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Rhea Freeman: “Allow replays”

Allow replays. Because you’ll be running your even live into someone’s living room, it’s good to acknowledge that you may be part of their day rather than their entire focus. Maybe they have the children at home because school’s closed? Or perhaps they’re tending on an elderly relative? Or have appointments they need to keep? […]

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Allow replays. Because you’ll be running your even live into someone’s living room, it’s good to acknowledge that you may be part of their day rather than their entire focus. Maybe they have the children at home because school’s closed? Or perhaps they’re tending on an elderly relative? Or have appointments they need to keep? I think incentivizing people to make any live session is a good idea, but also having the event available as a replay which can be emailed out allows you to get to more people. It also eliminates the timezone issue as they can watch whenever they like.


As a part of our series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rhea Freeman

Rhea Freeman is a small business coach, award winning PR adviser and social media expert who’s based in the UK. In addition to helping numerous small businesses through her own Small & Supercharged Facebook groups, and through her weekly podcast, she’s also a #SheMeansBusiness accredited trainer (a programme by Enterprise Nation and powered by Facebook to help women improve their digital skills) and she’s a Facebook Certified Lead Trainer too.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I’ve lived in England for my entire life, moving to Worcestershire when I was three years old, which it where I still live today. I was always pretty good at school (in terms of showing up, learning, and getting good results!), but rather than take a conventional route, I went to get ‘hands on’ experience straight from school in what I thought would be my career forever… which was working with horses. Fast forward to now, and I don’t work with horses per se anymore, although a lot of the businesses I help and support have strong equestrian and rural connections, and many of the skills I learnt during this time, including my love of teaching people how to master new skills, has served me very well over the years.

Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?

Well, as I said, I started off working with horses (as in teaching people how to ride, and also riding other people’s horses for them), and that led me to write for magazines around equestrian life and education. I had always loved English at school, and got good grades, so it felt like a nice, logical step. This led me to write for equestrian companies, helping them with their copy, and that led to me helping companies with their PR and marketing. Over the years, I shifted my focus onto digital marketing vs, traditional PR, simply because there seemed to be a greater ROI, and it was very much the way that everything was heading. Now, I’ve taken it another step, and instead of doing other people’s social media, PR and marketing, I teach and coach other people how to do their own, with pretty great results.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh gosh, umm, I’m sure I made plenty of mistakes, but I always try really hard to look for the lesson in what’s happening rather than focus on the disaster!

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I love listening to podcasts, and I take bits from each of them. There’s a lady called Holly Tucker who runs a podcast called ‘Conversations of Inspiration’ and at the moment I am loving these stories. They all speak to me in different ways as hearing people share the ‘warts and all’ version of how they achieved the success they have makes any setback feel a whole lot better as everyone has them.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

‘You either win or you learn’. I find this hugely inspiring as it gives you the confidence to try new things knowing that, really, you can’t ‘fail’ in the more traditional sense of the word. If things don’t work out, you can build from that with your new learnings and create something even better with a greater chance of success.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing events in general?

I’ve been involved with a few events before, such as press launches and other events including a collaborative shopping event, and a live podcast event which was so much fun! I’ve also help clients organize events in a behind the scenes role too.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing live virtual events? Can you share any interesting stories about them?

Towards the end of 2020, it became very apparent that shows wouldn’t be going ahead, and for a lot of the people inside my Facebook groups, this was a serious blow. Although many had pivoted admirably over the previous six months, knowing that there would be no opportunity to make those Christmas sales in person at events was a big issue, so I thought about what I could do to help. And that’s when I created the Christmas Market. This was really simple in terms of how it ran, but gave up to three businesses the opportunity to join me on a Facebook live, each week day during November, and share what they had going on for Christmas. We had new product launches, exclusives, and it was lovely because there was that interactive element that customer and exhibitor thrive off at events.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job creating live virtual events? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Enterprise Nation. I’m lucky enough to work with this company but they have run so many amazing online events that they really stand out for me. Their ‘Lunch & Learn’ series has been incredible as it’s brought together so many people in an informal way and provides education and inspiration each lunchtime, and their Top 50 Advisers awards last year was just superb and included so many aspects of a real life event in a digital way, it was just amazing. In essence, they listened to their fans and produced events that they wanted to attend. Simple, but so powerful!

What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to run a live virtual event? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Overcomplicate it. I think making it as easy for people to get involved as possible is a really good idea. If you need to login here, download this or that, then get a code, then do something else, it’s a just a LOT for people to do in addition to running their normal life!

Don’t make it mobile friendly. I try and watch virtual events on my computer, but if I’m at home and (during the various lockdowns) homeschooling and the children are on a task, I’m a lot more likely to plug my headphones in and watch something on my phone than get my computer out.

Try and make it the same as real life. It can’t be. There are fundamental differences between the two, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be great. Understanding the limitations of whatever platform you use and then looking at what works really well in real life and how that can be adapted can work well, but you need to be aware of the limitations.

Get stressed. Tech fails are not fun, but everyone has them. Accepting they may happen but having a plan for how you’re going to cope with whatever happens is a perfectly good back up plan. Make sure you do your testing and do everything you can to help stack the odds in your favour, but don’t get stressed. Anyone who’s attended an online event will have, no doubt, seen tech fails- we just accept it now.

Overlook how you can enrich the experience. When you go to events, you often get goody bags, freebies and samples. I’ve been to some amazing online events that have also sent me things through the post. One was a bottle of sparkling wine as a I was a finalist at the awards, another sent a box with a notebook and branded merchandise from the event, and it was lovely to have something tangible in an online world.

Which virtual platform have you found to be most effective to be able to bring everyone together virtually? I tend to use a combination of Zoom and Streamyard with Facebook Live inside a Facebook group.

Are there any essential tools or software that you think an event organizer needs to know about? The sound quality is really important, so check that your microphone is being cooperative! Streamyard is very good, as is Zoom, and investing in a paid for level, even if just for the duration of the online event, can make a big difference in terms of what you can do, branding, etc.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. An in-person event can have a certain electric energy. How do you create an engaging and memorable event when everyone is separated and in their own homes? What are the “Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Promote it. The best event in the world will fail if no one knows about it, so put as much (if not more!) effort into its promotion an in person event.

Keep it simple. Look for the easiest way to achieve what you want to. There are some very expensive (and clever) platforms available that are packed with incredible features, but if you don’t need that and your audience aren’t particularly tech savvy, that could put them off.

Find ways your audience will share that they’re attending/at the event. In person events naturally create this kind of content with people taking pics on their way/at the venue, etc. Online doesn’t have that, but simply asking people to screenshot and share what they’re watching, tagging you whenever they do it can really help you get the word out.

Communication. With online, people need to go through a process to get to the event, so make sure you communicate this well and often. If it’s a bit tricky, why not do an instructional video explaining how people login/sign up/attend. You might know exactly how the day will run, and how it works, but not everyone will, and if people are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the tech, they could get lost along the way, and you don’t want that.

Allow replays. Because you’ll be running your even live into someone’s living room, it’s good to acknowledge that you may be part of their day rather than their entire focus. Maybe they have the children at home because school’s closed? Or perhaps they’re tending on an elderly relative? Or have appointments they need to keep? I think incentivizing people to make any live session is a good idea, but also having the event available as a replay which can be emailed out allows you to get to more people. It also eliminates the timezone issue as they can watch whenever they like.

Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a live virtual event that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Strip it right back. Think about the essence of that event and the key things you want to achieve and focus on how to deliver that. Don’t overcomplicate.

Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Be kind. I know it’s such a common thing, but if we can all be a bit kinder, see the good in others (or, at the very least keep quiet!), it would have a big positive impact. Our words have the power to do so much harm, and so much good, and we need to be making them do that latter. That’s how people thrive and grow, with encouragement and support- and most definitely not negativity.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

YES! Jasmine Star. I think she’s incredible and I love her attitude — she just does the work, doesn’t she? It’s such a powerful message!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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