Cultivating Connection with Virtual Events with Emily Murnen - The Content Experiment
Emily Murnen online events

Cultivating Connection with Virtual Events with Emily Murnen


If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that not all virtual events are created equal. But that doesn’t mean that you should write off the idea of creating your own virtual event to connect with your community (…even online) and grow your business.

On today’s podcast, Emily Muren and I talk about how to create your own high-quality, engaging virtual event, and how to convert your in-person event to a successful online event without compromising engagement, connection or quality. We also explore ways to avoid Zoom gloom, get people talking, and make your event successful no matter the parameters. Listen in!

You can also learn more from Emily about event planning, virtual and otherwise, at The Content Experiment Summit in March 2020. Sign up to get on the waiting list so you can be one of the first to register. Registration opens in late February.

If you’re listening to this episode after the fact, you can sign up to be on the waiting list for the next round!

Mentioned in This Episode

About Emily Murnen

Emily Murnen is the founder of Wild Elm Events, an event planning company helping entrepreneurs create high-quality and engaging events. Through virtual production and strategy, Emily helps her clients continue to share their message by transitioning their in-person event online. With over 15 years of experience in planning events, her passion is to help grow businesses and foster deeper connections through virtual events. If there is one thing she knows after planning and attending events over the years, it’s that not all events are the same. The most powerful events focus on community as much as they focus on content.

Follow Wild Elm Events on Instagram and Facebook or email Emily about your event.


Abby Herman: Hey there, and welcome to Episode 95 of the stories in small business podcast, a podcast experience that puts to rest the idea that we all need to do business the same way and celebrates the unique stories and paths that we’re all on. I’m Abby Herman, content strategist and coach for online business owners who are ready to make a bigger impact online. I’m here because when I first went full time in my business in 2013, I struggled to find the help and support I needed to figure out what the heck I was doing so I could grow my business. My business is the sole income in my household and I struggled hard. I vowed to myself that if I was able to grow, I would be a resource to other business owners when I could afford to do so. This podcast is just part of that journey.

If you’re new to the podcast, welcome, I work really hard to bring you informative and to the point content because let’s face it, and no one has time for fluff. If you like what you hear, hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss another episode. Now I usually release episodes every Monday morning and every other Thursday morning. However, as we prepare for the content experiment summit coming up in March, My plan is to release two or three times a week, every week until March 15. Today, I’m talking to Emily Murnen of Wild Elm Events about …events. She is one of the speakers of the upcoming Summit. But before we go any further, I want to tell you a bit about the summit.

The summit features about 25 speakers who are sharing bite-sized tips and tricks on how to get a better ROI on their time and financial investments in content and marketing. There are so many quote-unquote gurus out there telling you what’s right and what’s not what to do what not to do. And it’s really noisy and confusing, I get it. And we’re often listening to the same people over and over again talking about the same things in the same way. That’s what I think makes The Content Experiment Summit so different. I intentionally looked for business owners who we haven’t heard from a lot of business owners who have amazing ideas, stellar results, and so much knowledge to share. But we don’t hear from them because so many summits, conferences, podcasts, and purchase partnerships, focus on email list size, social media following, and other honestly arbitrary numbers that have nothing to do with the impact that they could get could give you. So that’s why many of the speakers that you will hear on the summit you may not have heard from before. I really did my due diligence and made sure to find new speakers who haven’t been on all the summits before.

Some other cool things that make the content experiment summit a little bit different is that talks are 10 to 20 minutes long, really actionable steps, so you have plenty of time to implement and stay on top of your work as well during summit week. Now the summit is also free, but a portion of all access past sale sales will go to Women of Color Connecting, an organization that builds bridges between women of color and those in positions to open doors. And the summit is also accessible. I’m working with someone specifically to ensure that all the content is as accessible as possible. It’s not going to be perfect, but it might be a step above what some of the other summits you’ve attended have done. You can sign up for the waiting list right now at Registration begins at the end of February. Now I bet you’re wondering who the speakers will be? Well, everyone who has been on the podcast since the first of this year is on the speaker lineup along with today’s guest, Emily Murnen.

Emily is an event planner. And in this conversation, we’re talking about the move from in-person to virtual events last year, how to make the most of the virtual space and tools to get people engaged and so much more. Let me tell you a little bit more about Emily. Emily Murnen is the founder of Wild Elm Events an event planning company helping entrepreneurs create high-quality and engaging events through virtual production and strategy. Emily helps her clients continue to share their method by transitioning their in-person events online. Emily has over 15 years of experience in planning events for 10 to 2000 people, and her passion is to help grow businesses and foster deeper connections through virtual events. If there’s one thing she knows, after planning and attending events over the years, it’s that not all events are the same. That’s the truth. The most powerful events focus on community as much as they focus on the content. It’s Emily’s passion for creating spaces for connection and community that led her to leave her core Event job and start a farmers market and her Portland neighborhood nine years ago. More recently, it has led her to help entrepreneurs create amazing and impactful in-person and virtual events. Emily has been featured in Forbes. And she currently lives with her husband and two children in Portland, Oregon. Without further ado, let’s hear more from Emily Murnen.

Welcome, Emily, thank you so much for joining me today.

Emily Murnen: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Abby Herman: Yeah, I’m excited to have you too, and to have you speak at an event about events. It’s kind of meta, right? So I’m excited to have you as part of the Content Experiment Summit. Before we dive in, I would love to have you share with the audience what you do and who you do it for.

Emily Murnen: So I do event strategy, production and planning. So now obviously, I’m focusing primarily on virtual, but I do in person as well. And I do it for anyone who wants a high-quality engaging event. So a lot of corporations, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs as well.

Abby Herman: Awesome. And so you work one on one with clients? Or do you do any kind of group work or anything like that?

Emily Murnen: I primarily do one on one work. So I either just help with the strategy, or I do everything, like the full planning, take all the logistics off their plate, and execute the event. I do also have a course. But my primary focus is my one on one service.

Abby Herman: Okay. And that sounds very time intensive. So tell me, how does the way that you work with your clients, or the way that you structure your, your day or your week or your month? How does that help you to live the lifestyle that you want?

Emily Murnen: Yeah, that’s a great question. Because event planning is very time-intensive, which is why I’m in the process of also growing my team. But the way it helps me structure my life is I do, I’m starting to do better at time blocking a lot of it. But it’s also stuff that I can do wherever I have two small kids. And it really allows me to be present when I need to, for whether it’s school or just have the time off, I need to engage with them and play with them. But then I can also work, you know, some nights after they’ve gone to bed if I need to. But for the most part, I’m able to work during my work hours, I have a lot of repeat clients, which is great because we create systems to really make the event planning and all the logistics very efficient. So that’s one of my strengths is really creating these efficiencies and systems so it’s not as time-consuming to plan an event.

Abby Herman: Yeah, that is key to have the systems in place so that when you do it again, you can do it again more quickly, more efficiently. However, that brings me to my first official question about these last 12 months, so we’re recording in mid-January of 2021, I can imagine that the last 12 months have been different for you. And maybe those systems didn’t quite fit into the reality of what has happened. So what has it been like to navigate moving events that had been planned for in-person and shifting them all to virtual for your clients? Tell us a little bit about that.

Emily Murnen: Yeah, last spring was a crazy ride. So I had done a couple virtual events, but it definitely was not my brother, but like, had not done a lot of, fortunately, I’m a plan for the worst but hope for the best type of person. So I really, like knew pretty quickly like, okay, we’re gonna need to have that plan B if we’re not able to get up and running with in-person events. So most of March and April, I mean, I was working crazy long hours, mostly a lot of it was just really diving into every single virtual event platform. And there are a lot and really finding the ones that work well for my clients. But then also in general, like I was also doing some training to help other people because I knew not everyone had the time to go into the different platforms and how to transition your events from in-person to online.

So and I also attended a lot of virtual events, trying to see what people were doing well or what wasn’t there. And one of the things I think when transitioning from in-person to virtual that a lot of people missed, especially at the beginning was that engagement piece and really making it to where people were having the conversations that they would if they were in person. So that was one of the things that I focused on with my clients very early on is like how do we get that connection in conversation piece that happens at in-person events and translate it virtually so Yeah, but it was crazy, especially because, you know, part of is like, Okay Are we gonna be able to have in-person events in a month in three months, in a year like, it’s fun knowing. And almost having like two plans was it was a lot. But I also found out how much I love virtual events, which is crazy, I enjoy the in-person hugs and seeing people in person for sure. But also virtually, I’ve been able to see my clients, expand who they’re able to reach and really increase their impact. Also, for me, especially with, you know, kids being home now, here in Oregon, they’re still distance learning. I’m also not gone for a week at a time. So that’s been really nice, where I can, you know, work an event, but then still have dinner with the family. So that’s been really a nice piece of this virtual event planning as well.

Abby Herman: Yeah. Did you have experience planning virtual events prior to this? Or? I mean, at this level? I guess, not at this level at all?

Emily Murnen: No, I had done a little bit of hybrid stuff, you know, trying to working with the live streaming to a virtual audience. I had done a couple things like but in zoom, like nothing with the bigger platforms, I’ve used the platforms more for the hybrid or for like event apps, but not using a full virtual platform with sponsors and speakers, like, you know, tracks and all the things. Yeah, it’s new to me.

Abby Herman: Well, so let’s talk about the engagement piece because I do not like in-person events. I’m not a hugger. I don’t like the in-person events, they’re intimidating to me there. But at the same time, I do understand that personal connection. So I actually was coming back from an in-person conference in like March 13, of 2020. So like, the day that everything was shutting down, and so and the connections that you can build, when you meet with someone in person is huge. And it’s so much faster to build those connections versus doing it online. So how do you create more engagement either, you know, between the organizer and the speakers, the speakers and the attendees? And just among the attendees in general, are there what are some hacks that you’ve learned over the last year trying to make sure that these events feel as intimate and personal as possible?

Emily Murnen: Yeah, that is a great question. And one of the first things I do and it seems pretty straightforward, but a lot of people miss it is actually over-communicating upfront and letting people know exactly what to expect. I’m also an introvert, like I tend to be, I’m used to being behind the scenes. So like, when I’m attending events, I’m you know, usually off in the corner, maybe talking to one other person by the coffee, but I’m not, you know, surrounded by people. Um, so I definitely get that. And I think you want to make sure that those people who might not be as comfortable talking to people even virtually, like, are comfortable and know what to expect. So you’re not throwing anyone off guard. So really over-communicating, like, if you’re going to be doing movement, say dress in something comfy, if you’re doing you know something really nice, where you want them to dress up, let them know, tell them you’re going to be using breakouts if you’re using zoom. So that way, they just kind of understand what’s going to happen, you can definitely have surprises throughout. I think that’s always important. But really over-communicating at a time.

One of the other things that people love about in-person events is the swag and the gifts sometimes. So sending out actual gifts to people I think really helps because it’s something tangible, you can feel it, you can see it. And it kind of breaks that like barrier of everything being virtual, when you have that thing to hold whether it’s I mean, you know, we’ve seen the popsicle sticks with statins, which you kind of put up as a reaction to what someone’s saying, there’s so many different ways that you have something physical or a hat that everyone’s wearing. So there’s that kind of sense of camaraderie amongst everybody.

So there’s those kinds of things but during the event, I mean, there’s definitely pros and cons to something like zoom. But if someone’s wanting a lot of connection, and they don’t have multiple tracks and stuff like that, using zoom breakout rooms is really a great tool and doing them smart to where you’re actually giving a prompt making it easy to engage not to where you’re thrown into a room with five people and you’re all kind of staring at each other not sure what to do. But breakout rooms and there’s so many different ways to do it have been a really great way to do it. Also, some platforms really have a good chat connection and it’s not the same. You’re not going to get as close as you were in person. But if you have really good question prompts, that definitely helps, and then also doing social hours and not everyone’s going to want to go to a virtual social hour. But there is a lot of people who will do something because they do crave that connection. And just having fun with people that are the people in their pod or in their house, you know. And so there is some fun things you can do virtually as well.

Abby Herman: So tell me about the breakout rooms. And that just the asking really good questions. So how do you Is this something that you recommend? You have prepped ahead of time? Is the host or the you know, someone with the host? Are they determining what those questions are? As they’re listening to the talks? Do they relate to the talks? How do you do that in a, I guess, an authentic way in a way that encourages people to interact? Because like, what did you think? Or what are your biggest takeaways is probably not the best prompts, I’m guessing. Right?

Emily Murnen: I mean, then I do I have some clients who like the biggest takeaways, and sometimes it is nice to kind of hear but right, like, I mean, I do always think just like, tell it like finding out the really basic and this isn’t an A union question of like, where you are, like who you are, where you’re from, what do you do kind of those questions that you asked at the beginning of this podcast, doing that and like going into groups of five, and it’s almost like speed networking, or like, you know, groups of three, and you can kind of switch it around. And that’s just to get a basic like, Okay, I know a few new people in about what they do, I don’t know their life story, but it’s some topics. And then what I like to do is typically before someone speaks, is to ask a question that might get to something a little deeper. So if you’re talking about marketing, like, you know, tell me your top two struggles with marketing, and then you’re just sharing it with the group like, Oh, yeah, I struggle with that. And then you come back, and someone’s talking about marketing, and you’re, you’re realizing what potentially, you’re struggling with prior. So you’re then finding those things that are going to fit that need a little bit more. So I like structuring it based on talk sometimes.

And then I also like just fun icebreakers. Like, you know, who’s the top two, three people you’d pick in a zombie apocalypse or something just to where it’s kind of funny, you can laugh. And it doesn’t have to always be serious. So a lot of times I structure it as if like when you come in, like the start of the day or after a break. A lot of times I’ll do kind of those fun, icebreakers silly what like just where you’re kind of lightening the mood a little bit. Yeah, before some sessions, I’ll do a little bit deeper talk. So I use breakouts continuously. Because it also breaks up the monotony of the like, of the event as well. And then also including movement where you’re getting up and moving your body as well. So yeah, it doesn’t work for every event to have breakouts, but that’s what I like to do when I use breakouts.

Abby Herman: Okay. And I think that you can find out a lot about a person by like a zombie apocalypse type of question, you know, like, they go down a totally different avenue that you wouldn’t expect them to. And so and I think you’re able to build more personal connections that way to start, you know, stepping away from the, you know, who are you what you do, what do you do? Where are you from? kind of question, so, right, right.

Emily Murnen: I agree. I like and I like having both like, I like knowing and like who people are. But then yeah, I want to know, the interesting things that sometimes, you know, maybe happen over a cocktail, like at an in-person event, like, yeah, where you’re not always talking about whatever the topic is of the vet. So if it’s a business event, you’re not talking about business the whole time. Like, that could be very long, like when you’re finding funny things about people like it just creates that connection. A little bit more. Yeah, yeah. business questions. Well, yeah, definitely.

Abby Herman: So over the last year, have you seen an uptick in the number of events that your clients have been wanting to plan? Do you feel like people are putting together more events now? Or do you feel like people have kind of are shying away from that a bit?

Emily Murnen: There’s two camps, I feel like the ones who’ve embraced virtual events are doing more. And then there’s the others who are like, I don’t think I could do it as well. And so they’re almost like kind of just waiting for things to get back to quote normal to where we can do in-person events. And they might do one virtual, you know, workshop or something, but they’re not really going in for full virtual events. But a lot of my clients have decided, even once we are able to do safe in-person events, they’re still going to continue doing virtual events. So one of them we always do in-person events. Now he’s going to do on the opposite quarters, do virtual events. So that’ll be four events a year to virtual to in-person because we’ve realized that we’re able, there’s so many people who travel is just not available to them at that time. Whether it’s finances or just childcare or just life, you know, they’re not able to travel where they can take that time to do a virtual event. So in order to reach as many people as possible, we’re doing a little bit of both once we’re able to, and that’s kind of the trend that I’m seeing is doing a combination moving forward.

Abby Herman: Yeah. Well, and I think too well, personally for myself, doing a virtual event made sense to me, because I, yes, there’s a lot of logistics involved in it. But I feel like there’s not quite as many logistics, there’s not quite the financial burden on hosting a virtual event versus in person. So for me, I don’t know that I’ll ever do an in-person event. However, this planning this event planning the summit has been really educational for me, I feel like I’ve got my foot in the door. So maybe one day, I don’t know.

Emily Murnen: Yeah, I mean, that’s exactly it, like, it’s a much lower barrier to entry to a virtual event. Because if you don’t have that financial outlay of like, catering and venue, and even just the travel yourself if you’re flying and, and that can be really intimidating, especially if you don’t know how many people are going to show up or in. So with a virtual event, the cost is pretty minimal. I mean, you can do it very minimally, there’s ranging of costs, but even one with multiple tracks and sponsors is going to cost less virtually than it is in person. Yeah, and anything, it is a little bit less intimidating. Like if you’re new to it, like having that barrier of a screen is a little comforting versus standing up on a stage, especially for someone who tends to not like that spotlight of a stage. Doing it on a virtual stage is a little can be a little bit more comforting than doing it on an in-person stage. Yeah, yeah.

Abby Herman: So let’s talk about what it looks like to host a virtual event or something that’s or to take an in-person event and make it more virtual friendly. What are some considerations that people need to keep in mind when they are hosting a virtual event? So aside from the engagement, which we talked about, what are some other things that you need to consider when doing that?

Emily Murnen: Yeah, so one thing I always start with is kind of that foundational purpose of the event. And I mean, hopefully, start with this at an in-person event too. But really, like, what are people going to walk away with? Like, what is your ideal audience member? Like? What are they struggling with? What pain points are you going to address? So really the purpose for them, but then also like your Why? Why are you doing it? Are you trying to sell something at the end? Is it to grow your audience? What is the end result you want as well? And then finally, how do you want your attendees to feel from the moment they sign up to you know, couple months later, when you might reach out to them? Again, like that whole audience journey? Like how do you want them to feel? Excited? energized? Are you wanting to feel more restful, like, depending on the purpose of your event? Do you want to, you know, help them really get more ideas? Is it brainstorming whatever that is that you’re kind of wanting them to? Feel? That’s really important, and really every, every logistical step along the way, it comes back to those things like your answering, does this really work with their Why? Or like the purpose of the event, my Why? And how they want to feel because you can really weed things out.

I think one of the mistakes I see people make is just kind of throw everything in and kind of throw the spaghetti and swell, see what sticks I don’t think works very well with events, I think you need to be really intentional, you need to be intentional. Are your speakers really contributing to the purpose of the event? I’ve been to somewhere, it just seems like everything’s so kind of random, they just picked all their friends, I don’t know like, but if you’re trying to think of why am I like, this isn’t quite what I came for. And you don’t ever want someone to have that feeling when they come to your event. It’s like, this isn’t quite what I thought I’d signed up for. So you have that foundational piece.

And then typically, I like to start kind of with either a brainstorming session where you walk through like, Okay, this is gonna happen. First are all the different things that you want in the event, and then you kind of start structuring it into an agenda. You know, what, where are we going to start and kind of go through that. And then once you have that, it doesn’t have to be a complete agenda, but an agenda, then you can look and see what platform is going to work best for that event? Is it something like is it just, you know, one track its speakers is and you want to do breakouts? Great, you have to zoom? Oh, I have three different tracks, and I have sponsored tables and all these things. Okay, now we need to look at a more robust platform that’s going to accommodate those things. So the finding the right platform, I think is a big one. And then as I mentioned before, the other big thing is are like the agenda piece, I mean, that whole podcast was on that but really it’s just creating that content. finding those speakers that are going to the purpose, if you’re using speakers, if it’s yourself, what activities are you going to do? How are you going to really deliver on what you promise?

And then I also mentioned the communication piece communication is so important making sure people know exactly what to expect, because people are going to feel more comfortable when they’re not blindsided by like, Oh, I didn’t realize I was supposed to be on video the whole time, like I, you know, just got out of the shower or whatever. So really making sure people know what to expect at your event is really important.

Abby Herman: Yeah, let’s talk about platforms because you’ve mentioned that a few times what I mean, I know, zoom. That’s not really a platform for online, you know, online events. What platforms are out there? And what kind of features do they have to help with that engagement to, you know, make it feel a little more personal to help people engage with the speakers.

Emily Murnen: I guess even more so to make it really easy for the host to navigate everything and the speakers to I guess, yeah, so while zoom isn’t a typical like platform, I do tend to recommend it to a lot of people, if you’re not having sponsors, or like you’re not having to tracks at the same time, then I think zoom works really well because you don’t everyone’s been on it, everyone knows what to expect. You don’t need to make it complicated just to make it seem like you’re on a different platform. So I like zoom for a lot of events. In terms of a more robust platform, some of the ones that I’ve used there, I mean, there’s like 80, some I have not. Hop in, they just bought stream yard. So I haven’t tried it since that happened. But that’s a really interesting acquisition, and then feed loop. So but all of these are very similar, in that they offer, usually kind of a, it’s more of like you build it built a website. So it’s a website where there’s a homepage, sometimes there’s a video there with navigation. And you can join the like, see all the different people who are there, you can see social media, sometimes their social media integration, where you’re just seeing, you know, Twitter, on the side, or if there’s a Facebook page, like all the different posts from there. So there’s a lot you can engage in social media on the platform. Or you can chat with people in the platform, like say, Hey, you know, I saw you comment on this, like, Let’s meet up.

And in some platforms, you can actually arrange a one on one virtual meeting with someone who else is attending. And then it also has some events, like a conference where you have, you know, you might have a marketing track and an IT track, whatever it is, the multiple tracks. So you can also choose different sessions at each time. And so it allows for you to be able to kind of create your own agenda, unlike zoom, where you’re just, you know, you’re there. And then it also has a place for sponsors. So there’s sponsor logos throughout, you can have sponsored booths where you go in and interact, you can either watch a demo, you talk to someone one on one, or you can, you know, again, make a meeting to talk to them. So, I mean, there’s so many different features, and it’s really kind of what you want some do the sponsorships really, really well, while others might focus a little bit more on that networking might have a networking lounge where people can chat about different things or go in, you know, with videos up to like eight people, and then you just have someone facilitating a conversation. So there’s a lot of different things that platforms do. So it’s really going back to the purpose is that one of the purposes really did get those sponsors happy? Or is the purpose, you know, networking and really helping to facilitate people meeting each other?

Abby Herman: Yeah. Okay. So you mentioned agenda, the agenda? How do you decide what that’s going to look like, especially in a virtual event, because I know in person you have, you know, your welcoming, you have your welcome. And then you have your probably a keynote, and then you have a couple of little talks where you have those breakout sessions. And then usually there’s little events in between, or networking opportunities in between how do you facilitate something like that in a virtual setting? I mean, obviously, the tool is going to be key. How do you decide what that’s actually going to look like, you know, from the agenda?

Emily Murnen: That’s a great question. So what you’re right, like in the sense of, you can still have a welcome a keynote, one of the key pieces when, especially if you’re going to be going in-person to virtual, but really for virtual, people’s attention span is a lot shorter. They have distractions, they have other people potentially, you know if they’re working from home, they have other people there. So you’re not you’re haven’t stepped away from your day to day, you’re still getting those notification pings and stuff. So really keeping the teaching session shorter. Typically, people start to disengage after 20 minutes if there’s not a lot of engagement, or if they’re not like, really into something like the topic. So I like to keep speaking sessions, you know, between 20 to 40 minutes, I do have some that are an hour. But a lot of times, you know, people might go in and out, or they might be doing their email or something like that. I think it’s fine to have a couple.

I think the other thing too is how many people do you expect to watch it on the replay versus live if your intention is to have everyone there live, go with the shorter sessions, and just talk. And one thing I like to do, one thing I’ve done is what I call the 20/20/20, where it’s like 20 minutes of speaking, or in teaching 20 minutes of implementation. So you might be working on what you just learned. And then 20 minutes of discussion, whether in the group or in breakout rooms, but you’re kind of going over. And so then you’ve actually implemented what you’ve learned as well. So that’s one way to create engagement or have it be a little bit different than just watching speaker after speaker. Again, there are certain events that they do have speaker after speaker like summits, for instance, there’s just a lot of speakers. But you also know that a lot of people might be watching stuff on the replay. And that’s part of it too. But if you’re wanting people to be in their seats for you know, four to six hours, like you got to create engagement and reasons for them to stay. Because people are going to check out it’s just human nature, like I’ve done it like I’m listening to something like oh, listen and check some email. But then soon, I find myself now working in whatever email fire happened to be that you know, so yeah. Want to can you have no idea what anybody says?

Abby Herman: Yeah, exactly. Oh, it sounds like someone changed.

Emily Murnen: People are like I should go back and see what’s there. So I’m creating engagement, kind of doing those breakout rooms or discussions, hot seat, like putting people on this not on the spot, like they can vote, but like doing hot seats, something that it kind of brings it back versus just having a keynote speaker and then a breakout session where it’s like, maybe there’s a q&a at the end, but like, you know, session after session after session, it’s harder to sit in your seat and go, yes, I think what you mentioned about, you know, try to get a gauge on who is going to be attending live and who is going to be watching the replay. I think that that is huge, not just for, like more formal events or bigger events, but for any time that you are running any kind of talk or anything like that. No, it what’s going to happen to the audio and to the video afterward. Because when you start having conversations with people in the chat, and the replay viewers do not get to see the chat or they you know, they don’t have it.

Abby Herman: It’s really difficult to follow along with the conversation, you feel kind of left out as a replay watcher. And so I think that that’s huge. I’m so glad that you brought that up. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine. Absolutely. I mean, everything right from like a training that they’re kind of turning into a webinar. And it’s like, oh, I see you said and they are like, oh, Kathy, I’m answering your question, but it’s like, but they’re not repeating the questions. I don’t know. Yeah. Yeah, we have no idea what they’re asking.

Emily Murnen: Right. So and I think that’s part of that training, especially for speakers who, you know, some of them are very comfortable virtually, but some of them they’re still kind of learning the difference between in-person and virtual. And that’s one of the trainings of making sure you’re repeating what someone’s saying in the chat or, yeah, and just making it to where the people on the replay, especially if you know that the replay is going to be a big part of it, that they’re not feeling left out.

Abby Herman: Yes, of course. Yes. Okay, so let’s say some listeners out there like Okay, I’m ready, I’m ready to host my event. I’m, you know, I’m on board, what are some things that they should consider before they go all in? Are there any questions they should ask themselves or any pre-work that they need to do before they start promoting something?

Emily Murnen: Absolutely. So I mean, the answer first answering those questions, kind of like well, who’s your audience? What are their pain points? And if you don’t know that, then you have a lot more research to do before you’re ready to start planning events. And then why do you want to do it like what? What’s in it for you kind of thing? And then like, how do you want them to feel so kind of answering those questions first, and then the best thing to do is pull your audience like hey, it’s kind of that presale idea like I’m thinking about hosting an event on this topic for X number of days and kind of give them like this is my thoughts like what do you think are you into it? Are you not would you would be interested in jumping on a phone call to like, see, like anything that kind of gauges? Do you have enough people that you want to be there?

And I think one thing that people need to know too is About 50% of people actually show up live, like, you know, I mean, and it ranges, you know, some events, you know, 30% because the replay is going to be a bigger thing. And then others, you know, it could be up to 80%. But not everyone’s showing up live. So what’s your kind of minimum number of people that you want to sign up knowing that not all of them are going to be there. So if you want at least 10 people at your event, like, shoot for getting 15 people to sign up, if you’re wanting 100 person event, like, you need to make sure that you have at least you know, 150 people that will sign up for your event. But I think pulling your audience is the first or the second step after kind of answering those like foundational questions. Because if you don’t have the audience to do it, then you need to kind of build an audience a little bit more. And you can definitely have speakers share with their audience, but you still need to have a foundational audience. And not just rely on speakers. I’ve seen some who only rely on speakers, and then they don’t quite get the attendance that the morning. And then once you realize, okay, I have enough interest, then you start working on that content. Okay, am I gonna have speakers? Is it just gonna be me? Like, what is the structure of the event? Yeah. Okay.

Abby Herman: And do you have a tool or anything that people can use to help them figure out the order in which they should complete things or get started?

Emily Murnen: Absolutely, yes, I have a checklist, a virtual event checklist. And it kind of has all the things you need to think through when planning your event. And so it’s really good just to read that through as well. Because then you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into, as well, like all the different things that it takes. And as you mentioned, the logistics aren’t as much as in person. But it’s still not a small task. Like if you’re going to plan an event, it is worth like, it is time-consuming everything from the marketing to finding the right speakers communicating, creating that really great agenda. All of that is time. So you want to make sure that you know what you’re getting into. But at the same time, it is a great way to you know, grow your audience, increase your impact and, and make a profit, like you can still make a profit from virtual events. Some of them are free, and they try to sell something at the end, others, you know, are charged. I mean, there’s so many different pricing models, but you can still make money if that’s what you want to do for your virtual.

Abby Herman: Yeah. Fantastic. This is such great information. I have some notes here as I continue to plan my virtual events. So thank you for that. I love it when that works out that way. Where can people find you online to find out more about you and to get more from you before your presentation at the summit?

Emily Murnen: Absolutely. So my website is wild Elm events. And that checklist is wild lm events slash checklist. I’m also on Instagram and Facebook, both at wild lm events. So you can find me at all the places LinkedIn, Emily Murnen. But I’d love to connect to you what, whether it’s social, or you can also email me and you can put the email in the show notes. But I’m always happy to hear from people. I’m excited to connect with people and help them create amazing virtual events. Because I really do think that it’s a great way to grow your business and connect with your people.

Abby Herman: Yeah. All right. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time and all of your expertise.

Emily Murnen: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It’s been great.

Abby Herman: There’s so much to consider when hosting an event right, whether it’s in person or virtual event that you’re planning. I’m looking forward to learning more about hosting a successful event at my own event, the content experiment summit. Remember that you can sign up for the waiting list at the content slash summit registration opens on February 26. If you found value in what you learned here today, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. tag me at Abby M Herman and Emily at wild Elm events. The more you share, the more we can get the podcast into the hands and earbuds of more business owners just like you who need to hear the message that they are not alone. Until next time, take care!

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