Plan Advisors Blog

An alternative to in-person events: How to host virtual events

Posted by Lance Hoeltke on Fri, Jun 12, 2020 @ 07:00 AM

In the wake of COVID-19, so many of our meetings, events, celebrations, and more, have been moved online. Even though businesses are starting to reopen and we are all trying to move back to work or find new ways of doing business, in many cases, it is still best to maintain distance, especially for the senior population you serve. That being said, we know many brokers rely on events to educate their community and build their book of business. Here is our guide to hosting virtual events, so that you can still connect with clients.

Hosting

Hosting a virtual event may be new for a lot of brokers, luckily there are tools and resources that make it easy and the basic principles are the same. If you can host an in-person event, you can host a virtual one. Here are a few tools and ideas for how to host these online events.

Virtual Orientations

Virtual orientations are great ways to build personal relationships without seeing your clients in-person. Orientations are useful to individuals who are new to a plan and need a breakdown of their plan benefits and how to use them. Platforms like Zoom and Google Meet allow you to host clients one-on-one or in groups. Plus, depending on how you want to set it up, clients can either be interactive or have a view-only option similar to a webinar. 

Social media

Social media is another easy way to connect online. You can host live video events on your business page and invite clients to join in. These are great for shorter orientations, or Q&A sessions, or just a fun way to catch everyone up on what you’ve been doing and anything new going on. If videos aren’t your thing, no big deal. Facebook groups allow you to host a platform for people to ask questions and interact without having to go through official channels. Doing live videos from a group, though, is another way to make sure you’re informing the right people about what you can offer them.

Medicare 101 Online

Don’t forget about our Medicare 101 presentation, either. Enhance your professional approach to educating Medicare beneficiaries with a branded Medicare 101 Presentation. Think of it as a Medicare masterclass. Everything has already been done for you, you just have to sign up.  You can request a branded Medicare 101 presentation here.

Best Practices and Tips

Creating Online Presentations

Keep things short. Usually, a virtual presentation is going to be about an hour-long, maximum. Any longer and people start losing interest. Make sure when you’re planning out everything you need to go over, that you can confine it to an hour, with a couple of minutes of warm-up at the beginning and time for 10-15 minutes of questions at the end.

Be clear and concise. On a similar note, every part of your presentation should be clearly understandable and condensed to share only the more vital information. Your slides should be easy to follow and read. They should also each cover a few minutes of your presentation. You don’t want to bog things down with dozens of slides, try to keep it under 15. If you’re finding you have too much to say for your hour, consider breaking material up into multiple shorter presentations to give over a period of time.

Make any slides simple, yet visually captivating. It may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s important to have visual aids that are easy to review and understand. Don’t go overboard with cutesy designs, but use different elements to make your slides draw the eye. Make sure any words are clearly visible—no weird colors or funny fonts for blocks of text. Use pictures, graphics, and videos to your advantage. When using video, though, make sure they don’t take too much time away from your hour. Any longer than a couple of minutes and it’s better to just share the URL and have your clients look it up later.

Make it entertaining. While your topic may be serious and factual, it doesn’t have to be boring. Use anecdotes and humor to demonstrate your information and captivate your audience. Your clients are more likely to listen closely and remember the facts if they’re enjoying the presentation.

Giving Online Presentations

Have a plan. Long before you host your event, you should have a plan of how you want everything to happen. Think about every aspect of your event beforehand. Here are just a few questions to ask yourself during planning:

  • Where do I want my presentation to be seen?
  • Will my presentation be live, on-demand, or both?
  • What kind of experience do I want my audience to have?
  • How will I promote my event?

Set a date and time. Picking the right date and time can be tricky. Try to find a day and time that doesn’t overlap with any major holidays or typical times of doing other things. For example, a 6:00 p.m. event on any day of the week is probably not a good idea. No matter when you choose, though, there will always be someone that can’t make it, so it’s a good idea to be able to save your presentation for others to view later. If you’re active on social media and/or holding your event through social media, you can also pick a few dates and times and have your clients vote on what works best for them using the poll features.

Promote your event. You’re only going to get a good attendance rate if people know about it. Utilize any tool you can to promote your event beforehand. Send a series of emails that explain what you’re doing and why, promote it as often as you can on social media, send reminders the day before and the day of. Protip: if you use something like a Facebook event page, it will automatically remind anyone that RSVPs.

Do a test run and be prepared for glitches. Good old Murphy’s law: if something can go wrong, it will. Just like in-person events, there is always something that might not go as planned. Make sure you do anything you can, though, to test everything beforehand and make a plan in case something glitches. Test your internet connection, find your computer charge cord, know where you’re stashing your barking dogs. For this purpose and to make sure you’re ready, go through your entire presentation at least once to make sure your slides are lined up and everything you need is in working order.

Be accessible. You want everyone to get the most out of your presentation as possible. Speak clearly and slowly and make sure any fonts your use on slides are large enough and legible. When possible, provide captions or visuals for audio and descriptions of graphics.

Encourage engagement. Engagement is the number one thing that keeps people interested in something. Give your audience time to submit or ask questions to keep them engaged. If you’re doing a social media live event, many also offer other interactive features to help your audience stay engaged. It may also be a good idea to leave your audience with a job: submit feedback via the comments, DMs, or your email. 

Useful Tools for Virtual Events

Beyond the tools we have already mentioned, there are other useful tools you can use to help promote your online events.

Calendars. Calendar tools like Calendly can help you schedule events with ease.

RSVP. Making event pages through tools Eventbrite or Facebook Events allow your guests to RSVP to the event and interact with hosts and other guests.

Reminders. One of the easiest ways to send reminders for events is an email marketing platform. Tools like Mailchimp and others automate your emails and are fairly easy to use.

Graphics. If you need a little assistance making graphics for your social media or for your presentation, there are plenty of free tools out there like Canva.

This new virtual way of doing business is going to take some getting used to, but this guide should help you get started. Keep in mind, though, you’ll learn something new every time you host an online event. Things are always changing and there is always another app or program waiting in the wings. Test out a few platforms and find out what works best for you. And don’t forget to request your branded Medicare 101 presentation to help you educate your clients.