Tips on How to Plan and Organize a Virtual Event with Carolyn Young!
Written by: Carolyn Young
Lights, Camera, Action!
When the world came to a sudden stop when COVID-19 hit, we all had to set up a Zoom account and turn the video cameras on to be able to connect with friends, family, and customers. At first, I thought this would be over in a few months and as the days went on, I realized "normal" would take longer to get back to. The main way we connected with customers was through traveling to facilities for trials and Trade Shows. After watching everything Netflix had to offer, I started getting my creative juices flowing and thinking how iD Additives was going to connect with our customers during this time.
The concept of a "Virtual Open House" came to me when I repeatedly kept getting invited to virtual events such as birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, and more. We all can agree it is not the same as being in person, but I noticed everyone was so happy to be seeing each other even if it is was over Zoom. Especially after hosting my own virtual event in June 2020- my wedding! My husband and I cancelled our big wedding and had a small wedding in my parents' backyard- 30 people in person and about 100 people virtually. I thought that if people are hosting virtual parties, why couldn't we host a virtual open house for iD Additives? Since August 2020, we have hosted four virtual open house events and we have seen a lot of success and engagement each time. We continue to learn new things each time we do a virtual event.
Here are a few tips I have if you are looking to have a virtual event at your facility:
Decide what your event is going to be on & plan out your agenda
iD Additives has now had a total of four Virtual Zoom Chats with our Technical Managers. I have found that having a specific topic of discussion or having them on a certain product helps with attendance. If there is not a clear topic, people who receive your invite may be confused on what the event is about, which then makes attendance low. Once you decide your topic, sit down with your team to plan out the talking points and the flow of the presentation. This will help you keep the viewers engaged and interested in the presentation. When you have the topic and talking points planned out, you go into the virtual event more confident with high attendance and an interested audience.
Make your invite clear as to what the event is about and who should attend
I have personally found that Constant Contact is the best way to get the word out on your virtual event. Over the years, we have built up our contact list to 5,000+ names. Constant Contact also has an RSVP feature you can add to the email, which then allows people to say if they will attend or not. It asks them to provide their name and email, which is necessary to email the Zoom link a few days before the event. We usually start sending out the invite 6-8 weeks before our event and resend it to people about every 2 weeks up until the day before the event. I also create a PDF that links to the RSVP on the Constant Contact so, we can invite specific customers to our virtual event.
Practice makes PERFECT!
Everyone has experienced the pain of technical difficulties and we all know we can't plan for everything, but practice really does help work out all the kinks before a virtual event. Our team does a practice the day before the event to ensure we have the right equipment, everything is plugged in correctly, and the camera/audio works. There have been many times we have noticed some issues and we have plenty of time to fix them before the big event. Also, we go over our agenda and talking points to make sure we have a good flow and everyone is on the same page.
And a tip for the attendees: ASK QUESTIONS AND SHARE EXPERIENCES!
Virtual events are here to stay and it is more important than ever to be communicating. If you attend a virtual event, make sure to ask questions and share stories. As much as our Technical Managers love to talk about Eco-Pro, Purge, and Foaming Agent, we appreciate your participation. So don't be shy- hop on our Zoom Chats and let's talk!