Marisa Murgatroyd's

The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Super Successful Virtual Event:

10 Proven Ways to Boost Energy, Engagement and Excitement Online So You Can Keep ‘Em Hooked from Start to Finish

About Image

Welcome

Hi, I’m Marisa Murgatroyd. Founder of Live Your Message.

If you’re like most entrepreneurs I know, you’re afraid of the spotlight. But what if I told you there’s a way to feel excited about being the face and voice of your business?

Prologue

Right now more and more businesses are going virtual and a ton of people are experiencing online learning for the first time.

And the way I see it, entrepreneurs with virtual programs, courses, or trainings have a huge opportunity ahead of them to create massive impact AND massive income.

But what if your online business is built around in-person seminars, retreats, or trainings?

Can you translate that transformational energy that only seems to happen when you get a group of people in a room together to a virtual event?

How do you tap into the power of game-changing group experiences, when most participants are miles apart -- and sometimes oceans apart -- from each other?

Seems like an impossible task and for the longest time a lot of people believed you couldn’t take “live” and turn it “virtual.”

But as the saying goes necessity is the mother of invention.

Coming to a Computer Near You

When Covid-19 hit, it suddenly became a priority for a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs to master the art of bringing the power and passion of real-world experiences to a computer near you :-)

Some of our most popular and profitable trainings at Live Your Message (LYM) happen to be in person events and we had to quickly figure out how to take what I do in the room and transfer it into a digital format.

At a recent virtual event for our yearlong Mentorship program, we integrated 10 incredibly effective, pump-up-the-volume methods to raise energy, engagement and excitement…

And all 10 worked together like gangbusters :-)

You might have heard of my Experience Formula, which includes 10 Core Experiences that can be integrated into just about any type of online training so students will stay motivated all the way to the end of the program, and see real results.

So what I’m going to do today, is show you how to take the 10 Core Experiences from the Experience Formula and apply them to your next virtual event so you can keep people hooked from start to finish, while creating the kind of power and magic most people only thought possible in a live, in person event.

Sound good? Great! Let’s get started.

The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Super Successful Virtual Event

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Don’t Have Time to Read This Game-Changing Guide Right This Minute? Click here to get the PDF version and read it anytime you want!

Core Experience #1:

Set an Irresistible Mission

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You’ll never get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you’re going in the first place!

That’s why Core Experience #1 is all about setting a focused goal, theme or as we like to call it -- mission -- for your virtual event so participants know exactly where they’re going with your event.

When you Set a Mission for your event, people can feel the excitement as they look forward to all that juicy goodness that you’re about to share.

Plus it’s a critical part of the marketing phase because potential participants will know exactly what they’ll walk away with.

At our recent virtual event for Mentorship students called “Taking Your Business Virtual & Becoming Indispensable” we set daily themes or missions, so there was a compelling reason to get excited to participate each and every day.

Day 1: Land of Plenty, World in Scarcity

On Day 1 we helped students pivot their business and their offers so they could continue to be relevant -- and even indispensable -- during a time when people are concerned about their economic future and watching every dollar. We also helped them create a vision for how they could do this while honoring who they are and how they want to show up online, because it's more important than ever to be in full alignment with your business.

Day 2: Virtual Business Mastery

On Day 2, the focus was on designing extraordinary virtual customer experiences and cultivating virtual lead generation channels that can bring in ideal clients and customers with very little effort.

Day 3: Make $$$ With Your Mouth

Then, on our final day together, we walked our students through crafting a high-converting offer and selling it on a webinar. We showed participants exactly how to reverse engineer their webinar for leads and sales, while addressing objections and creating FOMO.

Core Experience #2:

Create a Future Self Vision

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While Setting an Irresistible Mission is all about defining what your participants will walk away with... a Future Self Vision is why this matters.

What will life look like for your participants once your event is over?

A compelling Future Self Vision can motivate your participants to both invest in your event and engage fully...

We opened our Taking Your Business Virtual retreat with what we called the “Land of Plenty” exercise (co-facilitated by content marketing expert Michelle Falzon), where we walked participants through a creative visualization exercise to tune in to what they really want and what their unique path to plenty looks like...

Then they wrote or drew out their Land of Plenty and got together in groups to interpret the meaning and significance of their vision.

Here's a clip of me explaining my Land of Plenty in this workshop...

This exercise added a fun, creative element to the retreat and helped set up the rest of our 3 days together from a place of abundance and inspiration. This felt especially important to do since the workshop happened right in the middle of the COVID-19 quarantine and Black Lives Matter protests, and I knew that some students were coming in with heavy hearts.

The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Super Successful Virtual Event

Pressed for Time?

Don’t Have Time to Read This Game-Changing Guide Right This Minute? Click here to get the PDF version and read it anytime you want!

Core Experience #3:

Share the Bird's Eye View

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A big problem with a lot of events -- virtual or otherwise -- is that participants feel overwhelmed and confused because they’re not sure what’s going on and what to expect next, so it's hard for them to trust the container and relax into the process.

Bird’s Eye View resolves all of that and more because it’s about taking your participants up to a much higher level so they can get a clear overview of what to expect long before your event even begins!

In our case, we mailed participants a physical binder that included a daily schedule, worksheets, and essential links and resources. This gave participants a clear picture of what would happen each day...

Everything in the binder helped people get a clear picture on what would happen each day and during each session.

So Mission is about clearly defining the what...

Future Self Vision is about conveying the why...

And Bird's Eye View is all about showing the how -- the exact steps or process for getting to Mission Accomplished.

Plus there was an added benefit of mailing out physical binders: They helped “materialize” what could have felt like an intangible, virtual event and gave participants a multi-sensory experience by activating their sense of touch. (We did a couple other things to boost sensory experience, check out Core Experience #4 and Core Experience #6).

Core Experience #4:

Constant Wins

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You’ve probably sat through a virtual event that’s inflicted with the “Talking Head Syndrome” where you watch the speaker drone on and on into the camera…

And you’re ready to quit after a couple of hours (or maybe even minutes!)

So you definitely don’t want that to happen at your event and that’s where constant wins come in.

Constant Wins helps people stay continuously motivated and engaged so they develop a “stick with it” attitude and stay all the way to the last session on the last day.

With Taking Your Business Virtual, we maximized the power of Constant Wins by adding a Star Chart and sheet of gold stickers in the back cover of our binders. There was one or more Wins to collect in each and every session -- such as "Outlined My Webinar" and "Invited 2 People to Be a Joint Venture Partner" -- so participants never felt like they were passive observers, they were taking action each step of the way...

Then at the end of each session, we held up the Star Chart, reinforced the Wins for that session and encouraged everyone to give themselves a gold star...

This does a couple things:

1) For most of us, it triggers childhood memories of getting (or not getting) gold stars

2) It activates Cialdini's Second Principle of Persuasion: The Commitment & Consistency Principle... It's scientifically-proven that as humans we tend to take action aligned with past actions...

In other words, once we start collecting stars, we can't stop. We feel compelled to complete the Star Chart...

And, of course, we incentivize completion. Everyone who completed the Star Chart and posted it to Facebook, got a bonus half-day workshop with me where I helped them craft their webinar opt-in page from the all-important title to the bullet points that sell people on signing up... cha-ching!

Core Experience #5:

Normalizing Challenges

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Normalizing Challenges is all about creating a rock-solid container for your event by addressing the distractions and interruptions participants may face head-on.

The biggest problems with virtual events -- unlike live events -- is that participants are doing them in the context of their lives...

So while they're attending the event, they're often still managing meals and dishes, and taking care of kids, pets and parents in the background... and it can be so easy to get distracted and miss a huge chunk of the event.

So leading into the event, we did Facebook lives where we talked about the importance of treating the retreat as if they were flying to LA to join us in person. I.e. let everyone in their life know that they needed 100% focus with no interruptions for the 3 days we were together. We recommended they take care of their meals in advance... and arrange pet-sitting or childcare.

Since we knew just how important it was to hold the container, we made sure to start every session on time -- to the minute. And we created a Bingo Game to reinforce it.

Unlike traditional Bingo where each participant gets a unique card, we sent all participants the same bingo card and had them write-in words we would call out in the first 5 minutes and last 5 minutes of each session.

The first person to type in Zoom chat "BINGO" got a bonus 60-minute private coaching session with the coach of their choice.

And everyone who completed the WHOLE bingo card and emailed it in to us got to attend a bonus half-day laser coachathon with me around pivoting their messaging in response to current events, so they sound pitch perfect and not tone deaf like so many entrepreneurs.

This encouraged participants to attend from our very first sessions and stay all the way to the end of each day...

We also did small things like have participants hold up their cell phone and set an alarm together right before each break, so they wouldn't forget when we were coming back...

And after each break, we had students volunteer to lead a 3-minute movement exercise to help everyone get back in their bodies and ready to learn more.

All these things helped to normalize the challenges and Zoom fatigue that come from trying to do an intensive 3-day retreat from your home...

The Ultimate Guide to Hosting a Super Successful Virtual Event

Pressed for Time?

Don’t Have Time to Read This Game-Changing Guide Right This Minute? Click here to get the PDF version and read it anytime you want!

Core Experience #6:

Peak Emotional Experiences

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So many entrepreneurs invest a ton of time and energy crafting high-value content for their virtual event and end up feeling totally dejected and disappointed when it bombs.

And I’ve found that it’s usually because they forget to integrate a very important ingredient -- Peak Emotional Experiences.

Peak Emotional Experiences create unforgettable memories and bring people together in a powerful, positive way. They help your participants feel seen, cared for and connected to each other -- and to you.

At Taking Your Business Virtual, we created a Peak Emotional Experience in an exercise on Creating Community.

Before going into our Blind Date Prospect Prom (see Core Experience #8), I wanted to really warm the community up to each other and encourage each participant to take full responsibility for how they were showing up in the community, because I know that some people tend to be more community-oriented than others.

I had also been thinking deeply about "Inclusion" and how to create a community that included all kinds of students -- whether they were naturally community-oriented or not.

So I designed an exercise to help students identify and normalize their instinctual relationship to community, which helped many participants understand why they always felt like an outsider. Or why they may have felt like they didn't belong up until now...

This allowed them to take full responsibility for their experience, rather than blaming it on the program or assuming this wasn't their tribe...

We ended the exercise by having participants open an envelope that we had sent in their goodie boxes -- it was marked:

"You ______."
DO NOT OPEN until Marisa gives you the cue on Friday afternoon. Make sure you have your camera turned on for the reveal!

Inside the envelope was a postcard with the phrase "I Belong." We printed these postcards in different colors and fonts to symbolize all the different forms of belonging...

The result? This exercise was even more powerful than I had imagined and so many students had huge breakthroughs about how they were showing in community, as well as how they were approaching building community in their own programs... and yes there were a few tears too!

It was also super powerful to see everyone holding up their "I Belong" cards at the same time... and witnessing all the different forms of belonging.

Core Experience #7:

Feedback Loops

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Ever been to a virtual event where you’re physically there but you’ve totally checked out mentally and emotionally? You suddenly realize that you have no idea what’s going on and even worse… you don’t care!

So one of the most effective ways to prevent this from happening to your participants is to integrate Feedback Loops throughout your event.

Feedback Loops are about having regular check-ins with your audience to take the pulse on how they're feeling... and turn what could feel like a monologue into a conversation.

Plus, this let's you know you're on track as you can quickly see who's feeling lost, confused or left behind.

But here’s the thing…

Creating effective Feedback Loops for a virtual event can be tricky business.

Think about it…

If you stop to ask questions and try to read every, single comment in the chat box every few minutes… your event would never end!

At Taking Your Business Virtual, we created Feedback Loop through a shared visual language in the form of hand signals that give us instant insight into what people were experiencing in the moment.

For instance, we asked participants to give us the thumbs up sign if they understood what I was saying, thumbs to the side if they were a little confused and a thumbs down if it was a “Nope… I’m totally lost!” situation.

We also used a simple, number-based system to gauge how people were feeling. They’d either type in the chat box or hold up their fingers… 5 for “I’m feeling amazing!” and 1 for “I’m totally overwhelmed!”

And of course there was the "fire" hand signal... where they'd hold their hands and wiggle their fingers when something was "hot"...

And our signature "love bomb" gesture after someone shares something powerful...

So I highly recommend that you create your own visual language for your virtual event.

I’ve found that it works like a charm and it’s a simple, elegant solution to creating a Feedback Loop in a way where people feel instantly understood and taken care of.

Core Experience #8:

Community

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When it comes to online events, Community is the glue that holds all the other pieces together.

It doesn’t matter how great your content is or how much value you share, if there’s no sense of Community -- if people don’t feel a sense of belonging and connection with you and with each other -- the entire experience can feel cold, boring and meaningless.

We consciously nurtured Community at Taking Your Business Virtual, in a number of different ways.

Each morning we held Coffee Talk sessions for the 30-minutes before the first session started...

I even had custom mugs made that we sent to each participant in their goodie box, so we weren't just sharing a cup of coffee together each morning, we were drinking from the same mugs.

I got the mugs printed with a fun slogan, “I Make Money with My Mouth,” that captured one of the core outcomes of the event (and our Mission for Day 3, see Core Experience #1) and I asked participants to have them ready on Day 1!

During these morning jam sessions, we'd share around daily themes -- such as favorite books or meaning photos -- that gave us a chance to connect and get to know each other before the event actually started.

The other thing that we did was to leverage the community for referrals and JV partnerships using collaborative Google docs...

We had a group exercise we called the Blind Date Prospect Prom, inspired by a "blind date prom" party we had each year in the coop I lived in during college... we put up a big chart on the wall with everyone's names on it, where we'd each describe our perfect date and one of our housemates would go out and find that date for us...

We basically did the same thing during the retreat for ideal clients.

Participants contributed to a collaborative doc where each person could describe their ideal prospect and write a cut-and-paste email that we could use to refer them to a potential customer.

The idea was for everyone to give 3 referrals and get 3 referrals. This way people walked away with something tangible… 3 potential ideal clients or customers.

Plus the activity helped take the training we shared in a virtual setting out into the real world where it made a real difference in people's lives.

While the GoogleDoc got a little hairy since the tech was new to many participants, I know I personally gave and got 3 referrals and that can have a lot of value!

I always like to say that you already know everyone you need to to have a highly-profitable business, you just have to get good at nurturing the communities you're a part of... :)

That was just one of the many exercises we crafted to deep our community connections and forge new friendships among participants.

Moving on to...

Core Experience #9:

Unstoppable Momentum

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At most virtual events, things start out with a huge bang on Day 1 when everyone’s super motivated...

But then all that excitement quickly fizzles out and people are left feeling bored and uninspired to keep going.

Unstoppable Momentum helps you avoid the downward death spiral by pacing and sequencing your event to build momentum each step of the way... by getting people to take action and keep taking action towards Mission Accomplished.

One great way to do that is to make sure each piece of your event builds on the one prior to it... so all your sessions stack together and create a clear path to realizing the promise of your event.

Another way relates back to The Commitment & Consistency Principle we talked about earlier...

When you use Constant Wins early and often, participants gain momentum right away and keep it.

In our Taking Your Business Virtual retreat, we created Unstoppable Momentum with the personal Star Charts and Bingo Cards... within 5 minutes of the retreat starting, they got their first Bingo word... and then collected the first Star at the end of the first session...

This initial Win followed by each new word and new star, created a feeling of accomplishment and momentum that had them speeding all the way to completion.

Another big benefit was that the Bingo Card and Star Chart are powerful visual props that let participants see -- in a glance -- exactly how far they've come and how far they had to go…

And that created even more motivation and momentum!

Core Experience #10:

Mission Accomplished

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Mission Accomplished is about ending your event in a way that allows participants to feel a real sense of pride and achievement.

And we usually do this with celebration, gifts and rewards.

We had a fun, closing ceremony at Taking Your Business Virtual where we invited everyone to a virtual dance party that included a “live” DJ :-)

And we had participants unwrap the final "do not open until" gifts we included in their goodie boxes...

A fun, 3D "Bad Ass" sticker they could put on their laptop or cell phone... the idea being that, now that they've completed the retreat, they're officially bad asses.

We also integrated Mission Accomplished by giving high-value bonus gifts to everyone who completed the Bingo Board and Star Chart. One of the bonuses was a special live workshop that completed our Day 3 theme and another was a half-day laser coachaton with yours truly.

The last gold star on the Star Chart was extra special because it required participants to set a date for the webinar we had worked on together all day... and I jokingly made them promise to send back their Bad Ass sticker if they didn't follow-through with the webinar...

So the final star -- and bonus prizes -- weren't just about achieving Mission Accomplished at the event, they extended out after the event was over, so it felt like the gift that kept on giving.

Epilogue

From Mind-Numbing to Mind-Blowing

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The truth is that any one of these 10 Core Experiences has the power to elevate your next virtual event but if you really want to dial things up, think about how you can integrate 5, 7 -- or even all 10 -- of these Core Experiences.

If you do, you’ll sidestep mind-numbing and go straight to mind-blowing and have your participants talking about your virtual event for weeks -- or maybe even months -- to come :-)

And it’s because you’ll know exactly how to get your participants feeling genuinely enthusiastic and excited.

You’ll get them to take action again and again and stay motivated all the way to the end where they can see real results.

And here’s the thing...

You can achieve these same extraordinary results not just with virtual events but also in your online courses and programs.

I’ve created an in-depth training that shows you exactly how to apply the Experience Formula to online courses. It’s called The New Online Education Goldrush: How "In the Know" Online Course Creators Are Making an Impact.

Get free instant access now

During this zero-cost workshop you’ll learn:

  • How to increase what you can charge, reduce student dropouts, while skyrocketing completion, success & repeat sales by 10-30X (seriously!)
  • Why refund rates for online trainings are about to go way up (and what you need to do to stop yours from going through the roof!)
  • How 1 small tweak on how you sell & deliver your information can literally mean the difference between making record sales & struggling to make ends meet
  • The 3 unlikely yet powerful techniques to create the kind of course people are looking for now (and actively buying)

We used these same strategies that you’ll learn in this free workshop to take our students from the industry-standard 3% course completion rate to a whopping 42%!

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Now it’s your turn…

I’ve shared 10 different ways you can add that extra special “ooopmh” to take your virtual event from mind-numbing all the way to mind-blowing and now I want to know…

What’s YOUR personal favorite and why? Share in the comments. I read and reply to each one :-)