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  • Sydney Nguyen

4 Tips for Student Leaders Organizing Virtual Events

On September 17, Glimpse launched its first panel event, “Zoom University 101: Organizing Virtual Events as a Student Leader”, that brought together student leaders from various backgrounds and students eager to make their next virtual event a success.

The panelists included Julia Haber, Derek Nhieu, Vaneezeh Siddiqui, and Frank Thomas. Julia is the founder of Home from College, a company that supports college students through opportunities like virtual events and micro internships. Derek is a Penn Sophomore serving as the Penn Class of 2023 President. Vaneezeh is the president of the University of Toronto’s Women in Science & Computing. Frank currently serves as the President of Duke’s University Union (DUU). Through failures and successes, these panelists have grasped the key to making virtual events engaging, valuable, and influential. Here are some of the actionable steps you can take to build your upcoming online events with the help of these event planning mavens:

1. Be aware of who your audience is

Knowing who your audience is one of the essential pieces of information in creating a successful event. In Derek’s past event planning, he has noticed the most turn out at events to be when he knew who his target audience was. With this information, you are able to build the direction and format of your event. After identifying your audience, Julia suggests “making an intentional approach when targeting specific groups that you know will care about what your event is about”.

2. Brainstorm fun and unique event ideas

There’s a lot of unique events you can create, so by promoting something that has not been done before offers more value to people. At the University of Toronto, Vaneezeh said one of her most memorable virtual events was a master chef cook-off between professors where they cooked live and answered student questions. She mentioned how the event really allowed incoming freshmen and other students to see their professors as human and not just as professors. At Duke, Frank mentioned an event where Duke’s student-run record label hosted a virtual songwriting event where student musicians would pull lyrics from the chat to create a song. The overall experience was interactive and allowed for the audience and artist as a collective piece together an entire song.

3. Create a marketing plan

After you target your audience, you need to find a way to get them to come to your event which is where marketing comes into play. According to Derek, you want to periodically remind people of your event whether it be a week or even hours before the event takes place. This is a simple action that can make all the difference in virtual event attendance. When it comes to marketing Home from College events, Julia outlined a 3 step promotional strategy they follow: 1) Educate on the value of the event’s conversation/focus, 2) Identify who the expert is on this topic, and 3) Say you will have this expert at your event. By following this strategy, you are able to create organic natural content that talks about that subject to prime the audience subconsciously about what’s happening at your event.

4. Cultivate Engagement

“Engagement has to be something thought of from the get-go as soon as you have an event idea or vision,” said Frank, President of Duke University Union. It is important to establish how you want attendees to engage from the very start. It’s helpful to ask yourself as an event planner questions such as: do I want attendees constantly engaging with the event or have some moments where they don’t contribute? Another helpful hint provided by Frank is to have people bring something to an event that could be as simple as changing their virtual background. Little additions like this make individuals more inclined to feel engaged during the event.

Implementing these actionable steps into your next virtual event will lay down the groundwork for success. Remember to be aware of your audience, brainstorm unique ideas, emphasize marketing, and focus on maintaining engagement during your events. We are excited to see what original events you come up with! :)

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