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How to plan an online event

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 Let’s be honest, hosting a “traditional” in-person event will not be the new norm for a little while. However, why not learn how to plan for your next        virtual event in the meantime?

You might be scared of the words “virtual” or “online” but rest assured hosting an online event is not much different, and can be eloquently done with the right tools and starting point. Your first task is to get out a piece of pen and paper and start jotting down these 10 essential tips to plan your next virtual event.

1. What do you hope to accomplish during this event? Is it...

  • Recognition
  • Fundraise/monetary value
  • Inform
  • Network

These four areas are most likely the goals you have in mind.  However, in order to succeed your priority for this event is to create extraordinary content because without good content, there is no event. Which then brings me to my next step:

2. Who and what will be featured? Will there be...

  • Talent
  • Music
  • Art
  • Dance class
  • Creative Ideas 
  • Engagement with your audience

Your “what” should include one or more of the above.  More importantly, your “what” should have engagement with your audience. This is key. Having any sort of interaction whether it be asking questions, playing games, or having conversation on important topics is essential for any kind of online event. Ways to make it easy is by incorporating the “raise hand” option if working through the software platform, Zoom. Other ideas include using the chat option found on most telecommuting softwares, or simply having an interactive presentation that poses questions or needs elaboration.  

  • Influencers/Celebrities
  • Someone an audience can learn from

Although the “who” is not always necessary for an event, it's always a great idea to contact as many people as possible that can help your event be the best it can be. Plus, with celebs/influencers not having too many things better to do, your chances of getting someone to join your event is pretty good.

3. Get the word out.

If you take anything from this post, it's this. How will people know about your event if they never heard about it? Here’s ways you can go about it:

  • Get your event on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, basically every social media platform possible. Not only will you post about it, but so will your friends, relatives, and even your neighbors. The more people that know the better. Having a sharp post with color and easy to read details is the best way for people to attend. 
  • Make phone calls. Getting on the phone and informing people/places about your event is a great way to get recognition while also being personal. Plus, with an event being online, that means not only will locals be able to attend, but so can people across the country!
  •  Flyers. Although this may seem a little old school, it never hurts to send out flyers to restaurants, street corners or through the mail. 

4.  Make sure you have a good connection.

Not only in a figurative way will you need to have a good connection with your audience, but also in a literal sense. When having an online event, having a reliable internet connection is crucial. No one likes a lagging or frozen screen, so here's some tips to help you:

  • Make sure you are connected to Wi-Fi.
  • Check to make sure your laptop has no bugs or existing problems.
  • Close all unnecessary tabs before you start the event.
  • If internet is even in the slightest bit unresponsive, restart your router
5. Prep.

With all the tips listed above, it's important not lose sight of your agenda for your event. Preparing any event always takes time and patience. 

  • Make a calendar for all the goals you want to achieve
  • Make a list from most to least important the things that you want included for your event
  • Practice with close friends and family to see what does and doesn't work

6.  Hostess with Mostess.

Be the host that everyone wishes they could be. Be yourself, be interactive and have fun! This will be your online event so make the best out of it! Here’s some ways to accomplish this: 

  • Be punctual. Showing up late to your own event is embarrassing. Make sure to set your alarm on time the day of your event and get all your ducks in a row so that there’s no surprises.
  • Dress accordingly. Even though your online event will most likely only show top up, make sure to be presentable. A messy hairdo and sweatshirt isn't necessarily the right way to go.
  • Roll with the punches. If things aren't going exactly to plan during your event, improvise! It’s okay if things aren’t perfect, do the best with what you got!
7. Short and Sweet.

A long event isn’t always said to be an exciting one. Anything from 30 minutes to a maximum of an hour and a half should be your time slot.

  • Entertain. Having an online event comes with its challenges, one of them being the constant need for entertainment. Without being able to move around like an in-person event, having intriguing topics and activities is a great way to keep your audience engaged.
  • Don’t ramble. This is pretty self explanatory.

8.  Listen to your instincts.

If you feel like people are starting to lose interest, move to plan B. 

Always have a plan B...even a plan C if possible. 

  • Switch the topic if the event is conversation heavy.
  • Play a different game if things aren’t going to plan.

9.  Record your event.
Most telecommuting softwares allows you to record your event. With permission from your audience of course, this could be a great way to 

  1. Learn from what went really well and not so great
  2. You will be able to post your event afterwards to promote the next one!
  3. Everyone loves to be a part of something. Tagging, sharing and taking particular clips of your event is a great way to spread positivity for your business.

10. The Aftermath.

After posting your event, make sure to ask for feedback from your audience with either a survey or questionnaire. Don’t be afraid to ask them how it went and what you could do better. 

Secondly, be proud of yourself. Although this is an obvious point, it's easy for most of us to forget. Be proud of all the work you put towards making an event so fantastic! Allow yourself to take a breather and celebrate with a slice of cake or some relaxation. You deserve it!

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By Jaclyn Ilcyn, Arts and Communication Major
As a result of the pandemic, online events have become a norm. Internet is flooded with online events. However, if you haven't organized one yourself, it can be a bit overwhelming. Jaclyn shares some tips with us!
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