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Becoming a Virtual Event Manager

Last updated June 19th, 2020

Virtual events have been a growing part of the industry for a while. Long before coronavirus forced us to change the way we plan and hold events, the industry had been looking towards new ways of working and more innovative ways to create experiences people would enjoy. Virtual events were one of the ways we were doing that.

If you have seen how the events industry has changed and want to be a part of this new world, you have picked a great time to do it. This page will walk you through some of the unique skills being a virtual event manager requires in our new look industry.

Virtual events

Virtual events were something gradually gaining pace in the industry long before lockdown. Rather than attending a conference or event in person, you would use video conference tools like Zoom or Facetime, a special app or even virtual reality.

The methods and mediums are many and the opportunities they present, almost limitless.

Virtual events provide the opportunity for delegates and guests to attend events anywhere in the world. You are no longer restricted by geography or have to buy something new to wear. Anyone with an interest in the event and a ticket could attend, which is just part of the appeal.

Examples of virtual events you may already have seen include Hitched at Home from Channel 4, the virtual Le Mans 24 hour race that happened on the 13th and 14th of June 2020 or Apple’s WWDC event.

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide

Event management

Virtual event management uses the same skills and experience gained from planning and managing ‘real life’ events. The ability to plan, come up with innovative ideas, coordinate hundreds of people, dozens of trades and suppliers and satisfy the ever-changing requirements of talent are just a few key skills you’ll need.

You will also need a few more specialist skills to be a successful virtual event manager.

If you want to learn event management, you can do that virtually too!

Virtual event management

One key skill of a virtual event manager is knowledge of the various platforms available. Or having someone on your team who has that expertise. The vast majority of virtual events are live streamed but that is only one of many mediums you can use.

Knowing the various technologies, what they offer and the challenges they provide is going to be a key skill unique to virtual events. Streaming, apps, social media integration, virtual reality, augmented reality to name a few all make this possible.

Each technology can deliver a compelling remote experience that engages an audience but requires significant expertise to recognise the applications they can be put to and overcome the challenges they provide. You don’t have to learn everything yourself but as long as you know enough to be able to exploit them, you can delegate the rest!

Having that expertise on hand to help with integrating social platforms, event apps and the various technologies together is going to be a deciding factor in how stressful, or not, planning your virtual event will be.

Looking beyond

One concern we have seen from participants of virtual events is that merely showing a speaker or performer on stage in a stream is not inclusive. You don’t get the atmosphere, the buzz or that raw emotive feeling virtually that you would get if you were there.

That’s another skill you’ll need. To see the event from the perspective of virtual attendees and deliver exactly what they need. Their requirements are different than in-person attendees and come with unique demands including a requirement for engagement.

To help increase inclusion in virtual events, you can look to social media, questions and answers, audience chatrooms, WhatsApp groups and other social platforms to help people feel included.

Have the speakers or talent engage with fans. Have other experts offer commentary or opinion. Have other key speakers join the chatroom or group during the event and add layers of engagement on top of the event itself.

All combine to deliver a compelling virtual event that is as inclusive as it is entertaining.

Use analytics to assess engagement

Event management has long used tools to measure engagement as they offer insight into what worked and what could have been done better. That is even more true for virtual events.

You cannot see body language. You cannot see which stall or stage the majority of the audience is clustered around. You cannot hear the roar of the crowd when they see or hear something they particularly like.

So you need to use other tools to measure that engagement. Exactly what tools depend on the medium you use. Having analysts look at the subjects in chat, how many questions are asked using the app or event chatroom or group and measure as much as possible how people react to each element of your event is a good start.

With the right data you can assess which parts of your virtual event worked best and which need to be refined to deliver a better experience next time.

Virtual event management is a rapidly developing and exciting branch of the industry. It builds on the traditional skills you will need for planning any kind of event and requires some new skills too. It’s an exciting part of the industry to get into and one that is certain to experience growth over the coming years.

If digital is your thing and you have a grounding in event management, getting into virtual events could be the best career move you make!

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide
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