What We Learned Putting on a 2-Day Virtual Event
Learn by doing. Learn out loud.
That's what we preach all the time.
So in reflecting on our recent Supercharge Your Career event, here's us modeling that!
Let me share what we learned, how we won, how we failed, and what we might do next time.
First, the Wins
We're so proud of how we brought incredible speakers. If you had told me 2 months ago that I would get to sit down and interview people like Madeline Mann, Taylor Pearson, and Derek Sivers, I'd be super stoked. And I am now. And still stoked. It was an energizing 2 days with golden mindset juice oozing out of every speaker.
Honestly, the array of topics and speakers was world-class. We were able to cover interviewing techniques, video pitching, portfolio building, salary negotiation, learning to code, ending self-doubt, remote jobs, social capital, sales mindset, and more.
Nailing down the speakers wasn't easy. A few of these thought leaders are accustomed to asking for (high) speaking fees, but we didn't offer that. Instead we pitched them based on the mission of the event, and offered bonus perks like featured spots in our newsletter. It helped to offer a fireside chat as opposed to asking everyone to prepare a slide deck and presentation on their own.
People Did Love It....
Look at the feedback we got! We'll take it. ; )
"....I found the two-day event useful as well as inspirational. I've definitely started this week being inspired....this week I'm going to start 'learning out loud'...."
"Your two day seminar was as good an event I have attended! The presenters were very on point and prepared, the content was varied and helpful, and the format was super easy to access. "
"The Supercharge Your Career event was next level! These are cutting edge career discussions that I haven't found and anywhere else. You get instant access to real experts that cut through all the corporate BS. You KNOW I'll be there next [time] too .🙂"
"Good news - I finally got the courage together to send someone a video pitch [on] Sunday, and I got a reply the next day! Expecting to fire off more in the coming weeks."
— Michael Y
We were shooting for 1,000 signups, and we landed about 920. Pretty glad about that! By going hard on podcast guesting, a couple email ad spots, cross promos with other companies, and LinkedIn ads, we brought in a solid number to the registrant list.
This also showed that people are hungry for what we share.
But one thing....
What We Learned
Get people in the door
We thought more people would show. Rather, we assumed..... We laid back a little with a "build it and they will come" mindset. For the sake of simplicity we let Zoom Events send out their automated reminder emails (just 1 or 2 days before the event). But we didn't send out our own, in our own voice.
That hurt us. Only 169 people ended up attending at least one session, about 18%.
30%-40% is more standard, and what we expected.
Sure, it's always hard to bring people in the door to a virtual event - especially in today's attention economy - but I'm convinced if we had been more personal in our outreach, it would have helped people feel more connected and excited about the event.
Pick the event platform earlier
Part of the hangup with our communication cadence was that we took longer than anticipated in deciding to go with Zoom Events as the virtual event platform. We built our landing page right away - 6 weeks before the event - but Zoom Events was selected until 3 or 4 weeks before.
This ended up causing some friction in the days before the event, making sure our registrants through the LP got hooked into Zoom's system. Long story short, direct integration wasn't available and clunky CSV uploads stole way too much of our time and attention.
In reflection, these hangups happened because:
1) We were shopping around for different platforms trying to create something cooler but also not too pricey. That took a few weeks.
2) We wanted to hold an action bias and not necessarily do everything perfectly sequentially. We wanted to move fast and focus on shipping the event, even if it wasn't ideal. Which we did! But it might have been a little better if we thought ahead a little more.
Go Slow to Go Fast
All in all, sometimes we moved like the hare instead of the tortoise.... our mindset was to build the event as fast as possible, but we didn't always stay steady.
Whether that was outreaching to speakers, partners, or the event platform, the sense of urgency we (I) generated probably ended up slowing us down.
Often, the fastest way is to be slow and steady. It can be tricky given the zippiness of the online world, but patience remains a virtue nonetheless.
(I've since picked up a copy of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry....)
Learn by Doing
I've put on workshops, webinars, and live in-person events before. But this one - a 2-day virtual event - was new to me and my colleague Waris. But we dove head first and shipped it, along with the errors, mistakes, and failures.
Is failure a good thing? Well, no, not intrinsically. Glorifying failure seems unhealthy....but failure is not either. What matters of course, is the willingness to look in the mirror, swallow the lessons, and get up and go for improvement the next time.
That's maybe what life is all about.
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