Planning A Virtual Event? Use These 3 Tips To ACE It!
Jan 12, 2021
Meetings, conferences, parties.
Zoom, Google Meet, Skype.
It looks like we’ll have to resort to the virtual side of things to host and hold many of the events we once enjoyed IRL (in real life), at least for now.
Who would’ve thought that packing your bags for a trip to attend a conference you’ve been stalking for years would be a thing of the “past?”
Or that that there’d be no telling when you’d be able to take an entire Saturday to get all dolled up to head to the hottest party in town.
Or…just go to happy hour after work?! Geesh!
These days, our best days are all online; for events, parties, meetings and just staying social with those we love. And due to a pandemic that seems to be never ending, this is our reality for the “foreseeable future.”
I got my very own taste of the virtual event world recently when I hosted my annual “I Work for my D*mn Self” holiday party for entrepreneurs, bloggers, influencers and creatives.
What started out as an in-person Christmas gathering for my growing community, quickly transformed into a virtual happy hour…of epic proportions; if I can say so myself.
I had no clue what to expect hosting a big ole party online.
How do I get and hold my guests’ attention?
How do I make sure the event is actually fun and feels like a party?
How do I connect with my guests even though we’d be miles a part?
With technology being the frenemie that it is, so much could go wrong when hosting virtual events, but with a whole lot of planning and a reliable team on your side, you can definitely ace it!
You can also watch the behind the scenes on my YouTube channel!
Just like in real life, the conversation is crucial for your virtual event. For me, it was the one big thing I wanted to ensure I mimic at the virtual happy hour. At the in-person events, we had the best and most invigorating chats and I wanted to nail this part! So instead of being the only talking head, I invited some friends to the party, gave them each a relevant topic and let the convo flow! Again using my TV host background and properly planning this event, I actually wrote a script with what I’d say, how I wanted to lead a convo, how I wanted to introduce my guests, where I wanted to take breaks etc. The majority of the show was ad lib and off the cuff, but having a script in hand worked wonders for keeping me on track and hitting key points I wanted to share. I love the fact that during each segment of the party my guests and attendees all got in on the convo, contributed to the event, dropped some gems and collected some as well.
Tip: Be sure to call on guests who you know can help set the tone and mood you want for your event. Encourage your attendees to ask questions, open their mics and video and join in on the fun!
My background in media made this part super important for me: create a vibe! For this event I partnered with the top production company in The Bahamas, The Movi Group, to help me bring, “lights, camera, action” to life! We shot the show from a real life production studio, with movie-set quality cameras and audio systems; I had a producer, cameramen, someone putting on my mic and even someone helping me switch sets. Having a professional production team on tap really brought a new taste to the many Zoom events I’d seen all year long. Also, helping to set the mood and keep the show was our in-house deejay who really gave us a party. We danced to Beyonce, Rihanna, City Girls, Meg The Stallion and of course, The Queen of Christmas, Mariah Carey all night! The cherry on top? We even had a virtual photo booth where attendees could take photos and boomerangs using the event’s branding! SCORE!
Tip: The trick here is having help and fun features to the event. If you can’t access a big production company, call on your friends, colleagues or even neighbours who might be well versed in the tech side to help you out with lighting and other important elements. Also find other elements to add into the show to keep your guests entertained.
Being a part doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t share some elements of the event. I love to toast and scream “cheers” to my friends at my events. I love to walk around and find out who’s loving what on the menu and if the spicy wings aren’t too spicy. So I figured one way to ensure we could all have a piece of each other was to curate and deliver party boxes to all of my guests! I partnered with brands like Kalik, BahLeaf, Bakehouse and The Greenhouse for Radlers for our mixed drinks, infused teabags, cookies and candles, respectively! The Island Muva, Scented Escape Candle Co., Simply Natural Hair Co. and F.Dot Photography all pitched in with amazing products for giveaways. I had so much fun packing the boxes, tying the boxes and personally delivering them. This element was a hit because items in the boxes were amazing and guests could share something in common. So we virtually toasted and snacked on our treats at the same time.
Tip: Find a way to bring the party and your attendees together; whether that’s giving them curated boxes before the event, having dinner or sweet treats delivered to them or even a bottle of wine to bring everything together.
Hosting online events can be a daunting task for most, but with a lot of planning and some creativity you can definitely win over your virtual audience. It might be a while before we’re all together again, so take advantage of modern technology!