Virtual conferences have been taking off over the last few years, but with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s more happening than ever before. Due to their popularity and the fact more and more people are getting involved in them, it’s clear that these virtual meetings will continue to stick around, even after COVID is under control.
However, it’s also clear that many people are running these conferences for the first time, and mistakes are happening that are slipping through the cracks and ruining the experience. I’m here to share the seven most common of these mistakes, so you can avoid doing them yourself!
1. Not Having a Clear Goal
You may have an idea of what your conference is about and what you’re aiming to achieve by hosting it, but if you’re defined and absolute with your goal, you’re going to experience problems. You need to know what you’re delivering, why you’re delivering, and then making sure everyone is on the same page.
Understanding your goals is essential for any type of virtual conference. And, while you may believe you know exactly what your client or stakeholders want, it is always a good idea to double-check when it comes to virtual events. Check to see if you understand what they expect you to deliver by making questions.
2. Not Emphasising Audience Engagement
A crucial part of a virtual conference is getting the audience involved to comment and ask questions. You never know how the audience is taking what you’re saying unless you ask them (sounds simple, right?), and so many conferences are making this mistake.
You don’t want just to stand up there, give over your content, and then end. People want to be involved and want to interact, so you have to make sure you’re allowing them to do so.
The most organised way to do this is by having dedicated sections of your conference given over to Q&A.
3. Not Choosing the Right Platform
Sure, video call platforms like Skype and Zoom are cheap and easy, but is this going to be creating the kind of experience where people are going to come back to you and want to be a part of your future conferences? Probably not.
There are so many platforms and virtual conferencing solutions out there, and it’s important to make sure you’re doing your research to see which one is best suited to your needs and will allow you to create the experience you’re trying to create.
Some of the key features you’re going to want to be thinking about include things like:
- Personalised pages, booking pages, and URLs
- Text and video chat rooms
- The ability for people to message the chat at the same time
- The capacity to handle the number of viewers you’re expecting to get
- The ability to access various platforms, operating systems, and devices
- The ability to look at attendee data and statistics
You should perhaps consider the type of content you intend to use and whether it is compatible with your platform. In other words, will you be standing alone with a Slide presentation, or will there be a board of people speaking, and you’ll need to switch between which main screen and audio feed you’re sharing?
4. Not Running Training Sessions
The first time you run through your virtual conference and make sure everything is working correctly should be weeks before the conference actually takes place. If you want quality, you can’t just wing it.
You need to make sure you’re taking the time to check through your content and make sure it’s right, coming up in the right order, and isn’t too much or too little. Check your timings and how everything works and runs together to get everything flowing as smoothly as possible.
It’s key that you rehearse several times before the event itself!
5. Not Tracking Time
A key aspect of organising any meeting, you need to keep track of time and not let it get away from you. Imagine if you watch a TV show that was supposed to finish at 7 PM, but was still going at half eight?
People have other things to do, different plans, and other commitments. You can’t let things run on. A few minutes may be acceptable here and there, but if you find the need to keep going over time, you’re going to need to expand the length of your conference or cut other content out.
6. Not Getting Your Pricing Right
Sure, it makes sense to offer a ton of freebies to your customers because who doesn’t love free stuff, right?
True, but people value content, and free content isn’t necessarily great content. Make sure you’re working on your pricing structure and making sure you’re not giving away content in a way that actually puts people off. Sometimes, having a paid, exclusive event is far better than having a free event where half the people don’t turn up.
7. Forgetting the Business Basics!
It’s so easy to get caught up with the ins and outs of your virtual conference that you end up forgetting the fundamental things you should be doing to ensure your online event runs smoothly. I’m talking about things like an easy sign-up process, easy-to-read promotional content, and making sure you have a plan to get people to come back next time.
Just because you have so much on your mind (which is understandable), don’t forget the essential business elements that make an event work. Good content. Proactive and reassuring customer service. A clean and clear process at every stage.
As you can see, there’s plenty to think about here, and all essential mistakes you should avoid. Remember to stay cool, calm, and collected. If your head is off lost in stress, mistakes are going to be coming your way thick and fast.