Virtual events have become a cornerstone of The What Works Network, Tara’s ever-evolving paid membership community that brings together close to 700 digital small business owners seeking to level up their businesses. (Membership is $49.99 per month).
In addition to leading countless online workshops, mastermind sessions, and coworking events, Tara and her community managers Shannon Paris and Kristen Runvik host quarterly one-day virtual conferences for members. Three years and 11 conferences later, they’ve learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful online event.
While many people forced into instantly creating virtual events may think they’re as simple as mapping a physical event to a Zoom meeting room, Tara and her team took a different approach to planning a virtual conference.
First, they mapped the big pieces–main stage, speakers, and breakout sessions–to their virtual conference plan.
Then, they began to ask the non-obvious questions:
- What about the hallway moments? How do we replicate those online?
- What about spontaneous or serendipitous meetings and connections?
- What could be our online equivalent of what happens over lunch?
- How are we going to keep it interesting for people to stay with us all day? Looking at a computer screen (and just listening to speakers) could get boring quickly.
Finally, they sought to reframe the whole thing to focus on the strengths of a virtual conference over a physical one. Specifically, they asked:
What’s uniquely possible (and valuable) in a virtual setting that’s impossible to get in a physical one?
As they got ideas, they were able to quickly test them in their Mighty Network. What they realized was the unique opportunity presented by having their virtual events grounded in a community.