As COVID-19 requires social distancing to remain intact, many trade associations are having to replan their upcoming conferences and host them virtually. However, restructuring a conference that was originally set to take place in-person requires careful planning. From booth design and program sessions to pre-show promotion, many factors should be considered. Below are three things for trade associations to keep in mind when planning a virtual conference.
The design of your virtual booth should be a top priority in your event plan. Your booth is the home of your program’s content, and through it, your association has the chance to leave a lasting impression on attendees. But first, you must consider how your booth options change from being virtual. How will you create an inviting atmosphere for attendees? How will program visuals be displayed?
The key is to design a booth that is both visually appealing and responsive. It should include your association’s logo, inviting colors, program images or videos, and other relevant media. Most importantly, your booth should be responsive and easy to navigate. Consider incorporating auto play videos, scroll-on images, and live chat functions to provide attendees with an enjoyable experience while they visit your booth. By including responsive features, attendees will remain engaged and have the opportunity to easily connect with your association.
Because distractions are only a click away, attendees are more likely to stop paying attention during virtual conference sessions. Therefore, it’s important to consider ways to adjust your event sessions that provide an engaging virtual experience for attendees. Start by reviewing the content and format of your current sessions. Do they still provide value and relevance to an online audience? If not, make adjustments as needed.
For example, if your session content can be shared in different formats, then consider creating infographics, slideshows, or other downloadable resources for attendees to follow during each session. Or let’s say your sessions include speakers who are slated to speak to the audience for 30 minutes. Consider hosting shorter speaking sessions that are slated for 15 minutes and use the extra time to start and end with engaging activities for attendees. By utilizing polls, surveys, small group workshops, or live Q&A’s before and after each session, associations will foster open lines of communication with attendees and keep them engaged.
Virtual conferences often eliminate the need to plan for travel accommodations, which leaves you more time to get creative with pre-show promotion. By allocating this extra time to partner with your session speakers, event sponsors, additional exhibitors, and other members of the conference community, you can find ways to really spread the word about your trade association’s presence at its upcoming virtual event.
Consider creating a promotional toolkit for your session speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors to use that promotes both the event and your program sessions. Your toolkit should include specific language, images, and other session information that can be used to post on various social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter, and in emails. By partnering with your session speakers, event sponsors, and other exhibitors, you’ll be able to expand outside of your audience and reach a large amount of people.
Virtual conference planning may sound like a challenge at first but keeping these three considerations in mind will help make it a smooth process. By carefully planning and adjusting your booth design, program sessions and pre-show promotion strategies, your trade association will be ready to take on its next virtual conference with ease.
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