Like most of the event industry, you have been forced to shift your once physical event to an online format or a hybrid event style due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this move has allowed you to carry on hosting your event, it has also left you facing the complications that come with the digital landscape.
Protecting the digital safety of your attendees, exhibitors, presenters, and staff is paramount to the success of your online event.
Not only do you want to protect anyone interacting with your online event from falling victim to a malicious online attack, but you are also responsible for keeping their personal information secure. Implementing security measures will not only encourage attendees and give them peace of mind, but it will also help your event avoid any negative PR.
If you’re concerned about the digital safety of your virtual event, good! This means that you are putting thought into all elements of your digital event and taking your attendee security seriously!
Here are some ways you can maintain digital safety at an online event:
Digital Safety Considerations for Online Events
With digital events increasing in popularity, it is no surprise that more event organizers are considering the safety of those who attend. From preventing a Zoom meeting from being Zoombombed to ensuring that your event is following data privacy laws, digital safety needs to be ensured for all virtual events.
To ensure virtual safety, you’ll need to get a secure virtual event software. Secure events software can limit access and has features specifically designed for digital safety.
While many online meeting and conference platforms will have features in place that are designed for ensuring safety in the virtual space, meeting organizers should delegate one person to oversee digital safety. That person should then have a team that they can manage and delegate to if disruptive activity occurs or continues.
Additionally, the virtual event software you use should properly store lead retrieval data, such as personal attendee information and login information like passwords. If the platform is being used to process event registration payments, then it should be using a secure third-party payment processor that is designed for secure online payment processing.
Digital safety concerns are increased if your event has an event app. If this is the case, be sure that the app can be secured through the provider.
Controlling Who Has Access to the Virtual Event
Event software will be able to manage who has access to your online meeting, conference, or professional event, but your team needs to go through the platform settings to make sure that the event is properly secured.
Be sure that the event requires registration even if it is free. When registration is required, event attendees must provide contact information and be sent a link to attend. This way you know your attendance in advance and are better prepared for the virtual event. This not only guarantees that your event staff can regulate who gets the link, but you are able to collect this personal information as a form of lead retrieval for professional networking.
By asking for registration, the event planner is sure that the link is not shared openly online prior to the event. In addition to sending out a private link, you can also add password protection to the event. By adding these extra security measures, it is likely that the attendees will have a more positive virtual experience.
Because event software provides admin controls, administrators and event organizers can and should provide additional tiered security. The admin can disable features that might cause a security concern. For example, a good event software platform will automatically set the settings of new attendees with their microphone and video off. It will also restrict them from presenting their desktop or interjecting in a presentation without being called upon.
Certain nefarious actors may be able to hack into the event software, so you need to be sure to implement these security settings so that it places a number of barriers in front of those malicious actors.
Managing Disruptive Activity At Your Online Event
If your online begins to experience disruptions, your event staff needs to be prepared to manage that activity. The first step is stopping the disruptive activity so it no longer becomes a bother.
How you do this will depend on the level of disruption. For example, if someone is speaking out of a line or continually spamming the chat, your chat moderator can post a message in the chat to remind everyone that spamming is not allowed. If that behavior continues, the moderator can reach out to the messenger privately to again ask them to refrain from this behavior.
Certain event software may be able to disable users from posting comments in live chats or other areas where commenting is allowed. If the disruptive behavior continues, the moderator needs to contact the administrator to request that the individual is disabled from posting comments.
Be sure to establish an event plan that is designed to mitigate disruptive behavior and practice this mitigation plan with your event team.
Tips for Managing Digital Safety at an Online Event
There are some things that can be done to protect your virtual event’s digital safety from the start. Be sure to consider these tips for managing digital safety before the event:
- Set expectations for how attendees should act: As with most events, attendees should be encouraged to behave appropriately. Provide guidelines for how attendees must behave. By providing these guidelines, you have a solid reason to restrict certain behaviors. Clearly demarcate the behaviors that can happen at your webinar or event so that attendees know what is expected of them.
- Reassert your event’s policy: Be sure to draw up a Team Security Guide (see an example, from Microsoft Teams) that speaks to both the level of security that your guests should practice and cybersecurity guidelines that your event staff should follow. In the event of a disruption, you can easily cite your policy in order to regain control. Your attendees should also be prepared to ensure their own safety and security during the event, so be confident reasserting this information at the time of a disruption.
- Protect your personnel: When each exhibitor, presenter, and team member is interacting with your virtual conference, be sure they don’t share any outside information. This could be as simple as sharing a private email address. Similarly, you’ll want to monitor the subject matter of the event. Identifiable information such as emblems can be disruptive during a live event broadcast. Be sure to limit what information your event puts up on social media if you are live streaming the event or employing a social media marketing campaign.
- Protect your attendee’s personal information: When attendees sign up for your event, they will be providing personal information like their full name, phone number, and email address. And sometimes they may also provide their home or mailing address and payment information. It is your responsibility as the event coordinator to make sure that this information is not publically accessible. The event software you choose should collect this information over a secure HTTPs website and use encryption to store it.
Managing your online event digital safety can be tricky if you are not well versed in cyber event security. But as an event planner, you have complete control over how secure you want your online event to be.
Maintaining Digital Safety at an Online Event
If you are hosting an online event, your team members must ensure the security of all participants. That way you can confidently host an event knowing that your participant’s private data is secure. What’s more, you can confidently host an event knowing that it will not be maliciously hijacked or negatively affected.
To maintain digital safety, be sure to set up a team security guide that asserts the levels of cybersecurity your event will follow. You’ll also want to create a policy for attendees to follow so that they know what the expectations of the event are.