Philosopher and essayist George Santayana was quoted as saying: â€œThose who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.â€Â With virtual events, the â€œpastâ€ is fairly recent.Â However, the spirit of Santayanaâ€™s quote holds true â€“ we need to learn from our prior virtual event in order to make the next one better.
In the virtual events Iâ€™ve worked on, the conclusion of the virtual event is very much like crossing the finish line of a marathon â€“ youâ€™ve worked and trained hard and now itâ€™s time to unwind, rest and relax.Â The team that worked on a virtual event often has to move on to â€œthe next projectâ€, without much time to reflect on the event that just concluded.Â As a virtual event show host, itâ€™s your job to round up the team for a debrief meeting â€“ youâ€™ve all completed the marathon, but now itâ€™s time for the half-mile cool-down jog to reflect back on the race.
The keys to a virtual event debrief:
Define, measure and review virtual event goals and metrics
The first step in the debrief has to occur prior to the start of the project.Â During or before your kick-off meeting, you and your team need to define the goals of the virtual event â€“ and the associated metrics that youâ€™ll use to quantify those goals.Â Whether itâ€™s â€œmaximize sponsorship revenue,” â€œmaximize user engagementâ€ or â€œgenerate leads for exhibitors,â€ youâ€™ll want to define measurable and non-subjective data points to serve as the basis of your virtual event report card.Â So the first segment of the debrief is to review the data.
Review what worked
A combination of the metrics results â€“ and, more subjective or anecdotal feedback regarding the overall event.Â The key here is to understand why — or how — it worked and determine whether you want to repeat that success in your next event.Â For the most part, what works in one virtual event should be carried over into the next.
Review what didnâ€™t work
Again, a combination of metrics plus anecdotal feedback.Â This is one of the most important components of the debrief â€“ be honest in your assessments of what didnâ€™t work â€“ so that you are not â€œcondemned to repeat itâ€.Â My experience has been that when things donâ€™t work, the reasons are usually â€œnot enough lead timeâ€ or â€œtoo rushed,â€ â€œcommunications mix-up,â€ â€œhuman errorâ€ and â€œmismatch in expectations.â€Â Another category is â€œtechnology issue.â€Â I believe that all of these are correctable, with technology being the most straightforward and human error, communication and lead time being a bit trickier to nail down.
Review and judge your constituentsâ€™ experiences
Different event types will have difference constituents.Â In a virtual tradeshow, the constituents include yourself — or the show host, attendees, exhibitors and presenters.Â You may want to ask each constituent to complete a survey thatâ€™s specific to their experience.Â Did attendees find the content useful?Â How about the event experience â€“ was it easy to navigate?Â Did exhibitors have meaningful interactions with attendees?Â For speakers, did they find the webcasting presentersâ€™ interface intuitive?Â Each constituent in a virtual event is important â€“ if they were not 100% satisfied in this event, make it a goal to achieve 100% in the next event.
With the growth weâ€™re seeing in this industry, chances are that when one virtual event concludes, youâ€™re rushing off to your next one.Â My recommendation is to stop and take a breath.Â Take the time to gather the team and do a debrief.Â Then, document the debrief and be sure to review it before you start planning the next event.
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