The Checklist: How to Set up Virtual Events – Part 1 of 5

This is the first of five parts on setting up online events. While focusing on storytelling, the information applies to any performing arts or virtual event. Our blog as well as our All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series are wonderful professional development resources.


  • Part 1 – Event Type, Audience, Timing & Pricing – TODAY
  • Part 2 – Choosing the Right Platform & Registration
  • Part 3 – Rapports & Introductions
  • Part 4 – Test Runs, Sound Checks & Logistics
  • Part 5 – Feedback Forms and Follow-Ups

Ready to go virtual? Congrats! And have you thought of this…

Almost anything that is done live can be adapted to be virtual. If you enjoy having mingling before or after the event, remember that you can still offer this virtually.

So ponder on how you want this event to look:

  • Performance Only
  • Workshop Only
  • Panel
  • Festival
  • Conference
  • Meet n’ Mingles, Chats, Discussions, Networking
  • Or any combination of the above

Once you know how simple or complicated you want it to be, you need to discover the audience. First, think of the age(s) and possibly families and genders.

You can think of audience as ages and/or as groupings as shown below:

  • “Littles” or also known as Toddlers/Preschoolers
  • Elementary Students (5-12)
  • Middle School Students (12-15)
  • Teenagers/High School Students (15-18)
  • University Students (18-24, yet many ages found)
  • Young Adults (18-35)
  • Middle-Aged Adults (35-55)
  • Older Adults (55+)
  • Seniors (65+)
  • Assisted Living (Typically 75+)
  • Young Families
  • Middle-Aged Families
  • Older Families and/or Multi-Generational Families
  • Men/Women/Boys/Girls

This does not even delve into audiences of cultures or subcultures:

  • Ethnic Groups, Deaf Community, Blind Community, Bilingual/Multi-lingual Peoples, Neighborhoods, etc.
  • Performing Arts Associations (including and/or narrowing down to – storytellers, musicians, writers/authors, actors, filmmakers, etc.)
  • Literary Arts Associations (including and/or narrowing down to – storytellers, writers/authors, English teachers, University professors, etc.)
  • Corporate Groups – Chambers of Commerce, Networking Organizations, Professional Associations, Online/Social Media Networks
  • Community Service Organizations – Rotary, Church Groups, United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Key Club, Nonprofits
  • Medical World – Hospitals, Hospice, Nursing Homes, Assisted Living & Preventative Drug, Alcohol, Violence, Abuse Programs
  • Education – Teachers, Tutors, Mentorship Programs, Continued Education Programs, Alumni
  • And on and on!

When you have selected and ranked the most relevant age(s) and group(s), then you can determine what would be easiest for those audiences for the timing of your event.

For example, if you are connecting with teachers and their classes, then you will want virtual field trips in the morning. Though, if you want to focus on only the teachers for professional development then you either need to have it late afternoon/evening of weekdays or on Saturdays.

If you are wanting a more global audience, then consider what storyteller Tim Sheppard has shared with many people–and gave us permission to share:

…Most people who run online events for both USA and Europe tend to pick times around 12 noon New York time, because that gets the most attendance. 1pm or 2pm New York time could work too. Noon New York means California can join in (9am), UK is at 5pm which is fairly easy, and the rest of Europe is at 6pm or 7pm – still convenient, and even India is at 9.30 or 10.30pm.

In another conversation with Tim, he mentioned the following:

I’ve attended many online seminars over the years, and entrepreneurs tend to measure their results, so their actions tend to be well-tested. Mind you, Australia gets left out of the equation, for this time slot – you can’t quite get it right for the whole world!

Yet, if people are anxious enough for the virtual event, then they will make it work. Even if that means 3am for their time zone.

Please always put the time zone whenever sharing your event – digital fliers, social media posts, emails, texts – EVERYTHING. We like using You can put in your event’s specific date/time and have several listings. You can share this specific web link on your event announcements and/or shorten the web address and customize through

The big question is on what price – if any – to place on the virtual event.

Here are some options:

  • Free, gift to the community, boost to public relations
  • Tip Jar/Pay What It’s Worth – risk at what will be raised with high and low results
  • Regular Price – same whether live or virtual due to the time and energy still required
  • Sliding Scale – minimum price, suggested price, higher options for those wanting to pay above suggested price
  • Increased Price – higher price for virtual rather than live due to convenience factor for the participant as well as the purchase of tech equipment to make it possible for the presenter and/or host

When determining which direction to take, consider:

  • Is this the only way the presenter(s) will be paid?
  • Will there be a flat fee of any kind given to the presenter(s)?
  • Is there dedicated grant(s) or fund(s) that allow the price to be low or free?
  • Do you have an established audience? If so, what are your audience(s) accustomed to paying? Would these same people resist or embrace a slight increase or decrease? How can you entice them if there is resistance? (Examples – offering free audio/video from presentation to those paying suggested donation, ability to re-watch for up to so long on on YouTube-private/unlisted, pdf handout emailed afterwards, etc.)
  • What is the perceived value of this event? Will that perceived value be helped or harmed by the fee linked to the virtual version of this event?
  • What is the average cost of this presentation within and beyond your geographical realm? Remember, you can still be higher or lower than this average. Please be aware and justify your pricing.

Someone reached out to me and said that this live event usually was free BUT the people were used to paying at least $10 for parking. In this situation, it would make sense to charge $10. Instead of going towards parking, this will now go towards the presentation.

Our preferred way is the Sliding Scale so that it can establish the suggested price and mix in options for those who are financially struggling as well as those who are financially generous.

Thus, our All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series with 90-minute workshops have the following options:

  • $5 – minimum
  • $15
  • $25 – suggested donation
  • $35
  • $50

Notice that there are two choices lower and two choices higher than the suggested donation. At least 80% of our registrants chose the suggested donation for the three virtual workshops and performances we have charged so far. Another 15% have chosen one or two ABOVE the suggested donation. A couple chose the minimum or lower…and sometimes no one chose those options.

True, that is not a lot of events…but we will have more data as we continue these virtual events. This is new to us as to most everyone, but we have seen great success. We pass along this success to our professional story artists and presenters. The better we do, the better our presenters do. We love the win-win method.

We will go into how to set up Sliding Scale and possible Registration choices (free and monthly costs) in Part 2 of this Series…to come out August 18, 2020.

You can make this virtual. You can realize your dreams for it.

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See our already-streamed/recorded The Big Why Panel: Historical Storytelling meets Humanities. See our 5-video playlist from the Story Crossroads Spectacular by clicking here.

Participate or present as part of the All Things Story Virtual Workshop Series that kicks off Monday, September 7, 2020 with Simon Brooks.

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Story Crossroads fosters creative and compassionate communities through the art of storytelling. 501(c)(3)

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