These best practices maximize the value of your online events

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting calendars — along with travel budgets and marketing plans — by canceling events ranging from major league sports to tech conferences. This has impacted the startup and tech industries on all levels; by early March, economic losses from tech event cancellations alone amounted to more than $1.1 billion.

In response, many businesses have taken events online. Teleconferencing tools are being used more than ever, and Zoom registered 200 million daily users in March, up from a record of 10 million. Business figures and organizations can harness these online tools to minimize the blow of the worldwide shutdown, reach their target audiences and position themselves as thought leaders, but moving events online has its own problems.

The more meetups are generated, the more likely it is that yours will get lost in a sea of options. It’s also significantly easier for people to “attend” an event — and ignore it or exit early. There are plenty of studies demonstrating that internet users have shorter attention spans.

So you have to stand out and keep people engaged while speaking to people through a screen thousands of miles away. Over the past decade I have run more than 100 webinars with over 100,000 live attendees, and am one of the largest Meetup organizers in the world. Through trial and error I have developed a set of best practices that will keep people engaged in online events.

Transmitting real value by computer is certainly more challenging than face-to-face, but following these three pointers will help you get there.

1. Prepare for all eventualities

We all know what a badly prepared organized meeting looks like: frozen screens, buffering videos and broken audio.