Taking a traditionally offline event online- such as a book club, wine tasting, or even a conference- can seem strange and daunting, but it’s an amazing opportunity to connect people both locally and globally over a shared interest no matter their travel resources or abilities. We’ve put together some tips for making the transition as easy as possible so you can host a seamless virtual event from anywhere!

Before the event

As event planners well know, the bulk of your work comes before the event and a virtual event is no exception.

1. Identify the common thread. While some events make it easy- the book you’ll be discussing for a book club or the wine you’ll be tasting and rating- others are a little trickier. If it’s a conference create a hub of materials like blog posts that deal with the subject matter you’ll be covering so that attendees can ask smart questions. Bonus points if they’re from virtual speakers.

2. Send personalized invitations. Invite those you know would be interested and ask them to spread the word to their networks and any other interested parties they can think of.

3. Identify influencers. Choose a few appropriate influencers to invite and send them the book or wine; alternatively you can set up a contest ahead of time to win the book, wine, or a free virtual ticket so some attendees will already be invested in the event.

4. Create a hashtag. You want one that is unique, ideally not already in use, and that isn’t too long (or your participants will have fewer characters with which to share their ideas).

5. Send reminders. Announce the time and date with several scheduled reminders across your social networks. Be sure to send personalized reminders to your influencers too!

6. Make a measurement plan. You want to know your hard work pays off, so make a plan to be able to prove it to yourself and your higher ups before the event actually happens. Read more about how to do that here.

During the event

7. Share photos. Participants love behind-the-scenes shots of your setup, and putting a face to the brand conducting an event gives everyone a more human way to connect. Encourage participants to share their own photos too.

wine tasting
The virtual experience comes with fewer allergens. Image via slack12 on Flickr; used with Creative Commons License.

8. Relax and have fun with it. Issues pop up with even the most elaborately planned events. Participants are most forgiving of snags if you’re quick to react and have a good sense of humor about it.

After the event

9. Do a post-op for next time. Review the data you collected to see what went well, what unforeseen issues might have popped up, and how you can plan better for next time.

10. Ask participants what could go better. They might have some insights that aren’t obvious from your data, but also you make them more invested in returning if they feel like they have a hand in shaping the event going forward.

Have you attended a virtual version of a typically real-world event? How did it go? Leave your experience in the comments!

This post was originally published on Union Metrics.