How to Run a Virtual Event Like a Champ

How to Run a Virtual Event Like a Champ

Check out the latest episode below. Mr.Biz Radio provides business owners with the knowledge and insights needed to drive their companies forward.

Mr. Biz Radio: How to Run a Virtual Event Like a Champ

Unedited transcription of the show is included below:

Welcome to Mr. Biz Radio BizTalk for biz owners during the next half hour, Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth, a leading business advisor, and two time bestselling author we'll cover topics. That'll help business owners run their companies more profitably and more efficiently. If you're ready to stop faking the funk and take your business onward and upward, this show is for you. And now here's Mr. Biz Ken Wentworth.

All right. Welcome to another episode of Mr. Biz Radio with me, Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth, and we this week have a guest that for those of you who have listened to the show for our loyal listeners for over the last four and a half years or so, we've been doing the show. He has been on the show. He might be our most frequent guest actually. Now that I think about it, I, I want to say this is probably his fifth appearance over four and a half years. However, we were talking right before we began the show here. It has been about two years since he's been on. So absolute craziness, but I wanted to have him on because talk through some of the pivots and adaptations he's made in his business during the pandemic. Cause it's been monumental to say the least, this week's guest is none of them.

Mr. Chris Borja, who is the CEO of Borja Virtual. Chris, welcome back to Mr. Biz Radio.

Glad to be back.

Yeah, absolutely. So I, I will say Chris and I, of course, with the pandemic we live in, we both live in  in central Ohio, in the Columbus Ohio area. But man, I couldn't even tell you the last time I've seen you. Chris has been, it's been in person. It's been quite some time. Yeah, it's been a few years at least. And just, it just flies by, well, the last year was like a time warp anyway. Right. So for those of you, if you haven't heard Chris on the show before  I would encourage you to go back into our archives.  like I said, I think he, I think this might be your fifth time on Chris. Does that sound about right? I think it's five, but I think we said five last time or four.

I can't remember, but we never know how many times I've been on the show. I think because the only reason I'm saying five is I thought the last time you were on, for some reason, I remember joking around about how they do on Saturday night live. When you host for your fifth time, they give you a red jacket or something like that. And I was joking. Like, I can't remember if we were joking back then, like, Hey, you've earned your jacket or you need one more to get your jacket. I don't remember which one it was, but nonetheless, he, this is either the fifth or sixth time. Let's just put it that way.

Yeah. Yeah, of course. And Chris was actually part of our, when we did our 100th show, which has been gosh forever ago now, but he was one of the experts we did. So through those of you unfamiliar, when we did our 100th episode of Mr. Biz Radio, we had 10 different experts come on and share their, their top tips, top 10 tips in each of their respective areas. So we had a hundred tips and we squeezed it all into an hour. And Chris was one of our a hundred hundred show experts. He came on and gave us some tips on networking, which is what he has been building his business around all along. So tell us about the journey over the last, I guess probably 12 to 14 months with your business, Chris.

Yeah, so we, we have a large networking group here in Columbus, Ohio, and we of course, had to pivot with everything getting shut down. We weren't able to host all our regular events initially in March of 2020, when the announced has made and everything was getting shut down. I couldn't believe it happened, never happened before. Didn't think it was possible to literally shut everything down, but there we were and went through a good solid week of thinking we were going to go out of business.

What are we, how are we going to do this when we can't meet with anybody? And that's, our whole business is built around that. But one of the fortunate things is in November of 2019, we had, we were introduced to virtual events and virtual formats that look and feel just like the real thing. We introduced that to our networking group to be able to allow more people to connect.

We have a large group, but you know, even though we had well attended events, we're still just a small fraction of the total membership base. And we started using the virtual events to literally make our whole city a smaller place and that people can just join on their computer and have the experience of being there in person where they can network at actual tables and have conversations with each other. So it's not a gigantic video chat where there's like kind of sometimes a big, which has like one person has a microphone and everyone else is just listening. Like conversations are, are, you know, two way conversation, two two-way street. So to be able to find this and be able to incorporate it was huge for us. So we started using it for a networking group initially, and we started having events that were virtual.

So the things that we would have done in person, we had a stand in virtual version of each of those locations that we would have met at. And from there, we started helping other organizations transition and be able to go virtual. And then it turned into a whole new company into a, what we developed and, and created bore heart virtual, where we now create conferences and events. We do nonprofit fundraisers and galas and corporate training and you know, online workshops. So pretty much anything that we could do in person or we're used to doing, we we've learned how to really adapt our networking knowledge and ability to create community and bring it into the online world.

So it's just been a lot of fun, but that was a transition. So we did initially think we're, we're going to go out of business, like many people, but what are you supposed to just wait? So we just kept going and trying to adapt and figure out ways to continue growing. So we've actually thrived and continue to grow even, even during this pandemic phase. And we just want to be able to continue to help all the other organizations out there do the same thing.

Yeah. It's, it's amazing. So, you know, I talk about it all the time. When the show, I call it consistent perseverance, and that's what separates the more successful people in life, but especially in the entrepreneurial ship world is, you know, you're, you're going to get dealt some blows and things are not going to go as expected all the time. And so how do you react to those? Do you have that consistent perseverance? Do you continue to get up? Do you continue to brainstorm and say, as you did, like, Holy crap, what are we going to do here? Like this is the whole basis of our business is, you know, direct one-on-one con or not one-on-one, but direct contact with people and meeting. And then when things get shut down, that's, that'd be, it'd be, you know, that eliminates that possibility.

You know, you didn't fold like a cheap suit. You said, Hey, let's figure out how the heck we're going to do this. So that's definitely a great story there. Look, I want to get into more about Borja Virtual in the second segment, but what why we've got about two minutes left here. I want to talk to you a little bit, Chris, I'm gonna put you on the spot here about Mr. Borja was part of a, basically a, the Columbus version of Dancing with the Stars. You didn't think I was gonna bring that up. Did you, Chris, tell me about that.

Yeah, that was last. It was a little over a year ago. Yeah. I selected as one of the local celebrity dancers and dance. It just like I was shy introvert and didn't really, you know, like even speaking in front of groups or going out in public in a social settings and here I am overcame that here comes next challenge fans in front of all these people and, and raise funds for a great organization. The Byron Saunders Foundation feed families for Thanksgiving. And so that was the organization. So that was another getting out of my comfort zone moment. And I had a great partner, Emily Martins, and she really just knew how to get me out of my shell and just break it down a step by step. So I'll do a lot of counting in my head, but the end result was amazing.

So I was, I was impressed myself with, you know, the, the transformation and being able to do that. But I guess it just goes to, to just take on new challenges and be willing to, to do it. And if I mess it up, Oh, well, at least we tried, but it actually worked out really well. And all the other contestants did, did amazing. We raised, I don't know, 40 or $50,000 for the organization that night. It was a lot of fun. And we ended up winning. So it was really amazing effort all across you know, from, from everybody's efforts. So yeah, it was, it was, it was a great experience. Another step out of your comfort zone a moment.

Yeah. And I think I'm, I'm almost positive. It was Belinda, Chris's wife. She streamed it or did a Facebook live or something. So I was watching and cheering you on from my house that, that evening. And I'll tell you, I was, I was very impressed. I was very impressed. How long did you practice for that?

Oh, we practiced for two and a half months and we were practiced two or three times a week. And the last two weeks we practiced every day. And I have, let me tell you, I have a whole new respect for dancers. It's possible that just the, I mean, the rhythm is awesome, but I mean the physical strength and the endurance that is, is something that I think most people don't take into account.

Yeah. Yeah. For sure. Well, guys, we're going to hit a break here. We're going to come back. We'll talking with Chris Borja and we're gonna talk about Borja Virtual. During the second segment

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All right, welcome back to the show. It's time for the Mr. Biz tip of the week. And this week's tip, this is one of those thinking moments. So digest this one.

If you do nothing, everything will be the same. If you do something, nothing will be the same.

Chew on that one a little bit. That's a, you have to let that one sink in a little bit to sort of grasp, and then it's an entirety.

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They've been doing this amazing peoples matter of fact, I'm traveling down there. They're got a couple offices, but their main office is in Birmingham, Alabama, and I will be down in Birmingham next week visiting the good folks at Porter Capital while I'm down there.

So so let's get back into talking with our, our Columbus Dancing with the Stars champion and, and CEO of Borja Virtual, Chris Borja. So Chris, tell us a little bit more about Borja Virtual, so you, you told us a little bit about the evolution of that, but what are some of the things that you do talk about some of the events that you have put on and and, and that type of thing.

Yeah, we've hosted pretty much anything that you would imagine people using a banquet hall or some kind of event center for we've hosted a nonprofit fundraisers. We've always said corporate training events, we've hosted workshops pretty much anything that people gather for we've hosted virtually, not some

Opens the game at wide open then. So, so anyone out there that's considering, you know, an event that maybe you've held and we weren't able to help hold it last year. And maybe you might be in a state that still is as has some restrictions, and you're able to do it, but you want to have the event you don't want to skip two years in a row. You know, I definitely would mention, go out to That's and find out more about what exactly what they do, but so how has that evolution taking place? I'm sure I know you've, you've you've added to your team. I'm sure you've had to make some, some technology investments along the way as well.

Yeah. All of, all of the above, one of the things that we like to help organizations with is, is really for, for many, it's a transition for them. It's a new frontier. It's a new area era, even though they may be used to doing events, doing hosting an event in the virtual format is different. It's a different dynamic and most organizations right now, what we're seeing is, you know, they would look for some kind of live streaming or some kind of simulcasts and it works great. You know, it gets information out there. But the challenge is that it's like the analogy like to use, like watching a game, you know, if we watch a game, so Ken and I view and I would watch a game together, it's a different experience than if we each watch the replay of the game. And what a lot of organizations will do is they'll put the content out there.

They'll say, Hey, we'll send you the replay or we'll simulcasts it, but there's not really a draw for people to join life because they can watch the replay. And honestly, most of us have said this, you know, we said, we watched the replay. And in reality, we actually never watched the replay because something else came up and the organization ends up losing influence and impact and results. So what we'd like to do is to be able to help create a shared experience. And that's one thing that we have invested quite a bit into software and into licensing, and to be able to build our team to where we can create that engagement and help the organization to create not just, you know an, an area for them to share information, but to where they're actually building community, where their followers, their supporter, their community members, their members, where they're, where they're creating actual community to where they're creating alignment with everyone.

That's in attendance to where they're generating momentum to where the event doesn't end at the end of the event. It's instead of spark that continues to grow. So at the end of the event, everyone has their call to action. Everyone has their, their inspiration, but they have action points and they have people to do it with. So what we like to do is come alongside with the organizations and help craft this and help design it and everything from the design, the production, how to, how to get engagement during the event where it's fun and people at the front, or at the front of their seat, instead of washing the dishes or vacuum the house or folding laundry, while it's playing in the background to where they're actually at their computer and engaging, because then if there's some kind of call to action at the end, they're more likely to take action.

Whether it's a fundraising request, whether it's come to an event, our next event joined this mastermind, whatever it might be, the key is to be able to create that actual community engagement in there. So that's something that we've become really good at and having a background in networking, that's really what we're about. We really wanted to create that space for people to generate connections. And most people honestly are uncomfortable in those situations. We design it to where it's completely comfortable, and we love her level, the playing field between those that are, you know, seasoned networkers, new networkers.

If they're introverted, extroverted, if they're new to that organization, if they've been around the organization a long time, we create the space for people to feel comfortable and to be able to have a blast doing that. So at least a lot of results for the organizations that we're continuing to grow and expand and be able to find other ways to serve. But really we have a heart to come alongside, not as event producers, but really as partners with these organizations to be their teams. So they can focus on their message and the results rather than all the production and all the design that goes into it.

Yeah, I think that's key. So I'll say, you know, you mentioned earlier about folks that will say, Oh my gosh, I'll just watch the replay, Chris. I couldn't tell you how many times that I've done that myself. I'm absolutely 100% guilty. I'll S I'll skip it and say, Oh, if there's a replay available, I'm very much less likely to watch because I'll in my head say, Oh, I'll just watch it later. And you are a hundred percent correct. At least with me, the vast majority of the time, I never go back and watch it. And it's just, it's craziness. So I think that's really important. And I'm glad to see that you guys have, you know, recognize that. So, so those people out there that are considering like, Hey, and by the way, I also like what you mentioned about allowing the organization to focus on running their business.

This is probably not in the, in their, you know, in the, in their sweet spot of what they're good at, let professionals do it, let them handle it, you know, delegate this type of thing. So you make sure you have a top-notch event. You don't have to worry about it. All the details will be taken care of by Borja Virtual, you won't have to worry about any of this stuff, Chris, before we hit a break here, we've got to just a little over a minute left, but I want to mention for those out there that are considering this, is there a minimum size, a maximum sized, you know, w what does that look like for folks that might be considering a virtual event through Borja Virtual?

Yeah. We can help all organizations at different size that really what we do at first is just get to find out what their goals are. You know, are they looking to get information out there? Are they looking to you know, sell a product? A lot of times there's a product sale or an upsale of some type, whether it's an additional program, or like I said, it might be a coaching or a mastermind, or for a lot of organizations, it's some kind of fundraising, you know, for the organization. So really it's, it's a matter of, of figuring out what it is they want to accomplish, and we help them do that. So it really doesn't matter what size it is. We can, we can serve them and help them one way or the other. And even if they're, they're not going to be a client of ours, we love to sit down with everyone anyway, and just be able to provide guidance and support and advice and help them to be able to, to transition into it.

And if we can be of service and actually do all of the work for them, then we're happy to do that as well. But really our heart is to be able to serve and help them make impact. So there's organizations at times that, you know, they don't really have a budget, but we're able to help them find unique ways. And we also have 12 ways that we show them to generate revenue out of their event. So oftentimes cost doesn't become an issue, or we help them to see ways. One, one example is just finding an organization or a entity or family that underwrites the event. And now they're not out of pocket to host it. And they have all the different sponsorship opportunities that's available on our platform that provides all their sponsors, you know, booths and banners to where just like they wouldn't in real life. So really, we just want to be able to have a conversation and see how we can support.

Awesome. Awesome. Well, look guys, we're going to break and come back. And Chris is going to give us some, some tips on having those virtual events and having those virtual meetings.

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Welcome back to the show. So let me see a virtual show of hands. How many business owners that are listening right now are get frustrated by late paying customers. Okay. I see everyone's raising their hand. It is, it is a, a very big problem in, and more than a problem. It's a really, it's just a pain in the butt. Super frustrating. If that's you've suffered from that invoice financing through Porter Capital, is it an option, another tool in your tool belt, so to speak that you might be able to utilize so they can provide cash flow help in as little as 24 hours, you can find out more about it at to get the working capital you need when you need it. Check out the folks at Porter Capital at

All right, Mr. Borja. So we've all been zoom crazy over the last year. And some people are getting sick of it. That's another virtual meeting type situation, let alone a virtual event, which is obviously much more complex, but so that being said, and, and now that you're doing this professionally and up and hosting the all sorts of events of all shapes and sizes, give us some tips on, you know, how to really make sure that our virtual meetings, our virtual events come off the way that you want them to come off flawlessly and are like you just mentioned before within engagement, et cetera.

Yeah. It starts from the design. So I would say to make sure you have a great run of show or agenda that every single component is planned for every single thing. Every everything is done. Intentionally. If, if you go to a conference there's, there's nothing that's accidental. You know, where they place the water, the spacing of the seats, are they close together or are they spread out? Everything is done. Intentionally the design of the sound, the set, everything.

The same thing is true for your virtual event. When you create a virtual event, figure out, first of all, what you're looking to create, what's that end result, and then everything leads towards it. So for example, let's say it's a fundraising event. The end result, you want people to donate money. If you're at the beginning of the event and you have conversation or open networking time on the virtual platform, I would say to make sure you use one where you can encourage individual or small group conversations, because it's a lot more fruitful than a hundred people, or a couple of hundred people listening to one person talk.

Everyone loves to feel like they're heard, like their presence matters. Like they get to ask their questions that they're important. Everyone wants to feel important. And the more opportunities you give people to engage with one another, the more they feel like that, that's how you get engagement numbers out. One thing that we're proud of is being able to have an extremely high engagement rate to where and retention rate to where at the end of the event, you want as many people on there as before, and sometimes even more than start it. You don't want to drop off that it's all done in a design. So be intentional with it and be able to create lots of opportunities for people to have those conversations, whether you use breakout rooms or you know, small group conversations. That makes a big difference. Examples. If you have a topic that somebody discussing where you just had a key note, instead of going from one keynote, and then you have the next speaker come up and the next speaker, why not go to the audience?

Why not go to breakout rooms and have everybody discuss that for five or 10 or 15 minutes and say, Hey, we want you to discuss in your breakout room or your table who are you, you know, talk about what stood out to you the most, what was the greatest impact? What did you learn that was new? I mean, all these kinds of things where you're just sparking discussion and not only solidifies and edifies what they just heard, but it also creates a lot of connections in the community. So the next speaker, they're not watching as individuals. Now, they're watching as a shared experience. Like the example I shared earlier, like if Ken and I are watching a game together, it's a different experience. And that's what you want to do is create as many opportunities to feel. People feel like they have that shared experience as opposed to individual experience.

So I would say that to really create everything intentionally and make sure that you provide as much opportunity for your audience to engage, not just with the speakers and the organizers or the MC through chat and things like that, but also to engage with one another. That's super, super powerful. Other things, another tip is on the tech side, you know, they're always going to have like tech support type issues. You're going to have somebody that has challenges with their audio, where their vision video that's going to happen, but to designate somebody on your team to handle that. So for example, we've all been on a video chat where somebody is having issues. I don't know if you've seen this camera where somebody like, you know, Hey, I can't see you, or I can't hear you guys seeing, and can you still hear? And then I was like, yeah, I can hear it.

Then all of a sudden, like the chat is dominated by people trying to provide tech support, one person taking away from the whole dynamic of the powerful speech that's happening is all, you know, have you done this? Have you tried this? Have you tried? Oh yeah, I did that. That everyone's just getting frustrated. So designated one person or more on your team to handle the tech support. So example, if you see somebody having trouble in the chat that they can't see or hear or whatever, then have that person does need to say, Hey, Ken, I saw that you're having trouble with your your, your video. I'm going to send you a private message. Let's see. We can take care of that. Now, if I do that publicly with you as a tech support, then everyone that sees us knows that Ken is taken care of.

They're not worried about troubleshooting Ken anymore. They can enjoy the rest of the presentation and I'm handling this privately via private chat, or even a text or a phone call to help can behind the scenes. So have a tech support team to, to help you with the event, assign people to different areas. If you're doing it on zoom or a different platform, assign people to all those days. So think of all the things that go wrong for speaker doesn't show up, what do you do? How do you handle it? If they're their computer, all of a sudden took, you know, to start reloading and it's, it's uploading, it's uploading to the newest operating system right in the middle of their keynote. What do you do who goes up instead of that? Does the MC step up, do you have a backup speaker? You have a video that you could play instead.

So literally just like you would your live counterpart, every single thing that could possibly go wrong plan for it, have a support team available so that you have all those things prepared in advance. And even before the event that the success of the event is all, is all revolves around the preparation. So before the event is practice, practice, practice, you know, design. It is, it's like in sports, you design the play, then you practice the play and then you run the play. By the time your event day hits for those you that are running your events by the time your event happens, everything should already have been practiced so many times that you literally just run the play. If you're not having fun on the day of event, you might not have spent enough time preparing for that event. It shouldn't be stressful if you've done it, right.

If not, have you done it right? But if you've prepared, sufficiently is probably a better way to say it. You should be able to have fun at the game at game time at Showtime, enjoy the interaction and, you know, carry that energy through to your audience and enjoy that engagement. And, you know, that continues the momentum, even beyond the event, like I said earlier, it's like not just the event ending with the event, but the event should be a spark to a whole lot of other activity of what you're creating the event for you is you want something bigger to happen and big things happen at big events. So those are a couple of tips that I have you know, as far as, you know, some things that maybe organizations haven't thought of, but, you know, just be prepared, planet, planet, and advance.

Yeah. I'll tell you that the tech support aspect, I think is absolutely critical because I'm sure that everyone has been on a zoom call or in a zoom meeting, or what have you some sort of virtual event where yes, someone's having some sort of technical support. And you know, as you mentioned, Chris had just absolutely derails the entire, you know, event and people, like you said, that you've got 27 people trying to provide tech support for that one person in the midst of the event and everything gets lost in between. So I think that's a, an absolutely critical piece of it and that I love the practice practice practice. I mean, what better can you do to prepare for some of those bumps in the road, or maybe some of that, some of those trials and tribulations you may face rather than practice ahead of time. So like you said, when, if one of those things does happen, you've already been through it during practice and you know, how to react quickly to it and, and resolve the situation and keep everything moving along and smooth fashion.

It was just like the real event. It's, it's all about the audience. You know, the, the things may not have happened according to plan, but when you have a backup, the audience doesn't know that was the backup cause it was still awesome.

Yeah. Yeah. That's a good point. Absolutely. That's a very good point. So guys, again, we've been talking this week with Chris Borja, who is the CEO of Borja Virtual go out to That's You can find out more about, you can see some of the events that they have put on. You can see examples of things you can see  you know, honestly just got to check it out and see how they may be able to help you with your next virtual event.

Because, you know, I've known Chris for several years now, a close friend of mine, and  the guy just does things the right way and him and his team are amazing. So definitely encourage you to go out and check out Chris, thanks for your either fifth or sixth appearance on Mr. Biz Radio. Appreciate you coming in and talking to us about virtual events.

Yep. Thank you very much. And I look forward to getting sized for the jacket.

Yes, absolutely. We'll make that happen. We'll get that. We'll get that going guys. Thanks for listening. Thanks to our so sponsor Porter Capital have a great week and don't forget as always cash flow is


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