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Set the Right Goals for Your Virtual Event in Just 4 Steps

When planning a virtual event, whether it’s as small as an online meeting or as large as an annual sales conference, don’t overlook a crucial planning step: goal-setting. It’s always important to develop clear and actionable virtual event goals and objectives.

Why Goals and Objectives Matter for Virtual Event Planning

Developing event goals and objectives is a vital part of planning a successful virtual event. In fact, it’s one of the most important steps in the entire event planning process. Goals define not just your event but the KPIs and metrics you use to evaluate its success. Without clear event goals, you can’t evaluate how successful your event has been.

The virtual event goals and objectives you set guide every decision you make while planning that event. More specifically, goals and objectives help you stay focused, ensuring every choice and decision is for the good of the event. With clear goals and virtual event objectives that keep you on course, you’ll be better equipped to avoid wasting or mismanaging your resources. Ultimately, virtual event goals and objectives keep your event on course and keep you on budget.

Goals and Objectives: Defined

Many people—even some event planners—use these terms interchangeably, but goals and objectives are two different things. Understanding the difference is an important part of setting effective goals.

Goals are long-term outcomes that you plan to achieve. For instance, in planning a virtual event, one goal might be to sell a certain number of sponsorship packages.

Objectives are strategies and actions you use to achieve your goals. For instance, if your goal is to sell sponsorship packages, objectives might include:

  • Researching sponsorship packages offered at similar events
  • Putting together one or more sponsorship packages
  • Looking for potential sponsor

To put it another way, if goals are your destination, objectives are your means of traveling to that destination.

How to Set Virtual Event Goals and Objectives That Work

How do you judge whether a virtual event is valuable and successful? It’s all about the goals you set. With clear event goals, you’ll have a useful collection of metrics you can use to determine event success.

This means it’s important to be thoughtful when it comes to setting those goals. You need to have a clear understanding of the purpose of your event and how it benefits the host organization.

1. Start with the Event

The first step in this process is about the event itself. In order to determine what goals are most appropriate, consider a few important questions:

  • What is the purpose of the event?
    • How will this event benefit your organization?
    • Does anyone else benefit?
  • Who’s the audience for the event?
    • What demographics are you hoping to serve?
    • Where are they? How will you reach them?
  • Why will your target audience be interested in your event?
    • What kind of content would make this event a “must-attend?”
    • How will they benefit by attending?
  • Who are the stakeholders for this event?
    • Does this mean the host organization, specific people or departments within the organization, or something else?
  • How will each group of stakeholders benefit from the event?
  • What metrics and KPIs will you use to measure the success of the event?

Be as thorough as possible when deciding what questions need to be answered, and include plenty of detail in your answers. The more information you have, the easier it’ll be to set clear and effective goals.

2. Investigate the Event Landscape

In the first step, you’re looking at the event and its relationship to stakeholders and attendees. In this next step, it’s all about how the event fits into its industry niche or landscape. When you understand what other similar events are like, you can create something that meets audience needs and expectations, while providing a unique and valuable event experience.

Industry/Event Landscape

  • What organizations are holding events?
  • What kinds of events are they hosting?
  • What kinds of events are most popular?

Timeframe

  • Are any of your competitors holding events?
  • Are any events targeting a similar audience demographic as your event?

Sponsors

  • What does a typical sponsorship package include in your industry?
  • What can your event offer to sponsors?

Speakers

  • Are you looking for celebrity speakers, or people from your industry?
  • Who are the most popular speakers in your industry?
  • Which speakers are appropriate for your event?

Topics and Themes

  • What topics and themes are popular in the industry?
  • Which ones fit both your audience’s interests and your organization’s values and culture?

Event Format

  • What format makes the most sense for your event purpose and audience? That might mean, for instance, a meeting or conference, summit, workshop, or training session.
  • Consider virtual versus hybrid events. Would a hybrid serve your organization better than a purely virtual event?

3. Set Your Goals

Once you’ve finished the first two steps, you’ll have a wealth of information that you can use to develop your event goals. And once you have your goals set, you’ll be able to develop clear and actionable virtual event objectives that get you where you need to be to meet those goals.

One of the most effective goal-setting frameworks is the SMART framework. This is a particularly popular method because it helps you set the kinds of goals you can actually use to measure your virtual event success.

SMART goals are:

Specific: They specify exactly what your parameters for success are. Designing specific goals means you include within the goal itself the KPIs you’ll use to define success.

Measurable: Measurable goals are goals that have quantitative outcomes. Instead of using vague terms like “increasing sales” or “getting sponsors,” make your goals count by setting hard numbers.

Achievable: The most effective goals challenge you but are also realistic. Unrealistic goals don’t just set you up for failure, they also tank your morale—and that of your team.

Relevant: What does your organization want from the event? What do your stakeholders want from the event? Whatever that is, your goals should be oriented in that direction.

Time-bound: When you’re planning an event, you’re working towards holding that event at a specific future date. Any goals you set should also be time-bound, meaning you plan to meet each goal by a particular date or measure the metrics of the goal during a particular timeframe.

virtual event goals
Keynote speakers and panel presentations are broadcast from the main theater using mixed reality where speakers are placed onto a virtual stage.

4. Set Virtual Event Objectives

Once your goals are set, you’ll need to define the paths that get you to those endpoints. That’s where your virtual event objectives come in. The SMART framework is useful here, too, because when your goals include all five elements, it’s easier to break them down into actionable steps.

To create an actionable plan for each goal, you need to:

  • Define the goal.
  • List each major component of the goal.
  • For each component, list the tasks that need to be completed, in chronological order.
  • Identify tasks that are time-sensitive or otherwise critical to the goal.
  • Assign tasks to your team.

It Helps to Get SMART About Goal-Setting

Planning a virtual event, especially a larger, multi-day event, is a lot of work. But no matter how large or complicated the event becomes, setting clear virtual event goals and objectives will provide you with an important path to follow. Using the SMART framework, you can set goals that are meaningful, useful, and actionable, setting you

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