If you were already hosting live events, given the global pandemic and resulting lockdowns, you’re now faced with the new reality that you cannot gather your audience together in person. At least for the foreseeable future.
So, how can you recreate a very similar experience in the online world? With the incredible breadth and depth of technology available today, it’s perfectly feasible to simulate an experience almost as good as in person.
There is no amount of sophisticated technology that will ever take the place of live, in-person meetings. We can look into someone’s eyes, read their body language, get a sense of their ‘vibe.’ The next best thing is video. And, especially live video.
If the idea of doing more videos is scary to you, you’re not alone! Most people really don’t care to be on camera. But it really does just take practice, practice, practice. Now is the time to push through those modest fears and go for it. We’re all in this together.
I’ve been doing video trainings and live streaming for 15 years and I absolutely love it. I feel very connected to my audience. But it wasn’t always that way. I was super shy as a child.
How to Plan
Consider creating a series of online streaming events/webinars. Take the body of work you would’ve been sharing at the live event and chunk down into lessons. If you were having guest speakers at your live event, you can still invite them to be a part of the virtual event.
Start with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish? Is this a one-off webinar for the public? Or, a private training for your top clients? Will you be on camera? Is it a free or paid session? Answers to these questions and more will determine your set up.
The Tech you Need
Decide on the tech you’ll use. (See my list of resources below.)
If this is new territory for you, aim to keep things super simple at first -- maybe simply doing a Facebook Live with your phone into a private Facebook Group. Or, perhaps you’re familiar with Zoom, which is a great choice.
To go more high tech, use your webcam or a DSLR camera hooked up to your computer and stream via a third party app (details below). I have a whole list of recommended video gear available here.
The Approach for Promotion
Create a registration page on your website. And/or a Facebook Event on your Page.
Or, just drive people to register on a Zoom Webinar. Or, you could use Eventbrite for registrations.
Send out emails to your list to join the webinar/live stream. Publish invitations to register on your social media posts. And, paid media is totally fine now, too. The key element is if your webinar/live stream is relevant and helpful to your audience right now. Depending on the content, it may make sense to wait a month or so if it’s not vital right now.
Be very organized and clearly communicate with your audience -- emotions are running high around the world just now, and the more you can present a nice, clear path forward for your audience to learn from you, the more successful your online event will be.
How to Reach your Community
This will be one of the most important aspects of your webinar or live streaming video. People will be craving connection more than ever during this time of isolation.
Perhaps this is a good time to start a Facebook Group, if you don’t have one already connected to your Page. I particularly enjoy using groups on Facebook to build connection and add extra value. I run separate, private Facebook groups for all participants of my online courses. And, I run a larger group open to the public to provide value and make periodic offers.
Don’t Forget: Follow up
Again, keep that nice flow of communication going. Send out the replay by email. Connect with your audience in the Facebook Group. Encourage peer support. Be sure to answer all questions. Consider doing a follow up to address FAQs. Conduct a post-webinar survey and invite candid feedback. Run a poll in your group and find out what else your audience would like to learn from you.
Resources for Conducting an Online Event
Virtual Meeting Tools
Live Streaming Tools for Facebook (and other Social Platforms)
- InVideo.io— special 50% offer for friends of Mari (Full disclosure: Mari Smith is a paid brand ambassador for InVideo.io)
- Free video templates for all coronavirus communications—by InVideo.io. Specially for schools, hospitals, municipalities and small businesses dealing with Coronavirus
Video Presentations: The Complete Guide For 2020 (+Underused Secrets) — by InVideo.io
- How to Host an Online Event or Webinar That Live Event Attendees Will Love— article by Eventbrite
- Resources for Event Creators— Information, articles, and suggestions for managing your event during unprecedented times by Eventbrite
Going virtual: 20 resources for presenters and speakers — by Speaker Hub
About Mari Smith
Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A
Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.
Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.
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