Top Virtual Summit Tips from 6 Powerhouse Hosts

Learn the top virtual summit hosting tips from 6 experience and powerhouse summit hosts.

I really wanted to make episode 100 special and knew I couldn’t do it alone, so I’ve brought in a handful of incredible women to help.

Each of these ladies is a friend, a powerhouse summit host, a past podcast guest, and a Summit in a Box student and I can’t wait for you to hear what each of them has to say. 

Kate Doster

In the spirit of The Big Three (my summit), I decided to share with you the three biggest things you should do when you're running a summit.

Also, spoiler alert! I am a student of Krista's Summit in a Box program, which I guess could be a bonus tip, but it helped us a lot.

Give yourself more time and your speakers less

There are a lot of moving pieces and parts in a summit. When you rush the process and don't give yourself enough time, you'll burn yourself out at the worst possible time - a couple of weeks before your summit starts!

The three weeks before your summit is when you should be promoting. It is when, even a month before, you should be trying to get on all of your speaker’s podcasts, if they have them, and in front of all of your speaker's Facebook groups.

You need to promote this thing like your life depends on it.

If you or your team are still trying to set up speaker pages, still trying to get your all-access pass done or anything else, it's never going to work. Especially if you're burned out.

I'm telling you: learn from my mistakes.

Give your speakers less time to turn things in and give yourself more time to actually make them happen.

Send speaker gifts before your summit starts

Sending speaker gifts is a great idea, especially if it has some summit swag (like your logo) on it. But I highly recommend that you send it before your summit starts.

I feel like if we had done it before, some speakers who didn't really pull their weight probably would have promoted more because of the sheer fact of human reciprocity.

If they were looking at a coffee mug with my logo that they just got, they're going to go hop on Instagram, and they're going to share about the mug and the summit coming up.

I definitely think that it is worth the money and the investment, if you have it, to send all of your speakers some type of swag with your logo on there, and a thank you gift prior to the summit actually happening. It'll definitely help.

Do the Summit Bingo Card

This is straight from Summit in a Box, but I really encourage you to do the summit bingo card that Krista recommends. Not only did we actually get more people watching, we also had more interaction in our Facebook group, and it was super fun! I love giving away surprises.

My Instagram grew. Downloads of my podcast, Inbox Besties, grew. Other freebies that I had, grew. All because of the Bingo card.

I don't want you to just think that your bingo card has to be fully summit related. Look at the platforms and the things that you're trying to grow and get more attention to.

If I was growing a YouTube channel, you bet your bottom dollar, I'm going to pick a certain YouTube video that everyone can watch to get a spot on their Bingo card.

Use your Bingo card to get your hundreds or thousands of attendees to take specific actions that you want them to take!

Bonus Tip

I wish that we had added an extra day to our summit and that I had used it to pitch a product through a webinar, as Krista did in her September 2020 event.

Even if you're hosting a summit and you don't have a really big course, I'm really going to encourage you to do an extra live training where at the end you tell people to go buy even a small offer.

About Kate

Kate Doster is the host of the Inbox Besties Podcast, creator of the Love Your List 2.0 email marketing mega course, and is dangerously obsessed with helping ethical entrepreneurs carve out their slice of the interwebs by wooing the hearts (and wallets) open of their small but mighty audiences thanks to fun email marketing and easy yes mini-offers.

She believes you don’t need to bleed the alphabet or be a dirty rotten spam face to write emails that jolt subscribers into taking action, gobbling up your paid offers like candy… or kale if that’s their thing. 
 
 

Desola Davis

What was super special about my Sales to Scale Summit was not only was it my first one, but I actually pulled off the summit in four weeks (which I don't recommend).

I did it with one of my really good friends, Nicole Ware (featured later in this post!). Starting from complete scratch I was able to get:

  • 500 new leads
  • new online business friends (like Krista!)
  • really great opportunities, including clients, additional features, and so much more

Show up happy and excited

One of my top summit tips is to plan to show up happy and excited! When it comes to hosting your summit, showing up refreshed and not frazzled is almost something that you need to plan for.

Think of your summit like a live event - like a concert; people are coming to see you. They're coming to learn from all of the other wonderful speakers that you brought together, but essentially, they're coming to spend time with you.

If you show up tired and worn out from the whole planning phase, you're not going to be able to give them your best self.

You need to plan to show up happy. Plan to show up excited.

To do that, add tasks to your project plan in addition to the regular logistical tasks. Insert tasks to make sure that you are protecting the asset, that you are protecting yourself, so that you can give your attendees your best, which is the minimum that they deserve for spending time with you.

A lot of your job during the live summit component is showing your attendees, especially the ones who don't know you yet, how much you care about them and how much you care about their transformation.

Need some task examples?

  • Make sure you're practicing self-care.
  • Plan the meals that you need to eat during that time.
  • Decide how you're planning on resting.
  • Outsource as much of the summit hosting and planning process as you can
  • If you don't have Krista's Summit in a Box program yet, get it immediately.
  • Find a partner or support group where you can unload your emotional baggage.
  • Join the Summit Host Hangout Facebook group.
  • If you have Summit in a Box, you need to be at the VIP level so that you can have access to the exclusive VIP group, because we take care of our own. Upgrade if you're not already there.

About Desola

Desola Davis is a Business Growth Strategist who helps digital entrepreneurs use their secret sauce to serve their favorite customers and generate revenue. She has a knack for turning big project ideas into small, actionable steps--a talent that helped her company save over $1M in her corporate experience. She's worked with 7-figure entrepreneurs on strategies to boost client attraction, conversion and satisfaction. After working with Desola, clients have clarity, focus, and confidence in attracting the right customers to their business and being seen as the right choice for solving their clients' problems.
 
 

Cara Harvey

I am really excited to share this tip. I have loved hanging with Krista and learning from Summit in a Box. So much of what I've learned has come from her. This is something that I feel makes my summit stand out and helps me in running them, and that's creating an incredible system for growing community and engagement inside of your summit.

Create a system for growing community and engagement

My summits are super fun and as simple as that sounds, it is so important. When you have engagement, people feel like they're part of a community. 

Let's cover a few ways to make it happen.

Individual Prizes

I always have tons of prizes, which people love. To get each prize, attendees have to watch sessions, interact in the Facebook group, etc. But every day, there are opportunities to interact to win a prize. 

You can make this as simple or as complicated as you want, but I love to have a leaderboard. Every night of the summit, we tally things up in an Excel spreadsheet and post a leaderboard.

People are obsessed with their points. They want to make sure they get their points so they can be at the top!

Team Challenges

Team challenges are also an incredible way to increase engagement and get attendees working together!

I usually start these the Thursday before my summit starts. I make a post that says, “If you want to join the team, comment below."

From there, I break them up into teams of about 4 people and give them silly names.

The teams can win a prize at the end. I typically give a $25 Amazon gift card to everybody on the winning team. People loved this! 

As for how it works compared to normal prizes, they don't have to do any extra missions to earn the team prizes, it's literally just the same ones that are doing for the daily prize, but we know that people will show up for other people.

The best part for me is watching everyone work together. They'll create message threads, Voxer threads, email threads, and tag each other in posts. “Hey, did you watch today? Did you complete this?” They create such an incredible community!

The importance of community

Like I said, my favorite thing about the team challenges is that it creates community and that's one of the things I love. After that experience, people want to continue in your community.

I've had really great engagement at my summits because of this. I think it's a really good and easy strategy, very low effort and big return.

If you can grow the community strong during the event, it will help even more with any post-summit sales.

About Cara

Cara is a wife, mom to a 13-year-old stepson, 4-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son, and a woman of God.
She works as a mom empowerment coach and her mission is to provide women with the tools, resources, and community to reach their goals, empower themselves, find their happiness, and live a life by design. She does this via her blog, podcast, virtual community groups, and e-courses that help women learn to balance their lives, finances, schedules, health, and themselves!
 
 

Hannah Murphy

There are so many tips I could share with you, but one tip that really stands out is that the success of both of my summits has simply come down to my speaker selection. It is so important to think about who your speakers are going to be in your summits.

There are two types of speakers that I look for:

Speakers who Promote

The first speaker who helped make my events successful was someone who was within the same niche as my summit who had an audience that trusted them. That way, when they promoted the summit, that their people would see that and want to join it.

For example, in my Supported Beauty Boss Summit, I had at least 10 established beauty educators who had an audience of beauty bosses. We had over 5,000 people join simply from them.

That's the first type of speaker that I always look for: who is in the industry of my target audience for that summit? Who would be willing to promote? There are some speakers who just will never promote, so you want to have a look at their track record.

Industry Experts

The second type of person that I look for when I am planning my summit is an industry expert. By that, I mean they may not necessarily have a huge audience of the people that I am targeting, but they can bring something into that niche that no one else could within the industry.

For example, when I did both my Supported Photographers Summit and also my Beauty Boss Summit, I had a Pinterest educator, a bookkeeper, a financial coach, an SEO strategist, and those people weren't necessarily educators just for those audiences - they were just really good at their craft.

I usually aim for around 70% to 30%; 70% in the industry who can promote, 30% not in the industry.

About Hannah

Hannah is a content and productivity strategist for driven and passionate creatives. She helps creative entrepreneurs show up consistently and wholeheartedly without the overwhelm through systems.
 

 

Nicole Ware

How in the world did I do it with my clients? I'll tell you: relationships. The biggest thing that a summit host can do is build meaningful relationships with their speakers and affiliates.

Speaker Relationships

You have to get to know each speaker. Preferably, prior to the actual summit or trying to pitch them for anything.

To do that:

  • Start looking at their offers.
  • Listen to their podcasts.
  • Get in their DMs.
  • Talk about something meaningful that they are putting out.
  • Start buying their courses.
  • Recognize that the relationship with your speakers is one of the most precious during your virtual summit.

In addition to getting to know them, during the pitch, think about every way you could possibly make it easy on them and make it an awesome experience. You never want your speaker to feel like it's a burden to be a part of your summit or that you don't even really know who they are or who they serve.

Affiliate Relationships

We also think about our speakers as affiliates, and normally they are affiliates, but we have to treat them just a little bit differently.

Now we're wanting them to promote something of ours. Right? Sometimes when we do that, we often get a little pushy.

We start thinking, “Why don't you do this? Why don't you send this? Why don't you do a social media post for this?” The problem happens all the time. We become too pushy. We become desperate, and that relationship altars.

We've got to think more about the relationship and not the fact that it's some sort of transaction between the two of you. If I have a relationship with them, they're more likely to do any kind of promotion for me and really go to bat for me… just like we do for Krista every single time she has a summit!

Attendee Relationships

Similarly, we have to make the connection very strong with our audience as they're coming into our summits. Be careful in how you talk about upsells.

Make sure you let them know that you're here to help them first.

Post-Summit Relationships

After the summit ends, the relationships shouldn't. Solidify the relationships you've started to build.

Continue communicating with your attendees via email. Communicate with your speakers and affiliates to let them know how it went. You can even introduce them to each other to get build relationships and dialogue amongst them.

It's important that we don't forget our people. That is how you solidify good relationship for those involved in your virtual summit.

About Nicole

Nicole helps female founders, podcasters, and course creators double their email lists and access 5 (and 6!) figure launches by creating sizzling virtual summits. With her team, she helps create and execute Oprah-level summits from A-Z.

When not helping women create their 5 figure Summits, you can find Nicole sitting VIP at a Backstreet Boys concert or eating lunch in a big rig truck with her fiance.
 
 

Eden Fried

I think one of my best tips for successfully hosting a summit has to be: put a huge focus on communicating clearly and effectively with your summit speakers and team of affiliates.

The better you communicate with these individuals, the better results you will get for your summit.

Remember, these are the people who are supposed to be sharing your summit with their audience. They're going out on a limb for you to share your event with their people. If you want them to share, you need to:

  1. Provide them with the resources for them to share.
  2. Remind them to share pretty regularly.
  3. Support them in that process.

Ultimately, I believe it's your responsibility as the summit host to support your people and enable them to do as much as possible for you personally.

One-stop-shop Emails

I, personally, do all of the initial outreach and I personally invite speakers to attend the summit. After a speaker agrees, my assistant takes over with the backend work. She's in charge of collecting information from the speakers and getting the summit website all set up.

From there, I jump back into the communication process when we are about four to five weeks out from the summit kickoff. That means we're about two to three weeks away from opening the doors for people to sign up for the summit.

From that point on, I'm emailing my speakers at least once per week, every single week. Every email I send them is carefully crafted with every piece of information they could possibly need.

I really believe that your emails need to be clear and concise. It's okay if they're long, but they should have all of the information in one place. My personal pet peeve as a speaker at many summits is when I have to dig through emails to find what I'm looking for.

That's frustrating for me because I'm trying to do all of the things that I need to do to fulfill my obligation and to support this summit, but now I have to work hard to find all of the information and put all the pieces together.

Every email that I send is a one-stop shop.

My goal is that no matter how many emails my speakers read from me, whether it be one or all of them, that they should be able to open that one email and have all the information that they need.

I use ConvertKit, and even though it's sent in mass, is personalized with the speaker's information. Each email I send includes their unique affiliate link, the link to the login, to the affiliate dashboard, the link to access the affiliate resource file. That affiliate resource file includes a calendar with prompts on what content to schedule, what date to schedule it, what platform to share it on, and what graphics and copy can be included inside of that post.

Once I finalize the schedule for the summit, I even include in every email, the speaker's unique presentation page link. I even include the time and date of their presentation. I send all of this in every single email because again, ease and simplicity is the name of the game.

You want your speakers and your affiliates to have a simple time promoting your summit.

I like to keep my speakers engaged with everything that's going on so that they can really feel like they are a part of the team. The emails not only give them the information that they need, but it's a good way to keep up the energy and just get your speakers hyped up.

Affiliate Hubs for Speakers

I also recommend that you create an affiliate information hub for your speakers on your website. My speaker information page pretty much has every answer to every question you could possibly ask as a speaker, and if ever I receive a question that isn't answered on that page, I add the answer to that page.

Look inward before blaming your speakers

If your promotion isn't working, if your registration numbers are lower than you expected, the first thing you need to do is look inward before you blame your speakers.

It can feel easy to blame your speakers, but there's a chance at the source of the problem is you.

Could you have shared more with your speakers? Did you remind them enough? Are you doing everything you possibly can to make your speakers have an easy, simple time sharing? Remember your speakers are doing you a favor.

Do them a favor right back and make this an easy process.

About Eden

Eden Fried is the "digital product lady!" After bailing on her plan to attend law school back in 2016 (despite paying her seat deposit, securing an apartment, dropping thousands on textbooks), Eden decided to try her hand at entrepreneurship instead. Since then, Eden mastered the art of making a full time income with digital products (things like ebooks, courses, workshops, etc.)
 
She's the host of the Rebel Boss Ladies podcast and the founder of Rebel Boss University, a membership community where she teaches rebels how to create and launch a digital product within 90 days. When Eden's not at work, she can be found at the gym throwing around some moderately heavy weights (emphasis on the word moderately) or rewatching an episode of Friends or How I Met your Mother for the millionth time.
 
 

I hope you loved these tips and are feeling inspired to put them into action. I know I was sitting and taking notes as I was listening to each one. They are so good!

 

From here, update your summit-hosting plan to incorporate your favorites. I know I did!

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