Episode 114: How to Host Your First Virtual Summit
Have you noticed people are hosting a lot more virtual summits these days? As you probably know, we recently hosted our first She’s Off Script virtual summit.
Today, I’m giving you a behind the scenes look into what that was like to host our first virtual summit. I’ll be sharing everything from how I found our speakers to the tech, legal, and logistics side of it all.
Given that I hope to make these virtual summits a staple part of this podcast platform, I definitely want to share the journey with you all.
If you’ve ever considered, hosting a virtual summit, I hope you can learn from my experience and the lessons I’ll be sharing.
Listen on Apple Podcasts
You’ll learn about:
- Why I decided to host a virtual summit
- Is hosting a summit right for you?
- The benefits of hosting a virtual summit
- How to find speakers for your virtual summit
- The legal stuff a.k.a speaker agreements
- The logistics and Tech
Mentioned in this episode:
when you think about the fact that I was planning this summit by myself while recording regular episodes of this podcast and then also minding the business that pays me, which is clients on the pill and go side of the house. It was a lot. So the next time around I'm not only going to give myself mawr time, but I'm also going to get more help. High Off-Scripters. It's your host, Serwaa Adjei-Pellé and welcome to Episode 1 14 of the She's Off Script podcast Thistles, a show where we hear and learn from women who've created unique blue friends for success. My hope is that you'll hear their stories and translate their gems into a unique path for yourself.
As you probably know, we recently hosted our first She's Off Script virtual summit. Today I'm giving you a behind the scenes look into what it was like to host it. I'll be sharing everything from how I found the speakers to tech legal logistics, all of it. Given that I do plan to make these virtual some, it's a staple part of this podcast platform. I definitely want to share this journey with you all. If you've ever considered hosting a virtual summit. I hope you can learn from my experience and all the lessons I learned through this process. Before we dive into this episode. I would love it if you could subscribe, rate and review our show on iTunes. This will help to spread the word about our podcast so amazing stories we share. It can continue to inspire women looking to launch their own Off-Scripters Ernie's with that. Let's go off script as I give you a behind the scenes look into how I created and ran our first virtual summit. Okay, let's dive right into first things first. Why did I decide to host a virtual summit, especially given I mentioned earlier that I want these summits to be a stable part of our podcast platform? Why am I going in this direction? I have to be honest and saying that I've seen a lot of summits floating around the Internet these days just because we have been limited by co Vedas, faras, Hominy in person, live events we can host. So in place of that, we've seen lots of platforms popping up that allow people toe have virtual conferences, So I think it was great seeing those number one, and then, secondly, I was invited to participate in a virtual summit, so I also got to see it from that perspective. And I would say that was a good hurdle for me to overcome and seeing that logistically, this is how it's working. And I thought, Hey, I could definitely do this But secondly, I know many of you have shared that this podcast is a source of inspiration for you. But I also acknowledge that within the 30 minute span of our episode, on average, it's going to be difficult to dive deep into the things that really matter to you all. Yes, the stories that we cover a Sfar as our guest backgrounds are interesting. Yes, it's good to have a little bit of insight into the blueprints that they've used to get to where they are, but we don't get deep into any particulate topics. So I wanted to start having these virtual master classes as a way for us to explore different topics and for you all to be able to come away from those summits with some tangible tools that you could say, Hey, I went to this summit. This is my worksheet. This is the workbook. I got these air, the tools and tactics I was taught. And now I'm excited to go implement. That's really what I want to see come out of these virtual summit. So that's why I'm hosting it in short.
But now I know some of you are wondering Well, I've also been seen these summits floating around instagram Facebook Wherever.
Should I do it? Is this right for me? And I know a lot of service based businesses have been participating, but I'm sure, as a product based business, you could probably also participate, especially if you're going to give people more of a behind the scenes view into what it is that you're doing. So I would say hosting a summit requires a lot of time, and it requires an extreme level of organization. So if you already have a full plate and you're not going to be able to get additional help toe handle all the moving pieces that come with hosting a summit, then having a summit may not be for you, and you probably just want to limit yourself to participating in the summit. So, Thea other thing, you need to get comfortable with is pitching people. You need to be comfortable with reaching out to different people that you may or may not know well and asking them to participate. You need to be comfortable in advance of making that ask. Be comfortable with networking with people that you think you may be interested in working with in the future. Because if you're not comfortable doing that, your level of success when it comes to actually getting a yes from people when you ask them to come onto your summit or speak at your summit is not going to be that great. So you need to be comfortable with networking and pitching and number three, you need to be comfortable with technology. I know there are a lot of tools out there, and if you are someone who like me, is, ah, little bit of a nerd. When it comes to technology, I love diving into it, exploring technology, seeing how different moving pieces connect. I love that stuff. So even if I come across a new piece of technology that I need to use for something like the one I use for this virtual summit, I was really excited to just dive into it and try to figure out how to use it. And within the course of a couple of days after watching a few YouTube videos, I was fairly comfortable with using the tools. So if that's you, if you are comfortable navigating new technology, then sure, I think hosting a Summit virtual Summit might be great for you.
So the next thing is, what are the benefits of hosting a virtual summit? So for me as the host, I think it was a great way for me to expand the podcast community. But from a personal perspective, I thought it was a great way for me to build my network. As you can imagine, just the guests that we have on here are a great way for me to build my personal network, but also the fact that now I have a different facet of this platform where I'm engaging in reaching out to other people, other business owners. That's another way for me to network. And I love to do that.
I think, from a selfish perspective, from a business perspective for this platform, I was able to increase our email list. I'll talk a little bit more about that and then also given that I didn't have a budget to pay speakers.
This is where the pitching comes in, right? I needed to be able to show those speakers what the benefit was for them to come onto my platform. And I would say, given the kind of people I reached out to, they didn't have large audiences. So we were in a similar space and that we all wanted to get exposure to new audiences and especially since we were all going to be actively promoting the event to our own audiences. I think that was a great perk for us in that we were all going to get exposure to each other's audiences that were going to be attending this event now for our audiences. It was a free event and had some great resource is that our audiences can leverage. And so I thought it was an amazing perk for me to turn around to my audience and say, Hey, I know these are things that you have been interested in here. The resource is that I'm not necessarily an expert at, but I'm thinking of you and I have been able to gather their resource is that you need. So I think it's a win win win all around in that it was an opportunity for us to bring value to all the different facets of our lives and our businesses. So now let's talk about how I found speakers. I think this is an area that a lot of people wonder about because when you look at the different summits that have been going around there, some that have 30 40 speakers, it's a lot. So for those of us that don't have a large network or a large community, you may start wondering, Well, where am I going to find all these people for me just to start off with? For this first summit, I had seven speakers or seven people who taught master classes, so I intentionally kept the number small because this was my first time. So I wanted to make sure that the logistics and everything were solidly in place before I went bigger. Execution is very important to me. One of the compliments I got from someone about the summit was that it was well executed, and that's probably one of the best compliments that you can give me is that things have worked like a well oiled machine. That's important to me from a customer experience perspective. And that's just how I like to run my business and my life in general. So the fact that I was able to keep it small and then keep the experience as a quality experience is something that I valued this first time around and, of course, going forward. So given that each of these summits that I plan on hosting are going to have a theme, I think it made it a little bit easier to find the people for the summit. So we had a money, summit or money focus summit. So ways in which people can build generational wealth and what I did was given that a lot of my audiences on Instagram I assumed people talking about money who are targeting my audience would also be on Instagram. So that's where I started. I looked for just in the search bar, looked for people who are talking about things that were money and finance related. Um, and I also searched Hashtags about money and finance related things. So as a side note, I would say that's why it's very important. We're talking about content strategy now. I think it's very important that you're using the relevant hashtags when you're posting content, and that also, whenever you're posting content, you want to make sure that that content demonstrates your expertise because I didn't have a lot of time. So at a glance, I needed to be able to tell whether or not this person knew what they were talking about. Another thing to consider when you're looking for speakers is toe. Look for speakers who have some sort of reach because you'll be counting on those speakers to help you promote the event. I'll talk a little bit about that later as well. And you also want to pick people who are not only knowledgeable about what they do but are also comfortable speaking and conveying that knowledge. Because, after all, I was asking them to teach master classes so they needed to be able to convey that message very clearly to my audience because unfortunately for better or worse, that's going to count against me is a summit host. If I bring people who don't know how to clearly communicate right, that's a waste of people's time if they walk away thinking, and I didn't really get anything from that or I didn't understand what that person was saying. I looked for people who had video tutorials on their instagram or who had already been on virtual summits or on podcast. I think that gave me a clue as to how they would perform in my summit. The next thing is, I want people who have engaging personalities, right, So if they're able to convey their message in a fun and engaging way, that's a plus. But also I want to make sure that they haven't engaged audience. When they talk to their people, talk back to them. Other people commenting back, Are there people you know? Amen ing and yes, ing their comments and posts, I want to make sure that I could get a similar reaction for my audience during the summit. It's important to also share some numbers, and of the 24 people I reached out to, I ended up having seven of them join the summit. So that's about a 30% conversion rate, so yours may be higher or lower, just depending on the way you approach these people. So if you want, for example, 30 or 40 people like those different summits I mentioned have you may need to pitch 100 people in order to see that kind of a return. And, of course, if you imagine how people manage their inboxes, not everyone is gonna have the bandwidth to respond to you that very day. So you wanna build in a good amount of time to allow people to think about what it is you're asking them and figure out whether or not they're interested in saying yes or no?
I would say another sidebar here. I've talked about how speakers can make themselves appear to be credible and to make themselves look appealing to people like me trying to find them for some it. But I would say you also as a person reaching out to these speakers. You also need to have your house in order, because if people receive your pitch and they look you up and you just don't seem like you're credible, especially if someone doing this for the very first time I have no virtual summit experience. And so something about me has to speak to my value enough or speak to my credibility enough for these speakers to say yes to come onto my platform. I think it helps that I have a podcast already that has 100 plus episodes available, and people can look at that. They could look at my website or my social media presence and see that. Okay, yeah, this person does know what they're talking about, so that's just kind of a note to you. If you are pitching people to come onto your platform, just have your house in order. So for them, you are someone that they want to be associated with. All right, So once I had gotten people to say yes to joining the summit,
I first of all asked them to sign a speaker agreement. So this is more from the legal perspective. I'm not a lawyer, but I would say bottom line, it's important that you protect yourself and the main thing. I asked every speaker Waas to give me permission to edit, package and sell their content in my summit because, of course the content they're sharing is their intellectual property. However, given that they're sharing it on my platform, I wanted to be clear that I would be marketing their content and that I would be selling access passes for people to access that content after the 1st 24 hours because the platform I used to host it was not free, and I didn't have a sponsor, so I needed to be able to recoup some of that cost in some way. And that was gonna happen through selling extended access passes to the content, which wasn't all mine. So that's one of the things that I wanted to make sure that the agreement would cover. And then next the agreement asked them to help me promote the summit because, as I said, we all had smaller audiences, So this was going to be a very collaborative effort so that rising tide was going toe lift all of our boats if we all marketed the event to our audiences, so I will say not everyone was comfortable with this. Some people actually did drop out after initially agreeing to participate, because they just were not comfortable with the terms of the agreement. But it's not gonna be for everyone, which once again, is why you probably want to build in a good amount of time because you may think that you've made the right numbers and then people drop out of the summit. But of course, the agreement asked that people agreed to record their sessions by a certain date they agreed to promote by certain times, and they agreed to be available for whatever was required of them throughout the summit.
Okay, so next Waas, of course, the logistics and technology. I would say this is probably the area most people are hesitant about when you think about hosting a virtual summit. So for me, I hosted the whole event on Caja B in doing research and also in looking at other virtual summits I had attended. Some of them hosted them on their own websites. Others used Punjabi. I wanted to try out Punjabi. So while it's a pricey platform, I would say the fact that it came with a two week trial. I think it was two weeks. It really allowed me to play around with it and set things up before I paid for everything or paid for anything. And once I could see that it worked, I was comfortable staying on there, but to a job is credit. It's so extremely intuitive when it comes to building landing pages, sending emails to the audience that was subscribing to or registering for the summit, also building offers as well as creating and selling that course content. Because after the summit, I repackaged all the video content from the summit into a course so that everyone can have their content in the library right there with all of the downloadable is that came along with each session,
and from a logistics perspective, I pre recorded the majority of the sessions within, say, a four week window. So part of that agreement was that the speakers had to make themselves available to record their sessions in advance far in advance of the summit, so that it gave me the time I needed just toe edit all the video content and to apply branding to each video as well. One of the other compliments I received about the summit was just how professional and clean all the videos looked, and that was my goal, because once again, I don't have any credit in this space, right? I've never listened to some it before, so it's important when you're in the online space toe have visual appeal. And when people came across the summit, I wanted them to feel like, Oh, this looks like it's well put together. I don't know anything about it, but the topics looks good. It looks good. It looks like the content is gonna be worth my time. Let me click on it. So that was very important to me. So if you're not gifted when it comes to graphics video editing definitely hire someone. If you don't spend any other money, I would spend money on those two things. In fact, for our next summit, I'm probably gonna outsource that part of it, especially because it is extremely time consuming and labor intensive. Because I also created marketing materials for each speaker. They had personalized graphics. I also created sample copy for social media captions and their email bus as well. So just think about how much work that is for seven people versus 30 40 people, depending on how big that summit is going to be. For me, it was fairly easy second nature, because I have been using adobes product suite since high school. So Photoshop in design, all of that stuff premiere pro. It's second nature for me, so it didn't take a lot of effort for me just to whip things up. But I also gave myself an ample amount of time within which to do it, and I don't I still don't think it was enough. We'll also talk more about that. And then the other thing I would say from a logistics perspective, is a big part of the summit from me was building community. So I used our podcast Facebook group as a hub for speakers and summit attendees to connect. So after each session, I had a thread that popped up so that people could jump into the Facebook group and ask questions. And I love that. The speakers made themselves available to come back into the Facebook group and asked people's questions, and I saw that some great connections were made in that as I mentioned the value for the speakers. Ah, lot of the summit attendees wanted to set up time directly with those speakers to inquire about their services, and that is a great win not on Lee for me as the summit host, but also for the speakers who volunteered their time. This is a good R o. I return on their investment with me. So it's not always about money. It's not always about how much are they going to pay me up front? It might be that you spend an hour recording a session for me in a few minutes in the afternoon, interacting in the Facebook group, and then someone comes to you and is able to purchase your high ticket 1500 plus service that you have. So it's important that you think about things from a different perspective. It's not always about how much money do I get up front. I think that's a little bit short sighted. In some instances, I know people are always pay for my time. My time is valuable, but value could be conveyed in different ways. I think it's important that you are strategic about how you see value coming back to you. Last but not least, I definitely wanted to touch on some of the lessons I have learned. So the first major lesson for me is that I do need to increase the number of speakers I have for the next summit simply because it's going to help us increase the reach. With seven speakers promoting and then also running ads for the summit, I was able to attract 1000 and 16 people. Now less than half of that came through ads, and then eventually it's really like a funnel. Eventually, Onley 10% of those people actively participated within the summit. So then it gets me thinking about well, next time maybe I won't run any ads. I just need to increase the number of people who have probably bigger audiences that speak at the summit. And then, if they're actively promoting, then we'll get ultimately more people who are actively participating. And then, of course, more people who will purchase those passes. So that's kind of my thought process for next time around. And admittedly, this was a trial for me, right? I wanted to make sure that number one I could pull it off and pull it off well. And then number two that you all would respond well to it, which you did. I loved how enthusiastic you all were about the content, about the fact that I was even hosting the summit. I love that you were. You were also into it, and I think that made all the hard work worth it, and that encouraged me to take to the next level and to bring you even mawr Valuable content Number two Lesson learned is that I need to find a better way to further incentivize the speakers to promote, because while everyone agreed to promote when it's not your thing and you don't have a lot of skin in the game, you may not promote as enthusiastically as you could. One of the last summits that really piqued my interest. As far as the idea of hosting a summit was a summit I found out about because one of the speakers of the participants was promoting it. And I believe one of the reasons she was promoting it so enthusiastically is because there was a nef ill Iate link attached to her promotion. So essentially, what that means is that each speaker gets a custom link and when their followers click on that custom link and purchase an extended past, of course, a lot of these summits are free sofrito attend. But in order to access the information after the 24 hour period, people need to pay for an extended pass so I believe the fact that that speaker had an affiliate link incentivize them because some of these programs allow for speakers to get ah, 30% cut of anything purchased with their links. So, of course, you're probably going to promote that a little bit Mawr, depending on how much those passes air going for, and in some cases they go for between 50 to $100 depending on how long and how many people are going to be in that summit. And if you think about it, if this is a week long summit and you have 40 speakers, so each day that is quite a lot. And I am not gonna have time to listen to all those speakers within a week long period. So those passes extremely valuable, and most people are gonna opt to purchase them. So that was Number two is. I think I'm gonna add some sort of an affiliate system so that people who come to speak at the conference feel like they have a little bit more skin in the game and are more likely to promote to their audiences. Of course, this is not to say that the speakers we had at our summit didn't promote. In fact, I'm so grateful to them for the way they were able to bring over their audiences and for the fact that they trusted someone that they did not know who had never hosted a summit before and spent their time with me. So I'm so grateful to them. Number three, I would say I need to build in more time for not only promoting the event, but for editing and putting everything together. This time around, I had about 30 days to do all of that. So 30 days from reaching out to speakers to the actual event. So that's not a lot. But I think I felt like I had enough time to pull it off. But ideally, I'm going to give myself more time than that. Next go around because now I see exactly what the whole process entails. And when you think about the fact that I was planning this summit by myself while recording regular episodes of this podcast and then also minding the business that pays me, which is clients on the pillion co side of the house, it was a lot. So next time around, I'm not only going to give myself mawr time, but I'm also going to get more help because I want to do something a little bit different that I think you are going to find more valuable. But in order to pull that off, I know I can't do it by myself. And if I do it by myself, I probably will be doing you all and myself a disservice. So just stay tuned for what we decide to do next time around. So there you have it. I know I rattled off a lot of information there. If you guys have additional questions that you think I should cover in a part two of this, I'm happy to do it. Just ask the questions you could DME or ask the questions below the episode post on instagram for this episode. But I wanted to share all of this with you all because that's a part of the journey. And this is the blueprint that I used in order to have a successful first virtual summit. So if you all are looking to host your own virtual summit, I would love to hear about what you're looking to host and how you're going to go about doing it. Hopefully something I shared here resonated with you and helps you feel like you are going to be able to do it. All right, that's it. We'll see you on the next episode. I Off-Scripters I'm so glad you made it to the end of this episode. If you enjoy listening to our show, please pay forward by sharing a quick your network between episodes, you can find me on instagram. Our handle is at She's Off Script, or you can catch up on past episodes at She's Off Script dot com. See you on the next one.