Transitioning an in-person event to a virtual one is never an easy decision, no matter if it’s due to budget restraints, scheduling conflicts, or an unprecedented worldwide pandemic. But on the bright side, there’s never been a better time to host a conference, festival, or celebration right from the comforts of your own couch.
To prove it, here are five tools that will help you make the most of your online get-together:
At this point, most professionals working from home are at least somewhat familiar with Zoom given its recent explosion in popularity. According to the videoconferencing platform, “as of the end of December last year, the maximum number of daily meeting participants, both free and paid, conducted on Zoom was approximately 10 million. In March this year, we reached more than 200 million daily meeting participants.”
While this growth has brought on a number of challenges, leveraging Zoom to connect via video is well worth it. Not only does Zoom permit live video chatting between a large number of participants, a chatroom, and helpful host controls, but users with a Pro account are able to record the video conference AND livestream in real-time to Facebook, YouTube, or Periscope. A Pro account, by the way, costs around $15 a month, which may be worth it - and potentially a bargain - considering the plethora of benefits of livestreaming.
Canva has long been a go-to for marketing pros, but it’s also a huge help for anyone who wears multiple hats and values creative design and branding. Even the basic free version of this online design tool includes templates for everything from your eye-catching Facebook event cover to presentation slides that will make you want to ditch PowerPoint for good. A pro account (just $10 a month) provides the added bonus of uploading and saving your logo, colors, fonts and more.
As if that wasn’t enough to get you signed up, Canva recently unveiled a new line of templates perfect for working remotely, including a daily work planner and a wealth of customizable Zoom backgrounds. Unlock all of Canva’s creative assets to help brand your digital event and create fun, engaging graphics sure to keep your audience involved.
There are few, if any, free tools out there that can allow users to share photos, links, posts, private live videos, and documents in such a streamlined and easily accessible way. Plus, with over 1.62 million users, chances are the audience you’re trying to reach is already on Facebook.
The channel’s Groups are perfect for generating natural conversations between real people, not just one-way communiques from your brand or from the hosts of what would have been your in-person event. Says AdEspresso, “Groups naturally invite more frequent interaction and discussions, because that’s what they’re meant to do, and users feel more comfortable. This is especially true if you express the desire for users to ask questions or share insights in the group description.” Lean on Facebook Groups to seek attendee opinions with polls or spin-off conversations with threads and comments.
Like any event, you’ve got to have some sort of agenda for what you want to take place. Are you holding a conference with the goal of sharing ideas? Were you planning on unveiling your next big product? Unfortunately, creating a successful online event takes more than just pressing publish. Whatever you were planning on doing face-to-face, take some time to figure out the best ways to get that same message across using all the virtual tools at your disposal. Maybe it’s making a series of Zoom backgrounds your guest speakers can use, or maybe it’s working with a professional videographer to make your livestream is as lifelike as possible.
… and not planning
What makes an in-person event memorable for attendees often isn’t the big displays or fancy setting, but it’s the personal touches that stand out. Despite all planning, it’s important to remember that just like a face-to-face gathering, your role as a host should be to create the setting for the guests to have a positive experience, and giving them the choices, freedom, and opportunities to do so.
Trust yourself, trust your team, and trust that you’ve got everything in place to make your event the best it can be. Embrace those impromptu deviations from the agenda. Encourage those spin-off convos and chat-made connections. The goal of any event is to bring people together, and in light of recent events, it’s become clear that digital tools can tackle the distance and do just that.