As soon as it became obvious that live events weren’t going to happen for a while, our event team started sharpening its skills on how to coordinate and host virtual events, from live-streamed Facebook concerts to online auctions, and more.
Recently we were met with one of our biggest online event challenges–Ent Credit Union’s All Company Meeting–a 5-hour live-streamed virtual conference with over 1,200 (yes 1,200!) participants, and multiple well-known guest speakers including Jonathan Mildenhall, Olympic Gold Medalist Abby Wambach, Fawn Weaver, the first African American woman to run a whiskey company, and Jim Nussle – presenting from around the country. No pressure.
Ent Credit Union had hoped to host this inaugural yearly event in person when plans were started, thinking that life would be closer to normal by October, but as the event neared it was obvious that we would have to switch gears to be able to hold such a large event during this strange time.
From start to finish, our team had to reimagine the entire event. It was important for us to carry the same engaging and lively spirit of their in-person event into an online setting. The most important piece of this virtual event that we focused a lot of our time on, was the interactive elements that would be needed to keep people engaged online and excited for five hours.
What we did worked! Our event team managed to bring fun into Ent’s virtual venue, connect and engage participants and speakers, and in the end have employees leave the virtual meeting feeling refreshed and proud to be part of such a great company. Here’s what we did, and we hope these tactics will serve as inspiration for your next digital venture.
- Delivered swag to all attendees before the event. Every employee was mailed an Ent Swag Box, containing Colorado-made snacks like Boulder Canyon Chips and Bobo Bars, and Ent-branded gifts such as socks and a coffee mug. Everything that was sent in these boxes, from the snacks to the swag, was carefully chosen, with an at-home purpose behind every single item. Each employee was also given an extra $20 on their paycheck to order lunch since we were not able to cater, like we would have at an in-person event.Launched “Sizzle Videos.” To build excitement, we released “Sizzle Videos” every week leading up to the event. Each video included a surprise speaker announcement, a video from the speaker, and a little bit about their background, along with teasers of future announcements and surprises planned for the meeting. This worked well in building excitement and energizing employees for the meeting.
- Sprinkled fun throughout the event. We asked Ent trivia questions, held an ongoing bingo game, awarded golden ticket winners, and displayed hundreds of photos that employees submitted throughout the day of them ‘attending’ the conference.
Finally, we learned that putting on a virtual event takes just as much time and effort as putting on an in-person event. Many people from the start of the pandemic have assumed that going virtual, for school, work, and events, takes less energy. However, virtual events are just as consuming, and the time it takes to plan and execute virtually should not be downplayed.
We loved putting on this event and seeing just how successful virtual events could be!