The success of a virtual event weighs heavily on the attendees’ ability to understand and smoothly navigate what is expected of them in the remote context. Prepare your attendees by offering clear and helpful guidance prior to, during, and after your event. Here are 9 frequently asked questions that you should address for your audience.
1. How do I register and prepare for the event?
Clear communication with your anticipated attendees is the first step to hosting a successful virtual event. Regardless of what platform you are using, make sure to give clear instructions on the registration process and the steps the attendees ought to expect leading up to the virtual event. Many meeting planners include instructions in a confirmation email following registration. For example, include if they will need to make an account, download any additional applications, or if logging in prior to the start time of the event is recommended. When listing the start time and the schedule of the event, include relevant time zones to avoid confusion.
2. What is the cost of participating in this virtual event?
It is important to communicate the cost of a virtual event at the time of registration. Typically, virtual events are either set at a reduced fee compared to live engagements, or are free for attendees. Both of these options are acceptable. Be sure to take into account any costs associated with the speakers you hire and platform you use when setting any cost to attend.
3. What technology do I need for this event?
Depending on what platform you choose, it is necessary to let your audience know what they need to make their participation in the event as seamless as possible. At the base level, attendees should have a fast and reliable internet connection.
Provide suggestions on the best device with/on which to join the event. Things to consider are whether a laptop is preferable or a smartphone suffices. Also let future attendees know whether they can dial in instead of joining by video. If a certain browser is recommended or is the most compatible, include that information as well. If your event requires downloading additional applications, talk attendees clearly through that process prior to the event.
If you are looking to encourage engagement from your attendees, you may want to consider breakout sessions, polling, or Q&A features for your event. Let your audience know beforehand if these components will be a part of the event, and whether they need a working webcam and microphone (or if this part is optional). To ensure that this runs smoothly, consider setting up a test for microphone and webcam prior to the event.
4. How can I keep track of the speakers, Q&As, workshops, and live activity sessions I want to see?
Compose a clear schedule to make sure attendees know exactly where to go for each session and at what time. It is important for the audience to know how long each session will take so they can plan ahead. Most planners will likely want to encourage attendees to attend every session, but is it possible for participants to only attend parts of the program? This is something you would want to address so there is no confusion on the day of. Make the schedule easily accessible on the event’s platform so that attendees can keep track of what is happening at what time.
5. What do you do to ensure a safe environment online?
In order to ensure that all participants experience a safe environment, consider setting some community guidelines for attendees to review and sign prior to joining the event. Potential guidelines may include respecting others regardless of their backgrounds, keeping breakout sessions confidential, using your real identity, and prohibiting offensive language. Additionally, monitor participants throughout the event to ensure these guidelines are met, which will help all attendees feel safe and comfortable.
6. What is expected of the attendee during the event?
When you set the structure of the event and the different kinds of sessions that may be included (i.e. keynote, Q&A’s, poll questions, breakout sessions), it is important to communicate with your audience what is expected from them with regards to participation. For events that are information-driven, without interactive components, you can (choose to) let your audience know they won’t need to activate their cameras and microphones, and that they are free to talk during the event if needed. If you plan to include breakout sessions that encourage visual and spoken communication between attendees, you’ll want to make sure your audience is aware beforehand and that they have the right equipment to participate. If there are certain presentations with question and answer sessions, be clear with the audience on how they can pose those questions, whether via a chat box, email, by directly speaking up or otherwise.
7. How do I network with other attendees?
If the parameters of your event encourage networking, ensure that attendees know how and where to find like-minded people that they can talk to during the event. Whether this is through a chat room or breakout sessions, include ways for participants to connect after the event to continue further connection and collaboration.
8. How do I get support if I have issues accessing the conference?
There should always be a backup for when things do not go as planned. Plan ahead and think of alternatives should any aspect of the event fall through unexpectedly. If anything has to change, make sure to let attendees know as soon as there is an alternate solution. To resolve individual issues, it is very helpful to have an IT support person or resource guide available in order to perform troubleshooting.
9. Will sessions be available post-forum, and for how long?
Clarify if/which sessions will be made available after the event for attendees and those who registered but may not have been able to attend during the given time frame. Decide whether the content should be exclusive to those who registered, or if content may be circulated afterwards, and how long it will be available. Also think about how you want to share your event content with any interested parties. Some convenient ways to circulate content from the event include turning your webinar or video sessions into shareable links or writing up event recaps and sharing them as blog posts.
Answer these questions for your audience prior to your event so they know exactly what to expect. If you need more advice or a speaker to make your virtual event thrive, we are always here to help.