They say there is more than one way to catch a rabbit. There are also many virtual event strategies for universities, making them fun and interactive for student communities, instead of the usual plain vanilla online meeting. The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to shift the way we hold events and summits from physical to digital.
Social distancing is intended for our safety, but it does not have to be lonesome and uneasy!
Virtual Events have become a vital part of any organization or educational institution. They keep their members engaged even at the comfort of their home. In pre-pandemic times, hosting such events were used for contingency purposes only. So, the question is: what are successful virtual event strategies for universities and students?
Show me some virtual event strategies for universities
Read on as we share with you the top 7 virtual event strategies for universities to keep your student community engaged.
1. Plan an event that applies to current situations
In every location, the situation differs. Schools and universities need to keep themselves abreast of the current trends and technologies in the digital space to attract students to the type of event they are hosting. One good example of a relevant event would be an online discussion of the effects of COVID-19 on students and how they can navigate through the crisis.
Does it always need to be about COVID-19?
Not really. Doing this may induce the so-called “pandemic fatigue” among the community.
While taking into account the pandemic, brainstorm on other relevant ideas like a Netflix and Chill Watch Party, TikTokers’ Best Content Competition, Virtual Concerts, Book Club over Coffee Discussions, and many more to engage the group. This will give your university a big boost in your students’ customer experience because they will learn while getting entertainment.
2. Set the event duration right
This aspect of planning virtual events is often neglected. On one hand, virtual events are novel to most of us. On the other, coming up with ideas during your brainstorming session and stacking them all at a single program may be detrimental to your event. Consider the attention span of your audience. What is the optimum length of time for the event then?
Regarding virtual event strategies for universities, a ballpark figure is at a one hour maximum. Any extension will risk losing your audiences’ attention and interest.
Online career fairs, virtual university tours, virtual alumni homecoming or a networking fairs, for example, usually require a whole day to carry out. So it is best to put the main program at a one hour maximum, then break out with smaller groups at a shorter time frames. This way your audience will have several interesting options and, in turn, they will stay in the event longer.
Remember though, that, to keep it concise, breakout groups’ allotted time must never be longer than your main program.
3. Make your Virtual Event memorable
Hosting a virtual event is more than just streaming what is happening on your university website. Every other university can do it. Take into consideration the experience your students will have every step of the process. Of course, it is one thing to stream your event, but another thing is to take into account the kind of engagement your audience can get.
Recently another university held a virtual event with a large audience. Can I just copy their event?
Well, it is good to copy other event formats that work but it will not guarantee that it will leave a mark on your audience.
The way to go is to be ahead in some aspect. For example, virtual event strategies for universities and other companies aim to keep their audience engaged by deploying real-time interaction tech. Technologies like Live Chat and Live Blog integration are a sure way to make your next virtual event a big hit!
And we are not just talking about a customer support chat here. Arena Live Chat, for instance, is a platform that generates real-time engagement by allowing the audience to post comments, messages, or opinions during your live events.
With an array of unique features such as Q&A, polls, direct messages and conversion cards, the best customer experience is surely taken care of while allowing total control to moderators.
In addition, Arena Live Blog gives admins the ease of managing posts in all social streams, making sure that all updates in your events are published in real-time to a wide range of audiences.
4. Keep your speakers informed
The usual virtual event formats for a university are talks, webinars, videoconferences and lectures. But they should not be limited to those. Virtual event strategies for universities usually comprise inviting a speaker, professor, or expert to talk about highly specific topics intended to provide value to students.
In times like these, make sure to brief your speakers carefully before the actual event and always keep them informed should changes or contingencies be happening in your program. Taking care of this part will let your speakers know that you, as a host, possess foresight even in the digital space.
What should we do to avoid dead air during a speaker’s lecture or talk? Some suggest providing scripted questions to the speakers, so they can prepare their answers and keep the flow smooth sailing.
The difference between virtual and real-life events is that, in the first case, audience is more unrelenting critic than in the latter. It’s easier to turn off an application than to physically walk out of a room full of people.
Another thing is that not all speakers are used to speaking in front of the camera. This way, they can’t solicit any feedback from the audience. These people came from a time when they could see their audience’s reactions. Back then, it was possible to improvise based on that feedback.
So, let your speakers know that they will get assistance when unexpected things happen. Tech glitches, communication problems or bad connection are part of hosting virtual events.
5. Cover technical problems in advance
Hosting virtual events may have tons of benefits compared to the traditional way. But it comes with challenges of its own. Technical problems are the nemesis of any virtual event hosts. Depending on how large your event audience is, large traffic might appear and ruin the party. Such cases require advanced solutions because the engagement of your audience is at risk.
Also, do not assume that all attendees in your event are well-versed in using their hardware. Virtual events have the capacity to cater to a large volume of audiences from around the globe. Having said that, you can expecte that a wide age range will be attending. Older ones, who are not savvy enough, require attention. Especially if your university hosts an online graduation ceremony, for instance.
If you are hosting an open mic night for comedians, or a concert from home, a simple glitch in the connection can ruin a punchline or a duet which is horrifying to organizers.
Besides the constant reminder on the flow and conduct of the program, it is best to hold a walkthrough and hardware check prior to the start of the event. This way, you will be able to minimize delays, optimize overlapping actions and avoid dead air when the show is on.
6. Give constant reminder across your platforms
We have to admit: there are a lot of universities and organizations hosting virtual events right now. Even if people have set a reminder on your event date, it is still easy to forget what they have signed up for. Communication before and even after the event is key.
One of the advantages of using Live Blog technology for this instance is the ease of managing all social platforms. By connecting your social streams altogether, paired with Live Blog integration, your audience can view your reminders across all platforms. That will keep them engaged even before an event happens.
Remember: students are constantly bombarded by information in social media nowadays. So, it is a must to stand out among the clutter.
7. Implement technologies that favor real-time engagement in your Website
We are always fond of leveling up the experience, having the audience talk about it even after the event is done. There are many services that offer online streaming for free. Still, your university will find it worth adding technology that will fuel the events, putting your organization at the top. Plus, giving it more professional look and feel.
Hosting a virtual event is half of the pie, allowing your students to engage among themselves. Creating meaningful connections brought about by your event is the other one. Consider integrating Arena Live Chat and Live Blog technologies into your platform to save your team from all the hassle.
If you are unsure of how easy it is to integrate these technologies into your website, talk to an Arena Specialist. You can also sign upfor the Arena Customer Engagement Platform 14-Day FREE trial right now!