Throughout the course of the pandemic, webinars and virtual events have become the popular method of hosting events and meetings. While we are slowly going back to the norm, webinars are still a great way to host an important meeting without all the setup and takedown of an in-person. Video conferencing software has given us the opportunity to eliminate the need for travel and spending extra money.
When it comes to planning a webinar-style event there are a few considerations that need to be made differently than they would be for an in-person event – specifically when it comes to guests and an event schedule. Keep on reading for our insights!
Depending on the platform you choose to host on, webinars can make room for countless guests. However, just because you can invite hundreds of people, doesn’t always mean you should. Consider your options in conjunction with the purpose of your event.
If you’re hosting a speaker/panel-style event, having an open invitation is a good way to drum up interest. It allows for guests to pop in and out of the event as desired. A public invite link can also make advertising your event much easier. You can attach links to all your social posts and emails without worrying about who will be appearing. If you choose to go this route, ensure that your platform can handle that kind of traffic. You may want to consider asking guests to keep cameras off and have someone on your team keep a watchful eye on any chat features.
If your event is more exclusive, perhaps a work event or party, you can approach your guest list a little differently. Email invitations that can connect to Google and iPhone calendars are a great way to ensure guests don’t forget about your event. If it’s for one specific workplace, a poster on a bulletin board is always an option! We highly encourage that smaller webinar-style events be camera-on events. Of course, you don’t want to make this a rule for guests and create unnecessary pressure. However, gentle encouragement for cameras can make these events feel as connected as any in-person-style event would.
Having a strict schedule for your event is key for your online event. Unlike an in-person event, mingling is incredibly hard to orchestrate. Many platforms allow for break-out rooms, but even these can be awkward and uncomfortable. If your event is small, some mingling as people arrive can work out, but if you’re looking at a mid-large sized attendance, skip it. Instead, create a structured schedule and stick to it. Here are just a few things you can consider adding to your schedule:
- Introductions and icebreakers: ask the host to act as a spokesperson and let others know when it is their turn to speak.
- Games: there are many online game platforms available. If need be, you can ask your guests to join you on another site to play games!
- Presentations: If you have multiple presentations, be sure to build in some time for questions!
When planning out your schedule, consider that guests are likely to be less attentive than usual, so keeping their attention is crucial. Asking guests to stare at a screen for a long period of time is unwise. If it’s a closed event, consider keeping the event shorter than you would if it was in-person. If your event is open to all, release an event schedule to allow your guests to come and go as they please.
Online events and webinars aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Even in a post-pandemic world, they are a great tool! They allow businesses with multiple locations around the world to connect with people they otherwise wouldn’t. An online event is also a great way to save money, eliminating the cost of venue, decor, catering, and more!