Making Your Virtual Event Stand Out: Three Pillars of Long-Lasting Impact
(Pulled from Valerie Genzano's BADCamp 2022 Lightning Talk @ The Virtual Nonprofit Summit)
Are you looking to position your organization as an industry expert? Then holding virtual events is a great way to provide value to your audiences and solidify your organization’s presence. Virtual events are one of the easiest ways to engage with your people, provide valuable content, and build your brand.
To ensure your virtual event goes off without a hitch, you'll need to capture the attention of new audiences and create opportunities for connection. The following three pillars will help you do just that:
1. Think about accessibility at the start
Making your virtual event more accessible goes beyond transcription and other accommodations during the session. You need to be thinking about accessibility from the early planning stages and into your post-event feedback. Looking at accessibility holistically from the beginning can ensure that you accommodate as many needs as possible throughout all aspects of the event.
Here are a few ways to make your next virtual event more accessible:
- Ensure your registration form includes a question section about what accessibility accommodations your registrant will need
- Host your event on a platform that offers live and automated closed captions and transcripts to attendees natively, such as Google Meet, Zoom, or better yet, integrate with a solution like Otter.ai
- Educate attendees on keyboard shortcuts available on platforms such as Google Meet and Zoom (for our non-clicking folks)
- Ask for feedback on what you can do better to improve accessibility after the event
2. Record your event and make it easy to access
So, your event has happened. Your attendees are happy because you made it as accessible as possible and wowed them with your content. You should pat yourself on the back for a job well done, right?
Nope. You’re just getting started.
During your event, record an accessible, transcribed, and closed-captioned version of your event that people can easily access for a long period of time. I’m not talking about a disappearing link, I mean posting the session on a platform that can offer the recording for any users who couldn’t attend—or those who want to watch the session again. Ensure you manually edit automated captions for accuracy!
This is also an easy way to monetize your session. For example, if people are interested in what you and your organization have to say, you can sell them access to the recording for half the ticket price. In my career, this was a critical way that nonprofits brought in recurring revenue and offered value to their audiences.
Your voice and perspective are valuable. Push that value forward as much as you can.
3. Build a community
This may be the most crucial piece to creating an event that stands out, matters for your audience, and pushes your organization’s goals forward. You host events to bring people together, so creating a community of people with a shared purpose or interest is the easiest way to continue the conversation.
There are plenty of ways you can build community after your event. With our lives continuing to be lived more online, there are channels that you can use to easily connect with people such as:
- Facebook Groups
- LinkedIn Page
- Discord Server
- Reddit Forums
And, of course, there are plenty of other platforms you can use. The point is to create a community you can activate after your event. Maybe it’s through smaller “mini” events, happy hours, and other forums where you can keep people connected until your next flagship session.
What’s the point?
A virtual event that is interesting to your audience will help keep your content successful. Ensuring you are catering to the interests of those who interact with you is the key to starting conversations. Offering recordings of the event that are easily accessible and continuing the conversation afterward are some of the best ways to do this.
Make your audience feel like they matter, because they do.