How does your virtual event platform stack up?

Happy March! I’m excited to be participating in the new virtual SXSW. Their team did an amazing job creating a virtual Austin and I can’t wait to review the experience for you next month, but you can skip below for my first impressions.

While spring is in the air and we’re probably all excited about the prospect of more spring outdoor events, virtual events are still very much in demand. So, I’ve included information on the different platforms you can use to host events online. Feel free to respond to this email if you have experience with any others you want to recommend.

SXSW Raises the Bar on Virtual Events

South by Southwest (SXSW) has caused quite a stir with programming created for its virtual reality program, SXSW Online XR. And, it’s raised the bar for everyone hosting virtual events.

Of course, you don’t have to have a VR headset to enjoy all that SXSW Online has to offer but the venues are fun to look at and I imagine this is one challenge that other large events might attempt to rise up to.

There are still several days left and I’ll give a full recap in next month’s email.

Virtual Platforms Can Make or Break Your Event

Virtual events are hot now and the right platform is key to success – much like finding the right venue can make or break an in-person event.

You can read here… but scroll a little for my video review of 30 of the top virtual platforms AND to download a PDF of the reviews.

So, what do you look for in a platform?

Capacity – yes, believe it or not, these virtual venues also have capacity and you want to make sure the platform you select will accommodate your attendees.

Integrations – everything from accepting payments to integrating upgraded chat platforms, integrations with third party apps and Zapier are key to hosting virtual events, especially for small teams.

Engagement Features – being able to interact with each other and with speakers is important, even if this doesn’t replace actual in-person networking. Look for a platform with a native comment system and if you can find a platform that allows integrations of other chat platforms, that’s an added bonus.

Marketing Automations – social media and email integrations will help your speakers, sponsors, and attendees share your event and will help you nurture and sell to your audience.

Platform Design – If you’re using an all-in-one platform, make sure all of your stakeholders can easily navigate your platform – from sponsors and speakers to your attendees. You also want your team to be able to easily find what they need so they can execute on their summit duties.

Automated Transactional Emails – During any online event, there are a variety of transactional and reminder emails that need to go out. Working with a platform that helps automate these emails and even provides templates will save you and your team a lot of time.

There are so many things to consider before you compare price. Scroll below for my review of the top 30 virtual platforms that are NOT Zoom.

Introducing ‘Run of Show’

I’ve been doing Facebook lives for a few months now and recently launched my Youtube Channel, Run of Show.

My first video is on the top 30 platforms for virtual events. You can download the print version by clicking on this link.

In the video, I review each platform, their pricing structure, the best use case for the platform and some of their main customers.

I’d love for you to click through, like the video, and subscribe to my channel!

Safety Guidelines for In-Person Gatherings – Updated

When planning any event with an in-person component, it’s important to have safety recommendations and requirements from multiple sources – the CDC, your state, and your local government. The CDC has recently updated their recommendations page here.

The CDC continues to recommend that we avoid in-person events, however in a nod to reality, they also publish guidelines for safer events. This General Readiness Assessment offers a comprehensive checklist that will help you establish safety protocols for your event. You can find their PDF download on this page.

If you live in California, the event or gathering restrictions vary by county, but all must abide by the four-tier system. Currently, if you live in Alameda County, you are in the purple tier and gatherings may be outdoors only with a limit of up to 12 people from three households included.

San Francisco County is following the same purple-tier guidelines with the following stipulations:

  • Each event must be a maximum of 2-hours long
  • If food and beverages are being serviced you should cap attendance at 6 people from 3 households
  • If there is no food or beverages you may have 12 people from 3 households in attendance.

If you are outside these counties, please check with your local county and municipality.