The global pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021 has forced many event organizers to rely on virtual events. At first, many of these virtual events are organized as replacements for canceled in-person events due to social distancing restrictions. However, soon both attendees and event organizers learned how virtual events can provide various unique benefits, contributing to the current boom of the virtual event industry.
While many principles of traditional event management can be applied to planning and organizing virtual events, they also demand unique approaches and tactics that are specific to the virtual environment.
In this guide, we will explore how to effectively organize a successful virtual event, and especially how to attract more attendees to your virtual events.
Let us begin right away:
What Is a Virtual Event?
Simply put, any event that is held completely online can be considered a virtual event. Traditional in-person events are held in a venue, but these virtual events are hosted on a virtual platform. Nowadays, there are various virtual platforms available that enable us to host a virtual event. Some are dedicated to virtual events (i.e. GoToMeeting for webinar events), and some others are more generic in purpose (i.e. Zoom for video conference).
These platforms can more or less dictate the type and format of the event. For example, if you host an event on Clubhouse, then it’s an audio-only virtual event. Technically, an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit or Twitter can also be considered Expertshare.live, that is text-based in nature.
Below we’ll discuss some examples of different virtual event types.
Virtual Event Types and Concepts
While we can certainly host a virtual event in various different types for many different purposes, here are some of the most common types of virtual events:
Literally “web seminar”, a seminar session that is offered virtually over the internet. A speaker presents a seminar, typically between 45 and 90 minutes, while attendees can join in and listen to the presentation of the speaker.
Webinars typically use video conferencing platforms that also allow interactive Q&A, and there are various platforms that are specifically dedicated to webinars.
A virtual version of in-person conferences, a virtual conference involves multi-session content typically with keynote speakers as the core content. Can involve other agenda like Q&A sessions, entertainments, and networking sessions where attendees can interact with each other.
Online Classes and Workshops
Online classes have been around for some time, but have gained popularity in recent years, especially after the global pandemic. Online Concerts
Still not very common, but music festivals and concerts can be held completely online.
Virtual Trade Shows
A virtual version of exhibitions, a virtual trade show with virtual boots can allow businesses to reach out to attendees from all around the world without having to worry about travel and accommodations.
Events that are held in-person, but are also live-streamed to an online audience.
Tips For Organizing a Successful Virtual Event
With how there are so many types of virtual events available and the unique challenges of hosting an event completely online, hosting a virtual event can be a very challenging task.
However, below we’ve compiled some actionable tips on how to successfully organize your first virtual event:
Know Your Purpose and Your Target Audience
Why do you organize the virtual event in the first place? Is it to support another business of yours? To support a product launch? Or simply to generate more leads?
After you’ve defined your purpose, you should be able to define who your ideal target audience should be in order to fulfill this purpose.
Then, gather as much information as you can about this target audience, and design your virtual event around this information.
The better you understand your target attendees’ pain points, needs, and behaviors, the better your virtual event will be in attracting this audience.
Define Your Objectives
Based on the purpose of the event and your target audience, you should be able to define measurable objectives for the virtual event.
Use the SMART goal principle to define objectives that are:
Specific: clear and easy to explain
Measurable: you can assign KPIs and metrics to this objective
Attainable: realistic, important to maintain morale
Relevant: relevant to your event’s purpose and your organization’s goals
Time-Based: you can attach a timeline to each objective
Timing Is Key
Remember that you are competing with other virtual events from all over the world, so it’s crucial to choose the right time for your event after weighing different factors like:
Whether your target attendees are in different time zones
Invest In The Right Technology
For a virtual event, choosing the right technology solution is crucial.
Choose the right virtual event platforms according to your event type and purpose. For example, if you are planning to host a webinar, then platforms like GoToMeeting can be safe bets.
Also, you should invest in conference management software to streamline various aspects of your event from team management to managing registrations/check-ins, and so on.
Prepare Contingencies and Troubleshooting
You might want to consider using more than one platform for contingencies. For example, if you are facing technical difficulties during a webinar session on GoToMeeting, you can switch over to Zoom to continue the event, at least temporarily.
Send Out Surveys
Send out pre-event surveys to gather important information from your attendees, for example, if they require specific accommodations. Similarly, send out post-event surveys after the event to evaluate your performance.
While organizing a virtual event can be challenging, it’s also going to be an exciting journey, and with these virtual event best practices and tips we’ve shared above, you now have a solid foundation to plan and organize a successful virtual event that can attract a lot of attendees.
Remember that the key is to design your virtual event based on your target attendees’ needs and not the other way around. Consider their needs and preferences, and build your event around them, not the other way around.
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