How to Run Virtual HR Events, Find Sponsors, and More: A Guide for Volunteer Leaders

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Note: today’s post is geared towards volunteer leaders at SHRM chapters, ATD groups, HR state councils, event planners, and other membership organizations and associations serving fthe HR/talent professional. If that’s not you, then feel free to:

  1. Share with your own local chapter and/or
  2. Go on your merry way and offer a kind word or compliment to the next three people you talk to. Enjoy!

If you are a president, certification director, or programs leader for a professional chapter, you have had a wild year. Live events are canceling or pushing off indefinitely, and for many local groups, even the thought of something virtual can feel like unprecedented territory.

As a speaker, event host, and event producer, I know the feeling! 🙂 Today I’ll share some ideas about what has worked for me if you have a more “do it yourself” approach. I’ll also offer an option if you’d like me to help with your event (note: I’ve programmed or planned over 100 live events in the last 10 years and probably that many virtual or digital sessions this year alone).

Bottom line: you got this! Let’s dive into some of the things that are changing.

The Do It Yourself Approach for Online HR Events

The biggest perceived hurdle when it comes to online events is the delivery. How do we get content that has traditionally been delivered on a stage to our audience? The answer is technology. 2020 will go down as the year that Zoom became a term that everyone over the age of five years old understands, but is Zoom right for your event?

Zoom can be used for smaller meetings, and you can pay for Zoom webinars (a better and more intuitive version of GoToWebinar and some of the other older solutions in that space), but today’s environment is driving attendees to want to be more engaged and participatory in events.

Livestreaming

Many events are now looking at livestreaming. You can easily livestream to a chapter Facebook page or a YouTube channel, for example, and you don’t have to pay extra if you have 10 viewers or 1,000 like you would with most webinar software. You also get the social aspect woven in: attendees can see who else is there, chat with each other, and more. I have found this to be very powerful for creating connections with the audience.

I use StreamYard for streaming and it has been very valuable as a tool. It’s inexpensive, and all of your sessions are archived after you finish broadcasting. You could even use Streamyard to host panel discussions if you prefer that style to a more traditional keynote. Note: the StreamYard link above will give you a $10 coupon if you sign up!

Virtual Event Platforms

Event apps like Whova are also becoming more important. A new event app just got millions of dollars in venture capital funding because it has seen the space explode in popularity recently. These types of apps allow event organizers to host virtual sessions, offer expo areas for sponsors, and allow attendees to register and engage with the other participants during the sessions. This is more expensive and may be better suited for a virtual conference rather than monthly or quarterly educational sessions. Note: the Whova link above will get you a $100 coupon if you sign up!

Archiving and Selling Your Content

If you want to archive the content and offer it for payment after the fact, an idea that is new to many HR chapters and may lead to long-term revenue for supporting chapter programming, community donations, and other needs, you need a system to hold the content after it’s been recorded.

Two of the leading players in that space are Thinkific and Podia. In about 10 minutes, you can add a recorded video, set up your pricing, and have a link available for people to purchase the recorded session. The best part? You don’t have to touch it again!

Plus, in Thinkific, you can even set the content so people can’t fast forward through it, then have the certification codes from HRCI/SHRM at the end of the session for attendees to submit for credits. I have had some people try to cheat and skip the content, and this prevents that from happening…

Source: upstartHR

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