A good portion of interested participants, a few cherry-picked speakers, and two pinches of networking – that’s all you need for the perfect online event. The right software also determines the event’s success. In 2020, we as the eco Association digitalised around 100 events with a wide variety of online tools. Christiane Skiba, eco Branch Manager in Cologne and Head of Marketing, takes stock and gives valuable tips for the coming year.
Tip 1: Interact with all participants
Zoom, Go-to-Meeting, Teams or Skype for Business – we’ve tried out a lot of software. For a good online event, you need robust tools through which you can interact with all participants. This can, for instance, be a hand-raising, voting or a “like” function. Use the software to actively engage users. For example, emojis with hearts flying through the video can signal approval, or a raised hand can pave the way for a deeper discussion.
Tip 2: Create opportunities for virtual networking
The goal of your event should be to enter into a dialogue with the participants. Are you planning an industry talk, a major trade conference or a company anniversary? Where there’s usually a buffet with canapés, you should come up with topic tables, break-out sessions or virtual networking. Create virtual places where your guests can network with each other. After all, apart from gaining knowledge and industry insights, most people are also hoping to make social and professional contacts.
Tip 3: Use “break-out sessions” with 2-4 people in your webinars.
In smaller groups, your guests can engage in a more effective exchange on a topic. Some people find it hard to start a conversation via video or to share personal opinions with people they don’t know. Ensure that you have a good debate culture, active small groups and exciting topics, so that everyone really gets to participate.
Tip 4: Use surveys, ask for feedback from your participants and act on it
Through discussion, follow-up questions and exercises, you convey a broader understanding and guarantee that participants internalise your messages. With more reticent groups, anonymous surveys often work very well, allowing you to learn more about your participants’ opinions. Every good virtual event also leaves room for criticism and suggestions, because this is how you can constantly improve your events.
Tip 5: Do a tech check with all speakers and offer a support number during the event
“Can you all hear me? Oops, I was still mute. Oh, I must have been frozen there!” – We all know these phrases from 2020. Of course they are funny, human and absolutely forgivable. Nevertheless, annoying technical problems overshadow the success of your event. We therefore recommend doing a technology check with all speakers, even if they already have experience with the software. There will always be that one speaker or participant with connection problems who needs your help.
2020 presented each of us with special challenges, whether it be as a company, a manager, an employee, or ultimately as an individual human. We’re certain: We will continue to attend many online and hybrid events this year.
Online Events 2021
In 2021, we’ll be hosting lots of great events, like transnational roundtable discussions with our US partner the i2Coalition, the Internet Security Days at Phantasialand, and our annual eco://awards, which honour Europe’s most renowned IT companies. In the event series “The New Normal”, we’ll also be discussing the ever-changing digital world of work, digital recruiting and practical tools for your everyday digital life. 2021 is also the year of the German Bundestag elections: In the Internet Policy Party Check, we’ll be holding talks with a wide range of digital politicians. You can look forward to many exciting formats and events – on-site, hybrid and digital.