5 key steps for planning your online event

Thinking of hosting an online event? Check out our beginner's guide to event planning to get started!

1. Decide on the goal(s) of your event, and identify your target audience

So you've decided to plan and host an online event - great! You probably have a motivation for launching your event, and that motivation can be easily expressed as your event "goals". For example, is this event to introduce your new product to the world and attract sales? Or maybe it's to bring together experts in the field of marketing, to help struggling business owners overhaul their advertising strategy?

In any case, make your objective clear: who is this event for? What value will you be adding to your attendees? Also, be sure to set yourself some measurable goals - from ticket revenue, attendee numbers, or new sign-ups to your newsletter - ensure these are also laid out clearly, so you can zero in on how to achieve these targets. The more specific, the more actionable they are! Specific goals will also help keep you on target throughout your event organization process.

If you're having trouble pinning down your goals, or are new to events, there are plenty of strategies to help you get started - whether it's the SMART method, PACT, or FAST - this will be your event's north star so take some time to reflect and refine it until you're completely satisfied!

2. Plan your budget and assemble your team

You may have all these ideas and goals for your event, but ultimately, you're bound by a budget. Coming up with a budget as early as possible will help guide the decision-making process around many other elements. Can you afford to pay for your speakers? What about advertising - will you have enough to do paid ads, or will you have to get creative with social media/ word of mouth/ referrals? How much will you price your tickets at?

You probably have a rough estimate of how much you'll spend on the entire event, but it's good to break the costs down into smaller aspects so you don't go over budget. With online events, you'll save a ton on venue hire, travel, accommodation, branding, and catering costs, but should be aware of other potential new costs like accounts on webinar platforms and web designers for your landing page, for example. While an online event could be a one-person job, you should also be realistic about the time and effort level an online event demands, and outsource some tasks as necessary.

3. Build your tech stack

Online events often require more tech tools than an in-person one. You'll need to have different platforms to create landing pages, manage your speakers and their talks, sell tickets and register attendees,  hook up API integrations - the list goes on! Ensure you know the kind of tool you need every step of the way, and test out your tech stack from the attendee's point of view - think, how easy is it to purchase tickets? How many emails are your attendees receiving?

If this sounds daunting, don't fret! As a platform, HeySummit allows you to knit together the entire summit experience so that it's smooth for the organizer and the attendee too - you won't need to sign up to several different platforms to organize your event, and they won't need multiple accounts on various sites to attend your event. Event organizers choose HeySummit because they want to offer the best experience for their attendees in a seamless way. It's easy to move from one session to another. HeySummit takes the heavy lifting out of event planning by having most of these capabilities built-in to our platform. Make online events simple by trying us out!

4. Research experts in your field - and formulate a plan for reaching out!

Speakers are an integral part of your event - so it's important to ensure you've got the best ones for your audience! Many of our HeySummiteers use their established professional networks to recruit speakers, but if you're starting from scratch, there are plenty of sources, including LinkedIn, online forums, company directories, best-selling authors lists, colleges, etc. You can also browse our Speaker Directory here.

The best way to narrow down your search is to have a specific theme or topic in mind and then using those keywords in your search. You can use tools like BrandWatch and Followerwonk to analyze social media for influencers in your industry.

Once you've got a list of speakers, reach out! We find it always helps to send a personalized invitation when recruiting speakers. Show them that you know and value their work, and how having them speak at your event can be mutually beneficial. Want more tips? Check out some practical tips here and here.

5. Set yourself target dates and milestones for your event

Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your event. Still, it's good to have a well-fleshed out event plan in mind, rather than an ad-hoc one. Once ticket sales go live, postponing due to the event 'not being ready' isn't going to fly with your attendees. To avoid this altogether, it's helpful to have a breakdown of the next few months (or however long you have left until your event starts) with clear actions and deadlines. You could use online templates or software to keep yourself organized.

A good place to begin would be to list down all the work that needs to be done for your event. You can start with a big aspect of event organization, and slowly break them down into smaller tasks. For example, "Talks" could be the big task you start with, and by the end, you could divide them up into smaller stages, including specific, time-bound tasks such as "I will have all pre-recorded videos from (list your speakers) quality-checked by the 15th of October and uploaded to (your video hosting platform of choice) by the 31st of October". If you're new to event planning and would like an overview of the various aspects that go into event organization, check out our summit demos or have a browse at our real-life example events here.

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