Over the past year, we have all had to improve our virtual communications skills as we find new ways to communicate and connect with friends, families and colleagues. This has also been true in terms of professional interactions – and nowhere is this more clear than in the case of events.
Because we haven’t been able to travel, it has remained vital to meet, exchange ideas and take the opportunity to maintain relations ahead of occasions when we can again meet in person.
But when it comes to online events we have learnt that the process is very different from meeting up in person. Virtual events present new challenges, including terrifying technical difficulties (for us poor organisers!), time delays and of course distractions in the form of pets, parcel deliveries and unexpected appearances of family members.
However, we should all be grateful that technology has not only enabled us to stay in touch through this difficult time; it is actually true that by running conferences online we have been able to reach more customers than ever before.
So while we hope to get back to normal soon, let’s also be thankful for the availability of online events. Here are some of the lessons we have learnt over the past 12 months – and which you can look forward to being incorporated into our next event with you.
Little and often is easier to manage
Online events tend to work better when they are shorter, as it enables customers to participate on their own terms, rather than needing to take a full day out of the office. Additionally, with shorter events we can run them more often, helping our team to stay in regular contact with our customers.
Invest in specialist technology
While Teams or Zoom work well for ad hoc meetings, we felt we had outgrown their use for our requirements, so we recently invested in a specialist virtual events software solution. This system offers a better customer experience, including networking functionality and advanced interactive elements such as live chat and polls.
Planning is vital
Planning is just as vital for an online event as when we are together in one room. Our team are completely focused on developing and delivering great content – which is why we always have a full dry-run with all staff delivering their sessions to a group of colleagues.
The importance of networking
We have discovered from the feedback survey following our most recent event that our customers value meeting others in similar roles. Recognising this, we are focusing on how to build agendas and events in a way that facilitates networking opportunities.
Technical issues can arise – and if they do, it invariably seems to happen at the most inconvenient time. We have learnt that even if something goes wrong, we can get through it together by staying professional and calm. And we have been grateful that our customers have consistently been understanding of any challenges we faced in the delivery of such events.
We hope this shows the thought and focus the team here is placing into continuing to connect with our customers. While we all hope that in-person events will return in the near future but until then you can look forward to a continued focus on engaging, valuable online events. See you soon!