If you’ve been running events for your nonprofit for many years, you may feel like it’s old hat and you could do it in your sleep. And, if everything was as it used to be, that’s probably true.
But when you are hosting a virtual or hybrid event, it is critical to do a dry run of your event about one week or a few days before you’re scheduled to go live.
Like any other year, you’ve already spent months preparing and planning for this important fundraising activity. You’ve gathered sponsors, collected donations for your auctions and raffles, and invited tens or hundreds of guests to join you.
So, what makes a virtual or hybrid event so different that you need to practice?
1. Test your event technology
- Do you have all the systems in place to stream your event?
- Have you checked the lights – at the same time of day/evening at the venue?
- Have you tested the sound equipment? Particularly if you’re running a hybrid event, you’ll want to check that folks in the back of the room and those miles away on their computer are hearing you equally well.
- Do you know how to start and stop your auction, chat, and online donation functionality?
2. Ensure your speakers are prepared
- Public speaking can make some people nervous. Speaking before a crowded room is one experience. Speaking in front of a camera adds a layer of complexity for some. Conducting a practice run will ensure that everyone involved has “tested” their comfort level before a camera.
- It can be helpful to record event speakers during their dry-run to see how their flow, volume, and engagement translates over the screen.
3. Get the timing right
- During an in-person event, those involved in running the show often mix and mingle with the crowd. They might sit down to eat, visit with friends, or circle the room to check that everything is going smoothly. When the event is virtual, these activities don’t exist. So, keeping to a more rigid schedule is important.
- In addition, speaking to an empty room with just a camera will sometimes cause the person speaking to speed up. Rushed speaking and lack of distractions from the crowd could leave the audience feeling rushed.
You’ve committed many resources to hosting your event. Your organization is relying on fundraising dollars to carry on its mission from that event. Taking the time to complete a run-through a week or so before your big day will help ensure that the experience is enjoyable and engaging for your participants and successful for you.
Written by: Janet Cobb
Published: February 15, 2022