YOU are now in competition with Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video. You need to think about how you are going to produce your own video content with broadcast television quality on a minimal budget. Not only that, this video content needs to be engaging, involve live participants, and require little to no post-production editing to publish the video as an archived resource.
Whether you are hosting your first virtual event, speaking at a virtual event, or just curious about the magic that happens behind the scenes, this post will help give you structure. If you are a seasoned meeting planning pro, this might give you one extra nugget to make your life easier, save more time, and avoid missing an important detail.
Please use any of these resources as templates to plan your next event or email me if you have any questions.
Master Event Checklist
Pilots follow a systematic checklist of tasks and procedures before take-off so don’t think you can just jump out of bed and hit GO! Not only do I recommend having a master checklist of tasks to complete, but I also urge you to build it out as a templated process that can easily be altered for the next time. This saves you and the rest of your team time from reinventing the wheel with a systematic plan you can manage all from your mobile phone. I use a popular tool called Trello to plan out events, projects and share an example here.
Speaker Proposal Submission
I feel for meeting planners. The logistics involved with finding the right speakers, gathering all of the correct information, and inputting it into a system where the marketing team and IT support work together to update the website can become a mess inside of the entire team’s email inbox fast.
It might look like a simple survey like in SurveyMonkey however Airtable has many more powerful features behind the hood that coordinate notes, file attachments, and timelines. There is a way you can use Airtable as a database to program the content in your website and make changes on the fly without having to call IT each time.
Check out this example.
Event Timeline on a Google Spreadsheet
If you want to nail your virtual event then I suggest you get precise with time down to the minute for what happens and when. For example, when the event team arrives into the virtual event platform, coordinates last-minute logistics, and gets ready before the video camera feed goes live. You could add a pre-recorded video as a countdown to get others excited and invite sponsors to join in on discussions that are directly related to participants. The goal here is to map out every interaction inside of a Google Spreadsheet and allow for some breathing room in case you need to change gears quickly. You could also do this inside of Airtable. The big difference between Google Spreadsheets and Airtable is that Airtable can store file attachments inside of a cell.
Pre-Recorded Video and Interview Scripts with Sponsors
Giving a sponsor an open microphone to all of your virtual participants can lead to some serious unintended consequences, which is why few event planners allow it. You can however insert a pre-recorded video supplied by the sponsor to play at the beginning, intermission, or whenever else appropriate. This video (preferably 30 seconds or less) can be played by pushing a button on your stream deck instead of opening up YouTube inside of a shared screen so people can watch it.
Another way to feature a sponsor is to host a video conversation about the challenges participants might face, share any new updates to the product or service, or discuss new trends for participants to be aware of right now. These interviews are really simple and a lot of fun. Questions you might ask during a sponsor interview include:
- What are some of the biggest challenges participants are facing right now and how does your company help?
- What are some of the latest developments with your core product or service worth noting so they can be useful for participants?
- What are you most excited about in the next coming months and our participants should be too?
Participant Chat Templates
A lot of virtual events start off slow because the event host fails to engage participants in the online chat. As much as you TELL people to engage in the online chat, you must DO the online chat with them. Otherwise, participants will feel as if you are talking at them, not with them (in the online chat).
Just like the frequently asked questions feature on your website, you need to prepare a document of frequently used messages in the chat where you can copy and paste to save time and reduce the need to think about one more thing while the session is live. Here are some examples:
- Good morning __________. I’m so glad you are here. We are going to get started soon.
- Great to see you __________. Thanks for being here.
- Thank you for attending our program today. This session will be recorded and available on our website following the program. If you have any questions, please let us know.
- You can download the session handout at __________.
- Please be sure to sign up for the next session at https://speaker.dougdevitre.com.
Virtual Backgrounds and Lower One Third Templates
Meeting planners used to give professionally designed PowerPoint presentation files to speakers in order to keep presentations aligned with a styled theme. That used to be ok before participants could tolerate someone reading slides on a webinar. Now, participants have greater expectations of what they experience and that puts pressure on meeting planners to get a little more creative with their #screentoscreen delivery. When you use Canva as an image creation tool, you can design an image as a template and give them the hyperlink to edit on their own.
Programmatic SMS and IVR Templates
In addition to your standard survey, you need to think about reaching participants in more ways than sending them an email with a survey to say thanks. That means either calling them on the phone, sending them a text message, or hosting a follow-up webinar Q&A session to clarify details from main objectives.
You can set up a phone number to act as your conference hotline phone number and SMS auto-assistant. This phone number will send out text messages either at set times or as auto-replies to incoming messages from assistants. You can set one of these up yourself using Twilio Studio Flow in minutes and begin adding on features as you begin to explore more options and improve upon your existing phone number flow and SMS flow.