What Makes a Great Virtual Event Manager?

Event manager = 1/3 mad scientist, 1/3 psychologist, 1/3 logistics expert

Since virtual events share many of the attributes of physical events, it makes sense to start by discussing some of the attributes of event managers in general. In many ways, events are like chemistry experiments – place a few thousand people in a large bowl (convention center), add training sessions and other content, sprinkle in a few pyrotechnics, throw in enough food to feed a small army, and mix. If the event organizer has been successful all the ingredients combine safely and seamlessly.

In my experience, all event managers share three attributes in common – passion, people skills, and precision. Passion is critical for a number of reasons. First, it allows event managers to survive and thrive in a high pressure business. Second, events often take on the character of event organizers, making their emotional states critical to motivating the other members of their team. People skills are equally important as 50% of the success of any event (and probably much more!) comes down to the everyday negotiations, discussions, and compromises that form the foundation of any event. Finally, event managers need to be precise in everything that they do, ensuring that every item (from the smallest box of t-shirts to the latest $100,000 sound system) arrive on time and work as planned.

Regardless of the type of event, the basics of passion, people, and precision will form the core of any event manager’s success. However, as virtual events gain in popularity, a new set of skills will be required to fully take advantage of this new medium. It is important to keep in mind that for each of the attributes below, Social27 and other platform providers have the specialized resources to make any virtual events a success. But, to get the most from this type of partnership, developing the skills below will definitely help.

A virtual event held in 3DXplorer. (Image courtesy Altadyn.)

Virtual event management – we built this city on 1’s and 0’s

As virtual and hybrid events have become a part of many companies’ marketing strategies, the need for virtual event management has also increased. For the most part, corporate event managers have been asked to look after all events (online, physical and hybrid), although a few firms have hired virtual event managers to look after their online efforts. Regardless of how virtual events fit into the corporate structure, anyone looking to manage (or hire someone to manage) a virtual event, should consider the following skills and characteristics as a good starting point for success:

  • Social networking expertise – Social networking applications like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are deeply integrated into many virtual event platforms, including Social27’s. As a result, it is important that the virtual event manager understand not just the practical problems an attendee might have, but also how to leverage these services in a fun an engaging way. Moderating chat sessions in the Networking Lounge might be a job that falls to the virtual event manager – so being able to keep an upbeat and dynamic conversation with triggers for engagement is a skill worth nurturing. Suggested reading: Socialnomics, Erik Qualman.
  • Community savvy – At an in-person event, people tend to gather in the bar, lobbies, and other nooks and crannies. At a virtual event, these spontaneous meetings are not generated by a visual connection – you just happen to ‘see’ Helen and start a conversation. A virtual event manager needs a good understanding of human behavior and how to proactively bring people who have similar interests together. Virtual events require tremendous skill as a tribal leader. Suggested Reading: Tribes by Seth Godin.
  • Understanding the power of “games” – At a virtual event, managers have a complete range of devices at their disposal to drive attendee behavior. In addition to driving behavior, games can encourage people to work together and can accelerate the process of building rapport. The best virtual event companies will work with their corporate counterparts to design a set of game dynamics that works for each event. But, it still helps to know a bit about the terminology and opportunities. Suggested Reading: Game Dynamics and Games in Virtual Events.
  • Creativity and the ability to bring ideas to life – Creativity is a key attribute for all event managers, and this is especially true for virtual event mangers. In some ways, getting 1000 people down the elevators to the auditorium is easy compared to getting 1000 people located across the world to “feel” like they really experienced a virtual event. Whether through entertainment (music, video), game dynamics (prizes, group participation), or communication (comment walls) the goal of every virtual event manger should be to work with their platform provider to think of creative ways to help attendees feel engaged and connected. Suggested Reading: A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger van Oech
  • Digital content aware – in many ways, content is more critical at a virtual event than at an in-person event; since attendees can leave anytime and there are fewer emotional distractions, the quality of videos, digital handouts, and other content is absolutely essential. Virtual event managers are at the center of the content creation process and must balance the needs of presenters, editors, stakeholders, and other team members to make sure that the final show is flawless.  Complete Guide to Career in Special Events, Gene Columbus

The more things change, the more things stay the same… kind of

As I said earlier, all event managers, regardless of the medium that they work with, require passion, people skills, and precision to be successful. However, as virtual and hybrid events become a more important part of all companies’ plans, a new set of skills will be required. With a new world of opportunities opening up for virtual event managers, there has never been a better time to be a part of this exciting industry.

(This article reprinted with permission from Virtual Events.)


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