The last few months have forced us to make a myriad of last minute decisions, among them many companies have needed to cancel upcoming events or move them to virtual platforms. Although this may sound very complicated, once you get to know the details about how to host a virtual conference, it will be less difficult.
It is true that each event is different, some have few attendees, they can be internal or external events but with a local scope only. There are events that consist of simple conferences while others are even days long and feature exhibits, workshops and interactive activities. Some serve simply to keep teams together over distance or continue training, while others serve to create business opportunities. Either way, there are similar aspects to planning any event.
How to organize a virtual conference in a short time
It may seem very complicated to host a virtual conference with little preparation time but if you can do a face-to-face event then you can certainly hold a virtual one. Here are some of the basic points that will serve as a guide to start planning your event.
Define the purpose
You must be clear about what you want to achieve with your conferences:
Internal event: Bring work teams together, motivate or reward them.
Open to the public event: Attract potential clients, network or increase brand recognition. Any objective you have is valid as long as you are clear about it and know how the conference will help you achieve it.
Determine the reach
With a virtual event you can extend the reach of your event to people all over the world, so depending on the purpose it is important that you define the characteristics of the audience you want to reach, from their profile to their location.
Having defined goals is necessary for you to measure the success of the event. We will now go deeper into the definition of goals and their measurement. With the above points in mind also define if it will be an open and free event or if it will have a cost, this way you can also set goals in terms of the number of attendees or leads needed to get a positive ROI.
Choose the platform and the team
At this stage you should also choose the platform from which you will broadcast the event. Although they are very similar to each other, some have different characteristics that can help you decide.
Another aspect of utmost importance is the equipment you will use, if you already have audio and video equipment, you plan to purchase a new one, renew it or hire a company to provide it.
Create a smooth and efficient structure
As with face-to-face meetings, online conferences require clearly defined guidelines and a script, with a delimited structure that responds to the needs of the company and the attendees. Therefore, it is essential to create the event based on a series of presentations, seminars, activities and, of course, with a space dedicated to answering questions and doubts.
In this sense, it is interesting to have virtual characters (avatars). They are able to mimic the physical appearance of the web conference speakers, hold conversations and speak through voice over IP in a natural way. They can even express their emotions through animations (such as applause or greetings). How to host a virtual conference – this is a question that can easily be answered after you have read the full article so please read on.
Choose the place and date of the event
Although a virtual event can be held from your office and the office of each of the speakers, having a place that resembles or exceeds the face-to-face experience can add great value to the virtual experience.
This place would be only for the recordings or live transmissions with the host, speaker and staff. A good idea to save time with this point may be to hire the services of an audiovisual production company, which in addition to having the equipment can have a studio that suits your needs.
Create the content plan
The main element to attract attendees to a virtual event is the content, so you should focus with special attention on this issue. The content will be in charge of attracting interested people, generating registrations, promoting engagement and creating networking opportunities.
As tempting as it may be to include a variety of topics, you should focus on quality over quantity. Once the topic has been defined, start looking for the speakers who will be in charge of bringing it to the audience, make sure that in addition to being experts or recognized personalities, they also give their talks in a dynamic and interactive way and adapt to the virtual format effectively.
It is also extremely important to choose a host that is dynamic, that captures people’s attention and keeps them interested. In addition to being someone who can handle unforeseen events that may arise, from technical failures to inappropriate behavior within the event.
Designing on-demand content
One of the elements of success of online conferences is that their content is available. This possibility further enriches the experience and increases interest in participating. For this reason, it is important to provide attendees with a wide variety of opportunities to learn about the products and services on display through photos and videos, demos, e-books and all kinds of digital material that they can download and consult at any time.
Consider entertainment options
While the content is the main part of the event, including interactive or entertainment sessions, especially if it is a long event, is a plus that attendees will undoubtedly enjoy.
A musical, magic or comedy show can be a perfect closing.
Create a budget
Even though virtual events require a smaller investment, it is important that you are clear about the categories and amounts of each expense. This will mainly reflect the platforms and equipment for the transmission, the place where the event will take place and the speakers in case you are going to hire them.
Plan and get sponsorships
The fact that it is a virtual event does not mean that there is no place for sponsors. Especially if you are planning a large event this can be a benefit for sponsors. Plan how you can give them exposure within your event, get creative and put together some proposals to send to sponsors.
Promote the event
Start by creating a landing page with the event information, it is also advisable to include it on the homepage of your site and on social networks to give it more visibility. This also includes preparing the registration and ticket purchase platform in case your event needs these features.
Depending on the scope of the event, elaborate the appropriate promotion plan. In this article you can find some ideas to promote your event. If it is an internal event it may be enough to send electronic invitations to employees with all the details of the event.
Prepare attendees for the virtual experience
If registration is required, send all event details along with the confirmation. Also remember to follow up to explain how the event will take place, what the platform is, if it requires installation, how to enter the sessions, etc. Also offer assistance in case attendees have questions or technical problems.
Carry out tests before the event
How to host a virtual conference? It is not superfluous to tell you that even if you are short of time, it is necessary to test the equipment and platforms in advance in case adjustments are needed. Successfully carrying out the event preparation is not a guarantee that the development will be perfect, however, it greatly improves its possibilities. Do not forget to prepare for unforeseen events that may arise, have protocols, backup plans and a support team that can help you quickly and effectively.
The most important thing is that the event can offer a memorable experience for all its members and meet your objectives.
Define a follow-up strategy
After the event, it is essential to follow up with potential customers who have attended. To ensure conversions, an email can be sent to prospects, asking for their impressions of the meeting, or inviting them to participate in a survey. These measures will not only help to acquire and retain customers, but will also be key to identifying which aspects of their participation were effective and which were not, in order to improve future actions. When you host a virtual conference, there are lots of things that you have to think about.
Share content and create connections
Online conferences are recorded, so they become sources of information that can be exchanged very easily. In this sense, it is important to have a good database to share content, so that the dissemination of the event will grow exponentially, and even more if we take advantage of the great power of social networks.
The advantages and possibilities of a virtual conference make it the ultimate tool for business communication, at any time and in any scenario. But it is now when its value is at its peak, as we live in an uncertain present where face-to-face events cannot be held and companies must focus their efforts on continuing to offer their services more remotely than ever. You can use all of these tips if you don’t know how to host a virtual conference.