May 18

Tips to help plan your next virtual event

Virtual EventsEvent planning has always been a challenging profession. There are so many moving parts to account for to ensure a successful event. In these new times of physical distancing, event planners have had to find new, creative ways to deliver meaningful experiences – even if they aren’t in-person.

Virtual events are becoming more and more popular, with organizations moving toward making their events virtual rather than canceling them altogether. Graduations, new leadership announcements, concerts and comedy shows are beginning to go digital as a way to engage with audiences and make up for important communications.

Just like planning an in-person event, planning a virtual event can difficult. Here are a few tips to help you plan your next virtual event or meeting.

Choose a recording platform

One of the first steps is deciding how you are going to record the speakers. Before choosing a recording platform, you need to determine which one is easiest to use and will deliver the best-looking footage. You should also determine whether or not you want to want to virtually coach speakers during their recordings, or if you trust them to record themselves on their iPhone or webcam.

Zoom is a great platform that allows users to record meetings and export them as video files. With Zoom, you can join a meeting with a speaker and coach them through messaging, camera angles, lighting and background presentation to make sure you are satisfied with how the video will look and sound. Zoom is one of the most common virtual meeting platforms being used during the Stay Home order, so most people have an understanding of the platform’s basics.

We worked with Albion college to record its 2020 graduation ceremony and new president announcement, which were done almost entirely through Zoom. Although you wouldn’t be able to tell from watching the video, each speaker had someone coaching them invisibly on the other end of the call.

Choose a streaming platform

Before you begin recording, you also want to decide which platforms you will use to stream your virtual event. When making your decision, ensure you are choosing platforms that are easily accessible and receive the most engagement from your audiences. YouTube and Facebook have tools that allow organizations to stream live, giving the video more of a “live event” feel. In addition, viewers can comment, tag and react to the event in real-time.

If you plan on prerecording your virtual event, there are platforms available that allow you to stream pre-recorded footage. Live Reacting and One Stream give organizations the ability to upload, schedule and push out a pre-recorded videos.

Give your speakers the right resources

Just like any video, your message can get lost if the camera angle, sound or background are too distracting. As we all continue to master video conferencing during quarantine, it’s important to give your speakers the proper resources to study before recording. They might be so focused on the messaging that they don’t notice an off-center tie or dog bark the in background. Consider making a Zoom cheat sheet or tutorial like SPR did to send to speakers beforehand that will help them look and sound their best.

Plan your recordings

As I wrote in a previous blog: fail to plan, plan to fail. Planning a virtual event with multiple speakers can be a bit overwhelming, so it’s critical to create a comprehensive schedule to keep track of who is recording when. Consider creating an Excel spreadsheet with each speaker’s name, contact info, recording date and topic – that way you will have all of your resources in one location.

Give yourself time for technical issues and reshoots

Although deadlines can impact your virtual event timeline, it’s important to factor in time for reshoots and technical issues, when possible. Just like any video camera, online recording platforms can sometimes fail, which can lead to last-minute scrambling. Because we are all still learning how to virtually communicate using these platforms, it’s common for user errors to occur, too.

It’s also common to have a speaker who wants to redo their recording because of a message change or the desire to do better. Try to give yourself some wiggle room to schedule, record and edit.

I hope these tips will help you the next time you plan a virtual event. What are some unique virtual events you’ve tuned into lately?

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