It is not surprising that the event, seminar, or conference that you expected to participate in was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As an attendee, you are now used to receiving emails or other notifications about the cancellation or suspension of planned events. Such matters have certainly made you wonder if you will ever have events in person again in 2021.
What Are the Consequences of COVID-19 on Organizational Events?
For the time being, no matter how significant or trivial, almost every organization has to resort to online events to keep the team and the participants safe and sound. Therefore, traditional in-person events have been replaced by online events leveraging a variety of modern virtual platforms.
But let us count our blessings and thank technology for being there to keep us going. Without the widespread growth in technology, online events and virtual connectivity would have seemed unfamiliar and meaningless. In addition, the pandemic has also forced some organizations to adapt themselves to the technology and still try to provide services for their clients.
Consequently, online events have found their way to the daily lives and communicative interactions of many people nowadays. Though many event organizers have lost their jobs since March 2020 due to their particular niche, some of them have done so well to still be in the picture and organize online events. They have faced and overcame new challenges such as poor connections, different time zones, user hacks, and unpredicted issues at the time of their live events.
What Are the Issues Affecting Online Events in 2020?
Given the subject of online events and not-in-person conferences, several issues have popped up recently. Here are some of the issues:
Though some people may find it easier to participate in online events rather than in person, others consider themselves highly distracted. Home distractions such as kids, everyday household chores, an unexpected ring of the doorbell, etc., are annoying and disruptive right in the middle of the event. The overall distraction caused by the cozy home decor and comfy clothes is also hard to ignore.
Provided that there are distractions, efficiency decreases significantly. Time passes without having the expected efficiency as in normal situations. Therefore, many work tasks are still there undone and loaded. Obviously, the workload itself is a new distraction that keeps your audience far from what is going on in the live event.
What Are the Predictions on How Organizations Will Approach Online Events in 2021?
Considering the current situation dominant in the world, it seems highly probable that organizations will continue to approach online events in 2021. One may question the length of the period and that is not something anyone knows for sure, because there are many factors involved in controlling the virus some of which are totally beyond the scope of power of the organizations.
Hence, online events are inevitable for much of the coming year. Though promising news of the COVID-19 vaccine has just been spread, we cannot expect its mass production within a short period of time. Accordingly, it is better to keep focusing on organizing online events with better strategies so that the aforementioned distractions do not come in your way.
How to Engage Your Online Event Participants in 2021
Changing your strategies for better engagement and networking during your online event is essential if you want to have a stronger performance. Pay careful attention to the needs of your audience. Why should they devote some time and money to take part in your online event? Think of educating your participants using effective methods. In other words, you can achieve your goals by meeting the needs of your online event participants.
Let’s take a look at the infographic before going into the details:
1. Instruct Your Experts
As an online event organizer, you should give some essential instructions to the experts who are going to hold the event. If you are recruiting expert speakers, ask them to involve their audience in their own methods. Ask them to start a little bit earlier or leave a little bit later and make conversations with the attendees. They can answer the questions, discuss further issues, and generally speaking, communicate positively with the participants.
2. Provide a Resource
The presentation slides, the extra materials, and the written content for event attendees can encourage your participants to read, watch, etc., are better to be uploaded on a platform. You can upload them either before or after your online event and ask your attendees to check them prior to the event.
The advantage of doing this is that you can engage them with the educational and supportive information that you provide for them. On the other hand, they will also find your event useful and knowledge-based. Furthermore, these unique resources help you have enough ideas to talk about and keep your attendees involved. Attendees can also reference your valuable content long after the event is over.
3. Organize Q&A and AMA Sessions
In addition to the online event itself, you can run some complimentary sessions in order to provide the opportunity for your participants to ask their questions. You can also ask the other experts or staff in your organization to run these sessions. For instance, choose the ones with higher communicative skills that can get the attendees to talk. In addition, ask them to think of some questions that the participants may ask. Brainstorming helps them have a better view of the subject.
4. Keep It Less Populated
Voices should be heard for a better engagement. If there are 200 attendees connecting to your online event link, how can you engage them one by one within a limited period of event time? Divide your participants into several groups and give them the chance to really participate. Consequently, there will be less noise, more concentration, and better interaction.
5. Include Break Times
Break time is helpful in two ways. Firstly, you do not suffocate your audience with a long talk! Secondly, you can share a cup of coffee or anything else while still connected and try to start an informal and friendly chat with your attendees. You can ask them general questions such as icebreakers about any subject and get them to talk.
In addition, break times are good opportunities to introduce your social media profiles and ask them to follow you on different channels. For instance, you can grow the number of your Instagram followers using your online event as well as Instagram follower apps.
6. Prioritize Gamification
Entertaining your bored-in-the-house participants is a golden rule of thumb. Think of adding some fun and games to the event. Think of prizes, badges, gift cards, promotion codes, etc. to encourage your attendees to respond to the game. In addition, you can always get sponsors on board easily. The gamification ideas depend totally on you and the type of your business. Therefore, we highly suggest you consult your marketing team for gamification advice.
7. Let the Feedback Door Open
There is always some way to perfection. You can keep everyone satisfied neither in your business nor in your personal life. That is what nature makes us believe. However, you can at least try to get as close as possible to meet other people’s needs by knowing what they expect.
Hence, the importance of asking for feedback comes to light. You can do it in many ways: posting a survey on any platform you prefer, direct discussion threads, etc. If you use many platforms and messaging apps, it is possible that you receive a lot of different requests and feedback on them. Hence, tracking can be a challenging task for you. However, there are solutions to manage all your messages from messaging apps.
Taken as a whole, we have provided some predictions on how organizations will approach online events in 2021. Though putting forward clear estimations is practically impossible, it can be said that organizations will continue to consider virtual events at least in the near future. Therefore, as an event organizer or organization, it is more strategic to consider better ways of running online events. Remember to plan a checklist to keep everything working. Keep up the good work and look forward to a brighter future!
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About the Author
Parichehr Parsi is a born writer and a freelance copywriter in the fields of travel, fashion, and Instagram marketing. She currently writes for SocialPros and online magazines in Italy and loves reading, writing, and researching.