The Attendee Persona: The Heart of Your Successful Virtual Event

Discover the crucial role of the attendee persona in planning successful virtual events. Uncover strategies for defining and understanding your audience, aligning your event with their needs, and engaging them effectively.



Content Contributor, HeySummit

Published on May 12, 2021

When people google virtual events, the most common search terms look something like this:

‘Best virtual events’
‘How to promote your event’
‘How to run a successful virtual event’
‘Virtual event best practice’

But terms like ‘audience’ or ‘attendee’ almost never come up in these searches.

We get it. You want to know what to do, and how to do it well. But so much depends on who you’re doing it for. And that’s where’s the attendee persona comes in - our top tip for virtual event best practice.

Defining your attendee persona will help you run your event better, but also more efficiently.

Why Start Here?  

If you’re already planning your virtual event, you’ve probably thought a lot about what an event can do for you. You might even already have some ideas about what you want to cover, and what kinds of sessions you’ll have.

There are lots of moving parts to any event, and you’ll have to make tons of decisions. The most successful virtual event organizers manage this by having a clear decision-making framework. Your attendee persona acts as that framework.

Your event is a product, and just like all successful products, a successful event understands its customers and solves problems for them. That’s why it’s so important to have a clear vision of who your attendees are, and what they want, need, and feel.

Every feature of your event comes back to your attendees.

Convinced? Great - let’s do this! In this post, we’ll get you to your attendee persona in 3 easy steps, and show you how to implement it.

Step # 1: Ask questions

When you’re thinking about what kinds of sessions you’ll have, if they’ll be live or pre-recorded, how and where to advertise, who to approach for sponsorships (and more!), ask yourself:

  • what kind of person is my customer?

  • what is my customer interested in? What do they want or need more of?

  • what problems do they have?

  • what do they like and dislike about how this problem is currently addressed/solved?

  • what is and isn’t working for your customers?  

  • what represents good value to them?

The more detailed you can be in your answers, the better!

These answers will determine the way you market your event, and the language you use on your landing pages. You want to write something that makes your target customer think, “This was written for me!”

When you really see your attendees, you can craft the best possible event experience for them.

Step # 2: Write Your Customer Personas

Customer Personas (aka attendee personas, buyer personas, or avatars).  Essentially, these are fictionalised representations of your ideal customers.

These customer stories help you connect to your ideal customer and relate to them as real people.

You want to be extremely clear on their motivations and their defining characteristics.  Try to create a detailed narrative, for example:

“My customer is Jane, she’s between 40 - 48 years old and is a mother of three. She works in a primary school but she’s thinking of switching to part-time to do more voluntary work because she’s really enjoying it.”

Try to understand as many traits of your customer persona as possible, to help you identify their motivations and problems.

Step # 3: Write Your Problem Statements

When you map out your customer pain points, you’ll paint a clearer picture of who your customer is.    

To do this, try taking these 3 steps:

  1. Describe one customer

  2. Understand their problems and outline them clearly  

  3. Solve one of their problems. The solution should directly resolve the problem --  not just offer something that you assume they want.

So: now you know your attendee, you know their problems, and you know how to solve them. It’s time for the next step -- building a better event.

What’s Next? Designing your Event around your Attendee Persona

Now that you really know your attendee, it’s time to ask yourself some more questions. Here’s the big one:

What, specifically, does your customer have to gain from your event?  

Put yourself in an attendees’ shoes (you can do that now!) and ask yourself:

  • am I trying to learn something?

  • am I interested in committing to a course or do I simply want to learn a lot of information in a short amount of time?

  • would I benefit from speaking directly to industry leaders and experts?

  • am I attending the event to network with my peers?

The answers will influence the entire structure of your event - and don’t be afraid to go specific! The narrower your event’s focus, the higher chance you have of providing real value to your attendees.

A focused event will always out-perform a more general one.

The Upshot:

You can use this flow:

attendee persona → problem → solution

to map out your event themes and categories. When you respond to attendee pain points directly, you also make it very easy for people to see the benefits they’d get from engaging with your event.

It will also help you market your event to partners, speakers, affiliates and sponsors, too!

Keen to keep going? The insights you gain from defining your attendee persona will also simplify the next stage in your event planning journey - finding and recruiting those all-important speakers.

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