In-person events are cancelling at an accelerating rate due to corona virus precautions.
I commend the leaders behind these training events for being cautious.
But there is an opportunity to still host the event, capture the revenue, and achieve the event’s benefits.
The needs and wants of the attendees can still be met.
Training events and conferences can still happen online.
How to conduct an online event
What are training events, really?
The primary components of a training event are:
- Event ticket sales
- Speakers who give presentations
- Workbooks and table level exercises
- Questions and answer sessions
- Networking opportunity
TRAINING EVENT COMPONENT 1: Event Ticket Sales
A training event is a learning opportunity.
You need a system to manage or facilitate the learning. In the virtual world we use a tool to manage learning called a Learning Management System or “LMS.”
You also need an ecommerce system to sell access to the training, whether it’s in-person, online, or a blend of both.
And you need a tool to manage the access itself.
That’s where an all-in-one LMS solution comes into play.
An all-in-one tool that combines LMS, ecommerce, and membership access.
To sell virtual training event tickets, you simply create a course or a membership (collection of courses) with a future start date and set up some access plans on it.
Access plans create the pricing table and checkout experience so people can buy access to your event.
TRAINING EVENT COMPONENT 2: Speaker presentations
In the LMS you can simply set up a lesson for each speaker.
Each lesson will have a date, time, and Zoom link they can click on to join the webinar when the time comes.
Zoom is a virtual meeting software that allows people to do video conferencing from home or anywhere else from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
When the time comes, the organizer introduces the speaker, and they present their talk in Zoom.
The conference organizer presses the record button in Zoom to capture the presentation into recorded video and audio format.
That video recording is then uploaded into the event organizer’s video hosting account.
In the video hosting account, the privacy settings are set so that the video will only ever be playable inside of the WordPress LMS for people who paid to access the content.
There are 2 new opportunities for training event creators that emerge at this point:
- We are creating a digital training asset that can be sold indefinitely in the future from the WordPress LMS website.
- Access to the training event is no longer limited by geography or travel expense factors.
TRAINING EVENT COMPONENT 3: Workbooks and table level exercises
Many in-person training events involve some kind of workbook.
These can easily be created and delivered digitally.
In fact, you likely already have the digital version made, as that is what you sent to the printer to make the physical workbooks.
These digital workbooks can be delivered inside the LMS. You can even get fancy and make your workbook PDFs fillable.
Have you ever been to a conference where the speaker asked you to discuss something at your table or with your neighbor?
This can happen online as well.
In the Zoom webinar these table level discussions can happen through a feature called breakout rooms.
In the WordPress LMS, these discussions can happen in Social Learning feeds and in lesson comments.
TRAINING EVENT COMPONENT 4: Question and answer sessions
Most training conferences make some space for audience Q&A.
TRAINING EVENT COMPONENT 5: Networking opportunity
Conferences aren’t just about the speakers.
A lot of the learning happens in the conversations between attendees in the talks, at lunch, and in their general orbit around the event.
A training event is social in nature. The big opportunity is not just in digitizing the speaker presentations.
The big opportunity is also in digitizing the attendee networking and masterminding opportunity.
There are lots of ways to create virtual community with your Learning Management System.
You could use:
- A private event Facebook group
- LifterLMS Social Learning plugin
- BuddyBoss for LifterLMS
- A WordPress forum plugin like bbPress
- A SaaS forum tool like Discourse
In the online learning world, it’s often said that people come to virtual training events for the content, but they stay for the community.
Why not deliver community that exists and persists online, even after the event?
TRAINING EVENT COMPONENT 6: Swag
Swag is fun.
If you don’t know, swag is the physical goods you take home from a training conference.
My personal favorite swag items are toys for my kids or something my spouse would like. These gifts help me “sell” in a fun way the idea to my family of me being away from home to attend a conference. It gives the kids something to look forward to when I rendezvous with them back home.
As an example, I’ve got CaboPress towels in my closet that a friend and business mentor Chris Lema gave out at his event.
And I see my kids regularly spinning SaaS Academy fidget spinners that I grabbed off the table at my business coach Dan Martell’s last SaaS Academy Intensive event.
But how do we do swag online?
We can still ship books to virtual event attendees at home via Amazon.
We can make all kinds of custom physical swag, like event t-shirts and hats by using a tools like Printful.
But we can also create digital swag.
If you’re using LifterLMS, you can award graphical achievement badges as people advance through the event training sessions.
You can even deliver a certificate for successfully completing the training event.
Swag opportunities online abound through gamification and are only limited by our imagination.
Training events can transform digitally instead of vanishing off the calendar
A lot of training events are currently being cancelled as a precautionary measure agains the corona virus.
A small sample of these cancelled events include:
- Microbiology Society Annual Event
- Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress
- Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit
- Google Cloud Next
- WordCamp Asia and several other WordCamps
- Google I/O
- Okta’s Oktane
- IBM’s Think
- Game Developers Conference
- South by Southwest
- The Photography Show
- Title of Conf
- And many more …
But what if the event organizer offered an online version in its place?
Some event organizers are working to meet the needs of their registered and not yet registered but interested potential attendees.
What if the event organizer were to leverage a LMS to facilitate the digital learning event while also capturing the content into an evergreen training product that could be made available at a global scale indefinitely?
What if you’re disappointed about a specific conference cancellation?
If you are disappointed by a training event cancellation as a registered attendee, and they have made no offer as of yet to provide a virtual version in its place, send them a link to this article. Let them know they have virtual options available to meet the need if they so choose.
If you are a learning event entrepreneur or organizer, here’s what I’d like you to do next …
Consider offering a digital training event experience in place of your cancelled event.
If you or your team have questions or want the event LMS website set up done for you, contact us here or call 1-800-867-0906.
The show can definitely go on virtually if you choose to leverage these ideas and off-the-shelf technology tools to meet the needs of your event attendees.