6 Rookie Virtual Event Hosting Mistakes You Must Avoid at All Costs

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With the shuttering of workplaces during the pandemic, remote work became part of everyday life. New technologies were the lifeline that enabled businesses to overcome work-from-home limitations, allowing us to connect while social distancing.

They brought undeniable convenience – no need to dress for the office, no commute. It’s reassuring to realize that remote work is a viable option, and also that we have virtual events to fall back on. 

Yet switching from live to virtual events is no straight swap. To some, virtual events may seem easier to carry off than physical events. But there are hurdles to clear before you can transition smoothly, let alone recreate the spark of an in-person event that keeps attendees engaged to the end. 

Successful virtual events depend on meeting the expectations of your audience and providing value, engaging content, and an opportunity for meaningful connections. But even carefully prepared plans can go wrong.

To Do or Not to Do

For example, most of us are now familiar with episodes in which virtual events have been hijacked by miscreants or charmingly interrupted by unassuming kids. Yet your virtual events are the time to deliver said event, not eavesdrop on someone’s family member’s private call. So, much as you’d issue a call recording disclosure to a customer in another setting, don’t forget to manage your attendee expectations from the start to steer clear of such hiccups and hijinks.

Happily, we lay out a few other common virtual event mistakes right here, so you can hopefully evade them.

6 Rookie Virtual Event Organizing Mistakes to Avoid Like the Plague

We’re going to debunk some common misconceptions along the way. Read on for our hacks on what not to do when creating and delivering your virtual events.

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    1. It’s the Ergonomy, Euclid

Forgetting to put yourself in the seat of your attendees is a common yet avoidable rookie mistake. Be mindful of the differences between in-person and online realms. For example, our dwindling attention spans. Beware of overwhelming your audience with too much content or the wrong, soporific kind. How can planners keep virtual attendees engaged? Bear in mind the diversity of your audience and cater to their needs and expectations. 

Oft-overlooked hack: Follow up with your attendee engagement post-event!

    2. Best Laid Plans…

Without a clear plan, your virtual event can quickly become a complete mess. What’s your purpose? How are you adding value for your attendees? Your main objective could be to inform, surprise, delight, or leave your audience feeling inspired. But all of your efforts will be for nothing if you wing it and it flops. Instead, work out the metrics you’re going to use to gauge its success in advance. 

    3. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

Who amongst us hasn’t banked on merely planning and talking through everything in our heads, and called it adequate prep? Only by going through a rehearsal process will you be able to anticipate the challenges and mishaps that could otherwise ruin your event. It’s how you’ll find out what’s working well and your chance to adjust things like your sound and webcam lighting setup and help folks suspend their disbelief that they’re not in the same room as each other. 

Troubleshoot any issues you find and come up with the solutions beforehand, so you’re good to go.

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    4. Neglecting Sponsors

Another common rookie error is missing out on having sponsors and exhibitors. Monetizing your virtual events is not only a reliable way of generating revenue, it’s a chance to add value for your attendees via free promos and lessons from sponsors who take their turn as presenters. Include sponsors early on to encourage them to get involved and spend money on potential leads. 

That said, be judicious. One of the most detrimental virtual event errors is in choosing the wrong sponsors. They must be relevant to your industry or topic rather than a counterproductive distraction that could make or break the experience for your participants. 

    5. Platforms, You’ve Tried a Few

Let’s assume you’ve chosen the right sponsor, pick the wrong platform to host it on, and your virtual event could still come unstuck. And after the upending of business incentives during the pandemic, choosing from a dizzying array of candidates is even more daunting. 

How to decide which is the real deal? Start with the classically low-tech brainstorm of what you’re looking for in a platform. Then research what’s out there, compare providers against your virtual event needs, and opt for the one that best fits your goals as a planner. 

    6. Some In-Person Events Translate Better Than Others

During the pandemic, event planners had no choice but to migrate to virtual settings. From team meetings to book groups to theatrical performances, some in-person events and facets of those events withstood the shift better than others. So it benefits virtual planners trying to engage people in virtual events to know what works. 

Most importantly, virtual events lack the serendipity of in-person events – a vital spark for innovation and creative problem-solving. Also, be wary of trying to recreate your in-person events virtually without adjusting the times. Take inspiration from a methodology like Getting Things Done, and avoid overlong sessions by breaking things up into digestible chunks. 

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Or go further and hire a virtual host. Aside from juggling all aspects of the session – cueing up speakers, dealing with audience questions and comments, and even demonstrating how the technology works to newbies – they’ll help you keep things on track. 

Light At the End of the Post

By all means, take what you have gathered from your experiences of in-person events and bring what works to your virtual events. By the same token, remember to adapt them to the cloud-first world. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can get by simply with a casual, professional-from-the-waist-up approach to organizing and strategizing your virtual productions. 

How to host virtual events that promote connection and creativity is the challenge you face. So, note your errors, learn your lessons, and share them with the team. Give the mistakes we’ve touched upon in this post a wide berth, and allow your virtual to blossom. 

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