Don’t know where to start when moving an in-person awards ceremony to a virtual setting? Consider these tips for a successful virtual awards event.
In this second part of the “Tips for a Successful Virtual Award Ceremony,” we take a deeper look at how to market and produce your virtual event, how to ensure a high quality digital platform, and how to keep both your audience and awardees engaged, cared for, and celebrated. Consider the remainder of these Yes& tips when pivoting your awards ceremony to a virtual format:
#5: Market Your Event
Cast a wide net to get the word out about your new format. Once the date and time is selected, blast out a “Save the Date” reminder via email, video, social media, and word-of-mouth. Write press releases and blogs, and contact local press and industry trade news outlets to spread the word.
Do you have any noteworthy speakers? They can also be influencers. Provide them the information they need to become event ambassadors and links to the event registration page. The same goes for sponsors. Create a hashtag for your event, share it, and drive conversations online—especially two to three weeks prior to the event, when registrations typically increase.
Use eye-catching creative and SEO optimization, and target the right channels with ads to drive sponsorships and attendance. Offer early-bird rates and networking opportunities with your speakers, awardees, and other high-ranking officials to create a feeling of urgency and exclusivity.
#6: Choose the Right Virtual Platform
There are many virtual event vendors, so do your research. Choose a vendor that meets your needs, and in order to prepare for technology glitches, don’t lock into a platform until you know if it works with your audience, particularly if it includes government attendees.
Be sure to test and retest your internet connections prior to the event, and have your speakers do the same during speaker prep rehearsal calls. Prepare backups of visuals and presentations in case file problems occur during the event. Anticipate problems with attendees who are not tech-savvy, and have enough staff available to handle viewer or presenter issues.
#7: Produce a High-Quality Event
Quality production matters. Have your creative team discuss how best to record your event, how they want it to appear online, and how it lines up aesthetically. Instead of recording your speakers just sitting at home, try to utilize props or graphics in the background that catch the eye of the viewer without being distracting. Be clever about using creative visuals or sets. Pre-recorded sessions are preferred, as there are fewer opportunities for failure.
#8: Keep Your Audience Engaged
Viewers will virtually attend your awards event for several reasons, and it's your job to keep them engaged. Offer live polls or quizzes and a chat feature, and assign a moderator to handle any comments or questions that viewers submit.
For those who are there for networking, keep in mind that when attendees get put into breakout rooms, there could be up to a 70 percent drop-off rate if no programming is provided. Let’s just say that no one is hanging out at a virtual bar to keep the party going. Put the keynote address at the end of the awards event to keep your attendees online until the very end.
Assign moderators to each networking room to keep the conversation going and to consolidate groups if there are few participants or conversation is lagging. Consider having an award winner or popular speaker present in each breakout room.
#9: Provide an Exceptional Awardee Experience
Last, but not least, an awards event is all about the awardees. Make them feel special. Be creative in how you honor their accomplishments. Engage your design and video teams to use creative elements to design a unique event experience. Figure out a way to make the awardees’ prerecorded acceptance speeches represent who they really are. Invite supervisors or peers to summarize their achievements. It’s always nice to be recognized by your boss or peers for hard work.
Need a partner that can take your idea from start to finish? Yes& can provide strategic direction, concept and content development, creative design, production, video editing, voiceover recording, animation, and 508 compliance, as well as event promotion. Need more virtual event advice? Download our comprehensive virtual event checklist and our speaker's tips for virtual events.