As campus units consider pivoting large, in-person events to virtual events, we hope you find the following information and resources helpful. As always, we’re happy to provide advice and guidance, so please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Decide if a virtual event is the right fit
Determine the right platform
Virtual event platforms vary and, unfortunately, we have yet to find a one-size-fits-all platform, so consider the following when selecting a platform for your virtual event:
- Attendee experience (who are they and what is the event takeaway?)
- Paid or unpaid platform (must it be free or do you have funds to upgrade?)
- Number of participants (does the platform limit the number of attendees?)
- Content (what elements do you plan to incorporate into the event?)
- Access (is it a public or private event? will everyone be able to access the platform?)
- Financial component (are you selling tickets or fundraising?)
Some options to consider: Collaborate Ultra in Canvas (UWM supported), Microsoft Teams (UWM supported), Zoom, YouTube, Facebook Live, Facebook Watch Party, Vimeo Livestream, Airmeet, Bluejeans, Eventmobi, and Aventri.
Design your virtual event
Decide on the program and content (determined by your event goals). Remember that attention spans are shorter online, so keep it short (consider 30-45 minutes).
Consider giving your event a theme and invite attendees to join in with costumes, hats, and props (get creative and don’t be afraid to try something new or fail – it’s a lesson learned). Create themed virtual backgrounds with Canva.
Front-load your event by asking attendees questions when they register (favorite song, animal, color) and then incorporate their responses into your event (create playlist of favorite songs to play before the program begins, determine teams or break-out room assignments by common interests, etc.).
Once you’ve settled on your virtual event content and order, put it in writing. This will be your virtual event road map or run-of-show.
Produce your virtual event
Assemble your production team to handle technology, run polls and videos, trouble-shoot, etc.
Make sure your presenters/speakers are familiar with the virtual event platform (hold a “dress rehearsal” or provide easy instructions in advance). Remind them to turn off any notifications on their computers to avoid chimes and beeps during the program. Suggest they prop their computer or phone on a box or stack of books (they should be eye level with the camera lens) and use proper lighting.
Begin your event with housekeeping tips (mute when not speaking, use the chat feature, enable accessibility features if needed, etc.). Then, give attendees a brief overview of what to expect.
Direct presenters to speak in a conversational voice and try not to have them reading directly off a script (suggest a teleprompter app on their phone or tablet).
Remind presenters to introduce and quickly re-introduce themselves whenever they speak for attendees who join late.
Finally, be sure to brand your virtual event with UWM backgrounds, step-and-repeats, banners, and signs, and instruct presenters to show their Panther pride by wearing UWM gear.