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How to Make Your Next Virtual Event the Talk of the Town

Wondering what it takes to make your virtual event stand out from others? Here are a few tested tips and tricks that will leave attendees with a lasting good impression.

At HBO Max’s Love Life series premiere, producer Paul Feig stole the show with a virtual bar demonstration showcasing how to mix the event’s signature Manhattan cocktail.
At HBO Max’s Love Life series premiere, producer Paul Feig stole the show with a virtual bar demonstration showcasing how to mix the event’s signature Manhattan cocktail.
Photo: Little Cinema

With the global pandemic turning nearly everything into a technological task, event professionals were forced to file away many of their planned festivities. However, the planner’s superpower—the innate ability to improvise—prevailed. The industry pressed "power on" and pivoted to online options.

But within the crowded virtual sphere—and the fight for attendees' time and attention—how can your event stand out? To inspire and inform you, we’ve rounded up some recent swoon-worthy success stories.

Integrate Interactivity 
The DevOps World 2020 software development summit included an interactive space for attendees to play arcade games, add an opinion, and design a sticker. It was meant to mirror an in-person space that might include foosball tables or karaoke.The DevOps World 2020 software development summit included an interactive space for attendees to play arcade games, add an opinion, and design a sticker. It was meant to mirror an in-person space that might include foosball tables or karaoke.Photo: Bryan PrayWhile “hands-on” may not seem like a possibility during this new world of virtual events, get creative implementing ways to keep attendees engaged throughout the entire experience. 

For example, DevOps World 2020, hosted by software company CloudBees from Sept. 22-24, united thousands of tech pros from around the globe to collaborate, network, and discuss the future of IT and software development. While a four-day event like this may seem pretty “tech”-nical, creative and production agency FoxDog Consultants took the reigns with a goal in mind: to amplify the user experience with synergetic “Fun Track” booths. A string of booths in the event's virtual expo hall served the purpose of entertaining, distracting, and recharging attendees throughout the three-day event. Attendees were given a space to channel their creativity and fill out reviews, design stickers, and play various 8-bit arcade games. 

Meanwhile, HBO Max’s Love Life series premiere, produced by WarnerMedia and Little Cinema on May 21, introduced a virtual after-party experience where all attendees made the VIP list. The date night-theme event was inspired by the Anna Kendrick-fronted comedy series; guests could click through a variety of tabs to "explore" a virtual Manhattan apartment. In the various spaces, attendees could mix cocktails with Paul Feig, jam to mixes from Hollywood DJ Michelle Pesce, use the chat function to talk relationships with matchmaker Amy Van Doran, do some karaoke, and more. (See more: How Hollywood Is Hosting Immersive Virtual Premiere Parties)

Make It Matter
Whether your event lasts a couple of hours, a couple of days, or even several weeks, going the extra mile to include meaningful takeaways attendees can use in both their personal and professional lives will keep them coming back year after year. 

For example, RevolveU, a new virtual experience hosted by fashion brand Revolve from Sept. 21-27, focused on the power of people. Attendees were taken through a personal journey as they connected with industry professionals on topics ranging from establishing a brand to curating social media content to health and wellness. Using communication technology like text polling, user-contributed video submissions, and social media collaborations, event participants were fully immersed in the occasion. The six-day event built an inspired online community through an impressive list of panelists and keynote speakers, with panelists such as Teen Vogue editor in chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner, House of Harlow creative director Nicole Richie, The Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay, and even Walker Drawas co-owners Adam Drawas and Jennifer Walker.

The RevolveU brand experience featured panels and seminars from CEOs, influencers, and various other industry professionals. In the 'Current Mood: Mental Health in the Digital Age' panel session, Dr. Deepika Chopra, Kristina Rodulfo, Chrissy Rutherford, and Pia Baroncini discussed the ways in which they have found sanity within the many uncertainties that have come along in 2020.The RevolveU brand experience featured panels and seminars from CEOs, influencers, and various other industry professionals. In the "Current Mood: Mental Health in the Digital Age" panel session, Dr. Deepika Chopra, Kristina Rodulfo, Chrissy Rutherford, and Pia Baroncini discussed the ways in which they have found sanity within the many uncertainties that have come along in 2020.Photo: Revolve

Serve the Swag
Whether it be a package delivered to your guests' homes or a virtual event favor, swag bags are a great way to express gratitude for guest attendance—and an even better way for guests to continue to reminisce.

The Knot's WeddingPro COR is a free, four-day event taking place Oct. 5-8. The virtual gathering for wedding professionals will include live sessions, workouts, interactive Q&As, and a virtual photo booth. As an added perk for attendees, organizers are hosting a gift card giveaway each day of the event, as well as delivering surprise packages in the mail to the first 100 registered attendees. In addition, the event is taking “party favors” to a new level with a digital swag bag that includes graphics for all guests to use on their personal social media platforms. 

WeddingPro COR's four-day virtual experience will include live sessions, workouts, and interactive Q&A sessions with various panelists. Additionally, the company is mailing surprise packages to the first 100 registered attendees.WeddingPro COR's four-day virtual experience will include live sessions, workouts, and interactive Q&A sessions with various panelists. Additionally, the company is mailing surprise packages to the first 100 registered attendees.Photo: The Know Worldwide

Let It Live On
While virtual events may seem to end once attendees log-off, nurturing and supporting a community of followers will keep attendees connected even after closing their browsers. Create & Cultivate’s Future of Work Conference, for example—which was presented by MasterCard on Sept. 12—looked into the new age of digital business. Speakers spoke strategy in both live and prerecorded sessions that involved topics such as adjusting to the “new normal,” tackling the job of a working mother, and owning your age.

In an effort to promote guest communication pre and post-event, Create & Cultivate created an attendee Slack Community Group where forums that explore topics like business development and women in the workforce can be explored. Additionally, as a way to give back to the Create & Cultivate community during these uncertain times, the one-day event featured the Future of Work Conference Pitch Contest, where three business owners were selected to share their enterprises with various panelist judges. The winner of the contest received a $10,000 savings account from financial firm Ally.

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