The advancement in technology has allowed virtual events to become more widely accepted worldwide, even before the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Many businesses and event organizers have recognized the potential benefits of virtual conferences, webinars, virtual trade shows, and other forms of virtual events over their live (in-person) counterparts: it’s cheaper and easier to organize, and geographical limitations no longer confine us in inviting attendees and talents from all around the world.
It’s true, however, that the global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of virtual events. Now seemingly everyone is doing virtual events, and they are here to stay.
Thinking about starting your virtual event but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place.
This guide will discuss all you need to know about planning a successful virtual event and share our top tips on organizing virtual events.
Without further ado, let us begin.
The Unique Benefits of Virtual Events
To plan your virtual event effectively, you have to know the unique benefits of virtual events so you can leverage them.
Here are the most important ones:
1. Relevance with today’s audience
Virtual events are simply the trend nowadays: some people are not yet comfortable enough to attend an in-person event, and others prefer virtual events’ convenience and flexibility. By hosting a fabulous virtual event, you are showing your audience that you are a relevant company.
2. Easier and more affordable to host
Venue rental is often the most substantial cost of starting an in-person event, eliminating a virtual possibility. Not only that, but we can also cut and even wholly eliminate expenses related to catering, decor, travel, and accommodations.
It’s simply much more affordable and accessible to start a virtual event when compared to an in-person counterpart.
3. Accessibility for everyone
As briefly mentioned above, virtual events allow you to invite audiences from all around the world without having to worry about geographical limitations. So, we can accommodate international and even global attendees who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend your event due to travel limitations, budget, and other issues.
On the other hand, you can also invite international speakers, entertainers, and talents to increase the value of your event without having to consider travel costs, time spent travelling, logistic issues, and so on.
In short, a virtual event can create better content that can reach more people worldwide.
Planning a Virtual Event: Key Tips and Strategies
1. Your content is key
In a live or in-person event, we can leverage many different event elements to increase and maintain engagement: venue location, decoration, free foods, networking opportunities.
We don’t have those options in a virtual event, so we have to rely on content. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Attractive speakers and talents are typically the main selling point of a virtual event. We can’t always get the best, most expensive talents all the time, but it’s important to choose speakers/talents that are the right fit with your target audience.
- Having top-notch speakers might not be enough if it’s not supported with great content. Support your talents’ sessions with great graphics, videos, images, and presentations to keep your attendees engaged
2. Choose the suitable event technology
In an in-person event, the venue is often the most critical aspect of the whole affair; in a virtual event, it’s technology.
It’s critical to choose the right platforms and tools that will help your virtual event achieve its goals depending on the type of the event:
- Virtual conference platform if it’s a virtual conference
- Webinar or live streaming platforms (like Zoom, GoToMeeting)
- Mobile app to support your event with features like online polls, surveys, and live chat
- Registration platform, if your event management software doesn’t offer this feature
- Social media management tool. Since social media should be a prominent marketing channel for your virtual event, a reliable social media management tool like Buffer or Hootsuite can be valuable
3. Plan the event agenda carefully
When designing your event plan and schedule, keep in mind that your audience will “attend” your event from their homes, where they’ll naturally have more distractions and chores. So, include more breaks by breaking down sessions into smaller chunks to cater to this need.
To tackle distractions, diversify your schedule with more types of content, including interactive and entertaining content to keep things interesting, which we’ll discuss below.
4. Tips and tricks to maintain engagement
In hosting a virtual event, it’s crucial to take audience participation into account throughout all event stages. It’s advisable to design how you will engage your audience as early as possible on the planning stages of the virtual event.
Here are a few ideas:
- Q&A session: In a virtual event, a Q&A session can be convenient because your audience may feel isolated at home, so this will offer the opportunity to let their voices be heard.
- Facilitate networking: Remember that networking opportunities are one of the primary reasons people attend events. Offer networking opportunities, for example, by breaking down your audience into smaller chat groups.
- Live polls: Keep your audience curious by offering interesting live elections and keep the elections for after the event. Offer prizes if necessary.
- Regular break: Again, offer frequent breaks so they can escape the stress of staring at their screens for hours. Offer guided breaks (i.e. stretching, short meditation) if you can.
Planning an event should be purpose-driven: identify the purpose of hosting your virtual event as early as possible. This will also provide you with the chance to identify our event’s target audience based on its purpose and objectives.
Remember that content is everything in a virtual event, so you should gather as much information as you can about your target attendees and figure out what types of content and speakers/talents can drive their engagement the most. The better you can build and maintain engagement; the more successful your virtual event will be.