Welcome to our guide on how to host a successful virtual event. More and more virtual events are filling our calendars every year, but they require careful planning and execution to ensure a seamless and engaging experience for participants.
Virtual events are valuable because they provide the opportunity to connect with a global audience, save on travel costs, and offer flexibility for attendees. So, if you’re hosting a single virtual meeting or an entire series, this guide will be helpful for you. However, before getting started, let’s review the benefits and requirements of a virtual event so that we may set a solid foundation for our plans.
What are the benefits of hosting virtual events?
Virtual events provide the following benefits:
- Global reach: With virtual events, you can connect with participants from around the world without the limitations of physical location.
- Cost savings: Hosting a virtual event eliminates expenses associated with venue rental, travel, accommodation, and catering.
- Flexibility: Virtual events allow attendees to join from the comfort of their own homes or offices, providing convenience and flexibility.
- Data and analytics: Virtual event platforms offer robust data and analytics capabilities, allowing you to track attendee engagement, session popularity, and other valuable insights.
Hybrid events also offer benefits such as:
- Increased audience reach: Hybrid events combine in-person and virtual elements, allowing you to reach both local and remote participants.
- Enhanced networking opportunities: Hybrid events provide the best of both worlds by offering face-to-face networking opportunities for in-person attendees and virtual networking features for remote participants.
- Flexibility for attendees: Hybrid events give attendees the option to choose whether they want to attend in person or virtually, accommodating different preferences and circumstances.
What do Virtual Events Require?
The requirements of virtual events vary depending on the type of virtual event you’re hosting. However, the top three essentials for hosting virtual events are
- A Virtual Event Platform
- Engaging Content
- Promotion and Marketing
Want the rules for booking stunning talent at your event?
Enter your email to start your search off right.
What are the Different Types of Virtual Events?
The different types of virtual events include:
- Virtual meet and greets: These events allow participants to connect with speakers, industry experts, or influencers in a more intimate setting.
- Virtual networking opportunities: Virtual networking events provide a platform for participants to connect and build relationships with other attendees.
- Virtual engagement events: These events focus on engaging participants through interactive activities, workshops, or gamification.
- Virtual conferences: Virtual conferences replicate the experience of an in-person conference, with keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities.
- Virtual trade shows: These events allow exhibitors to showcase their products or services in a virtual exhibition hall, and attendees can explore booths and interact with exhibitors.
Hosting a virtual event can be a great way to connect with your audience, promote your brand, and generate leads. However, planning and executing a successful virtual event requires careful consideration and attention to detail. In this blog post, we will outline four key steps to hosting a successful virtual event.
Step 1. Select the right Virtual Event Platform for Your Needs
The first step in hosting a successful virtual event is selecting the right platform. There are several top platforms available that offer a range of features and capabilities.
There are not many major differences among the most popular options. But, consider your particular audience and any technical needs your event may have to cater to.
If this is an internal company meeting, work with whichever platform that your teams typically utilize. For instance, if your workflow is heavily integrated into Microsoft 365, use its video conferencing feature. There is no need to migrate to Zoom or Cisco Webex. However, if you are booking virtual entertainment, consult with their technical team to determine which platform to use.
Throughout this guide, we will make note of any niche features that are specific to a particular platform, but here is a brief list of capable web conferencing platforms to consider:
1. Zoom One: Zoom is a widely used video conferencing platform that allows for virtual meetings, webinars, and conferences through their Zoom One service.
2. Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that offers video conferencing, chat, and file sharing capabilities.
3. Cisco Webex: Webex is a video conferencing and collaboration platform that offers features like screen sharing, recording, and breakout rooms.
4. Remo: A webinar-centric virtual platform with a focus on social interaction and networking.
5. Google Meet: Google Meet is a video conferencing platform that integrates with other Google Workspace tools like Google Calendar and Google Drive.
Step 2. Provide Opportunities for Audience Engagement
One of the challenges of hosting a virtual event is keeping your audience engaged. To overcome this challenge, it’s important to provide opportunities for audience engagement throughout the event. Some ways you can promote audience engagement at a virtual event include:
- Interactive polls and surveys: Use polling features to gather feedback from your audience and keep them engaged.
- Live Q&A sessions: Allow your audience to ask questions during the event and have them answered in real-time.
- Virtual networking opportunities: Provide virtual networking sessions where attendees can connect with each other. (offered by Remo)
- Gamification: Incorporate gamification elements such as leaderboards, badges, and prizes to make the event more interactive and fun. (offered by Webex)
Virtual Event Emcees
When virtual meetings begin to push beyond an hour long, even the above engagement strategies may fall flat. Hiring a virtual emcee will help keep the pace lighting-fast, making sure that attendees stay focused and remember the event fondly.
Virtual event emcees are particularly helpful for internal company conferences that primarily feature speeches from executives and leaders. The emcee will provide extra personality, character, and smooth transitions between speakers. They are especially helpful in filling unanticipated lulls in the program caused by technical issues. Contact an agent with the Mollie Plotkin Group or view our selection of virtual event emcees to learn more.
Step 3. Promote your event and set up pre-registration
To ensure a successful virtual event, it’s important to set up pre-registration and then promote it effectively.
Some ways you can set up pre-registration for your virtual event include:
- Create a dedicated landing page: Design a landing page where attendees can learn more about the event and register. (Ask your web developer.)
- Use an online registration tool: Utilize an online registration tool that allows attendees to easily sign up for the event and provides you with their contact information. (offered by Cvent)
Furthermore, below are ways you can promote your virtual event:
- Email marketing: Send teasers about your virtual event to your target audience. Make sure that you include the value proposition of your event, or, what they stand to gain from attending. Then, send out email reminders to registered attendees in the days leading up to the event.
- Social media promotion: Leverage your social media channels. Post, post, post. Virtual events can fly under the radar of your audience.
- Content marketing: Create blog posts, videos, or webinars related to the topic of your event to attract potential attendees.
You can create additional buzz around your event by hiring virtual entertainment. Virtual magicians, keynote speakers, and workshop leaders are all fantastic incentives to entice your audience. Read any one of our articles on virtual magicians, corporate workshop ideas, or the top virtual speakers of 2023 to learn more.
Step 4. Gather Data
One of the advantages of hosting a virtual event is the ability to gather valuable data. By tracking attendee engagement, interactions, and feedback, you can gain insights that can help you improve future events and better understand your audience. Some valuable data that you can gain by hosting a virtual event includes:
- Attendance rates: Measure how many people registered for your event and how many actually attended.
- Engagement metrics: Track metrics such as session attendance, poll responses, and Q&A participation to gauge attendee engagement.
- Feedback and surveys: Collect feedback from attendees through post-event surveys to understand their satisfaction levels and areas for improvement.
Now, You’re Ready to Host Your Virtual Event
In conclusion, hosting a successful virtual event requires careful planning and execution. By selecting the right platform, providing opportunities for audience engagement, promoting your event effectively, setting up pre-registration, and gathering data, you can ensure a successful virtual event that delivers value to both your audience and your brand.