As virtual events continue to have a stronghold in many business toolkits, event organizers are looking for ways to provide engaging and informative content to their audience in a simple and efficient way. This is where Mini VEs (mini virtual events) come in. A Mini VE is a smaller virtual event with a smaller number of sessions & breakouts (think bite-size). It offers a middle ground between a single webinar and a large-scale virtual event. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at what Mini VEs are, how they work, and how to organize & promote them. We'll also discuss why keeping things simple is key and how to engage attendees without breaking the bank.
What is a Mini VE?
A Mini VE is a smaller version of a virtual event and perfect if you're looking for something more intimate and less overwhelming. Think of it as a happy medium between a webinar and a huge virtual event.
The best part about a Mini VE is that you don't need to have all the fancy breakout rooms and expo halls that come with bigger events. It's all about keeping it simple and giving your audience the content they want without making them commit to a whole day. You can even create a branded lobby that they can visit whenever they have a free moment!
And here's a little secret: hosting a Mini VE can actually make your life easier, especially if you're juggling both an on-site presentation and an online audience. With a simpler online event, you can focus on making sure everything runs smoothly in person without worrying about the virtual aspect.
Mini VE Layout and Content
From an attendee perspective, we know it's really important for attendees to easily find content that's relevant to them. It should be as simple as possible, and that's what Mini VEs are all about. All the content should be no more than one click away, making it clear to attendees how they navigate the event.
For a Mini VE, showcase direct links to the individual sessions in the lobby as well as on the agenda page. Ditch the networking lounge and resource pages and drive that engagement to the sessions.
For a hybrid event, one to two sessions are ideal as it keeps things simple and organized. You don't want your audience to have to move around and get lost. After the event, we recommend slicing up the on-demand recording from your sessions into individual chapters that you can make available after the event in a webinar library (bonus points to you for turning your content into evergreen content).
Sponsorship can be a bit more complicated, but we have some tips. In a perfect world, we suggest highlighting the primary sponsors with logo placement on the lobby and promoting them heavily during the live content with lower-third adverts, commercial spots, and moderator mentions. Mini VEs remove the need for sponsor booths as they can quickly turn your hybrid event into a full-fledged virtual event. Keep it simple!
Lastly, keep the content simple. We understand that at an on-site event, you're trying to fit in a lot of presentations and networking opportunities over a day or multiple days. But for a hybrid event, it's best to focus on the main content. We suggest providing links to past webinars, virtual content, and blogs to fill the time between sessions. Instead of creating new content that may go unnoticed, reuse what you already have!
When it comes to promoting your event, there are a couple of different approaches you can take depending on whether it's a Mini VE or a hybrid event. For a Mini VE, you can use tried and tested methods like promoting the registration URL on your website and social media, advertising through e-blasts, and even asking your speakers to share the URL on their LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
However, promoting a hybrid event can be a bit more complex. You want to ensure that you're promoting the Mini VE without taking away from your in-person event registrations, especially if ticket revenue is needed to cover the cost of the event. Here are a few strategies you can use to balance the promotion of a hybrid event:
- Treat the Mini VE as it should be - an alternative, and promote it as such in your regular promotions for the on-site event.
- Track visits to your in-person event registration page and use that information to promote the Mini VE to those who may be interested but unable to attend in person.
- Focus your initial online event promotion on those outside the region for your event, such as a different country. Embrace the reality that flying to another country for an in-person event isn’t in most companies' budgets and offer the cheaper (or even free) alternative of an online event.
- Target potential registrants from similar industries - if your in-person conference is catered to ophthalmologists, optometrists might be interested enough in the content to attend online but not spend the money to come to an in-person event.
With virtual events rising in popularity, so came the rise of gamification and engagement. We’ve seen everything from scavenger hunts to photo booths, and even had one event with the client embedding a Pac-Man game into the site! That is all and well, but for a Mini VE it becomes (1) a distraction and (2) an unnecessary expense.
Keep the engagement to a super simple level - allow attendees to submit questions, launch a few polls or embed Sli.do for both online & in-person participation. Save the post-event surveys for the post-event follow-up. As noted above when talking about content, most of your audience will be coming and going anyways - they would rather grab a bite to eat than play Pac-Man.
For a hybrid event, have someone on-site monitor the questions and poll results from the virtual audience. It's a great way to tie in that online component, potentially generate some interesting discussions for the speakers, and requires nothing more than an iPad and an internet connection.
The advantage of a Mini VE is that you can continue to promote the content after the event has ended. You can take the live content and host the recordings on the same site. If the live session was lengthy or aired with multiple segments, consider slicing the recording up into ‘chapters’ and hosting those individually in a webinar library.
If you hosted an in-person event, upload that registration list (with permission!) from that to the Mini VE and promote that the content is available online. In fact, those attending in person were probably so distracted by networking with fellow attendees or tied up in other ongoing sessions and breakouts that they would welcome having access to the recordings.
A Mini VE is a great way to run an online event or host an online component of a physical event. Moreso it provides a cost-effective and less time-consuming way to reach your target audience without having to commit to a large-scale virtual event and spend a big chunk of your budget!
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