Assembling Your Virtual Event Team
If you have ever attended a great virtual event, as a participant, it appears effortless. All of the event elements seem to flow together and blend harmoniously. You are fully immersed in the event experience, with minimal frustrations and distractions. Achieving this outcome depends on a well-designed experience, clear roles and responsibilities, and a strong well-prepared team.
Your team may be comprised of a number of different players with varying skill sets. The team might include your organizing committee, an engagement manager or event or experience design professional, a virtual production team, platform support, etc. You may have an overall project manager that incorporates your virtual program into other project elements such as publishing or an in-person experience and other external team members such as audio/visual companies, sponsors or venues, etc.
Effective communication and training tie everything together to ensure that everyone is on the same page about the vision and execution of your event.
Here are some of the key roles for a virtual event…
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Your Engagement Manager (EM) creates the roadmap for realizing your virtual event. The EM helps you achieve your vision by turning your ideas into actionable strategies. They are experts in designing events in the virtual medium and can offer insight and guidance as you plan. They work with the leads on other event elements as needed.
The Virtual Event Engagement Manager:
- Conducts initial “Discovery” call to determine your virtual event focus and needs
- Scopes out your event based on your unique requirements
- Provides recommendations on event design and solutions
- Ensures that all of the elements of your event, from the technical program to registration to networking are in sync
- Establishes the planning schedule or virtual event timeline, identifies tasks and key milestones, tracks progress, and keeps everyone on the team in the loop
- Works to proactively avoid setbacks and address challenges as they arise
- Makes sure the necessary preparation, testing, training, and rehearsals take place so everyone is ready for live day
- Coordinates with other event teams (communications, finance, etc. to facilitate the overall plan)
Virtual event producers bring your event’s unique personality to life. They ensure that your event runs seamlessly from the participants’ first log-in through your closing remarks. Your producer makes sure your virtual event feels fresh, lively, and relevant to your audience.
The Virtual Event Producer:
- Works with your organizing committee to brainstorm event design elements
- Helps you optimize your program for the virtual space (length, tracks, live/pre-recorded)
- Develops the flow of activities such as keynotes, technical sessions, networking activities, games, breaks, breakouts, etc.
- Creates the plan for your exhibit hall
- Ensures your A/V and Internet connectivity are in order
- Assists in training authors, presenters, and participants in using the technologies
- Conducts dry runs, video/sound, and tech checks with your speakers
- Coordinates with external vendors and partners
- Develops contingency plans for your event activities
- Produces your live sessions
- Runs live elements such as transitions, slides, videos, and polls
- Troubleshoots during the event
A great host can transform your event experience. As the face of your event, your host creates a positive atmosphere, makes participants feel welcome, and builds a sense of community among your audience. It is helpful to select a host with strong leadership skills, a flair for public speaking, the ability to think on their feet, and an upbeat personality.
The Event Host:
- Sets the tone by saying a few words of welcome and introducing your keynotes
- Keeps the pace of your event and ensures smooth transitions between presentations and activities
- Provides moderation and introduces questions posed through chat and social media during QA sessions
- Facilitates activities and discussions during social and networking activities
- Infuses gamification with a sense of fun and lightheartedness
- Fields issues or concerns from participants
Your event production impacts your brand, the participant experience, their perceived value of your event, and whether they will return. It is important to have someone on board with the technical know-how to ensure that your event goes off without a hitch. This is where your technical producer comes into play.
The Technical Producer:
- Is the expert on your virtual event platform and creatively works outside the box to provide technical solutions to the committee’s needs
- Builds out your platform to include your branding, program, sessions, exhibits sponsorship, etc.
- Oversees integration of any complementary tools
- Oversees the delivery and transfer of media files and other assets onto the virtual event platform
- Develops your broadcast strategy, including bandwidth requirements for live streaming
- Tests your platform interface for bugs
- Ensures a frustration-free user experience
- Ensures the quality of session recordings and broadcasts
- Offers tips on optimizing recordings (equipment, setting, lighting, sound, video/media specs)
Getting the right attendees to your event will inspire more productive dialogues and collaborations that fuel innovation. Your audience development specialist will develop strategies to promote your event on your website, on the web, and through social media. This individual will initiate and monitor campaigns to attract your desired audience. They will also come up with ways to widen your reach to include underrepresented groups, students, young professionals, and industry professionals.
Even the most well-planned event can experience technical hiccups. Having a technical support plan and the right staff in place can help you navigate challenges as they arise and prevent any major breakdowns in your event.
- Platform Support – Selecting a platform with solid technical support is critical. Ensure that at a minimum, your platform comes with 24/7 customer support. If possible, negotiate a dedicated on-call support person from your platform provider. If this is not possible, have a member of your team who will be able to assist on standby.
- Security – The last thing any event planner wants during their event is to be hijacked by bad actors. Creating a secure, password-protected event is crucial. Having a plan for what to do in the event of a security breach is also a must.
- Participant Support – Develop and communicate a support plan that details what attendees should do in the event of a technical issue. This plan should include pre-event support for participants and presenters, as well as who to contact during your event. You may include a FAQ page as part of your plan that covers topics like registration, presenter support, and live event support. Your team should be primed and ready to step in and assist as needed.
- Ongoing Support – While your event is underway, it is important that your team oversees sessions, chat, workshops, exhibit halls, email, phone, Q&A, and social media. Consider creating a virtual helpdesk where participants who are experiencing a glitch can be welcomed individually for chats with a support tech.
Your organizing committee can be a great asset in supporting your participants and taking the temperature of your event. Your committee can provide insight into the participant experience and position you to address concerns and make enhancements in real-time. Your track/session chairs should oversee and facilitate your sessions, workshops, and breakouts. Your other committee members can serve as “event liaisons” who can roam your event and be available to participants as needed. Ensure everyone on the team knows what to do and who to connect with if they come across an issue. Session Chairs open and close sessions, introduce speakers, play pre-recorded videos, and facilitate live Q&A segments.
Virtual event participants have come to expect a visually appealing event experience. Stale visuals can make your event seem dated and out of touch. Your event should have a consistent brand, color palette, and logo. Your graphic designer can create promotional graphics, web pages, platform branding, and social media assets to visually and technically fit any virtual event solution.
Effective writing is essential to establishing a polished virtual event. Information featured on your virtual event platform and website should be clear, engaging, and reflective of your brand. Your copywriter can give your event a voice by creating messaging, session descriptions, speaker bios, and surveys. The copywriter helps to create a cohesive, user-friendly experience that lets your brand shine.