How to Navigate Virtual Platforms in the Digital Space

Blog > Tips & Advice

How to Navigate Virtual Platforms in the Digital Space

By Shannon Byck | Aug 20, 2020

As we educate ourselves on how to navigate event planning in the digital space, it is essential to establish an overall event design strategy. The overarching goal for companies and associations is to develop an engaging virtual event that helps participants stay connected and educated. However, virtual events are new and unfamiliar.

So, how does one start planning a virtual event when not knowing where to start? The planning starts with an established event path and research on which platforms best suit the event’s digital requirements.

Do not try to do it all yourself. Look to those in the industry that are professionals when it comes to virtual events.

There are hundreds of virtual platforms available, so how do you find the one that will ensure that all virtual event components are streamlined to produce a seamless, engaging experience for all participants? Here are some tips to help you decide the best platform to use in order to plan seamless virtual events.

1.     Define your event goals and objectives. If you clearly understand what you are trying to accomplish and have an end result in mind, then you will be better equipped to find the right solution. It is also suggested to ensure that the platform you choose can accommodate future event needs as we shift from virtual to hybrid events. For example, which platform will be needed for community and/or membership engagement between delegates and which one is the most practical (pros and cons)?

2.     Connect and share with other event professionals. Get feedback and share resources. Ask what tools they have used to get a sense if the platform is dependable. Connect on industry association sites such as the MPI, FICP and SITE chat forums.

3.     Understand your limitations. This applies to both financial and technical. You also need to understand the limitations of your planning team and audience. For example, is the group you are reaching out to equipped with video and audio capabilities at home?

4.     Focus on just a few options and then do a deep dive on their functionality. We suggest shortlisting three to five providers and then scheduling demonstrations and testing with your team.

5.     Partner with professionals. Do not try to do it all yourself. Look to those in the industry that are professionals when it comes to virtual events.

6.     Clearly defined team roles. Shifting events to virtual and hybrid requires a unique skill set. New roles and job functions have evolved recently that require planners to learn new skills and to be more technically savvy. We are seeing new event titles emerge, such as virtual event producer and virtual event technologist. Event planners working in the digital space will need to increase their technology skills and have a deeper understanding of how to 1) troubleshoot virtual event technology, 2) navigate virtual event production and 3) understand virtual event design.

MPI Association Planners Community: Learn and Connect with Your Peers

It can be daunting for event professionals to restart the planning process from face to face to virtual, and it’s easy to view virtual events as a last resort. Based on the current reality, we see this as an opportunity for you to look at event delivery in a new light and challenge the norm of what an event can be. Some planners are apprehensive about entering unfamiliar territory. As we have seen during COVID-19, technology has changed the way we interact, not only in our personal lives, but also at work—and also how we work in general. During these last five months we have seen how the current landscape has changed how we can (and must) deliver events. It is unknown when larger in-person events will be able to take place, but in the meantime, employees are still looking for connections and experiences. Virtual events have allowed that to still happen.

Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash



Shannon Byck

Shannon Byck, CMP, wears multiple hats as the regional director with Meeting Encore as well as the co-managing partner of Intuitive Conferences + Events. She has been in the business events industry for more than 18 years, and to further her commitment to the industry, she studied tirelessly to obtain her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation. She thinks it is important to contribute to the industry and is an active member of the MPI Toronto Chapter and sits on the MPI Association Advisory Board as well as the MPI Canadian Advisory Council. When she is not working hard, she is cheering for the Jays, the Raptors (…and yes, the Leafs), searching for the best sparkling wine, mastering the art of popcorn making, loving (and hating) exercise, planning the next home renovation and dreaming about her next travel adventure.