By definition, your virtual events aren’t going to be the same as your in-person ones. And that’s ok, because each format has different strengths and features that will appeal to your audience – the trick is to use each to its fullest advantage.
You won’t be able to “copy and paste” your previous template into your digital plan. These are two completely different formats that require two completely different approaches.
For one thing, you need to think twice about planning a digital event that spans several days for 8 hours at a time. “Zoom fatigue” is real, and your audience will probably be less than enthusiastic about staring at the computer for hours and days on end. They need to be entertained.
Instead, consider breaking your conference up into much smaller segments that span several days. Having shorter sessions, like 30-60 minute offerings over the course of a week rather than a day or two, can give your audiences enough information to whet their appetite, yet still keep them interested over the long haul. Your audience might even like this format better—the added flexibility will give them the opportunity to fully engage with your event without completely leaving work tasks unattended. Smaller time commitments over more event days also gives you increased measurable data on engagement.
And that brings us to rethinking how you’re going to engage your audience. With in-person events, the interactivity is built-in. Your audience could easily mix and mingle at meals, during scheduled breaks, and at post-event happy hours. But now you’ll need to put some thought into designing that into the virtual experience. Keep your audience engaged with interactive features like polls and surveys during event sessions. Deputizing members as engagement ambassadors. Or get more creative and host a yoga break or virtual contests between sessions to keep your audience energized. Remember, people want some entertainment factor thrown in.