Virtual events are becoming increasingly popular as technology improves, and people continue to work and socialize online. However, as with any new technology, there are risks involved in organizing and participating in virtual events. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the risks of virtual events and provide actionable tips for you to mitigate them.
1. Technical Difficulties
One of the biggest virtual event risks is technical difficulties. This can include issues with internet connectivity, software bugs, and equipment failure. To avoid these issues, it’s important to thoroughly test your equipment and software before the event. Make sure you have a backup plan in case of technical difficulties, such as having a backup internet connection and equipment on hand.
2. Data Security
Virtual events can also be vulnerable to data security threats. Your company is the data controller and will be held accountable for compliance with the myriad of data security laws. Whomever you contract with for hosting your virtual event will be collecting, and storing, personal information on your attendees (name, email, and IP address at a minimum). It is your job to manage your subcontractors and ensure compliance. Don’t just take their word. Everyone claims they are secure. Have your IT team ask detailed questions to confirm. At a minimum, the provider should be ISO 27001 certified or SOC II. Also, make sure that you use a Data Processing Agreement which spells out the roles and responsibilities between you and your supplier.
Related article: How to Mitigate Data Security Risks When Hosting Virtual Events
3. Lack of Engagement
Virtual events can be less engaging than in-person events for attendees. To combat this, make sure to include interactive elements in your virtual event, such as polls, live Q&A sessions, and virtual forums or breakout rooms by topic. Encourage attendees to participate and make the event as interactive as possible.
Related article: How to Make Virtual Events More Engaging
5. Time Zones
Attendees often join from different time zones, which can be a challenge for organizers. To mitigate this, provide clear information about the event’s schedule and time zone, and make sure to consider the time differences when scheduling events. If there is more than a six-hour difference in time zones among your attendees, consider splitting up into separate regional events.
6. Event Accessibility & Inclusion
Not all attendees may be able to access virtual events due to disabilities or technical limitations. Accessibility should always be considered before, during, and after the event. This is because:
- 20% of people in the U.S. are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.
- More than 1 million people in the U.S. are blind and more than 12 million have low vision.
- More than 5 million people in the U.S. are English language learners.
Accessibility tips for virtual events:
- Check the accessibility of the registration process, e.g., can it be completed using a screen reader?
- Ask your guests if they have assistive needs during the registration process. This will allow you time to prepare to meet those needs during the event.
- Check the accessibility features of the virtual event platform you will be using. What accessible features does it include? For example, does it include live captioning? Can people with vision or hearing disabilities use the platform?
- Make sure that your live or recorded sessions are captioned and transcripted.
- If attendees will be joining from other countries, consider offering language translation and interpretation.
Related article: Virtual Event Accessibility
7. Speakers are not Properly Prepared for the Virtual Format
Don’t take for granted that your presenters are up-to-speed with delivering sessions using a webcam to a remote audience. Speakers must develop an entirely new skill set for connecting remote guests to their content. Rethinking the length of presentations, minimizing slides, and nailing key messages with crisp graphics are the starter package for virtual sessions.
Related article: Virtual Event Speaker Expert Tips & Best Practices
Overall, virtual events can be a great way to connect with employees, members, customers, and partners from all over the world, but it’s important to be aware of the risks involved. By taking the time to properly plan and test your event, and by being aware of the potential issues that may arise, you can help ensure that your virtual event is a success.
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