Guidelines of how to run a virtual event :
During COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing measures have affected in-person events. As a result, multifarious events have been postponed or cancelled. Can virtual events effectively replace face-to-face socialising and interaction and in-person events? The answer is no. Take direct eye contact as an example, it is a hard-wired social cue which gives a speaker confirmation that listeners / audience are paying attention as he or she speaks. Nevertheless, virtual events offer obvious benefits.
First, we need to understand the difference between in-person events and virtual events.
Promoting your company, generating leads, building and developing brand image, and in return, generating sales and revenue are the common objectives of both in-person events and virtual events.. They also have their own advantages. Virtual events allow attendees to bypass geographical constraints and have communication on virtual event platform.
Virtual event management is not an easy task, especially when it comes to engaging the audience and keeping them captivated during the whole virtual events, such as virtual conference, virtual exhibition and virtual meeting). Virtual events can generate benefits to your companies. These benefits are highly comparable to those of in-person events.
Virtual events or digital events need attention just as in-person events do. Effective promotions, special moments creations, effective communication among attendees are essential for success for both. The only difference is that a virtual event is where audience or attendees gather together, not in a physical location but through a virtual event platform.
Virtual events can create engagement-driven deliver value-added experiences for all attendees. They can create a huge impact that extends far beyond your computer screen.
Hybrid events can attract both in-person and virtual attendees. All attendees experience the same event and participate in the event in very similar ways, such as interacting with speakers and fellow attendees during Q&A session.
What are the Benefits of Virtual Events / Virtual Conference / Virtual Trade Show / Virtual Meeting?
Virtual events or online events take place online. All attendees, sponsors, and speakers join on the virtual event platform instead of gathering in one central, physical location. Virtual events can be as simple as a virtual meeting, or more complex as a virtual trade show and include multiple sessions, entertainment and speakers — just like a conventional conference or trade show.
When choosing between a virtual event and an in-person event, you need to consider how well your objectives can be achieved virtually instead of in-person.
If done correctly, a virtual event can be engaging for attendees and sponsors, facilitate revenue-generating opportunities, and demonstrate ROI.
Reduce your budget associated with in-person events by eliminating logistics related to venues, food catering, hotels, entertainment, and printing costs while your attendees won’t have to travel and book a flight or a hotel.
· There can be ticket revenue for live streaming of virtual event, virtual conference (aka online conference), virtual exhibition (aka online exhibition) and virtual meeting (aka online meeting).
· Monetized ad space, such as branded banner ads and splash pages, and sponsored push notifications can create revenue stream via the virtual event platform.
· Virtual conference can offer sponsorship opportunity. You can make money out of adding sponsors’ logos.
· No matter it is a virtual event, virtual conference (aka online conference), virtual exhibition (aka online exhibition), or virtual meeting, there is no need for participants to travel. Therefore, it won’t contribute to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from burning fossil fuels for energy.
· Substantial amount of paper and printing costs can also be saved.
Reach a Larger Audience:
· you can reach a much larger audience with a virtual event, far bigger than even the largest venue can hold.
· With no travel cost involved attendees can join from all parts of the world.
Quality Lead Generation:
· You can customise the fields on your registration form to capture the data you need to qualify and cultivate the leads after the event.
How to Create or Run Virtual Events?
From a professional virtual event planner’s point of view, planning a virtual event has a lot in common with planning a live event. Instead of choosing a venue, you will be selecting a virtual event platform or a virtual trade show platform from scratch and will still book speakers and line up sponsors. If pivoting from an already-planned live event, you can transition your existing speakers and sponsors to the virtual experience.
Communicate Your Virtual Event Plan
Being a virtual event planner, it is extremely important to communicate your virtual event plan with the attendees, speakers and sponsors. The more lead time you can give them, the better.
Virtual event and/or hybrid event is relatively new for most people (including your online subscribers). Chances are, you may face resistant or pushback at first. Be prepared to communicate the reason for changing to virtual event (it is likely due to a pandemic) and to answer any questions about attendee networking, engagement, and sponsorship opportunities.
Also make sure all communications contain up-to-date notification until your virtual events or hybrid events take place. Reminders are to be send via multiple channels - email, text, and social media. If you act as a virtual event planner and have already spent countless hours planning your live event, don’t let that hard work go to waste. And, it is highly recommended you use a virtual event management app.
Choosing Virtual Event Technology
There are several event technology options. Choosing the best technology for your particular event is key to success. You can talk to virtual event companies about:
· size / scale of your virtual events, virtual conference, virtual exhibition or virtual meeting
· your expected number of attendees, sessions and speakers
· whether you will have sponsorship at your events
· whether you want to promote networking
You may also request the virtual event companies to show you their virtual event management capabilities, virtual event examples and virtual meeting rooms for your reference.
Test Your Virtual Event Technology
No matter you are using virtual event platform, virtual trade show platform, virtual conference platform, or virtual meeting platform, you must double check that everything works properly before your virtual event, virtual exhibition (aka online exhibition), virtual conference (aka online conference), or virtual meeting takes off. Don’t forget to:
· Check audio and video quality
· Check internet connection (consider using an ethernet cable)
· Check and see if everything can be recorded
· Check links and presentation slides
Virtual Event Registration
Registration (via virtual event platform, virtual trade show platform, virtual conference platform, or virtual meeting platform) is your first tool for lead and data collection, and it gives a first impression to your potential attendees. Registration tools allow attendees to register, for virtual events, virtual conference (aka online conference), virtual exhibition (aka online exhibition), or virtual meeting, by filling in personal information and make payment for the tickets. A stable online registration tool allows attendees to register easily and provides virtual event planner with accurate data.
Mobile Event App and Attendee Networking
The online event guide and mobile event app are important pieces of event technology for virtual events. These tools should work well on web browsers and be mobile friendly. Updated agenda and event related information can be put on the app and distribute to all attendees and speaker anytime. They can connect attendees and provide messaging tools that allow attendees to network and foster connections virtually and instantly through video calls and/or chat groups.
From attendee networking at happy hours before the virtual event, participating in polls, one-on-one appointment, and to live Q&A, these events involve interaction rather than having attendees listen to content for hours. With a deeper engagement level, audience can be emotionally inspired and will consequently increase attention.
Event Feedback and Data and Lead Collection
Gathering event feedback is an essential part of any successful virtual events. Keeping track of feedback is important to progressively improve in the field of virtual event management. Meanwhile, virtual event planners can use the feedback data as a tool to qualify leads and generate conversions for their current and future virtual events, in-person events, and/or hybrid events. Data collected enables post-event evaluation and generates leads.