We've written quite a bit about virtual events and webinars. With our new COVID reality, we thought it was an important topic to revisit.
While virtual and online events may be the only option in the short term, event organizers can benefit from a virtual mindset when they approach all events going forward. Integrating a plan to host your event virtually if circumstances demand it should be a mandatory part of the overall planning process. Organizers should have the technology in place so they can easily "turn it on" when needed. Even if the event does go off as planned, live and in-person, consider adding online aspects to increase engagement. The option to create streaming video should become an essential event utility like electricity or WiFi.
While social distancing may have accelerated the acceptance of online events, webinars, in particular, are not a new concept in the federal market. Market Connections' Federal Media & Marketing Study (FMMS) found that three-quarters of federal workers reported watching live webinars during the workday and at least one in five were watching recorded webinars on their own time (weeknights and weekends). Webinars tend to be mainly one-way communication - with a speaker presenting and time for questions at the end. Frequently, the Q&A is not done "live," rather questions are gathered via messaging, vetted, and asked by the host. However, as our collective comfort with platforms like Zoom, WebEx, and Skype grow, future webinars could become more interactive, allowing for video participation and interaction between speakers and participants.
Personalization is a hot trend in events, but what does it really mean? Personalization focuses on tailoring the event experience for each attendee. This can seem daunting when planning events with thousands of people. But even with the biggest events, breaking it down to one-on-one communication can help make it more manageable. From including first names on email correspondence to monogrammed bags at check-in, carefully curated refreshments, targeted sessions recommendations, and post-event engagement, personalization options abound.
To do any of this, you need one critical element--data.
Gather information on your attendees. What is their preferred name (Jennifer vs Jenny)? What is their job title, buying authority, departments they oversee? Do they have dietary restrictions or preferences? However, be careful not to over ask or overwhelm attendees with questions. The registration form should not ask every piece of information you are looking for. Get the basics, then follow-up with a pre-event questionnaire for more in-depth questions.
During election season we hear a lot about polls. Polling is integral to our democratic society. In fact, the Declaration of Independence requires that public opinion be taken into account. It states that our government functions expressly with "the consent of the governed." Abraham Lincoln took this heart when he said, "What I want to get done is what the people desire to have done, and the question for me is how to find that out exactly." This same concern should be shared by every event planner.
It is critical to remember that events exist to serve the attendees with a benefit to the planner (be that monetary or in intangible brand reputation). If attendees are not satisfied, the benefits will not be realized. To be successful, polling must go beyond leaving paper questionnaires on chairs and sending post-event surveys via email. Just like in political races, polling must happen throughout the event process.[Tweet "Just like in political races, polling must happen throughout the event process. #GovEventsBlog"] Continue reading