A Guide to Hosting a Successful Virtual Event

Virtual conferences have allowed those hosting to reach a much wider audience and have made it convenient for those attending, but what exactly is involved in hosting a virtual event? It definitely comes with many benefits, such as lowered costs, increased interaction, and the ability to flawlessly record presentations. Some of the organization is also largely the same, but there are a few key points to consider, like technology, that can make or break your event. 

The number of organizations that have shifted to a virtual event has doubled just this year, providing great insight for those of us planning to host. Transitioning from in-person to virtual is smoother for those conferences or events that are already well-established but don’t count yourself out if you’re new to the arena. Here are the steps you should consider when planning a virtual event:

Phase One

Before you start making definitive plans, the first step is to ensure you are delivering real value with one common goal and related presentations. You can have some of the greatest speakers and experts in a field, but if there isn’t a common goal tying them together, your attendees won’t learn anything and you may have more difficulty hosting future events. For phase one, keep in mind:

  • Speakers – What is the point of your virtual conference? What is the one lesson you want your attendees to learn from your event? Your speakers, while offering their own unique insight, should stick with this theme.
  • Marketing & Registration – It’s a team effort. Presenters, sponsors, and even your attendees can all play a role in marketing your event. Make registration shareable on social media and ask your speakers and sponsors to share the information with their networks. Set up your landing pages appropriately.
  • Technology – Designate time to ensure your chosen platform for the conference is suitable. The last thing you want is a technical difficulty when it’s showtime. Each speaker and moderator should be comfortable with the platform and participation should be easy for your attendees. If speakers have a presentation, make sure it is compatible with the conference platform. Dress Rehearsals are a good idea. Here are some platforms to consider

Phase Two

Now that you have the foundation laid, you’ll want to hammer out some specifics while keeping your list of attendees engaged and growing:

  • Agenda – Send your attendees a list of the different event speakers, with a bio, so they have a plan for the day of the event and know who to look for when attending. Some have encouraged blocking future time segments on the virtual agenda, so attendees are focused on only the upcoming time block. 
  • Establish Key Roles – Will you enable chat rooms and who will be monitoring? Do you have someone available just in case you do need some technical assistance? Make a plan ahead of time and on the day off, you will be confident in who to turn to for whatever scenario is thrown your way. 
  • Reminders – Send out emails, and post reminders on social media, consistently, to keep interest alive and grow the number of attendees.
  • Prepare Attendees – Your attendees should know what to expect as far as technology and speakers. They should be confident when accessing the event, be sure to make the link apparent, and consider sending it via email multiple times so attendees can easily find it. They should also be aware of the time commitment.

Phase Three

It’s time to go live, consider:

  • Real-Time Interaction & Engagement – Those designated as moderators should encourage interaction and engagement. Encourage attendees to ask questions during the presentation, which you can compile and send to the speaker for a Q&A, and ask them to share information about themselves if there is any time while the speaker is getting set up. 
  • Resources – Offer a link that provides attendees with resources available from sponsors and speakers. This could be books, websites, exclusive discounts, or just more information in general. By having one resource page with all sponsors and speakers, participants can view others they may have missed to learn more.
  • Follow Up – After the conference concludes, don’t forget to thank, and follow up with all participants. Ask for feedback and measure the success of your resource page. 

Make Time to Host Your Virtual Event 

Distinguish yourself and your company as an industry expert by focusing on one mission that the majority of your target audience will find valuable. Carefully plan your event and pay special attention to the platforms of choice as well as training all participants, it’s reported that 38% of hosts have technical problems during events. You don’t want to risk your attendees losing interest. The time and energy you spend executing your virtual event can pay off for months and months by repurposing the content for your digital marketing campaign. Lastly, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from those who have experience in either hosting events, or any of the core components of your event.