January 20, 2022

How to Minimize Stress to Host Better Virtual Events

I previously shared how planning a virtual event is stressful. Now that you understand the root causes and potential solutions let's discuss how to optimize your event with Filo's best practices, sourced from our entire team of product managers, engineers, marketers, AEs, and even our CEO.

Accept that not everything will go according to plan

Something will go wrong. Say it once, say it twice, write it in your bullet journal, whatever you need to take the pressure off you to execute your event to perfection. The absolute beauty of a virtual event is you CAN act fast to solve the problem. If you have the right platform, you can solve any problem with a click of a button or a 30-second conversation.

Create crash plans

You can't control every problem, but you can minimize its consequences. Besides the practical benefit of avoiding worst-case outcomes—the mere presence of a backup plan relieves anxiety. 

So while you're creating your run-of-show timeline, start to anticipate places in which the process could fail and plan an emergency response for each of those scenarios. The best way to do that is to ask your event platform partner. They should have a dedicated person available to help.

These backup plans don't need to be as thoroughly detailed as your run-of-show, but they should be step-by-step processes that include: 

Internal communication

Bottlenecks and communication breakdowns prevent hosts from solving problems quickly, turning minor mishaps into major obstacles. Empower your team members to present issues to one another in a way that maximizes efficiency.

You could post issues in a separate internal Slack channel (or ideally the dedicated planning floor in Filo :)), call team members directly, or set up day-long Zoom/Filo rooms especially for talking through these issues.

Speakers, sponsors and exhibitor relations/ROI

When an unforeseen issue prevents your partners from presenting before your guests, they're losing valuable face time with possible leads, which lowers their event ROI. Proactively suggest alternative ways that your partners can interact with your guests and, in turn, benefit from their participation in your event. An example:

Set up a separate informal Q&A for speakers whose sessions were cut short. Alert guests to the disrupted exhibitor booths later in the day via external notifications (Filo can do this through email).

Consider hosting interrupted speakers on a webinar on a different day.

Updating guests on technical issues in a timely, transparent manner can make or break your event's success and your company's reputation, so keep this top of mind throughout your crash planning.

Pick the right project management process 

What I mean is: Kill 50+ email chains. Kill them with fire. Our virtual planning floors in Filo have been Godsends for our clients to quickly and effectively maintain order and unburden the entire process.

If you are coordinating with your team—and each of your event partners—solely through email, your inbox will quickly inflate until it turns into a black hole of lost deadlines and information.

Besides being a "literally inhumane way to collaborate," email is also inefficient for project management. If you assign someone a new task on the 13th message of a 25-email thread, that person may lose track of it, leading to missed milestones and miscommunications down the road. 

Our planning floors turn a one-week headache into 1-2 clicks of a button or message sent.

Empower guests to self-educate

Every event planner's worst nightmare: The morning of your event, you're receiving hundreds of emails from guests that can't log in. 

Some stress on virtual event day is inevitable, but it gets worse when attendees don't know how to log into your virtual event platform, don't know which session is happening in which room, and don't know who to contact for technical issues.

If all your attendees have the same five basic questions, your team will need to spend time giving repetitive advice instead of achieving higher-level tasks. Your team will be stretched thin and more likely to make mistakes, creating a vicious cycle.

But there's an easy solution: Address the most common issues through your welcome lobby floor and have an FAQ section on the floor.

The more you educate your guests before the big day, the fewer last-second questions and/or technical issues your team will hear during the heat of the event. 

To reach the most guests, we recommend creating these resources in many different formats: a PDF sent via a reminder email, a short video posted on social media, a blog post with an FAQ, and/or push notifications on the platform itself.

True, some people won't read any of the above. That's about as predictable as death and taxes. But by giving your customers more resources, you can keep the majority of them from making the same common mistakes—and save your team's sanity on event day. 

Add buffer time to any external deadlines

We've all experienced *that* group project: You completed your portion well in advance, but hours before the deadline, you're sweating it out while waiting for your partner to submit their piece. 

Since events require input from your speakers, sponsors, and vendors, organizing an event can feel all too similar. 

Sometimes, no amount of politely worded reminder emails can make your event partners make their deadlines or make your event their top priority. What you can do is minimize the chances that their missed deadlines harm your virtual event.

So when giving your event partners deadlines, assume that they will miss their deadline and add buffer time to account for it. 

At Filo, we make this stress disappear. We like to have a dry run at least 48 hours before an event. If the speaker, sponsor, or other external partner does not contribute to the dry run, cut them. It's not worth the headache!

Leverage integrations

Have you ever looked at your browser, taken in all 18 of your active tabs, and just felt your brain melt into quicksand? Event organizers feel the same way when managing their virtual event platform, payment processing app, registration platform, CRM and MAS. And that's before considering that they have to consolidate all of the data collected on these platforms and send them to their sales and marketing coworkers, their CEOs, sponsors, and vendors. 

Data is dispersed across several different platforms, which different stakeholders might manage. So if your team has to transfer that information to one another manually while executing a big event, someone will drop the ball somewhere. And the event experience will suffer. 

So use integrations to connect your apps. Once you set up an integration between two software, data will flow automatically from one platform to another, minimizing admin work for your team and reducing the risk of lost information and error.

For example, you can "send" all of your virtual event data—attendee names and emails, how long they stayed in each session, how engaged each person was, what offers they clicked, etc.—to your CRM. This empowers your sales team to reach out to each new lead with a more targeted ask minutes after the event ends. 

Filo is one of the most sophisticated and easy-to-integrate virtual platforms on the market. We can connect outside tools and software within Filo to make your virtual event the most unique and impactful experience possible. All while making everyone involved unburdened and able to have fun!