25 Jun Understanding Team Roles for Virtual Events
It’s tempting to believe that creating digital events is simply a matter of choosing a platform and sending out invites. But as with live events, it takes a team of people to produce one that delivers the best results. The roles of the team should be taken into consideration as part of the planning process.
Size – and complexity – matter, as do the expertise and skills of the team
Just as with a live event, the scope of a virtual event determines the number and type of staff needed; the staffing plan will look different for a small group meeting versus a multi-day conference versus an awards dinner. For instance, will the event include sponsors and exhibitors? Is it to be conducted via live streaming, or will it have pre-recorded content? All of those variables will affect roles and staffing. Even if you have a small event that is not as complex, you may still need different team members with specialized expertise.
So how do you translate team roles from a live event to the digital world?
Common Virtual Event Roles
Staff for planning vs. day of event (not necessarily the same)
Generally speaking, some standard roles are built into every staffing plan to ensure oversight, and the rest of the team assists with different components of the event. While some of these standard management roles are participant-facing roles, others are part of the production team running the event behind the scenes.
Project manager/lead producer or manager
This vital member of the team oversees the strategy and design of the event, plus logistics and agendas. The lead producer also serves as the client liaison for all calls and meetings and oversees the build and design of the platform to be used for the event. In addition, this team member monitors the event budget and provides the on-site staffing plan.
As with live events, virtual events need someone to manage registration. The person in this role will handle all aspects of the registration process, including the registration launch, participant sign-in, data collection from the registration process, and checking in of participants during the event. The registration manager is also responsible for ensuring participants obtain their event materials, including those items delivered before, during, and after the event.
This person manages all aspects of the sponsorship process, which may range from sponsorship design and outreach/sales to fulfillment and post-event follow-up.
This person manages not just marketing, but also social media strategy, branding, and graphic design before, during, and after the event. As with live events, this person’s role may include primarily online marketing, but can also include taking care of materials mailed or delivered to participants before and after the event.
If a virtual event includes exhibitors, one member of the team should be assigned as their point of contact. This person will ensure that booth packages are fulfilled, assist exhibitors with their virtual booth setup, and manage the exhibit “floor” during the event.
If your online event will include polling, gamification, or other interactive components, you may need to have one person overseeing audience engagement.
Speaker /VIP manager
The responsibilities of this role include coordinating speakers, keynotes, and any special entertainment; collecting materials for presentations in advance and uploading them to the platform; onboarding speakers with training; coordinating advance recordings, and working with the stage manager in the green room during the event.
Online events also need someone behind the scenes to manage everything that’s happening “on stage.” This person’s job is to ensure that speakers receive all the right cues before and during their presentations, that their audio and video are working well, and that they have sufficiently “left the stage” when the time comes.
More than just choosing a platform
Before selecting a platform, take a step back and look at the type of event you’re envisioning. What is the goal of the event and what kind of content do you need to produce and present? Content should drive your platform selection.
Next, determine your staff’s capacity to perform all the necessary roles. While they may operate as a well-oiled machine when putting on live events, do they have the technological know-how to conduct a multiday digital conference? If not, how quickly can they get up to speed, or do you need to look outside your organization for help?
Training is one thing when it comes to events; experience is another. Does your team understand nuances such as the length of time an online presenter can hold the attention of an audience? If you’re conducting some kind of interactive session, such as a poll or focus group, do your team members know how to keep the audience engaged? Security can be a real concern with online events – some platforms are notoriously glitchy or easily hacked. Does your team know what’s needed to keep your event – and your participants’ private information – secure?
One of the big advantages of virtual events is that there is so much more data available to help with follow-up afterward. This information can be made available to certain members of the team, but also to sponsors of the event as part of their ROI. There are myriad opportunities for using event data, and many systems are built into the platforms. The key is to ensure members of the team are aware of their roles in managing the data post-event to get the most ROI for all stakeholders.