Executing the perfect virtual or hybrid event is a huge undertaking. Getting it right requires careful planning, and that’s where a comprehensive virtual event checklist can really help. Our virtual event checklist covers all the bases, from pre-event planning through to the event itself, plus post-event wrap-up. Use it to plan well and stay on track.
Virtual Event Checklist: Before the Event
1. Define Your Virtual Event Parameters
The first steps of a virtual event involve planning and setting the parameters that define the event. Nail these down first, and you’ll have a strong framework for working through the rest of your planning process. This is your event vision—a detailed breakdown of what the online event will be.
Note that these steps aren’t necessarily completed all at the same time—or in chronological order. For instance, you may not be able to finalize your content schedule until you’ve picked a platform and set a date.
The first aspect to consider is the purpose of the event. What do you hope to achieve by holding it? For instance:
- Building an industry reputation
- Raising brand awareness
- Launching a new product
- Reaching a new audience
- Strengthening existing client and customer relationships
Goals and KPIs
Setting goals is important because it gives you the parameters used to measure the success of your virtual event. Your event goals should be related to the purpose of the event. A goal-setting framework such as the SMART framework is useful to create goals that are specific, measurable, and actionable. This allows you to set objectives that help you achieve those goals.
Once your event goals are set, you can break each down into actionable steps that get your event where it needs to be.
Along with setting goals, you’ll also define the key performance indicators that let you measure how well those goals are achieved. This is another area where using the SMART framework is useful, as it lets you define your KPIs at the same time as you define your goals.
Virtual events can be more affordable than live events. You don’t need to hire a venue or vendors, or labor for setup and teardown. You do need a virtual events platform, and depending on the scope of your event, some other forms of technical support.
Common budget categories include:
- Virtual events platform
- Marketing – Unless you have an in-house marketing team to cover the event, you’ll need to budget for advertising.
- Speakers and/or entertainment fees
- Audio/visual team and equipment – If you want to broadcast and record content, you’ll need to buy or rent equipment and hire contractors, if you don’t have people in-house who can do the job.
Part of working out your event budget also means determining where event funding comes from. Is your company footing the entire bill? Are you planning to sell sponsorships or exhibitor space or on ticket sales?
If you don’t already have an event team, you’ll need to put together a team of people from your company or department. Work with them to decide what tasks they’ll be responsible for, as well as establishing an event timeline for them to complete the work.
Make sure to define roles both before and during the event. You may find that you need a different team of people during the event. For instance, if you’re planning to record and broadcast content, you’ll need a dedicated A/V team working with you during the event.
Some important event planning roles might include:
- Setting up the event website
- Coordinating the accounts and budget
- Planning event marketing content
- Working with sponsors or exhibitors
- Working with event speakers, presenters, and panelists
- Chat and breakout space moderators for the virtual events platform
- Coordinating the event content schedule so it runs as planned
Virtual Event Platform
The virtual events platform is your online venue, and it’s important to choose one that fits the needs of your event and your audience. Find a platform that can accommodate the kinds of content you want to include and that lets you hold the event you want.
Some other features that are nice to have include:
- Event registration and ticketing
- Event website
- Management tools for sponsors, speakers, and exhibitors
- Tools for boosting audience engagement
- Integrated audio, video support, and livestream support
- Tech tech support
Time and Date
Since you don’t have to consider event venue availability, there is a little less stress involved in picking a time and date for a virtual event. However, there are still some important points to consider.
- How long should the event be? Do you want to hold a multi-day, single-day, or half-day event?
- What time zone will the event use? This may be particularly important if you’re hoping to attract a global audience.
- When setting the date, consider what other events are being held in your industry and whether you want to compete with them.
2. Build the Event
With these parameters in place, you can fill in gaps by planning event content and finding speakers, sponsors, and other personnel.
Event marketing should be an ongoing aspect of your online event. This first involves developing a vision for your event branding:
- Pick a color scheme and an event logo.
- Develop a style guide for event content, including written website content.
- Create digital assets to use on the website and in content sessions.
You’ll also need to develop a schedule for publishing marketing content in the lead-up to the event. Some options for event marketing include:
- The event website
- An email campaign sent to your email subscriber list
- Social media accounts – Provide regular event updates, create an event hashtag, and encourage followers to join in the conversations.
- Cross-promotion on social media platforms, via your sponsors, speakers, and exhibitors
- Press releases
If your company has accounts on social media platforms, you can either use those or create new accounts that solely focus on the event. For smaller, one-off events, it’s better to stick with your company accounts so you have access to that pool of followers. If you’re planning what will eventually become an event series or recurring event, it may be worthwhile to also create secondary event accounts.
Sponsors and Exhibitors
Depending on the event, you may decide to invite sponsors and other partners to participate. You can either open up sponsorship applications or personally invite sponsors you think your audience will find valuable—or both.
Exhibitors are also an option for some events.
If you do decide to invite sponsors and/or exhibitors, you’ll need to put together information packets, including details on the virtual events platform. Note that the kind of information they’ll need is different for a virtual event because they’ll be building a virtual booth rather than exhibiting in a physical space. For instance, they’ll need to know what kind of platform you’re using, the kinds of content they can use in their virtual booth, as well as other details.
Make sure to highlight the unique benefits of virtual events when putting information packets together. For instance, virtual events are easier and more affordable to attend and can thus reach larger audiences. In addition, online events generate lots of attendee data that’s easy to gather and analyze.
Content and Speakers
As you plan your content schedule, you’ll also be working on choosing speakers and any other presenters you want to feature.
- Keep your audience in mind when finalizing speakers and content – What kinds of content are they interested in? What speakers do they most want to hear from?
- Once you’ve confirmed each speaker, send them information packets with details on the event platform, the time and date of their session, and any other need-to-know info.
- Schedule a call with each speaker to go over the details in person.
- Schedule rehearsals one to two weeks prior to the event and confirm that your speakers can attend.
Plan for a Rehearsal
Holding a full rehearsal before the event gives you a chance to find and fix problems before they can affect the event. If you’re planning live content, such as live speakers or panels, it’s even more important to rehearse so you can make sure every participant has their own equipment working properly.
Virtual Event Checklist: During the Event
Test Your Equipment
Before kick-off time, perform a final equipment and platform check, including A/V equipment, to make sure everything is working as it should. Coordinate with the tech team and confirm that they’re good to go.
Prep Your Speakers
Depending on the length of the event and your content schedule, you may have speakers and other guests “arriving” throughout the day. Make sure to check in with speakers as they log in, check their equipment, and confirm they’re ready. Remind them of any essential points, such as their place in the content schedule and the time they need to be ready to go live.
Manage Your Audience
Your audience will need attention throughout the virtual event too. If your digital platform doesn’t have integrated event tech support, make sure someone from your own team is available to handle any audience problems or questions that arise.
Make sure to also use whatever tools are available on the virtual events platform to keep your audience engaged. Most platforms have features such as chat, live polls, and Q&A to add engagement.
If you have text or voice chat, have a team member moderate chat sessions and keep conversations productive.
Schedule Media Updates
Your marketing efforts don’t stop once the event starts. Schedule posts to provide information about speakers and the content schedule. And appoint a team member to monitor social channels and share live updates about event sessions and content to keep interest high.
Virtual Event Checklist: After the Event
The event may be over, but there’s more to do, including following up with event personnel and writing a post-event analysis.
Perform a Marketing Wrap-Up
Don’t let the momentum die out too quickly after your virtual event. You can keep it going by sharing highlights and other tidbits of information over the following days and weeks. There are also lots of options for repurposing event content that can add to your event ROI indirectly by attracting website visitors that may enter your sales cycle.
Follow Up with Speakers, Sponsors, and Attendees
- Check in with your speakers, sponsors, and other partners – Ask them for feedback, find out what they liked—or didn’t like—about the event. This is also a good opportunity to see if they’re willing to repeat the experience at other events.
- Send a follow-up feedback survey to attendees via email – Find out what they liked or didn’t like about the event, their favorite sessions, and what kinds of content they’d like to see next time.
- Follow up with your event planning team – They’ll have valuable insights that can help you make improvements for subsequent events.
Put Together a Post-Event Analysis and Report
Your last major task is the post-event analysis and report. This involves gathering and analyzing the event data you’ve gathered and writing a summary report about the event as a whole. This is a huge task, so it’s helpful to set aside several days—or more—to get this done.
The post-event report has several functions, including:
- Measuring event KPIs to determine if goals were met
- Determining what elements worked and what didn’t
- Defining any best practices that can be built on for future events
- Proving ROI to the company and any other event stakeholders
Good Planning Makes for a Great Event
Planning a successful event from start to finish is a huge amount of work, even for a relatively small virtual or hybrid event. Following a comprehensive virtual event checklist is a must to help you stay on track throughout the planning process and event production itself. Need a little more guidance? Our virtual events team knows all the potential pitfalls and the best ways an online corporate event can triumph. Contact us today!