Most organizations are aware that making connections in person is a valuable aspect of growth and development. But in recent years, there’s been a major shift to fully digital conferences, meetings, and events, which has resulted in an influx of new social engagement and networking methods. As a result, it’s a good idea to understand the importance of virtual events like conferences and webinars, and how to successfully host one through your web platform.
Some businesses have had it harder than others when it comes to making the switch to digital and may be considering holding off on such events until large-scale in-person interactions are viable again. However, you can still take advantage of the positive aspects of conferences, webinars, and panels on an entirely virtual level while also enjoying additional benefits exclusive to this format.
If you’re unclear on how to host a virtual conference, don’t worry; this article will take you through the basics of how to host a virtual event as well as some virtual event best practices. Let’s get started by taking a look at some key concepts.
What Is a Virtual Event?
The majority of the North American population has likely become very familiar with virtual events in the past few years. These events are hosted digitally with content being streamed or shared in a communal setting, which allows people to participate in an event regardless of their location using their digital devices.
Depending on your goals, there might be different types of gatherings you can organize, from virtual webinars to discussion panels to live streams of performances or readings. That’s why the first thing you need to do is determine what kind of event you want to host according to your objectives. Remember that the focus of these gatherings is engaging with the audience like you would, for instance, with live blogging or informational streams.
Virtual Event Checklist
When it comes to hosting virtual events, there are some practices you need to follow.
Determine the length of the event
In the past, public expectation was that conferences would last a whole day, which allowed all participants sufficient time to network and make connections. However, this doesn’t work with virtual webinars. Nowadays, people prefer to register for virtual events that last for a short amount of time, a maximum of 1-2 hours long. Of course, we understand that sometimes this might not be enough for your needs, but note that you can always organize a one-week virtual conference and have all the events spread throughout the week.
Creating an agenda
Just like an in-person event, you need a plan for virtual webinars. Often, panels and conferences are long and can last for several days. Having a proper agenda can allow attendees to choose which sessions they would like to attend. Remember, as a rule of thumb, when organizing an online conference, you should line up all the essential information at the beginning of the event. Then, to close up the entire event, schedule your most dynamic speaker
If you are thinking about hosting a virtual webinar, a round or two of rehearsal is a must. In this regard, you can find software that allows you to have a practice room, where you can go over some points with speakers, test the quality of the video/audio, and make sure the slides and tools are working before all the attendees connect. In addition, there are some platforms where you can even record your practice sessions. Doing so can improve parts of your online presence to make it more engaging.
Having a solid internet connection is non-negotiable when hosting an online conference or event. Any disruptions in the quality of Internet connection can prompt many attendees to drop off. That’s why every event-hosting software offers you the chance to check all your levels. Remember that it is also crucial to make sure that your speakers and microphones provide high-quality audio.
Virtual Conference Best Practices: How To Host A Virtual Conference?
Organizing and hosting a virtual conference is not an easy task. We’ve put together a list of actions you can take to ensure your online event will go smoothly.
Choosing the right webinar software
Some of the best platforms you can find online for digital events include GoToWebinar, WebinarJam, BlueJeans Events, and even Zoom. To pick the perfect platform when learning how to host a virtual event, you need to look at the platform’s features. Remember to check the maximum number of attendees, engagement tools, analytics, and community chats and plan your schedule and budget accordingly.
Depending on the type of software you choose, there are different presentation tools you can use. For example, some of them allow you to present a pre-recorded presentation that way, and you can be more engaging with the audience through real-time conversations. Depending on the nature of your event and its intended purpose, some tools may be better than others.
Picking topics and speakers
Like in-person conferences, choosing relevant, engaging topics is key to maintaining engagement throughout your event. Otherwise, your overall conversation might be spread across such a wide range of topics that attendees might find themselves confused, distracted, or unsure of what to take away from your presentations. Also note that selecting your speakers is also integral to the success of your event; try to have a panel that offers different perspectives about the subject. Three to five industry experts would be an ideal amount for most events.
Making a registration form
The best way to plan out your virtual webinar or conference is to create a registration form that tells you the information of the people who will attend. Here, you need to request details like their contact information, age, location, and gender. This form also allows you to share some things about the event, like the list of speakers, schedules, and social links, and also provides some useful data and statistics on your attendees.
If you want to know how to host a virtual event, we can tell you that it involves more than just organizational skills. You will also need some marketing know-how to promote your virtual event, and you’ll need to use email marketing and social media to keep your audience posted well in advance. Keep in mind that the objective is not just getting the most number of registrants; what’s important is having the proper attendance ratio scaled for your event so things remain manageable.
Making your platform secure
Having a virtual event means you will be the host of a professional conference. That’s why it is vital to ensure that the platform is secure. To achieve this, you need to look for software that has authentication to protect the entire event. You’ll also need complete administrative control over the event, allowing you to moderate participants as necessary. Various online community management softwares offer these as functions in their software packages, so consider investing in one of them to better regulate your virtual webinar.
In summary, we hope we’ve convinced you that virtual webinars, conferences, and other similar events can be just as productive, profitable, and beneficial as traditional, in-person events. And note that while digital events provide a direct benefit, their effects are proportional to your investment and the effectiveness of your preparations. Consider implementing community engagement and management software to expand your web community and create a space where your brand can develop a dedicated following. Alongside well-planned virtual events, tools like these can help solidify your online presence and help your business grow across the web.