Create an Event Concept
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Create a vision for a digital event to address a specific business need.
- Consider a digital event independently of a physical event.
- Plan the high-level concepts of your virtual event.
Where to Start?
When a director or producer has an idea for a movie, they don’t immediately grab a camera and yell action! Just like a movie, there’s a lot of planning that goes into a well-produced and well-executed virtual experience.
Over the course of these units, you will work through the process of what it takes to produce a top-notch virtual event.
Don’t plan a virtual event based on an in-person event. In-person events have their own set of rules, experiences, and visuals that won’t translate to a virtual event. Instead, think about who the event is for. What was that event going to communicate, drive, grow, or share? What will be missed if this event doesn’t happen?
Picture the event in your mind. What do you see? What does it look like? This is a tough skill for many to master, but as you attempt a virtual event, you need an idea of the end result to help you mold the experience. It’s OK if it’s a little blurry and not fully formed, but hopefully you have a glimpse of a moment, a session, or a visual that you want to include.
Craft Your Vision
Let’s start planning. First, craft the vision and concept for this event. Why are you putting this time and energy into creating a virtual event? A clear vision of the event’s purpose will guide you through this planning journey. Your vision is a high-level statement that ties together your main objectives, deliverables, and outcomes.
Hopefully you’ve already considered who the event is for. The audience should guide everything you create and share as you want them to have the best experience. For example, a virtual event for children is different from a virtual event for professional developers. Planning around your audience affects things like the event’s tone and length.
Next, decide when you want to run it. What date and time zone make the most sense? Often, events in the United States start at 9 AM PT. While this is great for US time zones, all of APAC (Asia-Pacific) is asleep. So come back to your audience. Where are they located? This Time Zone Converter is a useful tool to check dates and time zones as well as public holidays globally.
In addition, it’s helpful to factor in summer or school holidays, because they can affect attendance. Generally, Tuesdays through Thursdays are chosen for virtual events. Monday and Friday attendance can be affected by global time zones due to the host country, but this isn’t a fixed rule. Your outlined audience may be a fan of Mondays and Fridays.
Also consider replaying an event at different times to capture more attendees, but make sure to think of creative ways to still feature live interaction with the audience.
Now, how long will it be? When in doubt, imagine you’re the viewer. Would you sit riveted and uninterrupted for 8 hours of digital programming? Not likely. If this event is at a larger scale and aimed at tens of thousands of viewers with diverse programming for multiple audiences, you likely have a bit more leeway with the event length.
If you’re planning for thousands of attendees, don’t go over two hours. Likewise, if the event is aimed at hundreds, consider a maximum length of an hour. Then again, depending on the content, perhaps even only 30 minutes. With social content, you’re lucky if you get audiences to watch past one minute! The shorter the better for digital engagement and viewer attention ratings. Remember, the larger the audience, the more freedom you have over event length.
Pause, Ponder, Then Plunge!
Around this stage in planning, doubt can creep in, and you think: Has someone already done this? What if it’s not entertaining or the message doesn’t come across digitally? Don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back. You have a clear vision, goals, and an audience in mind. Instead, how will you be different? How can you do it better? What can you learn from other events—what did you like and what made you lose interest? Looking at other digital events is a great way to learn what you think works and what doesn’t.
Now let’s give the event a clear name, a theme, a mood, and even a color scheme. Is this event about mindfulness for an older audience? Then you want calming colors, music, and graphics that match the peaceful event name and overarching content theme. Is it a rock music event? This lends itself to a bolder color scheme, edgier, up-tempo music, a playful name, and rockin’ graphics that support the theme.
And lastly, what are your measurements of success? Are they registration numbers? Attendance figures? A call to action (CTA) that you can track? As always, be SMART about your goals: Make sure they’re specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.