In an attempt to limit social gatherings, the event industry has had to adapt to a COVID-friendly landscape – a virtual environment.
Although virtual events were on the rise prior to COVID-19, our new reality has forced them to really take off. Trade shows, expos and job fairs have had to adjust their practices to fit a remote environment.
A recent trend in the online event industry has been to recreate in-person events on-line. The trouble with this is that, really, you can’t. Online and in-person events are fundamentally different and should be treated differently.
However, just because you can’t recreate an in-person event, doesn’t mean you can’t humanize your virtual one.
Virtual spaces often struggle to establish a warm environment where interactions feel natural. Instead of solely relying on technology to fix this, use people.
Here are 4 ways you can humanize your virtual event:
1. Welcome on arrival.
First impressions always matter – both online and offline. Ensure that the initial landing page for your virtual event is clean and clear. Include some housekeeping information that will assist your attendees as they navigate throughout the event. Consider listing a customer support contact in case a participant has trouble.
A great idea would be to post a welcome video on the landing page with a message from the event organizers. This way, participants will be greeted immediately by a friendly face.
Thoughtful details like these will let the participants know that although they may be physically alone at the event, there are people to support them.
2. Offer help from a real person.
There is no worse feeling than needing help and no one being there to provide it.
Although automated support may be more convenient at times, it doesn’t compare to a real person. Provide live support during the event so you can assist your attendees and exhibitors each step of the way. Plus, make sure your host platform provides technical support in case any product issues arise.
3. Encourage communication.
Throughout your virtual event, incorporate features that allow for seamless interaction. If there is a stage, ensure that there is a public messaging room attached to it. At each exhibitor booth, ensure there are adequate opportunities for attendees to network with exhibitors.
Where conversations can be held, explore options that will make the conversation more accessible such as incorporating video, audio, or screen sharing.
Establishing a high-level of communication, and fostering it in an environment that makes it feel natural, will allow for a more comfortable user experience.
4. Give your attendees control.
It’s important to recognize that everyone may not be comfortable interacting with strangers in a virtual environment. Build a space that allows attendees to go through the event at their own pace and interact with exhibitors only if they chose to.
Incorporating a free-flowing event structure and the option to mute and turn off video as needed, are just two ways attendees can remain in control of their experience.
Humanizing a virtual event doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s as simple as using real people where you can, allowing natural connections to be made, and letting the participants be in control.