Over 50% of association executives surveyed by Association Laboratory in March 2020 predicted that they would invest more in producing virtual conferences and educational events.
Travel and other pandemic-related restrictions forced associations to switch to virtual meetings, conferences, and training classes overnight. The glitches and misses that were encountered in these efforts were accepted as part of the learning curve, but they won’t be as easily dismissed as associations move forward with plans to create more virtual or hybrid conferences that offer a mix of in-person and virtual sessions.
When transitioning to virtual events or training opportunities, be sure to keep audience needs first. This means selecting session leaders, panel members, or training instructors that can deliver what the audience expects. It also means selecting technology that is easy to access and use for everyone.
Six tips to make an association’s transition to virtual events a success include:
These three tips for virtual events success are included in a whitepaper based on a survey by Association Trends:
- Think strategy – Develop a clear goal and identify which elements from an in-person event can be taken online. Be clear about the “feel” of the online events and get feedback from members.
- Drive revenue – Conferences and training sessions have always been revenue generators for associations, and virtual events can be too. Think carefully about pricing and be ready to offer a discounted price for virtual attendance if it is a hybrid event. Don’t forget to include sponsorship and virtual exhibitor opportunities as well.
- Don’t let technology be a barrier – Be sure the technology you use offers flexibility, interactivity, ease of use, integration capabilities, and support – especially for livestream events.
Other tips offered by an e-learning expert include:
- Train the trainer for virtual learning – not only do instructors or someone assisting a speaker at a conference need to know how to use the technology to avoid delays during the presentation, but trainers need to know how to maintain engagement with a virtual audience. If your association doesn’t have experienced virtual instructors, be prepared to provide support for them to gain new skills.
- Give trainers an opportunity to practice – allow them to record teaching sample sections of their course and review it with them to give feedback. Even though the training is virtual it should be upbeat, energetic, and engaging.
- Consider the audience – virtual learning is more difficult for some people so trainers must be prepared to change up activities frequently – as often as every 10 minutes. This breaks up long sessions into a mix of information sharing by the instructor, question-and-answer sessions, audience participation, and demonstrations.