Hosting An Online Event? Here's a No-BS Guide
Necessity is the mother of invention, but all of us at Kaivalya Plays unintentionally have been following the mantra of necessity being the mother of creation, in the year that went by i.e. 2020.
With people being at home, the need to create and offer took the front seat at Kaivalya Plays. And that is what we did, we created and then we created a bit more.
In the last 6 months of 2020 alone, we conducted 30+ theatre workshops, 40+ improv workshops, 7 live performances, 3 digital theatre productions, conducted an entirely remote Theatre Management Fellowship and launched a new year-long Research Project that seeks to critically evaluate safety in Indian contemporary performing arts.
We reached close to 1500+ people from across 10 countries who attended one of our online sessions and close to 2000+ people from across 14 countries who watched one of our online shows.
We have now eased into the process of programming an event/workshop and wish that others benefit from our processes too.
Still from a session at Kaivalya Plays
Ideation and Creation
The entire year of 2020 for us was all about creating and re-evaluating according to the needs of our patrons. The process of programming an event/workshop/show involves inputs and ideas from everyone in the team and is eventually strategized and brought into the final form in which it is offered to everyone by either Varoon Anand (Artistic Director at Kaivalya Plays) or Gaurav Singh (General Manager at Kaivalya Plays). Once we realise the need of the hour it automatically helps in building an offering.
We are often approached by external people to work and design a collaborative offering. These involve inputs and approach from all the parties involved.
Finalizing The Details
Once the event/workshop being offered is decided the next step is to find a suitable time and day to conduct it. This involves checking the KP calendar for available slots (work calendar of all the team members are synced with each other on Google Calendar for a better understanding of availability of everyone and to avoid any kind of overlaps) and finding the best time to cater to different time zones, as people from all over the world attend and take part in our offerings.
Kaivalya Plays Calendar
After syncing the calendar, the process of announcing the event is initiated. We aim to target our audiences through various social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp.
We create the graphics and its adaptations for the event after studying the nature of it, so it can be reflected in the creatives. The designs should resonate with the audience.
It’s important for all the creatives to have a call to action which can help redirect your audiences to take the next step in order to be a part of the event. This call of action can be anything, from giving a link to register to providing contact information to get to know more about the event. The creatives should include major information like name of the event, date, time, venue/online event etc.
Some of the creative adaptations with their dimension for audience engagement are listed below:
Instagram Post | 1080x1080 pixels
Instagram Story | 1080x1920 pixels
Facebook Post | 1080x1080 pixels
Facebook Cover | 1200x628 pixels
Facebook Event Cover | 2050x780 pixels
Whatsapp Poster | 42x59.4 cms
Preloaded templates for all these platforms and many more can be found on Canva to work on.
Kaivalya Plays Canva
It’s very important for your event/workshop to get proper visibility. For this, social media promotions are not enough everytime. Listing your events on an event portal helps in bringing in a new audience and makes it easier to keep track of things.
At Kaivalya Plays we engage with audiences from various countries, so we find it helpful and convenient to list our events on both Indian portals and International portals. For Indian audience we use Insider to list all our events/workshops/courses and for the international audience we use Eventbrite.
It’s important to consider aspects like ease of money transfer, the target audience, efficient registration process etc. before deciding the portal you wish to go ahead with.
Kaivalya Plays Insider
Kaivalya Plays Eventbrite
We have our date, time & venue finalised along with our events listed on various platforms. A best practise is to make the zoom link or link of any other software you prefer pre-hand and keep it aside to avoid last minute rush.
At Kaivalya Plays, with the help of Google Calendar we create all our meeting links so it’s visible to everyone on their calendars as well.
If the listing portal you are using allows you to enter the meeting link beforehand, upload it on the portal so people receive the links at the time of registration itself.
Marketing & Promotion
A good way for your patrons and audience to know about your upcoming events is sending them a newsletter. This helps in reaching out to your database and not spamming them with individual mails again and again.
Kaivalya Plays is trying to bring back its monthly newsletter which we aim to send out at the beginning of every month. The portal we find best to store our database and design our newsletter is SendInBlue.
Our newsletters usually include a greeting from Kaivalya Plays along with a short note of what we’ve been upto. We also have a calendar for the month with all our upcoming events/workshops, which are also listed individually with a short description and a call of action.
Social Media Promotion
We take social media promotion and marketing very seriously. It’s the best way for us to reach out to our old and existing audience. We start with announcing our event on instagram and facebook and on instagram stories, where we tag people and accounts that can help us in spreading the word.
This is done 1-2 weeks ahead of the event and we try to do a second round of posts closer to the event date.
Through facebook we share the announcement in relevant facebook groups. Post that, facebook events are created where people can find more information about it.
During the week leading up to the event we share the event poster on our various relevant whatsapp groups. Some of the main groups that people can be a part of are :
Kaivalya Plays Updates (Join the list at bit.ly/kpupdates)
Kaivalya Plays Improv (Join the list at bit.ly/kpimprov)
Kaivalya Plays Español (Join the list at bit.ly/kpspanish)
Kaivalya Plays Instagram Kaivalya Plays Facebook
Email campaigns are usually run to reach out to the existing database of a particular event. People who have already attended the same event or an event of similar nature, are part of the email campaigns. These run 4-5 days before the event, so people have a chance to plan out their week accordingly if they are interested in attending.
These mails include the information about the upcoming event (date, time, venue, facilitator, fees). The important thing here as well is call to action, where people can go from that point to register for the event.
Depending on the other scheduled events in the months, sometimes information of those events are included as well.
These mails are sent out to all the people who have registered for the event/workshop. They include the link to the meeting, email id and name of the person who has registered and some details about how to join the meeting if it’s someone’s first time doing so.
During The Event
We have to make sure that people who have registered for the event are only admitted to the meeting. Making sure that people have renamed themselves with the name they have registered and are muted for the time when the facilitator is speaking. These tasks are usually carried out by a moderator in the room, but in case only the facilitator is available, he/she can take care of that too.
If in case Kaivalya Plays is recording the session, we inform all our participants of that and urge everyone to let us know if they have any issues during the session and they can turn off their video and audio at any given point. The facilitator/moderator is always available to help people out with any issues they are facing.
An announcement of Kaivalya Plays’s safety practices are made at the beginning of every event, which briefly includes not making fun of anything that is real in regards to a person & removing themselves from any situation that is making them uncomfortable (No questions/explanation will be asked regarding the situation but everyone is free to reach out to us).
At the end of the session, we take out time to talk about our other upcoming events and where people can learn more about that by sharing links in the chat. We encourage everyone to talk about any events they have coming up in the month people can be a part of. We also share the links to our whatsapp group for people who wish to receive updates about our events. Our events usually end with taking a screenshot of the room and a parting game.
Post The Event
A best practice we are trying to incorporate at Kaivalya Plays is updating our database after every event to be up-to-date with everything for future needs.
Sending a follow up mail to the attendees of the event is another best practice we are trying to bring back. These are thank you mails to the attendees along with the links that were shared during the session by Kaivalya Plays and other people as well and the screenshot of the group.
Programming an event is an on-going process at Kaivalya Plays, it never stops. Our calendar is usually packed with events/workshops/courses/jams all throughout the months. There is something for everyone at Kaivalya Plays, you just need to find your best fit, or better yet try something new and you might find a new love and passion along the way.