October 12, 2021

Online Event Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

BY Tom Mahon

October 12th, 2021

While the transition from in-person to digital caused a headache for some, the swathe of benefits that virtual events offer businesses and marketers mean they’re here to stay. Event professionals might have years, decades even, of experience creating engaging in-person experiences, online events come with a new set of rules. A new set of challenges. And a new set of pitfalls.

We’ve compiled a list of six of the most common mistakes we’ve seen event planners make during the transition and added our online event tips to help you organise a successful online event from concept to completion.

Six Mistakes to Avoid & Our Online Event Tips:

1. Not understanding your objectives

Objective setting is key to any event type, but with online events, the lens shifts slightly. As do the metrics we can glean from event platforms to measure its success.

Certain objectives may well be similar to in-person events, for instance, the primary objective of the event (e.g. launching a new product), but taking your event online opens up huge opportunities that need to be reflected in your event brief.

For example, your target audience can now be global, you can have multiple sessions running at the same time, you can decide on your mix of live or pre-recorded content, and there’s a library of tools provided by event platforms that you can use for networking, breakout sessions, and entertainment, to name a few.

With this comes an increase in analytic tools to understand how successfully your objectives were met. Knowing what success means to you for your event, means you can ask the right questions of your event platform to ensure it has the right tools and metrics to get you there.

So number one: get specific with your event objectives. Decide on the look and feel of your event. What do you want your audience to leave thinking and feeling? What user journeys do you want to take them on? How do you want them to engage and interact? How will the event reflect your brand and its values? And what metrics do you want to see for your post-event debrief?

2. Attempting to replicate an in-person event experience

This was the natural response to the pandemic – replicate your in-person event onto the digital stage. But time feels very different when you’re physically at an event, compared to an online event at home. Digital attention spans are short, so build your event with this top-of-mind.

Make sure you schedule short breaks and utilise the amazing event technology that is now available to us. If networking is important, check out what clever networking tools event platforms have. Want to create more intimate sessions? Take a look at breakout room functionality. It’s not that we lose aspects of in-person events, it is a reinvention of them for the digital experience.

3. Selecting the wrong platforms

Online events require a mix of tech. From video conferencing tools like Zoom, live stream platforms like YouTube, to the event platform your audience interacts on. Depending on how complex the event is, you might need a live stream engineer to bring all the live elements together in a production software such as vMix.

Your choice of tech and platforms is dependent on your event objectives, target audience, the user experience you want to create for your audience, and your budget. Getting the right mix is crucial for a successful event.


4. Not using a virtual host or virtual event producer

An in-person event typically has a project manager getting the speakers ready as per the agenda, keeping them on time, and a host to introduce the event, and speakers, and maintain audience engagement. On an online stage, your virtual host and virtual event producer take this role.

A virtual event producer will manage things behind the scenes, like the ‘green’ room and the ‘go-live’ room, they’ll ensure your speakers are comfortable and know exactly when they are being moved to live and can start delivering their content.

Just like in-person events benefit from an MC tying together the agenda and creating a seamless thread throughout the experience, an online event also benefits from a host. They can also help signpost your attendees to the engagement tools, sessions, and opportunities to ensure they get the most out of the experience.

These two roles are the ‘glue’ holding your event together and ensuring it has a slick broadcast feel, which your attendees and speakers will thank you for.

5. Not rehearsing

Rehearsals should be non-negotiable. The complex mix of tech, platforms, live and pre-recorded content and speakers with mixed experience and technical knowledge all add up to create quite a list of potential pitfalls. You don’t want to disappoint your live audience with audio issues, dodgy lighting, or an agenda that hasn’t been streamlined.

So, make sure that your team, host, speakers, and any other stakeholders know what they have to do when, and how they have to do it. Make sure everyone is confident with the technology, especially your speakers, so they can deliver their best content. Rehearse the entire event and don’t rush through any session because it feels short or unimportant. Feedback these findings into your event build.

6. Getting the content wrong

Content is the bedrock on which you’ll build your successful online event. Great content, delivered in an engaging way, is the secret to all events, whether online or offline.

The primary mistake with online content is timing, volume, and monotony. Our digital attention spans are short, so consider breaking big topics into sub-topics, or using engagement tools such as pre-recorded content, infographics, and animations to bring content to life. Consider different formats to deliver content – Q&A sessions for instance, or a fireside chat instead of a lecture. Mix up the sessions to include a range of content.

asset graphic computer

Use your rehearsal to think like an attendee:
– Are the presentations too long?
– Can you do shorter sessions instead?
– Are there adequate breaks in between?
– What engagement tools will keep people from dropping off?

In short

Great content, the right mix of tech, and seamless production are the foundations of a great online event.

While we hope our online event tips have been helpful, if you don’t want to go at it alone then let us do the heavy lifting for you.

We build events around you using the latest tech, brand-led content, and seamless production. With all your media needs under one roof, we simplify the event building process, creating a flawless experience for you and your audience.

Get in touch; we’d love to hear about your next project.