When Liaison signed on with the RealTime Conference last year, we had epic plans for promoting a jam-packed two-day event on the future of real-time technologies, co-located in Paris and New York. Then COVID-19 hit, and the conference landscape changed forever. So the RTC team made the difficult decision to take the conference online – and we learned a lot along the way.
Look on the bright side
We know that pulling the virtual trigger won’t be easy. It may feel like you have to tear everything down and start over, and do it all with less time and more complications. But there are also silver linings to going virtual: less overhead, more fluidity and – best of all – more chances to secure high-profile speakers that may not have been able to appear in person.
Throw out the rule books
Watching a session from a living room sofa probably won’t be as engaging as seeing it live, so consider mixing up formats and shortening sessions. You can always provide extended versions online later; these are great fodder for press and social media. And don’t forget to make use of the tech available to you! Chat boxes are great spaces for attendees to ask speakers questions, during and after talks.
Consider free or discounted fees
Virtual events are a new experience for many, but by reducing attendance fees you’re investing in the foundation of a new community. The RealTime Conference decided to offer free access to everyone who registered. This not only allowed more people to attend, it was a nice gesture of goodwill. (Not to mention a great press hook.)
Connection is more important than ever
Virtual conferences will require adjustments and there may be some bumps in the road, but it is crucial that these ways to connect do not die out. RealTime Conference offered live chats, private messages and even networking breaks – and attendees loved it. There are several virtual conferencing apps to choose from, but we strongly recommend going with one that has both private and group chat functionality. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about people.
Going virtual can seem scary, but if you do it right, you can build something truly special. And if you do decide to host a virtual event, we have one last tip: Send us an invite!