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Turn challenges into benefits, ten pitfalls with virtual events

Are you planning a virtual event for the first time? Or maybe you’re thinking of starting the process? With digital transformation comes new challenges. Here is a list of ten challenges that you want to keep track of – and how you can solve them to make a successful virtual event. 

1. Spontaneous mingling is unusual at virtual events

It is difficult to get a spontaneous mingling when you do not have a coffee machine to gather around. Although virtual events can offer networking opportunities, it is not possible to achieve the mingling opportunities that physical event offers. 

Even so, with the right conditions, you can still create a virtual event that can become a gathering place where people come to brainstorm ideas and meet. You can arrange virtual opportunities for mingling with the help of digital workshops, competitions, and live seminars where participants can live chat with each other and the lecturer. 

In addition, you can take advantage of the overview that a virtual event offers you and the participants. At a virtual event, everyone can quickly get an overview of which key people will participate, and with one click they can pre-book video calls with them. It gives everyone a greater chance to book meetings with just the right people and well-known experts who they would not otherwise have had the opportunity to talk to one to one. 

2. Distracted participants at the virtual event

An event that takes place on a screen means that the participants are easily distracted. Instead of focusing on the ongoing session, some will respond to emails or do some extra work in the meantime. Maybe they take the opportunity to take care of household chores if they are still at home, throwing in a heap of laundry or putting the dishwasher on. As an organizer, it is difficult to know if your participants are 100% present. 

There is a greater demand on the organizer to keep the participants focused. But there are some clever tricks to make it work. For example, your sessions should not be longer than 20 minutes when digital. Also, advise your lecturers to attract the participants’ attention with different types of content that will appeal to both experts and beginners in the audience. And let them be interactive with the participants through functions where the lecturers can ask direct questions that the participants can answer and vote on in a live chat. You can also activate the participants with gamification functions where they get the opportunity to compete, collect points and win prizes. Another smart trick is to plan time in the schedule for the participants to have time to answer emails and take a break so that they know that free time is available later. 

3. Prevent technical disturbances during virtual events

Let us face it, a virtual event is completely dependent on the technology working. At a physical event, participants have certain patience if things go awry. At a virtual event, participants will focus on something else or simply log out if technical problems arise. 

There are many parts that should work; from registration and booking to broadcasts and interactivity. The best thing you can do to prevent technical problems is to ensure that you have a stable technical platform and that you go through all parts of the schedule before the event goes live. Do make a plan B for how you should act if something happens – and test this plan too. 

4. Lost wow factor when participants are not physically present

There is excitement, anticipation, and elation in the air. Stepping into a big trade fair or an international conference is special. Logging in to a digital event does not provide the same buzz, instead, it places higher demands on your marketing to create the right feeling and expectations. This means that you also have an increased requirement that the agenda and implementation live up to the expectations that you promised. 

5. No exciting destinations in connection to the event

There is something very special about traveling to another country or getting to know a new city. A physical event offers many unforgettable experiences, which a digital event can not provide in the same way. Think about how your virtual event can create a good atmosphere and a unique experience with, for example, fun features, a smart layout, and exciting guest speakers. 

6. Misses physical interaction

We are human beings, and body language is an important part of our communication. Not being able to see each other when interacting is a big disadvantage. Lecturers do not get the same audience feeling from seeing a number of viewers on a screen, as they do when they meet hundreds of people on a stage. 

But it is possible to create a certain type of live feeling during virtual events. For example, use digital mingling before the lecturer enters the stage and a live chat during the lecture. That way all the participants and your lecturers get the feeling of many people being present.  

7. Opportunities for extra earnings change with virtual events

 Unfortunately, the conditions for having sales revenue in place disappear when you carry out the event virtually. For example, the opportunity to sell food and drink. This is a challenge and requires a new way of thinking. 

One solution is to entice participants with unique offers and special products that they can only buy for a limited time before the virtual event. This type of communication also helps to build expectations before the event goes live.  

8. Exhibitors need to think new when the fair goes digital

A physical fair that offers rows of exciting booths is often an exciting experience in itself. During a digital event, you can offer digital stands, but you miss out on the physical interaction that occurs between participants and exhibitors. In this case, it is important to get creative and adapt content to technical conditions. Set a clear goal for what a visit to the exhibitor booth should provide and test the experience in advance. 

There are also benefits to using digital exhibitions. They can give your visitors a unique and personalized digital experience, which can also live longer than a physical event.  

9. Fewer spontaneous meetings

We all know what digital meetings are like. As soon as 10 o’clock has struck and the meeting has begun, everyone is already in place. Arriving a few minutes late is immediately noticeable. The same applies when the meeting ends. If it says that the meeting ends at 12.00, most people will log out exactly at 12.00. This means that spontaneous talk and brainstorming after a session is absent. Therefore, make sure to schedule time for networking during your event. You can shorten your sessions and mix in mingling both before, during, and after the sessions. 

10. Confusion with time zones

If you are holding a global event, there is a great risk that your content and timetable cannot be adapted to all time zones. It takes a lot of time and planning to create a schedule with good material that suits most participants so that they do not have to get up in the middle of the night. 

One solution is to have double, or sometimes triple schedules, that are adapted for different time zones. You can also have recorded live sessions on your virtual platform, which anyone can watch whenever they want. For a live feel, some of them can be made available at fixed times.

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