How to host your own Digital Event
Who’d have thought the London Marathon – a 26 mile run around the UK’s largest city – could be condensed into a phone screen? Okay, so people still went out and incorporated variations of 26 into their exercises; 2.6 kilometre runs, 26 trampoline jumps, 26 second planks etc. But the #TwoPointSixChallenge has united the UK in spirit, bolstered charities and provided a welcome sense of familiarity at a very odd time.
This is not to say Digital Events have to be grand, trending events. It can be little talks that just help your audience do something from a distance. So whether you are adapting a large social event, demonstrating a tutorial or keeping connected, here are our tips for hosting your own digital event.
1. Consider PAC
Purpose. Audience. Content. Joe Wick’s PE Lessons would be a lot blander if it took on the mood of Prime Minister’s Question Time. If your purpose is to inform or educate, you may want a platform where your audience can ask questions, like Zoom or Facebook Live. You’ll also want to ensure you are in a simple, clean setting with little chance of disturbance. Facebook and Instagram Live are good for more entertaining content such as music sessions and quizzes, so can be a bit more natural, however you’ll need to keep your energy up to maintain engagement. If you struggle to do this, you can pre-record your activity and edit it together with some music or titles on most social media apps.
Tip: The younger the audience, the more visual you’ll want to be. Events for children will need large screens and consistent activity to maintain engagement. Students will prefer the ability to pause and rewind content, as will older adults, however some may prefer to multitask, in which case you can decide between just visual or audio content.
Whether you’re going live or shooting multiple takes, the whole process will be a lot easier if you plan what you’re doing. This doesn’t mean writing a script, but knowing what topic areas you’ll be discussing will ensure you don’t go off on tangents. To avoid repeating yourself, order these topics in a way that connects naturally. If you need any equipment, have it set up nearby or make like Blue Peter and do a “Here’s one I made earlier”.
3. Be selective
You know how riveting a painted wall can be as it dries overnight? Me neither. Some parts of the process will be more exciting than others, so be prepared to speed up or cut anything that isn’t relevant or interesting. You’ll also want to review dialogue; a few ‘um’s and ‘ar’s won’t hurt, but prolonged pauses and rambling seem unprofessional. Puns, jokes and cultural references should be treated like seasoning – make sure it’s in good taste.
Tip: Digital events don’t need to be entirely digital and subsequently, you don’t need to be there the entire time. Take the Macmillan Coffee Morning – it’s not literally one giant gathering over cake and beverages, but hundreds of little gatherings hosted separately for one cause. For charity, fitness and food related events, it could be enough to invite participants to conduct their own event. Pre-film any key clips like greeting, congratulating and thanking participants and consider providing a DIY pack, then let participants put their own spin on it.
4. Promote – considerately
In the same way you would promote for a normal event, promote your digital event on social media and invite through the same platforms or subscription lists. Make sure your event in no way suggests a physical meet-up and you emphasise the need to take precautions. It could also be worth providing elements of the event such as packs and meetings codes closer to the date for security purposes… ‘Zoom Bombing’ has unfortunately also increased. Always experiment with the security features on live video streams beforehand to ensure only genuine participants get the full experience.
5. Follow Up
Let’s revisit PAC. You know what you wanted to do, who you were doing it for and how you were going to do it. Now to check if you’ve done it. Have a list of key performance indicators which you can measure easily, like hashtags, views, likes and content from participants themselves. Consider the timing of when you released your digital event – although we’re all at home at the moment, there might be times your audience is more likely to be looking – and whether there were any technical problems. You might also want to think about going digital again if it was effective or whether your audience will continue to have access afterwards. Above all, don’t be afraid to reach out online whilst keeping a social distance.