I see more and more people hosting virtual events to build their brand and engage their community.  I love it!

Not only does it allow me to participate in these events from the comfort of my home but they also provide me with an opportunity to network with others who may not be able to attend in person events.  Although many people prefer in person events (based on a question I presented in the Answers section on LinkedIn), I think that virtual events will continue to increase in popularity.

If you have ever considered hosting a Twitter party, Facebook/Twitter chat, BlogTalkRadio show, teleseminar and/or webinar; check out these six tips to help you have a successful virtual event.

  1. Define who your target market will be for the event so that you can tailor your content accordingly.  I participated in a social media training event that I found to be a waste of my time because the event was for people just starting to build their social networks and the content was very basic (how to set up a profile, defining the different social networks, etc).  Failing to market your event to the appropriate group may cause members not to participate in future events.
  2. Test out your equipment.  I hate having technology fails.  Some times they can be avoided by simply preparing ahead of time.  Other times, they are unavoidable.  If you are using a software or program for the first time, test it out with a friend ahead of time so that you are not fumbling through the event.  Not only does it make you feel embarrassed but it can also make your members feel like you may not be the expert that you purported.
  3. Create an outline for the event.  This may be me being anal but I have a timeline for all of my shows so that I can be sure all of the questions that I want to ask are covered.  I also include a few extra questions in case the guest doesn’t elaborate and mark the questions that aren’t as important with a star so that if I am running short on time, I know which I won’t mind skipping.  Some people won’t mind if your event runs over schedule but it is best to stick with the start and finish times that are advertised.  This is another component of your credibility.  I listened to an online show one night that went way over its time limit.  I didn’t mind that night but it made me leery of listening again especially if I knew that I had other things to do.
  4. Prep your guests.  Make sure your guests know what to expect BEFORE they join the event.  Also, let them know how much time you have alloted for them to speak and what you want them to talk about.  Those “gotcha” questions look great on televisions… sometimes, but they don’t always play well in an informational session.  You want your guests to be perceived as an expert so give them all of the tools necessary to be successful.  Consider also practicing using the software/program with them prior to the event to minimize additional technology issues.
  5. Set the expectation for your guests ahead of time.  I try to send out a notice, at least one hour prior to my show/event with details about how my guests can participate.  This is not only a great reminder for the participants but it also gives them time to get set up – log into the program, have the access code handy, etc.  If there is anything to be downloaded, this would be a great time to let them know.
  6. Make sharing easy.  One of the reasons that we host these shows/events is to engage our network but many of us also want to grow our networks with more like-minded individuals.  Additionally, its beneficial for the attendees to be able to connect with one another.  If you are using Twitter as a part of your event, create a short and easy hashtag (#) that will make it easy for the group as well as others to follow the event.  Otherwise, find creative ways to engage the audience and encourage them to get involved.

I hope these tips help you to create a successful virtual event!

Do you want more tips to build your business?

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