The Do’s and Don’ts of Hosting a Virtual Event

One of Candor’s clients has an annual luncheon which brings in a significant portion of yearly revenue — but this year, it was impossible to host the luncheon in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rather than cancelling the luncheon, Candor helped our client pivot to a virtual event. We found ways to combine all the highlights — students playing instruments, testimonials from community leaders, etc. — to keep the spirit of the event alive.
A virtual event is a professional, cost-effective and efficient Plan B when circumstances prevent brands from sharing messages in-person. Below, we offer a few simple do’s and don’ts to ensure your virtual event is as successful as possible.
DO determine whether to go live or pre-record. A live event allows for more spontaneity, while a pre-recorded event provides more control. Consider the purpose of the event and what action you want to elicit — are you aiming for real-time engagement, or would you prefer thousands of video views to drive donations? Live events generally require more planning, so be sure to take the timeline into account.
DO create a run-of-show. A run-of-show acts as a game plan for your event. Adding a practice run allows for testing sound and video quality, trying out a virtual background and adjusting any technical settings if necessary, especially if people on camera are in different locations. This is also a good opportunity for speakers to practice what they’re going to say.
DON’T stick too closely to a script. While it’s important to outline key talking points and topics of discussion, speakers shouldn’t sound forced or robotic. Genuineness and sincerity are always appreciated.
DO remember the story. Technology isn’t the end-all-be-all — it must be used to create a larger narrative. Whether the event lasts five minutes or 45 minutes, it should contain a clear beginning, middle and end. An event which seems rambling or lacks purpose won’t hold the audience’s attention for very long.
DON’T forget to build hype. People have to know about the event if they’re going to participate or tune-in. Send a reminder email blast, create social media ads and reach out to organizations which might be interested in the topic. Brands might even be able to secure press coverage if the event has mass appeal and/or features special guests. After the event is complete, be sure to share a recording to keep the story going.
DO encourage audience participation. How can the audience be engaged in the proceedings? If using Facebook Live, will somebody be on-hand to moderate comments and answer questions? If using a service like Zoom, will the chat feature be enabled to encourage discussion? Don’t fall into the trap of making your virtual event a passive affair. It’s also important to explain to the audience how to engage, since they likely aren’t used to watching events online.
DON’T make it a one-and-done deal. How does the event fit into your brand’s larger marketing strategy? Could it become a series of videos/webinars? Consider how to leverage the content months down the road — repurposing content is a smart way to maintain buzz long after the event is over.
DO use proper lighting, sound and tech. Ideally, use a computer with a built-in camera for a higher quality video, and hard-wire into the internet if possible (this means use an ethernet cable) to improve the connection. Be sure to identify a quiet space, whether the event is live or pre-recorded. Natural light is best — anyone on camera should avoid sitting in front of a window but should still allow the natural light to shine on their face. Click here to download this handy one-sheeter for at-home recording tips.
Need help? Get in touch! Candor can assist any organization with live-streaming a webinar or company update to employees, stakeholders and the community. We can even edit videos for clarity and include graphics elements like name keys and logos. Contact us today about our Zoom and virtual event capabilities.

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