind of virtual event is to connect with your customers, investors or prospects. But what kind of engagement do you want them to have with you?
Consider whether you want them to submit questions in advance. Will you enable a chat feature or live Q&A functionality? Breakout rooms are an option that allow for networking or meeting with vendors. Do you have a call to action (CTA) you would like them to respond to (e.g., donating money)? All of these options to drive engagement could mean extra functionalities the company might need to pay for in order to use them in their virtual event.
Consider the format of your presentation
To determine the format of your presentation, you should look at several things.
- How many people/experts will be presenting?
- Will those presenters be live or recorded (or a combination of both)?
- Do you have introduction or testimonial videos you want to include throughout the presentation?
- Will there be breakout rooms where you need additional moderators?
- How long is your virtual event?
- Will your event offer a broad range of content? Or will it focus on a narrow topic?
- Do you want to use a show-stopping virtual stage with amazing graphics or images and a host or emcee that helps move the event along?
When you have the answers to these questions before launching into event planning, it will streamline the process of determining what kind of event you do.
What kind of budget will it take for a virtual event?
Another factor to take into account when planning a virtual event is your budget. When considering doing a webinar or something else, 1) do you start by determining budget and then consider audience and format? Or 2) do you start with the format (including the bells and whistles) and then worry about budget? Before the coronavirus hit the U.S., in-person conventions (with an exhibition hall) cost an average of $1.3 million. A virtual event will be much less expensive considering there will be no catering, space rentals and cocktail hours.
If you know your budget is small, your topic is very focused and your company has the ability to do much of the leg work (like developing a presentation deck, supplying the panelists), with little interaction from the audience (maybe only a Q & A session or a poll), then a simple webinar is probably your best bet.
If you have a modest budget and a few topics you want to discuss with experts from very different fields, you might want to plan a webinar series and still utilize simple presentation decks. Or you could do one single-day, longer event with breakout sessions for more audience engagement.
However, if you used to have a $1 million budget — for example — for putting on an in-person convention that now will be virtual, you can bring out every bell and whistle you want to promote engagement and have a spectacular, polished show (at a less expensive price), including hiring a production team and creating videos.
With virtual events, you have endless options for making it your own — no matter your budget. But sometimes you just don’t know where to begin in making this decision. MAPRagency and Stryker-Munley Group have the expertise to raise your company’s profile and deliver your brand to your targeted audience. Webinar production is just one tool that can help make that happen. We can help you with everything from the basic technical aspects of a one-off webinar to facilitating a major production. We have producers and designers on staff who can make a full virtual conference sing. Review our webinar services page for more information or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.