Nearly two years into the mass adoption of virtual experiences, many industries are just starting to get a solid footing on fitting virtual events into the flow of their businesses. Leveraging virtual events requires a virtual event planning checklist and QA to ensure attendees can log-in, view, participate, and have outstanding experiences.
Maybe you’ve run hundreds of online events, webinars, and conferences and feel confident in your quality. Maybe you’re about to run your first virtual event and you’re terrified. We can help! Our virtual event checklist involves three phases: what to plan for before the event, what to prepare for during the event, and how to nurture attendees after the event.
Before the event
Much like software testing, preparation, bug hunting, and anticipating edge cases are key to running a successful event. Before the event, prepare to do the following:
1.) Determine content plan and success metrics. Before the event, lay out your exact content plan. What’s the targeted audience and the size of the event? Take stock of what pieces and types of content you are going to showcase. Determine metrics of success around your event. These metrics span wider than attendees: the success of a fireside chat could include the number of attendees, the number of job applications, answers to a survey sent afterward, or social media engagement.
2.) Assess and QA your tech. First and foremost, the platform you choose to host the event is a critical decision. It must be user-friendly for your attendees and have the necessary features to showcase your content (PowerPoint slides, video additions, breakout rooms, Q/A). If it requires installation or steps to set up, be sure to let your attendees, including any speakers, know the process beforehand in an email to limit confusion and technical difficulties during the event. Test for:
- Device/OS compatibility and capability
- Location and localization
- Video types and content responsiveness
3.) Create organizer channels. From virtual check-in to Q&A discussions to IT issues, organizers need to be virtually on deck the same way they would sit at an organizer’s table in person. Pro tip: create organizer channels, via Slack, teams, or private virtual rooms, to ensure that you can communicate quickly with other organizers to keep the event running smoothly.
4.) Do a dry run. Perform a dry run, a simulated pre-event test that offers insight on critical errors, lags in communication, device/OS issues, etc. Allow your devs to test and log bugs in your virtual software, and QA for stability, device compatibility, and connection errors.
You won’t catch every functional bug during your dry run and prep cycles, but a dress rehearsal offers the chance for teams to create processes for identifying, categorizing, escalating, and solving bugs. During the live show, these processes will be carved out and QA teams can fall into predetermined processes for quicker success.
It is also important to consider/integrate accessibility measures as a part of a dry run — these might include closed captioning, ASL translation, and other accessibility measures.
Pre-Virtual Event Checklist
- Determine your content plan and success metrics
- QA your tech stack
- Create organizer communication channels for during the event
- Do a dry run
During the event
With intensive prep work, your goal is to only be squashing minor, inconsequential bugs during the live virtual event. Still, it’s imperative that you keep an eye on your communication channels, capture relevant data, and keep attendees engaged for the duration of the event. Make sure to:
1.) Record the event. Recording the live event is a must. The recording can be shared and distributed among marketing, social, internal employees, and follow-up emails. Numerous platforms allow for nearly same-day distribution of event recordings.
2.) Keep a test lead and dev ready. During large, critical live events, have devs, testers, and engineers queued up on a dedicated Slack channel. Have employees watching the live event and effectively communicate issues to testing teams to resolve issues quickly, before they impact attendee experience.
3.) Capture Data. The live event is a great chance to capture front-end and back-end data. Some important data points to collect and analyze post-event:
- Account credentials
- Attendance and conversion rates
- Time on screen
- Audience participation
- In-app marketing and sales views
4.) Check-in on communication channels. Remember those communication channels we set up in the planning phase? During the virtual event is the perfect time to keep watching them. Keep communication clear and open for escalating issues. External communications keep a bug-free, great attendee experience and can alter you to issues that need to be addressed.
Live Virtual Event Checklist
- Record the event
- Keep a test lead and dev rep on deck
- Capture data, data, and more data
- Check in regularly in your communication channels
Once the event is over, use the opportunity of a post-event follow-up to promote your brand further and gather insights on the event.
1.) Keep connection flowing. Send thank you emails to attendees, speakers, and sponsors. Start preparing, uploading, and QAing video segments, content, and uploaded links. Include a feedback survey to collect more data.
2.) Package recording for promo. The content produced, shared, recorded, and presented should be disseminated across your entire org. Marketing, sales, employee engagement teams can repurpose data, videos, attendance rates etc. Moreover, content that harnessed high attendee engagement can be used for social discussions, campaigns, and promo.
3.) Analyze your data. Since collecting heaps of data during the event, you’ll need a plan to analyze what you’ve collected. Attendance, time, page clicks, and downloads can provide metrics of engagement for the event but beyond that, have a path to track outreach and eventual conversion.
Post-Virtual Event Checklist
- Keep the connection flowing
- Cut up and package recording
- Analyze your metrics from the virtual event