Host a Faith-Based Virtual Summit
A summit is a meeting between leaders. For those in the online space, a virtual summit represents a meeting of ministry leaders. If you serve podcasters, then a summit might feature the best and brightest podcasting ministers. If you serve bloggers, a summit might include the leading experts in Christian blogging.
Remember that your virtual summit doesn’t have to last for several days. A short, highly focused summit can help your ministry or business grow just as much as a longer one. The duration isn’t nearly as important as providing your attendees with plenty of useful information that they can put into action.
But the thought of hosting a faith-based virtual summit might be overwhelming to you. While the idea certainly appeals, you wouldn’t have the first clue on how to start. That’s what we’re going to tackle today. You’ll learn the benefits of creating a summit, choosing a goal for yours, what tech you need, finding speakers, and more.
5 Benefits of Hosting a Faith-Based Virtual Summit
Neal was a Christian business coach who enjoyed helping his clients. But he couldn’t seem to get the visibility he craved for his coaching practice until a friend advised him to offer a faith-based virtual summit.
Taking his friend’s advice, Neal set up and hosted a virtual summit geared toward Christian business owners. He was shocked at the interest he received and the number of people who signed up to attend.
If you’ve been curious about hosting a faith-based virtual summit, here are five good reasons to consider doing it.
Reason #1: Build Your Connections
A virtual summit is a wonderful way to grow your network in new and exciting ways. Your network expands as you make new connections with speakers and leaders within your industry.
You may already know some faith leaders or speakers that would make an excellent addition to your lineup. But if you don’t, that’s fine too. You can get the word out to your existing network that you’re looking for summit speakers. You might be surprised at how eager others are to help you.
Reason #2: Grow Your List
The second benefit of hosting a virtual summit is that it grows your mailing list. With all of the digital noise coming at your flock these days, many are hesitant to give up their email addresses.
But your flock looks at a virtual summit differently. They see it as far more valuable than the latest collection of worksheets or that eBook opt-in that you’ve been offering as an incentive for the last two years.
A virtual summit is fresh. It’s filled with new information, and if you’ve done your planning correctly, it addresses a pain point they have and provides them with plenty of potential solutions they can discover.
Reason #3: Increase Your Visibility
The wonderful thing about hosting a summit is that it gives your ministry or business more visibility. As your event is promoted, the awareness around your brand grows, too. It’s fun to watch as your platform expands.
You can encourage others to share your summit using affiliate links. Even if your event is free, your affiliates can be “cookied” into your system and will receive future commissions when you release more products or host premium events later on.
Reason #4: Learn More about Your Flock
You can also use a summit to learn more in-depth information about your flock and what they want.
When Tony created the registration form for his virtual summit, he made it more detailed than his usual lead magnet. This let him discover his flock’s average age, household income, and their biggest pain point. He can use this information in the future as he creates podcast episodes and designs upcoming products.
You can do the same thing Tony did. Because the virtual summit has a higher perceived value, your potential subscribers will be more willing to share information with you.
Don’t squander this opportunity! Use it to conduct valuable research to be a more effective leader for your flock.
Some of the information you might want to collect can include your participants’ job titles, company, department, or industry. You can also ask for social media information such as their Twitter handle or Facebook profile.
Keep in mind that you may want to customize what you ask for based on your niche.
If you’re hosting a virtual summit for Christian entrepreneurs, you might ask their denomination, what business model they prefer, and even their biggest business struggle. All this is information you can use later to serve your attendees more effectively.
Reason #5: Easier Than an Offline Summit
With an offline summit, there’s a lot to organize. You have to rent a venue. You have to arrange for seating. You have to find sponsors. You may pay travel expenses for your speakers (as well as a hefty speaking fee). You have to worry about selling enough tickets to cover your costs.
But with an online summit, many of those worries simply fade away. You don’t have to find a venue to rent or worry about seating. You can certainly have sponsors with a virtual summit, but you don’t need them.
You also don’t have to pay travel expenses for your speakers, and since your speakers can simply show up only during their hour, you won’t have to pay as much for their time.
This means you’re free to focus on creating and promoting your summit rather than the myriad of details that offline event organizers have to fret over.
Bonus: Kickstart Another Goal
Many summit hosts have used their summits to kickstart another ministry or business goal. Sam used his summit to launch his first paid product and was able to help orphans in Haiti.
Ken used his to launch his ministry. With the speakers’ permission, he turned each session into a short module that he paired with a PDF guide and worksheets, creating a core curriculum that could be used in his ministry again and again.
How you choose to use your summit depends on the vision God has given you. You shouldn't waste this precious opportunity, considering how much time, effort, and expertise goes into a virtual summit. Think about your upcoming business goals and consider how a summit might help you reach them!
You don’t have to wait until you’re a “big name” or ministering to a flock of millions. The truth is you can host a faith-based summit the moment the Spirit prompts you. Not only can you do it, but you can also have fun during it. Hosting a summit is an exhilarating and exciting feeling!
Plan Your Summit Event
Once you have the idea to host a faith-based summit, you may wonder what your first step is. While you can immediately dive into recruiting speakers or working on the technical aspect of hosting your summit, the truth is you need to spend some time planning.
A little time planning can help ensure every phase of your summit flows smoothly from start to finish. Here’s what you need to be thinking on…
Define What Your Goal Is
The main offer will determine many other aspects of your virtual summit, so you need to clarify it. If you anticipate using the summit as a stand-alone product, as the start of your podcast, or the launch of your ministry, you need to keep that in mind when you’re making other decisions.
For example, if you know you’ll use your summit event as part of your online course, you might have speakers share worksheets, planning pages, or other “homework” style resources that your audience might find helpful.
Prayerfully consider how your summit can align with your business or ministry goals while providing value for your flock.
Come Up with a Theme
The theme should be closely related to your goal. If your goal is to launch an online academy that teaches leadership skills to Christian entrepreneurs, then the theme of your summit should be leadership. You might have a speaker explaining how to hire the right people, while another talks about the importance of managing a small team.
But what if your goal is more generalized such as launching a podcast? Then think about what topics you plan to frequently cover on your podcast. Will you be talking about finances? Then that should be the theme of your summit.
Don’t let this step trip you up. A natural theme should easily appear to you if your goal is clear. If it doesn’t, that might be a sign you need to adjust your goal.
Set the Date
When you hold your summit can be just as important as what topics your speakers are communicating about or what your goal is. A summit held on a holiday or during another seasonal event may not do very well. For example, a summit on Christmas Eve probably won’t see a huge turnout.
Keep in mind that different dates work for different audiences. If you serve those who work in traditional jobs, then scheduling a one-day summit for July when many people are on vacation with family isn’t likely to be successful.
You may also want to look at the best day of the week for your audience. If you help Christian entrepreneurs, they may not like to attend a summit on Sunday as they might be attending church or spending time with family.
Decide on Recordings
Think about whether or not you’ll offer recordings of your summit. Some summit hosts package the recordings and sell them as a stand-alone product. This also works well if you’d like to use the material to kickstart your online academy.
But you may want to offer free recordings to your flock. Some summit hosts prefer this method because more people get to hear the speakers’ messages. The only downside to this approach is that you may get fewer live attendees as they may think they can simply listen later.
While it might feel challenging to make these initial decisions, they’ll make the rest of the setup process flow more manageable. You’ll know what to do and who to contact now that you’re clear on your business goals and what you want to achieve with your summit!
Get Help for Your Faith-Based Summit
Putting together a virtual summit isn’t an easy task. There are hundreds of details to coordinate. You may feel overwhelmed as you attempt to make sense of all the information and ideas you have to keep track of.
But remember that Jesus intentionally surrounded himself with people that could help him reach his ministry goals. He could have done it all himself, but instead, he invited others to serve with him.
Like Jesus, you can be intentional about finding others to help you carry out your mission. Here are a few people who can help you during this event. These are the roles you might want to add to your team in the coming days…
An Event Organizer
An experienced event organizer can help you find speakers, set up the tech, and communicate with everyone, so things run smoothly from start to stop. If you opt for an event organizer, look for one that has experience in online events and virtual summits.
A Virtual Assistant
With a summit, there are dozens of tech pieces to put into place. You need someone familiar with autoresponders, conference software, social media management, and more.
If you search for a virtual assistant, look for one that serves coaches, entrepreneurs, or consultants. This is likely to get the best results as a virtual assistant familiar with these roles will likely understand what you need.
A Graphic Designer
Along with an event organizer and virtual assistant, consider bringing a graphic designer on board. A graphic designer can create the images you’ll need to promote your online summit event.
If you opt for a graphic designer, look for one that has experience in creating graphics for virtual events. Samantha Angel regularly designs event graphics for her clients. She even has a course where she’ll show you how to DIY your own event graphics called Learn to Create Amazing Event Graphics.
Building a team around you as you start your summit is one of the smartest moves you can make. You’ll have people to take tasks off your plate and share the burden of running your virtual summit!
Get Speakers for Your Event
You’re getting excited about the thought of your summit. You’ve already decided on the theme and dates. You know how you’ll use it to grow your ministry or business. You may even have a few people that can join your summit team and help you pull this off.
Now, you just need speakers. But knowing where to find them isn’t always easy. If you’re stumped, here are a few ideas…
Your Favorite Podcast Guests
Think about your favorite faith-based podcast episodes. These may have been episodes you’ve recorded yourself, or they might be episodes from someone else’s podcast. Still, think about the most vibrant, interesting guests.
Often, these guests will make excellent additions to your speaker lineup. You may want to make a list of the ones that have stood out to you so you can contact them soon.
Your Own Online Communities
Another place to search for your virtual speakers is within your own online communities. Think about who you’re in regular contact with. Are you and another industry leader constantly exchanging emails? Perhaps you have a favorite product creator you follow on social media. Maybe you know a Christian blogger that publishes thought-provoking vlogs.
Don’t be afraid to tap into your existing network of fellow ministry leaders. You may know enough people to fill your roster without ever having to leave the comfort of your inbox (or social media feed!).
Your Favorite Book Authors
You can also look to book authors when searching for speakers. While you can choose any author, try to look specifically for authors that have written books that have deeply impacted you or others in your flock.
If a book resonated with you (or your flock), the author’s message will be a hit with your virtual summit attendees.
Reaching Out to Speakers
Once you’ve made a list of potential speakers, it’s time to begin reaching out. But first, make a list of relevant information speakers may need and put it in a PDF document. Some information you should include…
- The summit date + theme
- Speaker fees (if you’ll be paying speakers)
- Commission rates (if there will be items for sale)
- How long the talk will last
- Contact information for further questions (this can be directed to you or your event coordinator)
Once you have your information, reach out with a personalized email. Don’t ramble in your message. Let the potential speaker know you have an upcoming virtual summit and you’d like them to participate.
Explain how they can contact you if they’re interested, then sign off. Keep the email short (just a few paragraphs), so you don’t waste the speaker’s time.
Finding potential speakers for your event doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. Chances are, you already know plenty of people who would make excellent Virtual summit speakers at your faith-based event!
Design a Marketing Plan for Your Summit
Now that you have speakers signing up for your summit, it’s time to create a marketing plan. Even if you have a huge audience already, you’ll still want to think about how you can make a splash and get attention for your faith-based summit. Here are a few ways to do that…
Use Social Media
This is perhaps the first and most obvious source of traffic for your summit. If you already have a substantial following on a popular social media site such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn, you can use that for your initial marketing efforts.
However, social media should only be one prong in your strategy. Relying too much on social media can be a problem since many networks only display your posts to a limited number of followers. That means all of your fans may not hear about your upcoming event.
Let Your Subscribers Know
If you have an email list, be sure to tell your subscribers about your virtual summit. Link them to the sign-up page and remind them about the event several times before the actual day. You may also want to ask them to forward your message to a friend who might enjoy the summit.
Post about it on Your Blog
If you’re an active blogger or vlogger, use that to your advantage. Tell your community about your virtual event and mention what they can get out of it. You might offer free swag, handouts, and other valuable digital goodies to entice them to show up.
Another possibility is to create a guest post about your upcoming event. Ask your Christian blogging friends to share it on their site. Be sure to give them affiliate links so they can earn commissions if attendees make purchases after your event.
There are dozens of ways to promote your upcoming summit. Don’t be afraid to play around with a new marketing method or experiment with an existing one to see how your flock responds!
Follow Up After a Faith-Based Summit
Your faith-based event is finished. You’re still feeling good. But now you’re wondering what to do next. There’s still one important step left: the follow-up. In particular, there are three groups you want to focus on during this time…
After the event, be sure to thank your speakers for their participation. Let them know about any exciting results. For example, if you launched an online academy as part of the summit, let them know how many attendees enrolled.
Some hosts like to thank their speakers with a small gift. This can include gourmet food such as chocolate brownies or an assortment of premium coffees. But you could also give your speakers a unique coffee mug or a journal filled with inspirational quotes.
Have a follow-up nurture sequence set to email your attendees for the next week or two. This sequence should invite them to take the next step with you if they haven’t already.
You may also want to share positive comments or other good news you heard from your event. For example, if your summit was about Christian entrepreneurship and one of your attendees used the information to quickly launch a new business venture, talk about that in your messages!
Don’t forget to thank your team, too. This includes the virtual assistants, copywriters, graphic designers, and event coordinators who helped make your summit successful.
Like your speakers, you may want to give your team a small gift to thank them for their hard work. This could be in the form of a cash bonus. But it could also be something more meaningful such as gourmet chocolates, a mug warmer, coffee sampler, or an exciting book.
Follow-up is all about continuing to nurture your relationship with your speakers, participants, and team after your event has finished!
Host Your First Summit Now
Hosting a virtual summit can be an excellent way to grow your ministry, make new connections, expand your flock, and honor God. With so many incredible benefits, it’s clear why hosting a summit can be so fulfilling!
Don’t be afraid to dive into this exciting opportunity. You can host a summit with a little bit of planning and preparation. In fact, it’s such an easy and fun way to start or expand your ministry and business!
Grace and peace,