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A Guide for Producing a Successful Virtual Summit

Posted on 07/28/2020 @ 11:45 AM

The past months have brought about a global transformation of event planning practicesthe likes of which we’ve never seen. Chiefly among them has been transitioning from holding in-person events to producing virtual events. This hasn’t been an easy change: there are many issues to consider when producing a virtual summit. The need for reliable, high-quality virtual event production is only increasing. And while we’ll miss the nametags and catered dinners, we’re excited by the enormous potential of online event production. Hosting virtual events means attendance will soar, speakers and guests won’t be limited by geography, and engagement can be more interactive.

There are a number of factors to consider when preparing to host a virtual summit. First and foremost: why do you want to have one? Will you use the virtual summit to drum up support for a cause? Do you want to convert viewers into members of your organization? Do you want viewers to sign a petition, contact their local congresspeople, or donate money?

In other words: make sure your virtual summit has a call-to-action.

Once you have your call-to-action in place, it’s time to prepare for the big event. Here’s a guide:

  • Pick the best date and time. Be conscious of workhours and weekends. Don’t compete with holidays and national events that would steal would-be attendees.
  • Decide whether the summit will be live, recorded, or both. Live events are compelling but come with difficulties of their own. Having the option to submit a prerecorded segment increases the chances that a high-profile guest can participate. A combination covers all bases.
  • Agree on the format. Virtual summits come in all shapes and sizes. Summits can have hosts who engage your speakers in short interviews; others request that the speakers have their own presentations.
  • Choose where you want the summit to be watched. Will you have your own website, or will you embed the video on your organization’s Facebook or Instagram page? Having your own website will make it easier to drive attendees to action—your own design will make your event more appealing and your argument more compelling.
  • Create your promotion strategy. Build a social media toolkit with marketing copy for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Work with a graphic designer to make eye-popping images that are easy to spread. Write a press release, write invitations, write ads. 
  • Engage your viewers. Do you want a Q&A for your speakers? Have your host ask questions on behalf of the “audience.” 
  • Rehearse! We can’t stress this enough. There is a good chance that something will go wrong during the virtual summit. Rehearsals will cut that chance in half. Make sure your speakers know what is expected of them. Make sure their light, audio, and visual equipment are up to the task. Make sure they know the order of events.
  • Set up metric tracking and record the event. Once the virtual summit is over, you’ll want to see how you did. Make sure you have analytics tracking in place to give you a sense of what went right—and wrong. How many viewers did you get? How many email addresses? Keep the video up on your website or upload it to YouTube—keep spreading the word.
  • Send out a follow-up. Just because the virtual summit is over doesn’t mean the work is, too. Send out follow-up emails to your viewers. Encourage them to stay involved, to be proactive, to engage.

You are well on your way to producing a successful virtual summit. At Plus Three, we happen to have some expertise in this realm. For some inspiration, check out the work we did for the Unity Rally Against Racism. And as always, let us know if we can help.