A GUIDE TO HOSTING YOUR VIRTUAL EVENT!
Virtual events have exploded in popularity at first due to necessity during COVID-19 and now due to convenience and many other factors. With this knowledge, organizations will continue to hold increasing numbers of virtual events in the future. This guide is intended as a concrete overview to how to effectively pull off your virtual events.
What is a Virtual Event?
Quite simply, a virtual event is an event that you attend via the internet. You’ve likely engaged in many in the past ranging from webinars to perhaps even a full conference. In fact, there are four major types of virtual events.
Webinars are mini live training sessions that typically last between 45 and 90 minutes. Conferences can be held virtually and are large, multi-session (often multi-day) events with a variety of sessions, keynote addresses, and other aspects. Internal Hybrid Events are organizational sponsored events for employees that typically take the form of trainings, meetings, or town halls. They can combine people from multiple cities or countries rather easily. Finally, external hybrid events are like internal but allow attendees from multiple areas or organizations.
What are Benefits of Virtual Events?
There are a wide range of benefits of virtual events. While traditionally in-person events have been popular, the increase of virtual events during the pandemic led to an understanding of the value of this type of setting. Among the benefits of virtual events are the following:
- Provide increased access to individuals who are unable to attend in-person
- Streamline budgets by cutting the exorbitant costs that often accompany large in-person events
- Provide added convenience for attendees that can attend the sessions most relevant to them while working through other sessions.
- Allow for greater flexibility in working schedules, increasing productivity.
What are the Most Important Aspects of Virtual Events?
When we think about virtual events, they are not that dissimilar from in-person events in terms of the important components. First and foremost, content is the most important aspect. Your content will drive engagement. In fact, content is likely even more important in a virtual event than it is during an in-person one as individuals have more distractions surrounding them and you’ll need to ensure that you are actively keeping everyone’s attention. Finding compelling presenters and tailoring sessions in a way that actively engage individuals through technology is essential.
Marketing is also an important component. Virtual events should be marketed just as strongly as in-person events. Targeted promotions are important for connecting with your ideal audience and getting them to sign up. An effective marketing campaign will build awareness of the event and the benefits of attending it. This will ensure that you have adequate attendance and can succeed in your overall mission.
Finally, it is absolutely critical to strive to build connection. One of the reasons people enjoy professional events is for networking. In-person events do not have to mean people stay isolated behind screens. Integrating options for people to connect through things like virtual breakout sessions, event guides, and participant rosters can help enhance this area. Having a strong web and social media presence is particularly key for your event.
Unique Challenges of Virtual Events
While in-person and virtual events are quite similar in many ways, there are also disparities. One of the biggest differences is that virtual events do not have things like a unique setting driving registration. Thus, you must truly leverage the value of your content to promote registration.
Also, virtual events rely almost exclusively on technology. There are many different options for organizing a virtual event. Thus, it is imperative to select a technology solution that is right for your event. It should be reliable, support the anticipated number of attendees, be user-friendly, and allow for the options that you want to incorporate to make your event as interactive as possible such as polls, discussions, Q&A mechanisms, and breakout rooms.
If you are planning a larger event such as a conference, it will be important to ensure that attendees can navigate it. Publishing an online session guide or doing so through an app will help people find the session they want to attend and make a plan for engaging in the event.
Planning a virtual event has a lot in common with planning an in-person event; however, there are a number of unique concerns and challenges that ultimately make virtual events a little more difficult to pull off. Many companies decide to engage with experienced virtual event partners such as Virtual Creative Studios in order to create an engaging and entertaining event that provides a high degree of value for attendees. Regardless of how you organize your virtual events, having a coherent plan and focusing on development of content and marketing are key steps towards success.
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