Overcoming the Challenges of Virtual Events

The change from a physical to a virtual event can present a range of new and unexpected challenges, and whilst you may not be able to directly create some of the values that face-to-face interaction brings, virtual events are creating the opportunity we need to communicate with our community. 

So how do you turn an event, filled with networking opportunities, interactive sessions, and the attendee insights they generate into a virtual event?  And once you do, how do you engage and ensure your attendees get the value that they would normally obtain throughout attending a physical event? 

Understanding the right platform for you 

Hosting a virtual event still requires the same amount of attention to detail and planning as an in-person event. Before searching your way through the different platform options, plan out your event as you normally would and understand what you need the platform to do for you, not the other way around. Understanding how you want to communicate and interact with your audience will ensure you do not get overwhelmed with the design and look of the event and instead remain on track with your messaging and collaboration goals.   

Consider what technology and communication software your company already uses and if there is a way to involve and intertwine it with the new virtual software.  

Generating interaction and engagement

One of the harder challenges to overcome is an audience that isn’t engaging and is distracted by their surroundings. In a physical setting, an audience instantly feels connected and you have their attention. It is also an environment where attendees feel comfortable to freely think and speak their mind, but take away the face-to-face element and add in distractions such as a phone, emails and other tabs open on a computer, gaining their attention for a day or for a few hours becomes a serious challenge. 

This is where your content and speakers are key! By providing high-value content, delivered by highly valued speakers, your attendance and engagement rate will increase dramatically. Keep sessions short and sharp to keep your audience’s attention and to boost attendance to the live session, consider making some exclusive content available only if attendees stream the session live and not watch back the recording. 

Remember that not all speakers will feel comfortable talking to a screen as many speakers feed off an audience’s energy, so selecting a speaker that knows how to engage in this new setting is crucial. A good way around this is organising panel discussions, it allows for a more open and insightful conversation and removes the pressure some presenters may feel just talking to camera. 

An important part of getting the audience to interact is creating opportunities that allow the audience to be involved. Use a platform that can have live Q&A discussions between your presenters and audience, or create polling and quizzes within the presentations with live feedback from the presenter. The more that your audience understands that their participation has a purpose the more you will see your event succeed.  

Building relationships 

A significant part of why people attend events is the relationship building and networking opportunities that are offered. Being able to have access to interact with people that you normally wouldn’t. Recreating that in a virtual environment can be challenging, however, virtual events have now progressed into great networking opportunities that can have that personal touch. 

Build your event to have breakout and knowledge sharing groups or small workshops. Use a platform that allows attendees to be able to talk to each other. Virtual events no longer have to be one presenter just talking to a screen, the more you allow for participation and interaction the more relationships will be able to be built. 

The technology blunders 

Do a practice session! The best way to find out if there are going to be issues is to organise a full event run through. Find out if there is a scratchy microphone or camera now rather than trying to fix it when you’re live. On the day, get your presenters to log in 30minutes early, giving yourself plenty of time to fix any technical issues. 

Ensure you have someone standing by who is familiar with the technology for troubleshooting through the live event if problems do arise. 

During your practice session, map out your customer journey and click through the event as if you were going through their experience. Can the attendee access all the links and sessions and participate in polling or Q&A activities? Make sure the customer journey is an easy one, you want to make it as simple as possible for everyone to be able to participate and be involved. 

What is most important is creating a space that allows your audience to interact and feel as though they are a part of a community even though they aren’t physically there. 

#SpeakToSleek about planning your virtual event, our #DreamTeam are the experts when it comes to overcoming any event challenges. Contact us here.

how an event professional can work with their team for pitching practise

Event pitching in the eyes of a young #eventprof

As #eventprofs we’re all familiar with the dreaded pitch day. The endless days working on the deck, sleepless nights, trying to get it absolutely perfect and pre-empt any and all questions your potential new client could ever dream of. Pitches are incredibly important – you need to be better than everyone else and, if you win, you could be bringing years of profitable business with a client relationship that could bring endless future opportunities. On top of all that, an exciting new project can invigorate your whole team. But not everyone is experience when it comes to pitching and, in the last month, we ran a mock pitching exercise for our team at Sleek Events. Here’s what our most junior team member got out of it as a young #eventprof and the advice she’d give to others.

My first event pitching experience

As a junior employee, who is fairly new to the events world, pitches can be scary and carry a lot of pressure. Being able to practise pitching with a trial run is really important and helps the team feel more prepared for when the big ones come in! So, recently at Sleek Events, to practise our pitching skills, we decided it would be a useful exercise to treat our own Summer Party for suppliers and industry friends as an event we needed to pitch to win – the ‘client’ being our MD & Founder. For budding #eventprofs out there, here’s how we did it…

  • Firstly, we all came together as a team and identified who would own each area, depending on each individual’s strengths and expertise. Next, we decided on a timeline of deadlines to set ourselves, so we had plenty of space to review each stage and refine our presentation in good time before pitch day.
  • After researching each component – such as venue, catering, marketing and comms, entertainment and fundraising – everyone came together for daily team meetings to review progress. We made sure we were all aligned in terms of group actions and helped each other to refine next steps. We kept a close eye on the budget and utilised all of our contacts to keep costs down – it was a charity event after all!
  • Once we had received sign off on big decisions such as venue and entertainment options from relevant directors, we worked on pulling together all the elements into one presentation deck. We spent a lot of time making it look interesting and aesthetically pleasing. Then we all gave it a sense check and our best proofreader ensured the flow, spelling, grammar and consistency of message were all on point. The little things are just as important as the big things – attention to detail never goes unnoticed!
  • With the deck finalised and costs confirmed, we spent some time rehearsing and decided who would deliver each section of the pitch. It’s important to strike the right balance between knowing your subject but not sounding too rehearsed – you don’t want to lose your personality as that can be one of the things that wins you a pitch.
  • Finally, it was pitch day! We’d all had a good night’s sleep and a healthy team breakfast to set ourselves up for the day, going over any last minute notes. The pitch was a great success and, luckily, we won it! Now the real planning (and all the fun!) could begin.

Our MD was extremely impressed with all our hard work and how serious we had taken the exercise. It had brought us all together as a team and helped us identify our strengths.Our party is next week – keep an eye out on our social media to see the fun you can have when you’re fundraising!

shaking hands to seal the deal after winning a pitch

Here’s our top tips for a successful pitch:

  • Build your story – create a pitch that flows. Showing a beginning, middle and end, like a story, will not only help the client see that this event would be a success but will also give them an insight into how you work. If the pitch is clear, well thought through and shows a clear progression plan, they will want to work with you. It’s all about making your client’s life easier!
  • Think long-term – consider what your long-term opportunities might be if you win this pitch. Opening this door may lead to plenty more projects, so be prepared and think beyond just this event.
  • Get creative – presenting unique ideas that will grab their attention is a sure-fire way to impress a potential client. Let them know you have really thought about a variety of options and solutions to bring about the most memorable event. Using client case studies to demonstrate your expertise helps solidify your position as event professionals and will add gravitas to your pitch. They want to know you can actually follow through with what you’re proposing.
  • Teamwork makes the dream work – not only is pitching to your boss a really worthwhile exercise for pitching experience, but it’s also a fun team-building experience. We now feel prepared for our next client pitch and feel like we can handle anything that is thrown at us. As they say, practice makes perfect!

If you’d like to be an #eventprof, keep an eye on our social media for job opportunities: Instagram LinkedIn Twitter

 

Best Business Women Awards 2018 Finalists announced – and guess who’s on the shortlist?!

The Best Business Women Awards have announced their finalists today for 2018. The business world is full of talented and dedicated female entrepreneurs who not only run successful businesses but in many cases also juggle the needs of their families.

The Best Business Women Awards are designed to recognise the achieve

ment of those women across a wide range of business categories and is open to any female business owner UK wide. Local businesswoman Jennifer Davidson from Sleek Events has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Business Services. Richmond-based boutique events agency, Sleek Events creates successful and memorable events.

Debbie Gilbert, organiser of The Best Business Women Awards said, “Now in our 4th year we have seen the number of entries triple since we launched. The standard of our finalists is exceptionally high. We are delighted to receive entries from female entrepreneurs from throughout the UK, from women who are real trailblazers in their industry. This is a tough competition judged by business experts. To be a finalist is a major achievement. Finalists have been selected for their business acumen, determination, creativity and tenacity. Almost 90% of start-ups fail in the first 3 years and all our finalists are all shining examples of being successful entrepreneurs who have proved their success to our judges.”

Jennifer Davidson launched Sleek Events just three years ago yet she has just revealed a £6.7million turnover at their recent birthday party. She says, “I’m really excited to be shortlisted for the Business Services Award and to be up for the Best Business category too. All this wouldn’t be possible without my amazing team – so many people have played a vital part in helping me grow Sleek Events to where it is today. We’re extremely passionate about the industry and love making a difference.”

The gala final of The Best Business Women Awards will be held on 11th October 2018 at Tewin Bury Farm, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, the winners will be announced at the final.