Virtual events and their popularity have skyrocketed in the last few years. In-person events will be relevant but organizing virtual events won’t slow down anytime soon. The biggest global industries have switched to virtual events. The elements of the virtual platform have brought wide benefits like reducing the cost of the organization to organize the events.
Taking the event to a virtual platform is easy to organize. The right set of plans, ideas, and virtual event planning checklist will make life easy for companies to run the virtual gathering.
Everything You Need to Know About Hosting a Virtual Event
Here is a detailed blog about what you need to know about virtual events in 2023.
What Are Virtual Events?
First, you must have a rough idea about a virtual event before planning how to organize it. A virtual event is a platform where audiences, exhibitors, presenters, influencers, and brands can meet without having to stand in person. The platform allows them to share ideas and analyze various topics, and products, and all the attendees have the same experience.
One of the elements of a virtual event is that the event will be conducting an event like any other physical event on an online platform. Virtual events could be simple or complex as per the organizer’s need. You can use simple tools like social media or state-of-art video conferencing platforms. In the case of conducting bigger events like career fairs, trade shows, or similar, a virtual event platform will be needed to be used.
Consider a virtual trade show containing dozens of brandings that display their product at the event. In the virtual show, the products are demonstrated through live demos or presentations online. Brands try to be more interactive with the audience and get them involved with the product. The virtual trade show uses communication methods like live chat, Q&A sessions, and live polls which help to gather feedback from the attendees. There are various types of virtual events which can be taken advantage of by the brands.
Besides, virtual events can create a feeling of involvement through interactive approaches. The events aim to create engagement and create faithful attendees. Today it is more about creating potential leads which can be later turned into leads for the business rather than walk-in people who are taking strolls from one brand to another. The virtual event can create engagement which can keep the people interested and glued to their brand.
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Why A Virtual Event Is Your Best Option
Conducting a virtual event is a new approach that is becoming widely popular. As a potential organizer, you must be aware of the reasons why a virtual event is the best option for organizing a brand event. Here is a list of reasons why a virtual event is the best option for you.
- Reach Larger Public
The reach of virtual events is second to none. It needs simple equipment like a desktop, internet connection, or any smart mobile. Organizations can reach all people across the globe and can gather larger audiences without the need for a similar venue.
- Save Time And Money
Planning a virtual event will help to reduce the cost of the venue and save any other overhead costs which are compulsory in physical events like food, additional staff, travel, and other add-ons.
Virtual events provide ample flexibility for both hosts and attendees allowing more freedom during the event. There are various types of virtual events available and can fit the varied requirement of any brand or advertiser.
- Develop Connections
The chances of making a personal connection with virtual events greater. Event organizers and audiences from across the world can meet and greet and establish a personal level connection. These events often stay up to date with the trends in the market and can challenge competitors.
How Does It Work?
In this section, you will get to know how virtual events work for real. It should be noted that various events like career events, conferences, and brand events have multiple requirements. The objective and need will be driven by the type of event which will be organized. Despite the varied requirement for different types of events, there are certain common aspects to them.
At a very basic level, there will be a need for a video platform that will share the audio and visuals from the event with the virtual attendees. There are a wide number of options available like Zoom, Microsoft Team, Google Hangouts, and live streaming platforms like Twitch or YouTube. However, at times a simple approach to the virtual event enables the brand to focus on products or services rather than the actual event.
Types Of Virtual Events
Before you start planning for a virtual event, it is recommended to know about four major types of virtual events. It will help to identify the type which suits your requirement and needs the most. Besides you need to ask the question yourself as ‘what do I need to accomplish through the virtual event?’ It is a basic question that will lead you to learn about the major types of virtual events which vary with the goal of the event.
When you are aiming to educate the audience, it is recommended that you go for a webinar. It works perfectly for education events and seminars where the aim is to make the audience knowledgeable. It is a subtle combination of ‘web’ and ‘seminar’ which effectively addresses a good amount of audience. Especially when going to a global event, it can allow people from across the globe to join the seminar. The revenue can be generated by charging a small amount of registration fee or you can make it entirely for a good cause.
- Virtual Conferencing
It is a perfect choice if you have a low venue budget but a large number of audiences will attend it. It is the same as an in-person conference but takes place virtually. The engagement is built around a live video. Virtual conferences can include complex agendas through presentations, keynotes, breakouts, etc. You can include live chat, polls, and question-answer sessions which can make the virtual conferencing more interesting, and interactive and can engage multiple audiences.
- Internal Hybrid Event
This event combines the impact of in-person and virtual attendance. This model is preferable for town hall meetings, company events, training events, etc. However, the event style is time-consuming and needs a good investment. The internal hybrid event is good for companies or events which will have people from different time zones. It helps to gain more attendees who can get into the event from any place irrespective of time zone. Besides, there is a good scope of interaction.
- External Hybrid event
This variety of virtual events is best for audiences who are from outside the organization and cannot reach the event in person. It is an event style that brings together people of similar interests or industries and provides an idea exchange-space. It is a perfect option for showcasing the product and sharing information. The most important requirement for the external hybrid event is video production so that the virtual audience can get a similar connection as in-person audiences. The approach is best used for conferences, user conferences, summits, workshops, and various other purposes.
- Virtual Exhibitions
Virtual exhibitions bring in a host of advantages for everyone involved in it. It works best for audiences and marketers. The brands use virtual exhibitions to reach a wider audience with their products but in a virtual space.
- Virtual Seminar
The virtual seminar has enabled showcasing of the product’s marketing and sales events online. It can generate the same type of engagement as a physical seminar without the need for a physical space.
Event Platforms For Virtual Events
Since virtual events have become a buzzword, there are tools or platforms which have been developed specifically for this purpose. Some tools support basic video conferencing to complex tools for more elaborate virtual events. These tools are referred to as platforms as they serve as the medium of connecting people using the web. Here is a list of such platforms which are widely used for a specific purpose in the market.
- Beginner-Level Platform: Zoom
It has been one of the most common platforms used for meetings and webinars. Zoom has both versions, one for meetings and the other for webinars. Zoom meeting provides more interactive opportunities for smaller groups. Zoom Webinar is best for events where a few presenters are there for engaging a large number of attendees.
- Entry-Level Platforms: HeySummit, Big Marker, and Hopin
When it comes to webinar hosting, there are tools like HeySummit, Big Marker, and Hopin which are widely used by companies. These software’s tools enable the users to have unlimited speakers, ensure simple attendance registration, gather attendee feedback, set up sponsors, and other convenient options. The platforms can run multiple-day events with numerous sessions.
- Platforms For Summit And Conferences: ON24, 6Connex, INXPO
There might be a need for virtual event platforms for the more complex virtual summits or online conferences. The tools or platforms available for these purposes possess all the below-mentioned features.
- Turnkey workflow provides attendees with management registration and communication.
- A virtual lobby is provided for beginning their experience
- Q&A tool provides the scope of audience interaction
- Virtual booths enable audience communication with the vendors
- The networking lounge enables the social aspect of an in-person conference
- The platform can organization various presentations
- They provide sponsorship scope
- Chat features for communication.
ON24, 6Connex, and INXPO are among the top popular platforms for summits and conferences.
How To Host Your Virtual Event
You might be getting interested to host your virtual event. In this section, a breakdown of steps to take in each phase of the event will be discussed. Using this section conducting virtual events will become a breeze.
- Identify The Goal
Like any other marketing event, the first thing you must do is to identify what you want to accomplish through the virtual event which you will organize. Ask questions like are you trying to introduce your product? Create a buzz? Earn revenue? Inform the audience? The approach to the event will be heavily based on what is the goal of the event which you are trying to achieve.
- Choose The ‘People’
It is time to choose your target audience or people who will join the virtual event. Having a clear demography of the audience will make it easy to design the approach and determine the investment for the event.
- Decide Budget
As any physical event requires a budget set, so does a virtual event. The idea is to have an estimate of the costs which the event will cost. It is better to use a spreadsheet and fill up the virtual event planning checklist. A detailed itemization will help to have a rough budget set up for the virtual event.
- Determine Event Format
After the goal is set, the audience is identified, and the budget is set, it is time to determine the format of the event next. The list of various types of virtual events is discussed in the previous section. That should make it easy for you to identify what type of event you are looking to host. Following this step, you will need to identify a platform for the event.
- Platform Selection
As the event planning is taking shape, the next step to do is to identify the platform for the virtual event. It is just the same as finding the venue for any physical event. While you identify the right platform for your event, there are things that you must consider. The platform must provide you with the support that will align with the goals fixed for the virtual event.
- Welcome Sponsors And Exhibitors
Sponsors and exhibitors are the lifelines of virtual events. They will have major support in the budget and help to make the event successful. You might need to research and bring on board the best-fitting sponsors and exhibitors to make the event more interesting and engaging.
- Content Development And Promotion
As the audience demography is identified, the right content needs to be developed which will appeal to them. Impactful content will help to promote a virtual event and approach the target audiences. The content has to align with the communication channel and content has to adapt to it. Promotion of the event through valuable content will drive the interest who will be eager to attend the virtual event.
- Social Media Promotion
An important part of the pre-event plan should include social media promotion. Social media is widely used by audiences and hence a good planned social media promotion is needed. It will include photos, an overview of the events, and any pictures from the previous event. Besides, it has to have eye-catchy banners and an outline of the events. It will create a vibe and interest among the audience.
- Platform Testing
Before hitting the space before the virtual event, it is needed to do a run-through of the chosen virtual event platform. Doing a run-through of the platform before the event will make sure you don’t appear as a noob before the audience. It is better to do a run-through, and prepare ahead on how to harness the platform in the best manner.
- Registering Audiences
If you have the right kind of vibe and buzz built up for your virtual event, you can ask participants to register to have a rough idea about headcount. A pre-register feature is a must that will share important info about the event.
- Branding And Informing
Focus on the branding guidelines while you focus on the brand messages for the virtual events. The aim is to stay authentic and unadulterated; the target audience likes reliability and transparency. Besides, the branding has to keep a difference from the competitors in the market. The mindset is needed to create the branding message which will invoke the required approach. You have to be consistent with the branding message which will be shared.
During The Event
- Share Important Information
It will be frustrating if you do not know what happens during the event or how the platform works. It is crucial to inform the audience beforehand about the essential information. This information should include the agenda, guest speaker list, and guidelines for going through the event. The attendees must be informed about everything which will provide them with an engaging experience.
- Audience Engagement
A push is needed to keep the audience engaged in the event. Virtual events often host large crowds which might be intimidating for the audiences to engage at a personal level. Use approaches like polls, surveys, and Q&A sessions for better engagement.
- Take Breaks
If a long event is in the plan, it is essential to take breaks and divide the event into many sessions. A break is needed to keep the audience interested throughout the event. In case the event becomes too long and tedious, they will be bored and will eventually leave the event.
- Share Important Information
- Maintaining Connection
The audience who attended the virtual event is valuable. You must keep connected with them. Sending a thank you note, and asking for feedback, are a few approaches that will keep the audience connected post-event. You can also use an anonymous system for data analysis and identify the ROI of the event using the system. Besides, it is needed to keep track of what things have attracted the most audience attention. These can be a solid field of development for the next event.
- Gain Feedback
It is an essential step that you must ensure after the event is over. It will be important for identifying how to improve future events. People might have problems sharing honest insights. But using an anonymous system can solve this issue.
- Post About The Event
Share event moments on social media to provide an overview for others. It is an effective tool to generate the interest of the people who have not attended the event at first. It will draw in potential future participants who might join the next event.
- Maintaining Connection
Essential Checklist For The Virtual Event
You need an effective checklist that will help you plan the virtual event. The inventory is essential to remind you that important aspects of the virtual event are not missed by any chance. Here are the important points which must be included in the checklist
- Plan Show Flow: It is needed to keep track of the virtual event’s success.
- Trusted Platform: Identify a trustable platform to make the event successful.
- Content Creation: Meaningful content is needed to engage the audiences.
- Attendee Networking and Engagement: Designed to appeal to attendees and keep them engaged.
- Tech Support and Engagement: Glitches can ruin the event. Hence it is better to prepare ahead of the situation.
- Data Analytics: Post-event data analysis is needed to measure the ROI and determine the success rate of the event.
Virtual events are rapidly becoming famous among the organizers. It has ended the limitation of space and time for organizing any event. In this space, the organizers are appealing to a larger audience without having to spend extra money to organize the event. As virtual events provide flexibility and cost less in terms of time and money, even small organizers can gain leverage from the virtual platform and connect to their desired demography. Besides, it is much easier to measure the success of the event and create the post-event buzz which can bring more audience for future events.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do People Prefer Virtual Events These Days?
People prefer virtual events these days as it is cost efficient and saves a lot of time. Virtual platforms are supported by tools that are far more realistic and it closes the gap between virtual and physical events. The attendees can enjoy the event with the same experience regardless of their location.
From the perspective of companies, they prefer virtual events as it is affordable and easy to organize. Companies do not have to invest in physical spaces and can organize any type of event virtually and reach a greater audience. It saves both cost and time for the organization.
What Makes A Virtual Event Successful?
The virtual event is successful through various factors. Firstly, demography identification is an important aspect. A successful event must work with people who have an interest in the subject and can find themselves engaged with the agenda of the event. Engagement is a vital aspect where it will interact with the audience and draw their participation. Post-event feedback is required to gain insight from the audiences. The feedback will create the space for a future event.
What Are The 7 Key Elements Of Event Planning?
Event management has seven key elements which ensure its success. The seven elements include event infrastructure, audience, attendees, organizers, venue, and media. The event software has to be effective in managing all the discussed elements. While designing the event plan, the organizer has to make sure that these seven factors are considered.
What Is The Approximate Cost Of A Virtual Event?
The cost of organizing a small virtual conference with an attendance between 10 to 100 attendees is AUD 50 to AUD 250 per month. The cost of organizing the larger virtual event which would host 500 to 2500+ attendees is around AUD 625 to AUD 8000 per month. The cost of organizing a virtual event is lesser than organizing any event on the physical front.