In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, our understanding of virtual interaction has expanded profoundly. However, there is a learning curve when organizing events that we are used to experiencing in person, such as seminars, conferences, and other networking opportunities.
To help, we’ve created a helpful guide to executing a successful online event.
Benefits of Online Events
Online or virtual events provide ways for you to reach attendees across the country –– and world. Over the last year, businesses and organizations have proven that online events can be just as effective as their in-person counterparts in connecting, networking, and educating attendees.
An online platform for events provides many benefits for both presenters and participants:
Creates a safe, remote space for interacting
No masks or social distancing is required. Everyone remains in the comfort of their own homes or offices.
It saves time and money
There are no halls to book, no travel expenses, no meals to cater. The only travel requirements are whatever it takes to get you from your current location to your laptop.
It opens opportunities for more people to attend
It is much easier for participants to attend when being present in a physical location isn’t required. They don’t have to commit resources for transportation, lodging, food, or other expenses necessary for overnight travel.
Widens your speaker pool
Just as a virtual event makes it easier for guests to attend, it similarly opens up opportunities to snag great speakers who otherwise might not be available due to location or time constraints.
What Type of Event Are You Planning?
Before diving into organizing your event, consider your goals and the range of the event. For example, are you hosting a single-session webinar, multiple online sessions, or an entire conference spanning days of events with various speakers?
Deciding the scope of your online event helps to clarify your vision and focus on acquiring the knowledge, tools, and platform necessary to make it successful.
Ask yourself and your team some questions:
- What are the budget constraints?
- What experience are you hoping to offer your attendees? Is this a team-building event, a networking opportunity, a business or social event?
- Will this be a free event, or will you be charging admission?
- How will you be offering your sessions? Will they be pre-recorded, live, or a blending of both?
- Is this a gated or ungated event?
- How are you going to promote your event?
- What hosting platform will you use?
Gathering this information and brainstorming with your team builds a solid foundation for your event and guarantees everyone is on the same page and moving in the same direction.
Choosing a Hosting Platform
There are many companies to choose from when it comes to picking a platform to host your online event. Depending on the size and goal of your event, some platforms will work better or be more effective than others.
A few options for hosting your virtual event:
- Zoom. This platform has become very well-known after the past year. It is a budget-friendly option and familiar to most people. Depending on the specifics of your event, you can choose between a Zoom meeting or a Zoom webinar.
- Whova. This event platform has won many awards, including the Best Event App at the Event Technology Awards.
- Airmeet. Airmeet offers free and paid subscriptions for their services, including perks such as seamless live streaming on multiple platforms, live booth workshops, and planning tools.
- vFairs. This unique platform engages attendees with customizable virtual avatars, interactive environments, and animated lobbies. It also supports several languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and more.
- Socio. Used by organizations such as Google, Microsoft, and SaaS, this company boasts an all-in-one platform that is simple to customize and accommodates small and large events.
Whatever platform you choose, it’s wise to have a backup plan for any virtual event, as audio, visual, or connection issues can throw major wrenches into any online gathering.
Managing a Successful Virtual Event
Your primary goals when planning a virtual event include
- High-quality content
Anyone can type a topic into Google and come up with hundreds, if not thousands, of videos to educate and entertain on that subject. But the beauty of an online event is that it creates an opportunity for people to connect, interact, and engage in community. Especially after this past year, the value of community and human interaction, even virtually, cannot be denied.