by Sukaina Jamil
While schools and libraries across the country are having to close once again—while others never really had the chance to re-open—it’s hard to tell what the world will look like by the end of February. As such, we’ve created a guide to help you organize virtual events to help you celebrate Freedom to Read Week 2021! Read on to find some tips and tricks.
1. Build your foundation
First, generally answer the five W’s:
- Who is this event for?
- What is the focus/message you want to give?
- When will the event take place?
- Where will it take place? (Which online platform would suit your event best?)
- Why is this event important?
2. Find your editorial perspective
Now that you have your general answers for each question, let’s delve deeper. Every good event needs a strong editorial focus to be successful. What purpose are you hoping to serve by hosting this event? What message do you want your audience to walk away with? Focusing on Freedom to Read Week might be your general theme, but it’s important to find a focus within that as well.
Once you figure this out, the next thing to plan would be your structure. How many speakers will address the attendees, and will you need to arrange for visuals? How long will your event be? Do you want your audience to be able to get in on the discussion? These are important questions to answer before you move on to the next step.
3. Reach out to your speakers/guests
Since the editorial aspect of your event has now been finalized, it’s time to reach out to your speaker(s), host, moderator or special guests. The choice depends on your event format and focus. If you’ve planned something similar to a seminar, perhaps you will only be reaching out to one or two people. But an event mimicking a workshop might call for you to arrange for multiple guests.
Like any offline event, be sure to reach out well in advance and give as many details as possible. You want to give them time to respond and be able to arrange for someone else if your first choice is unavailable. Check out our Articles page to find examples of wonderful Freedom of Expression Champions!
4. Choose your virtual platform
The options for different online services through which you can arrange your event seem endless. Online conferencing services such as Zoom and Google Hangouts are great for workshops and panels that incite audience engagement and discussion. Live or pre-recorded seminars can be premiered through YouTube or Facebook Livestream. You can even arrange for an Instagram Live with a guest, and broadcast that to both of your respective audiences!
5. Build your online event portal
It’s important to gauge how many people will attend your event and create a space for everyone to gather for information and updates. As such, creating event pages on platforms like Facebook or Eventbrite can help you engage with your audience, and they can confirm their attendance there.
6. Begin marketing and promotion
Now that you have your editorial perspective, your speakers are finalized and all of the virtual event specifics have been organized, it’s time to start marketing your event. Create graphics and share your online event portal on all of your social media channels. Since everything is online and you can no longer rely on physical posters and in-person announcements, it’s important to reach out to as many organizations and individuals as possible via email and social networking.
Don’t forget to submit your event on our online form and tag us in your social media posts. We’ll be sure to promote your program as well!
7. Assign roles
By the time your event day comes around, you’ll have so many things on your mind that delegating tasks will get in your way. Be sure to assign roles well in advance, so that everyone knows what they’re doing on the day of. One important role to note and fulfill is having a few people in charge of just maintaining the virtual platform and troubleshooting any last minute tech problems. It’s hard to solve any issues when you have the editorial side to worry about, so splitting these roles up will ensure everything runs smoothly on event day.
8. Do a test run
Virtual events are still very new to everyone, and we’re learning new things every day! One action that will help ease your mind on the day of your event is to do a test run a few days in advance. This way, everyone can see how the platform works and discuss how to resolve any issues that may arise. Don’t forget to involve your speakers!
9. Engage your audience
One roadblock that comes up with virtual events is the struggle to keep your audience engaged with your program. As many people will be tuning in from home, there’s really no way to ensure that they aren’t getting distracted or working on something else.
The best thing you can do is set your event up in a way that appeals to your audience and might even require their participation. Depending on the format of your event, you might pose questions to guests, put up a poll, open up the seminar for discussion, etc.
10. Ask for feedback
The only way to improve is to learn from your mistakes! Be sure to ask your audience for feedback after your event is over. This way, you will know what to change and what to keep the same for your next event. You can do this by sending out a survey, or even by letting people send comments or answer polls on your social media channels.