Honorable Mention Chapter Award
Honorable Mention Chapter Award



Tips from NEXT for Your Virtual Event

By: MPI CAC | Apr 16, 2021

Jennifer Charles, CMP, College of DuPage
Lindsay Plath, CMP, Illinois Association of School Business Officials

Planning a virtual event? We have put together the top five areas to keep in mind throughout the process of planning your event online based on our experience planning NEXT ‘21.

  1. Event Goal

    What is your event’s goal? Is it to provide educational programming? Networking? It is paramount that you know this before the planning really begins. For NEXT, we already had the framework and we set out to create a virtual event that incorporated the four cornerstones of the NEXT brand:

    N – Networking

    E – Education

    X – Experience

    T – Technology

    Keep your goal in mind when vetting and selecting a virtual platform. It is so important to know what features are non-negotiable for your event. Be sure to request a thorough demo of the front end & back end of the platform before you sign on the dotted line.

  2. Creating the Event Agenda

    The next step is to curate relevant and engaging content. Keep in mind that with a virtual event your attendees are going to register based on your content. As you plan your content, reference feedback from previous events.

    Additionally, it is important to learn what support your platform will provide during your event. Will they provide full-production support? Will you need to host the event yourself? This will be important to know as you move through the next steps.

  3. Communication

    This may be the most important step! Have a clear communication plan & timeline for all parties involved and provide clear deadlines. Be aware that your platform is going to have their own timeline as well.

    Be sure to have a clear vision for each session so that you can communicate it with your speakers and moderators.

  4. Prepare, prepare, prepare

    Connect with your moderators and speakers in advance of the event to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the content and the platform. Provide easy access to the event information to your speakers and moderators. We used a shared document for each session that listed all the important information for the session including names of those involved, their bios, the session’s description, the flow of the session, etc.

    Think about how you will staff the event. For NEXT, we had a speaker, moderator, and a tech admin in each session room. You may be tempted to have the moderator and tech admin be the same person – think again! Both roles are incredibly important and if something goes wrong, you want your moderator to be able to focus on the session and let your tech admin troubleshoot.

    It is also a good idea to provide your team with a cheat sheet on the platform you are using so that everyone involved has the information they need to run a successful event.

  5. Execution

The event day is here! Before the event is live, know who your contacts are and have their contact information on standby. Also, know how quickly your platform can accommodate last minute requests. Last minute changes are inevitable but with your plan and people in place, you will handle them with ease!

We hope this provide insights on how to produce a successful virtual event. Questions? Feel free to reach out to Jennifer (charlesj36@cod.edu) or Lindsay (lplath@iasbo.org)!

About the Authors:

Jennifer Charles is a Conference and Event Specialist at College of DuPage and is a current Co-Chair for MPI-CAC’s Education Content Committee. Jennifer made the leap into events from Food and Beverage where she held positions in Banquets/Catering at several colleges and universities. Jennifer received her B.S. in Foodservice Management from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, her MBA from Roosevelt University and is a Certified Meeting Professional.

Lindsay Plath is a Senior Professional Development Coordinator at the Illinois Association of School Business Officials where she coordinates over 50 meetings & conferences annually. She has over 9 years of experience in the meeting & events industry, specifically in the non-profit and association sectors. Lindsay serves as the Chair of the Association Planners Advisory Board for Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and serves as the Chair of the MPI-CAC NEXT Event Committee. She holds the Certified Meeting Professional certification and a BA in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago.





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