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5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Online Summit

Hosting an online summit has become a popular way to gather people from all around the world in one virtual space to network, collaborate, and learn. If you’ve ever considered hosting an online summit yourself, these 5 tips will help make your event a success.

1: Have a Main Goal

An online summit can look a million different ways. Having an overarching goal for your organization, and for attendees, will help streamline the planning and decision making process.

For Your Organization
As an organization, it can be tempting to have many goals, especially when organizing a big event like an online summit.
You may want to:

  • Grow your audience
  • Generate income
  • Raise brand awareness
  • Build community
  • Support your audience

The list could go on and on. There is nothing wrong with having several goals but you need to pick just one to prioritize over everything else. As the saying goes, “if you try to do everything, you’ll accomplish nothing.”

Go ahead and write a list of all the things you want to accomplish through your online summit. Then, pick just one that will be your main priority. This will help you stay focused and make decisions that support the outcome you want most.

For Attendees
Most people won’t sign up for an event, or anything for that matter, unless they know what is in it for them. Before you start planning, decide what “transformation” your online summit will offer attendees. What will they gain from participating? What will you help them do/learn/understand?

If you aren’t sure what to focus on, ask your audience. Either through email, social media, or a Google Form, ask your audience what topics they’d be interested in learning about or what they need help with. Then, use their answers to determine the overarching theme, or main goal, for your online summit.

If you don’t currently have an audience, you can still create a useful online summit. First, create your ideal attendee profile (similar to a client profile) and then go where that person would go.

-Visit the Facebook groups you think they’d be in.
-Follow the Instagram accounts that would interest them.
-Search related topics on Google to find what information they are looking for.

Use your research to choose a topic that solves a problem your ideal attendee is experiencing.

Being able to clearly explain the problem your online summit will solve gives people a clear reason to attend and will help you create irresistible marketing materials that compel people to sign up.

2: Set a Budget

Having a clear budget before you start planning will help you stay focused on what matters most. It is possible for your online event to be successful and cost-effective.

The problem is, there are millions of options available, like fancy event platforms, made for your marketing materials, and even people who will run your online summit for you. It’s easy to get carried away and start spending money on things you don’t really need. The great thing about online events is that they can be super low budget. You just have to stay focused and avoid shiny object syndrome.

3: Use Your Network

When searching for speakers, or even conference attendees, don’t forget to reach out to your own network first.

For Speakers
Reaching out to people you already know to become your conference speakers has several advantages over reaching out to strangers.

For one, you already know them so there is no need to do additional vetting to make sure they are a good fit for your event. Two, it is much less intimidating to reach out to someone you already know. And three, they are more likely to say yes because they already have a relationship with you. (Who wouldn’t want to help out a friend?!!)

If a potential speaker does have to decline the offer to participate in your event, ask them if they have any speaker recommendations. Being able to say “[name] recommended you as a speaker for my online summit,” instantly gives you a bit of credibility, making it more likely for the person you are contacting to say yes.

For Attendees
First of all, you should be creating this event to serve an audience- one you already have, or one you are working to grow. The first people you want to tell about the event are the people you created the event for.

However, you shouldn’t stop there. Keep spreading the word about your online summit by:

  • Asking your current audience to tell their friends.
  • Telling your friends (even the ones who don’t fit your ideal attendee profile).
  • Reaching out to like-minded organizations.
  • Messaging people you interact with on social media.
  • Talking to business owners in your niche.

Basically, tell everyone you know, even if you think they won’t be interested. Even if your online summit isn’t their cup of tea, they probably know someone who would be interested. Another perk of online events is that there usually isn’t a maximum capacity. The more people you invite, the more people you get to actually attend.

4: Communication, Communication, Communication

Planning a virtual event requires a lot of clear communication, especially if you are including people from various time zones and locations. It is better to communicate too much than not enough.

Here are some key points you’ll want to be sure to share with your speakers:
-The details of their session: time, date, meeting link (include a time zone calculator for anyone outside of your timezone)
-Tips for success
-Event marketing materials
-Reminders before the date/time of their session
-Feedback from their session
-Overall results and a thank you message

Here are some details you’ll need to share with attendees:
-Time and date of the summit (include a time zone calculator for anyone outside of your timezone)
-How to join
-Easy marketing messaging they can share with friends (something they could copy and paste to social media or text to a friend, inviting people to join them at the summit)
-Tips for getting the most out of the online summit
-Reminder emails before the event
-Summary emails after the event
-Links to replays
-Next steps after the summit ends (how to keep learning or stay connected).

5: Expect the Unexpected

As they say, “the devil is in the details.” No matter how well you plan, something will come up. It’s Murphy’s Law ;). Try your best to plan for unexpected events ahead of time so that you don’t find yourself scrambling in the moment.

Have a plan for what you will you do if:

  • A speaker cancels at the last minute
  • You get sick on the day of the event
  • Your internet goes down
  • A speaker is unable to connect for their session
  • Any other unexpected disaster you can think of

If that list gave you enough anxiety to decide to cancel your online summit before you even started planning it, stop and take a deep breath.

All things worth doing in life are hard. If you have valuable information that you want to get out into the world and you believe that an online summit is the best way to do it, you can make it happen.

Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? 100%.

We can’t control everything in life. Figuring out how to work with what we’ve got is the fun part ;). This list isn’t meant to scare you. It exists to help you feel prepared, empowered and equipped.

With careful preparation and clear communication, you can create an event that provides valuable content to attendees while helping to grow your network of like-minded individuals.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to jump in and host the best virtual event possible! Good luck!

VANESSA RUIZ is a writer, educator, parent coach and the host of the Families Embracing Diversity Conference. As the mom of two bilingual, cross cultural boys, she understands how hard it is to raise confident multicultural kids. Through her website, Families Embracing Diversity, she helps parents raise confident multicultural kids who know how to foster healthy cross-cultural relationships and advocate for themselves and others. Find her at

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