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Zap Life into Virtual Events

You’ve heard it…Zoom Fatigue…and your boss says we need to pivot and make our most successful annual event virtual! (UGH) Who isn’t holding virtual events these days? Better question…is anyone doing them well? Can you really achieve your goals? It takes planning and ingenuity, and YES, we’ve had great success with marketing virtual events during this COVID-19 pandemic!

As scary as a Saturday night Zoom meeting sounds, there are some tricks to holding a lively and successful virtual event.

Team Judy Wine Night

As a familiar fundraiser celebrated its 10th anniversary, it would also be the first year of the event without its namesake, Judy Erdahl. An advocate and fundraiser for Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Research at the UMN Masonic Cancer, Judy passed away last August after living with MBC for eight years. She brought friendship, joy and gratitude to every interaction, and Team Judy wanted to honor her legacy and make Team Judy Wine Night something special. Interactivity and engagement were key, so, how’d they do that?

  • To give the event a personal touch and keep some traditions going, the event-host greeted everyone live from her front door (via Zoom and Facebook LIve) just as she had always done. Even though people couldn’t gather in her beautiful backyard, they had the opportunity to experience her hospitality virtually.
  • To keep people engaged, the event was a balanced combination of pre-produced videos of remembrance and live conversations and reflections on Judy’s impact and progress in Metastatic Breast Cancer research, including a live conversation with Dr. Douglas Yee, the Center’s Director. We partnered with our friends at Captivate Media to pull this off.
  • To spark interactivity, we recommended 5 minutes of small group breakout rooms for all participants to meet new people or reminisce with friends about how much Judy meant to each of us. The breakouts were a high-point of the event, creating a space for authentic engagement and conversations.
  • Increasing accessibility and reach, the team broadcasted the whole event to Facebook Live (a more familiar platform for many who didn’t feel comfortable with Zoom). The Facebook Live video is a forever memory on the group’s Facebook page to be revisited whenever friends seek Judy’s inspiration or gratitude.

Saint Louis Art Fair

The Saint Louis Art Fair, one of the top art fairs in the country, discovered just how creative they could be this year. With over 120 juried artists virtually participating in this year’s fair, the Art Fair had one goal, to support artists and the local community.

  • To bring beloved fair festivities forward with a new twist of virtual flare, the Saint Louis Art Fair team kicked-off its promotions by sending VIP boxes to media and VIP guests and engaging artists and the community in conversation and FAQs.
  • Generating talk and excitement are essential for creating a successful virtual event. We recommended that on opening night, the team host an Artist After-Party, bringing together virtual fair-goers and artists for a night of lively conversation and drinks.
  • To drive participation, virtual fair attendants could visit a variety of live performances and pre-recorded events, right from their living rooms or offices all weekend.
    • Activities ranged from virtual musical performances, to live Q&As with juried artists, to browsing a virtual Art Gallery and buying juried art, to enjoying specials and fair deals from local businesses, to art activities and performances for the entire family to enjoy.

Park Nicollet Spotlight Gala

This year marks the 40th Annual Park Nicollet Spotlight Gala. As one of the largest providers of pediatric health care in the region, Park Nicollet’s commitment is to help families and children thrive and reach their full potential. So, to engage attendees, the Spotlight Gala has combined tradition with innovation.

  • To promote such an important cause, the team has reimagined marketing efforts and is working to blend successful past, promotional strategies with a new wave of creativity.
    • Printed out invitations and sent them to traditional audiences, as they’d done in the past for the live, in-person events. Re-created content to be even more captivating, enchanting audiences to join this year’s Spotlight Gala and celebrate its 40th anniversary in serving the community.
    • Used electronic billboards and advertised on various media channels to reach wider audiences.
  • To keep the event’s vibrancy and prestige, they are using Zoom to their advantage. The event is no longer limited in capacity, allowing them to invite traditional audiences as well as new participants from across the region. Go to and join the October 3rd festivities including premier and silent online auction and inspiring stories of hope from children, parents and professionals.

Engagement and interactivity are at the center of a successful event. Zoom fatigue is real but is avoidable. Identify what makes your event special and use that as the foundation for your plans moving forward. Give those special event traditions a spotlight, utilize breakout rooms for increased engagement and reimagine strategies to bring beloved traditions forward in a virtual world.

10 Pro Tips for a Successful Zoom Event

1. Before starting Zoom, change your account name to the event name and upload a brand logo or event logo as a profile picture.

2. Soundcheck presenters, unmute mics; instruct and practice having presenters control their own mics.

3. Turn off video & sound for Zoom operator.

4. Make one or more presenters co-host with full access controls (a back-up for any one system in the event of internet capacity or disruption).

5. Before the presenter shares their screen; instruct all to turn off all emails and other alerts on the presenter’s computer; silence cell phones.

6. Zoom operators may choose to pin a speaker to full screen if they are speaking without visuals for a long time. Especially during a Q & A. This avoids capturing any disengaged participants.

7. When using visuals, use full presentation mode for the best effect.

8. Mute all other participants.

9. Provide Warning when Zoom operator Shares to Facebook Live

10. Prewrite your FB Live description to quickly drop it into the Facebook Live interface. Pause for about 10 seconds on the opening screen before the speaker starts speaking to give the audience a chance to get settled.

Published on: September 28, 2020