What often goes wrong with virtual events and what to do about it : MARKETING

I have attended countless virtual events in the past few months and also hosted my own digital meetings. And if there’s one thing you can count on, something goes wrong.

Below I have put together six problems that keep coming up. If you can minimize these issues you will reduce frustration and increase audience engagement.

And the first problems begin before the event even starts.

1. Participation sucks for virtual events

When planning a virtual event, you should be aware of the high number of no-shows, especially if your ticket prices are low or free. Be prepared for only 30% attendance, and even that is pretty good. A conference organizer impressed me with her participation rate of over 100 people, but 250 registrants.

Many people register for online events to get a video summary. They want the inclusion, but will not appear to participate. This isn’t a huge problem in the long run, but it can hurt engagement during the event.

You want to give registrants a reason to register for the virtual event when it happens. But how?

From the moment your event registration is live, start your pre-event engagement to ensure live attendance. Networking, breakout rooms, and one-on-one meetings with experts are great ways to promote real-time attendance. However, make sure the registrants know this is going to happen and even try to get commitments from them by booking a 15 minute coffee break with other attendees and even your speakers.

And don’t forget good ol ’email marketing. Most event marketing software solutions contain email. You can just as easily use the email marketing tool of your choice.

2. Forgetfulness happens

Live events mean travel, hotel bookings, and other important commitments. And nobody forgets a flight date and time.

These incentives are absent in virtual events. So you have to be a little aggressive to remind registrants of the upcoming event. I recommend sending emails and even SMS reminders to people each week before the date. Then send reminders the day before, in the morning and an hour before the start. Then send another when the event starts.

There is one thing to emphasize here. When planning a virtual event, you are using technology that your attendees are unfamiliar with. Your reminders should include detailed instructions on how to attend the event, which brings us to the third point.

3. Confusion infects virtual events

If you want to plan a virtual event, you need to be extra detailed. Since there is no such thing as face-to-face hand-holding, you need to make sure attendees know the details. Email people about how to connect, when to start, what software is required, and everything else. Then send those details to them again.

I recommend providing these details as part of your registration confirmation and then sending retries. Do it for a week, a day, and the day of the virtual event. The last thing you want is confused people emailing you (or commenting on your social media) that they don’t know how to access your digital conference.

4. Internet connection drives everyone crazy

You should make sure that your speakers have a good connection and mobile hotspot backup. Virtual event planners recommend that your speakers be connected directly to the router with an ethernet cable for the best results. And make sure the speakers can call a phone number as a last resort.

If bandwidth is an issue, turn off the video and only use audio. This is often the quickest solution.

5. Clarity of sound

This is extremely frustrating when it goes wrong and is often very difficult to fix.

I urge you to do a sound check with each speaker prior to the event. Seriously, trust me on this. Common reasons for sound problems are crappy microphones, crappy BlueTooth connectivity, and worst of all, incorrect audio settings. The audio settings are the hardest to solve as your speakers may not know where to look for these settings. Test and retest.

Watch out for wireless headphones and wireless microphones. One of the most common reasons for sound problems is when a wireless device is connected but the speaker forgot to do so. While they’re frantically beating the computer, the problem is simply that a nearby device has control of the audio inputs and outputs. Turn BlueTooth off on the computer itself if the speaker wants to use the computer’s microphone.

6. Video quality

Viewers have a fairly high tolerance for low quality video, so this is not a common problem. However, if the video frequently freezes or is out of sync, just turn it off and use audio only. If the video is distracting, it annoys everyone.

Virtual events require technical support

I am confident that you have some technical questions to ask. Not everyone is familiar with new software, and some people don’t understand technical terminology. So make up your mind and you will not regret it.

Here are some tips to make sure attendees feel included, even if they’re not very tech-savvy:

Common questions about troubleshooting Google for the software you are using. You can share help documents with those who need it. You might even include links to these documents in an email or on your event website.

Also, avoid using jargon. While most people understand what a browser is, many others don’t. I recommend using words like Chrome, Safari, or Microsoft Edge. Users will find that they are using Chrome to access the web even if they don’t know it is a browser.

You have alternative ways to access the event. The most common solution is phone calls that Zoom and many others offer. There will always be people who can’t get technology to work, and sound is a common source of error. With a telephone option, they can listen in.

Have a partner. The second pair of eyes and ears can be of great help. You will find out if your video is buggy or your sound is too quiet. You’ll also see if the camera is pointing at your nose (true story!). While you focus on running the event, they can answer questions from attendees and act as support staff.

Learn the software

Trust me – take the time to learn the software. Whether it’s zoom, hop-in, or anything else – invest in exploring each button. You want to know how to mute attendees and turn off other people’s videos. Also know where to find the meeting url and how to invite others.

Make sure you understand how to give presenters screen sharing access, switch hosts, and answer chat questions. Knowing the software well may inspire you to use some of its features that you would otherwise have overlooked.

Do you want to learn almost everything you need to know about running virtual events, large and small? Download the eBook Planning a Virtual Event: Almost Everything You Need to Know.

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