8/10/2020

Virtual Events Basics: What it is & How to Host Your Own

What is a virtual event?

A virtual event is an online event where individuals interact in a virtual environment on the web, rather than an in-person, physical location.

What are common virtual events?

The most common business virtual events are online webinars, tutorials, interviews, conferences and shows. Due to the lack of business travel from COVID-19, organizations are trying to find creative ways to interact with other companies, and virtual events are a great alternative.

Which webinar platforms can I use to host a virtual event?

There are many options available if you plan to host a webinar. Consider looking into the following platforms for your next webinar:

Getting started: How to plan a virtual event

Create a well thought-out plan

Having a plan is critical to the success of your virtual event. Before you get started on the planning process, make sure you set aside time to think about the experience you want to create. The questions below are a great place to start.

  1. What kind of experience do you hope to deliver?
  2. Will the event be live, on-demand, or both?
  3. Where do I want the content to be seen?
  4. Will access be charged or free?
  5. When is the best time for the event?
  6. Will you require event registration?
  7. How will you promote the event?
  8. Do you plan to work with an advertiser or other partner?
  9. Will people still have access to the event once it is over?
  10. What KPIs and data do you plan to track?
  11. Should you create a guide for attendees to review prior to the event that explains how to join keynotes, attend sessions, and use messaging tools?
  12. What happens if you have connectivity issues?
  13. How long will on-demand sessions be available after the event?
  14. How long will the sessions be?
  15. What tools will attendees have to network and schedule appointments?

Choose the best time

Your online presentation will likely be held in real-time. But if your guests cannot attend during the scheduled time, the presentation can also be shared and viewed afterwards as well. When picking the best day and time for your event, consider the time zones you are targeting and be sure to accommodate the community you would like to attend.

Choose your panel or “experts”

After you have set the direction and decided on the goals and strategy for your virtual event, it’s time to select your panel or speakers. have your panel be inclusive in backgrounds and diversity. Don’t forget about your viewers that need accessible content with clear, easy-to-read information, presentations, and captions.

Promote the event

Consider providing a good incentive for people to attend. This could include the presence of highly recognized influencers, an elite session from a well-known thought leader, or simply the opportunity to network with other attendees. Invitations and sharing the event should be done through email, social media, and advertisements. And make sure you include a preview of presenters, bios, and topics so prospective attendees can learn more before they sign up.

Test your technology

Plan for glitches to happen, then TEST, TEST, TEST! Be prepared with backups of all the speakers’ presentations. Conduct, at a minimum, two trial runs so that the presenters can give constructive feedback and you can practice using your visuals live. The earlier you identify problems, the earlier you can find solutions. Staying within the planned time-frame is important to not only keep the presentations moving along but also to keep attendees engaged.

Plan for all presenters to arrive one hour before you go live to test their computers, connections and presentations before they go live in front of your guests. While testing shouldn’t take too long, you want to make sure there is enough time to troubleshoot if and when problems arise.

Encourage engagement

Who doesn’t like to win prizes? An easy way to get more interaction from the audience is to encourage asking questions to the presenter. For example, for every question that the attendee asks, their name could be entered to win a prize. Winners can be announced at the end of the event, which provides further incentive for attendees to stay in the event until the end.

Networking and connecting

Encourage attendees to network and connect with one another by providing time to do so at the end of the event. You can also encourage attendees to share their information (such as LinkedIn Profiles) in the events chat feature, so those interested can connect with one another after the event. Other options include connecting attendees and vendors through a mobile event app. Through an app, they can likely schedule one-on-one appointments with exhibitors and sponsors as they would during an in-person networking event.

Have a moderator

Time is money, so let’s make the most of both! Having a moderator is the “make it or break it” for how your virtual event goes. The moderator will keep track of time and present the next speaker. Sometimes, it’s best to have an additional moderator just to track and monitor the chat room where the attendees will be submitting their questions. The moderator will ask the chat room questions during the Q&A portion of the presenters’ time slot.

Are you planning a virtual event?

The ongoing pandemic has severely impacted the financial industry, and many events are now going virtual. Equips has partnered with other leaders in the financial space to put on virtual events, and we’d love to partner with your organization. Please contact marketing@equips.com for more information.

Would you like a checklist for your virtual event? Download this free white paper below.

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