5 ways to improve your virtual events

virtual events

Want to get the most out of your events this student recruitment cycle? We’ve collected students’ views on what they want from you at an open day or virtual event.

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1) Record your open days and virtual events

From students’ poll responses, it’s clear that being able to view your open day content in their own time is the top priority (30%). Adding your open day recordings to your website is a quick and simple win. You’ve already done all the hard work, so let your great content keep attracting student interest long after your event has taken place. Make sure that the recordings are engaging and easy for prospective students to find. You might like to include a link to video content in your marketing communications.

2) Offer taster classes or lectures

20% of respondents requested taster sessions and 17% wanted to hear specifics about the course content. It can be difficult for students to make informed choices about where to study simply by reading fairly generic course titles and descriptions:

“The idea for having workshops and taster subjects would be amazingly useful to compare. So many unis have the same titles for courses, but unless we have a taster of the style of teaching we won’t ever know.”
User, The Student Room

Students are telling us they want to try-out your teaching first-hand to get a feel for your course. This allows them to experience what your teaching is actually like, and how it differs from other available courses. Education requires a big commitment of time, mental energy and money. It can also open and close career doors, so it’s not surprising that students demand extensive information before making decisions. A brief taster class (ideally with a tutor who would normally teach the course) gives students a chance to discover whether they think your course is enjoyable, valuable, and right for them. Why not consider a TSR Talk to showcase your experts before or after your official open day?

3) Use your current students as ambassadors

Over 8% of respondents wanted to speak to current students during a virtual or online event. You can’t buy a more authentic endorsement for your institution than an enthusiastic current student. Prospective students trust their peers to give them an unbiased, up-to-date and thorough picture of what studying with you will be like. You could also get students from different subjects to record videos of themselves (or go live) talking about their course and experiences. Post the clips on your website or popular student channels like TikTok and YouTube.

You may find that prospective students feel more comfortable to open up to their peers than to your faculty about their concerns (such as their ability to handle the course or life away from home). Building relationships between your students/alumni and applicants helps your applicants feel supported and emotionally connected to your institution, which is great for student retention. Don’t forget that Official Reps make great ambassadors too. (What’s an Official Rep?)

4) Time your events for maximum impact

Students have told us that they would like more weekend events. Taking days off from school is not ideal in a year when learning has already been heavily disrupted. By the same token, students need their evenings to study and unwind. Planning some events at weekends (if possible) shows that your organisation is making an effort to work around student’s busy schedules and put them first.

5) Anticipate students’ needs and deliver extra value

Think about why students are attending your event and try to anticipate what information they need. Create easily digestible content that meets their expectations and signpost them to more information that might be of interest. For example, someone interested in studying Psychology at university might be interested in:

  • a video from a current student talking about the course
  • information about further study options for Psychology graduates
  • assessment criteria – are there exams or essays? How many?
  • a taster session with their future tutor
  • a TSR Talk with a prominent academic or expert
  • data about your alumni’s careers and earnings

Bonus tip

Don’t forget to get feedback from students about how they found your event or open day so that you can keep improving every time.

Other content about events and open days

The new normal: student recruitment in 2021
Building your digital communities
Creating meaningful digital experiences
Building your university marketing strategy
Summer open days case study: Edge Hill

Interested in learning more about open days? We have 1.8M users interested in applying to university this cycle and an active population of 407,135 at GCSE level (Year 10 – 11s). We’d love to help you with your student recruitment. 

Author: Katie Hale