How to make your next education event more impactful than ever

How to make your next education event more impactful than ever

When you’re planning an education event, it’s important to have a central theme that helps it stand out in a crowded marketplace – and, crucially, attract the right attendees and sponsors. Think about the niche your event is serving, whether that’s edtech, higher education, attracting overseas students, or particular subject areas such as medicine or law.

Then consider the timings of your event. Many who work in education won’t be able to take time off in the week when they’re teaching or studying but, equally, others may not want to give up their precious weekends. The move to virtual events could help, as people won’t have to spend time travelling and can catch up with webinars on demand. 

While most events are still virtual, small live events may make a comeback, along with hybrid events. But whatever the format, after a year of virtual living and working, attendees will have high expectations for both technology and content. 

Before the event

Your attendees are likely to be busy people who will be wary of spending hours on video conferencing. So think about what’s going to make your event as engaging as possible.

First impressions count – build buzz around your event with marketing emails and social media. Use hashtags and encourage attendees to use them too, triggering FOMO! Include videos of previous events and quotes from former attendees to drum up interest. 

Make your event website interesting and easy to navigate and highlight any high-profile names who’ll be speaking on the day. Signing up should be simple, and enable marketers to collect the data they need to plan a great programme. 

Depending on the number of attendees and their geographical location, consider sending out learning packs beforehand. These could contain pages to fill in while taking part in interactive sessions, along with information about the day that will help people prepare for and get excited about the event.

On the day

If your attendees are at home, they’ll have lots of distractions, so keep sessions relevant, interactive and bite-sized. Allow attendees to easily access online event guides so that they know what’s happening when, and can dip in and out of the day if they need to.

Be aware that people learn in different ways – some learn visually, others via the spoken or written word. Mix up the formats so that you have keynote speeches, webinars and break-out rooms with opportunities for discussion. 

Include an icebreaker or two during the event; people learn and remember information better when they’re relaxed. Plus if they get to know fellow attendees, they’ll feel more comfortable in group discussions. Fun icebreaker ideas include an art class, a scavenger hunt or even a comedy act.

Some elements should be interactive, to prevent people tuning out – a real danger in virtual events. Be creative with these sessions: quizzes work well and are easy to set up online, and attendees can even participate in teams. A quiz is good for recapping information at the end of a session, but you can always throw in some fun or silly questions too. 

Make sure you break up the learning elements into manageable chunks, so you don’t overwhelm attendees with information. People find it hard to concentrate for too long, especially when they’re not at a physical event. Give them regular breaks so they can recharge and move around. And think about what motivates people to learn – some love learning for learning’s sake, whereas others like to work towards a goal and might be motivated by a certificate or prize. 

Networking is a big draw for delegates at in-person events, so make sure it’s possible at virtual events too. Consider having a designated ‘happy hour’ at the end of the day where people can grab a drink and chat online in small groups. 

After the event

The event isn’t over just because everyone’s logged off. Seeking attendee feedback is crucial, and you can do it quickly and easily using online tools. Measure engagement and collect virtual leads, and use data to prove your event’s ROI, which will help you secure sponsors. Best of all, you’ll find out what worked and what didn’t, to make your future learning events even more impactful. 

Explore Cvent's Virtual Attendee Hub here:

There’s nothing like meeting in person – this year we’ve all missed that social connection and its opportunities for networking and sparking ideas. Virtual and hybrid events will be around for a while yet, but event planners are now looking ahead to a post-COVID era and thinking about which venues will create the most inspiring in-person events.