Make your next virtual event one to remember with these expert tips
Here at Yakkety Yak, we’re no strangers to virtual events. From the American Brain Foundation’s (ABF) Commitment to Cures in April to Cara’s Summer Social last month, we’re seasoned pros at adapting events like galas and fundraisers to a digital platform. So how do we organize events that don’t feel like Zoom calls? Here are some tips from our virtual event experts to ensure your next digital event gets people online—and leaves them with a more meaningful connection to your brand.
1. Get the right host
When it comes to putting on a virtual event, booking the right host is everything. You want someone who is comfortable on camera, can maintain the right level of energy throughout the event and has knowledge or experience that’s relevant to your business or organization.
When planning the American Brain Foundation’s Commitment to Cures virtual gala this past spring, choosing Jim Cramer as our emcee was a no-brainer. As the host of CNBC’s “Mad Money” and someone with chronic migraine, he brought on-camera experience and a personal connection to the cause.
But even if you don’t have the resources to get a celebrity to host your event, you can still find the right person for the job. For an Instagram Live we did with The Lactation Network, we knew our CEO Ashley Logan was the ideal host. Why? Because, as a mom of three, she knew exactly what questions fellow moms might have for lactation counselor Nicole Miles of Chicago Birthworks Collective and used her personal experience with breastfeeding and pumping to keep the conversation moving.
2. Put together party favors
Get your audience involved and make sure they RSVP by offering pre-event packages. Whether you give out fun party favors, branded swag or helpful items for attendees to have on hand during your event, this is a great way to make sure your guests are excited and engaged. Everyone loves having a package of goodies delivered to their door. Plus, if you’re hosting a free event, having packages that people can purchase ahead of time is a great way to bring in a few extra fundraising dollars while making your guests feel appreciated and included.
For their Summer Social, Cara offered party “in place” packages that contained the ingredients for guests to make a delicious meal at home, along with some fun additions like branded candles and insulated tumblers. During the event, chefs also led recipe walkthroughs that viewers were then able to order at a discount. These party favors made the event interactive and incentivized guests to donate to Cara’s programming.
3. Break the fourth wall
If your event is educational in some way, invite viewers to send in questions ahead of time or during the event itself. Then, pool the questions and answer them live. That way, viewers are invested in sticking around to see if their questions get answered.
For fundraisers, encourage donations and participation with a silent auction, contest or raffle. People will have fun bidding on items or buying tickets and then stick around to see who won. Plus, getting a personal shoutout during the event is always a highlight.
4. Offer prizes
Another way to get people’s attention is by offering giveaways or prizes just for watching. During their conversation with Chicago Birthworks Collective, our client Ashland Breast Pumps promised to give away a breast pump to one lucky random viewer. Giveaways increase viewership and generate hype for your event. Make sure whatever you’re giving away is something your audience will want and promote the prize ahead of time to get people’s attention.
5. Focus on Entertainment
Incorporate some form of entertainment into your event. It can be anything from live comedy sessions to live music by a local band to cooking tutorials with neighborhood chefs. If money is a big concern, a simple game can also do the trick. Maybe there’s trivia relevant to what your organization or company does that lends itself to a fun and interactive game. There are also tons of online platforms that make it super easy for multiple people to log in and play, such as Kahoot. Although this game-based learning program is primarily used in education, here at Yakkety Yak we know it can be a fun addition to office happy hours and that it allows for interactive presentations, training and events.
But if you’re a little hesitant to get more tech involved, you can always fall back on icebreakers, a game of charades or an open discussion with pre-planned topics.