In this three-part series, we’re detailing the steps to plan an engaging virtual event. In this post, we’ll explore the five documents you’ll need to have an organized and stress-free event day. In part one, we covered developing an event strategy and storylines to consider for your live broadcast, and in part 2, we covered how to identify your desired production level and the necessary equipment.
Events can be elaborate productions and successfully pulling one off requires high levels of collaboration and teamwork. We’ve put together a list of the must-have documents for a successful virtual event. The process of writing the documents detailed below will ensure critical decisions are made before the event. By sharing the final documents with your team, you’ll be able to get everyone organized and on the same page. The materials also provide a reference for everyone on the day of the event, which helps reduce questions about the plan.
A promotion plan details how you’ll create awareness and attendance at your event. Before starting promotion, you’ll want to determine specific goals, such as the number of attendees and sponsorships sold. Working backward from those goals, your marketing or communications team can determine how many registrations you’ll need 30, 60, and 90 days prior to the event to achieve the goals. Depending on your goals, your strategy may shift. For example, if you’re looking to have 2,000 attendees and your email list is 5,000 people, you’ll need to plan for outreach beyond those channels. Eventbrite reports the average open rate for emails about events is 21 to 30%. Because just 20 to 30% of your subscribers are opening each message, it’s typically across multiple emails that between 2 and 5% of the list will eventually register. Though you should expect higher rates when targeting lists of past attendees.
Your promotion plan should also detail tactics, like early-bird discounts and returning attendee promotions. Plans typically include an editorial calendar, or publishing schedule, which documents for every piece of promotion what copy and visual will be published to what channel on what date. Press releases, email, and social media should all be included.
Run of show
A run of show is the primary document referenced by the team working to put on a production. It’s written in the pre-production phase of planning and details minute-by-minute what’s happening throughout the event, starting a few minutes before it goes live. During a dry run and at event time, it’s the document everyone follows to determine what’s happening next.
The document is commonly laid out in a landscape table, with columns for each segment’s start time and duration. For complex productions, the document details each cue for the various audio, video, and lighting changes.
The document plays a critical role in creating a cohesive sequence and flow for your event by establishing in advance decisions such as if music will be playing as people are waiting for the event to start.
Roles & responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities document identifies everyone participating in a production even if they’re not on-site or playing a role on the event day. For smaller productions where people need to perform multiple tasks, the roles and responsibilities document is key to ensuring people remember all of their responsibilities. For larger productions, this document resolves confusion about who will be responsible for what.
The document should include cell phone numbers and email addresses for everyone involved. Writing the document helps to identify gaps and ensure the necessary people are available, for example, who from the organization’s leadership or legal team will be on-call if a day of the event decision needs to be made.
A production schedule is an hour-by-hour breakdown detailing what the people producing an event will be working on from event setup through the tear-down. It should cover when equipment needs to be received and configured, the precise date and time of rehearsals, and how early before rehearsals and the event people are expected to arrive or be online.
Proactively planning for what could go wrong allows you to be ready to make adjustments. For example, if the keynote speaker has internet connectivity issues at the start of the event, do you move forward without them or delay the start?
During the planning of the event, time should specifically be reserved to identify risks that could impact the production and develop responses. Your contingency plan should detail different scenarios, how the event will respond, and who is responsible for making the decision to break from the original plan. The best contingency plans cover a wide range of scenarios and are developed by reviewing lessons learned from similar events.
If you need help, reach out to our team! We have deep expertise in producing both in-person and virtual events for nonprofit and government agencies. We work with organizations at various scales, from guidance on planning and technology selection to full event production.