Let’s start with the basics. What is a virtual event?
In its simplest form, a virtual event is an event where people meet and exchange content online rather than in a physical location. However, there’s a lot more to hosting a virtual event than just moving things online. In this article, you'll find everything you need to know to deliver a successful, engaging, and highly impactful virtual event that’s flawless.
Types of virtual events
Growing in popularity due to their cost-effect nature and global reach, virtual events are here to stay. Depending on the circumstances, they can range from intimate Q & A sessions to huge virtual trade shows with thousands of attendees. Whatever your goal is – whether a remote workshop, virtual job fair, corporate holiday party, or other large event – there's a virtual event to help you achieve it. Here are the most popular types:
- Virtual Conferences. Including keynotes, breakout sessions, community engagement tools and more, virtual conferences allow attendees to access relevant, on-demand content, while interacting with other attendees.
- Internal Hybrid Events. This type of event is ideal for companies with multiple offices, whether they are located across the country or around the globe. By allowing communication on a large scale, internal hybrid events are perfect for town halls, sales kick-offs, company wide training, department meetings, and more. In this case, "hybrid" includes a combination of on-site presence and an online video presentation.
- External Hybrid Events. These virtual events are most often customer or industry specific conferences that encourage participation and education to those outside of an organization. Since the goal is providing virtual attendees with an experience that most closely resembles an in-person event, higher levels of video production are required. Like the previous example, "hybrid" means a combination of on-site and online.
- Webinars. Covering a wide range of subject matter and content while reaching millions online instantly, webinars are perfect for positioning hosts as industry experts, raising brand awareness, and lead generation.
How to host a virtual event.
From live streams to recorded video presentations, or any other type of digital communication, virtual events can be as limitless as your imagination. Start by reframing your virtual event from a one-off presentation to thinking of it as a value-added, engagement-driven experience you can keep building upon well after the initial event. Here are some other suggestions for creating an impactful event that will extend well beyond your small screen.
Capture the Audience
Virtual events are easy to join and even easier to leave, so you need to grab your audience’s attention quickly, and keep it throughout the event. Apply the same principles of good storytelling to your event, such as:
- Employ the element of surprise. To keep your audience in suspense, never share too much of your content before the event.
- Make it visually appealing. Integrating design, beautiful photography, and graphics will ensure people keep watching and listening. Additionally, well-conceived visual elements will enhance your message and enrich your presentation.
- Involve your audience. Use interactions such as Q & A, live polling, breakout sessions, and spaces for discussion through live chat and virtual lounges to turn people from passive watchers to active participants.
- Leave them wanting more. A well thought out 30 to 60 minutes presentation will be enough time to allow you to get everything across without losing people. Follow up afterwards with additional content to keep them engaged.
How to differentiate your virtual event
Right now, companies everywhere are promoting thier products and services through virtual events. Here are some tips to help you stand out from the crowd:
- Find a niche. Choose one main problem you'd like to solve. Make sure it addresses contemporary concerns while anticipating future issues.
- Know your audience. Research your audience beforehand, paying close attention to the devices they are most likely to use, the social media platforms they're on, and what times they are most likely to engage.
- A hostess with the mostest. The lack of travel these days means virtual events are much less of a time commitment than before. Since you might be able to get speakers who previously wouldn't have been available, think big.
- End with a cliff-hanger. Keep individual sessions concise and end with a hook. This will encourage people to come for the next one.
- Everyone loves free stuff. Be sure to offer digital tools and resources (like workbooks and templates) that add even more value for your attendees.
How to Choose Speaker(s)
Finding an engaging speaker doesn't have to be a daunting experience. In fact, it can be the best part. By keeping these pointers in mind, you're sure to find the perfect host for your perfect event.
- Are you experienced? An experienced keynote speaker can facilitate transitions between program elements and fill in any content gaps. Additionally, if asked, they can bring thought-leadership and inspiration to your event, while providing a fresh perspective on the challenges facing your organization or industry.
- How much is that speaker in the window? Although there are no hard and fast pricing rules for virtual events, most reputable agencies will have a good understanding of what speakers, musicians, comedians, and emcees might expect to be paid.
- Go to the pros. A speakers' bureau or talent agency can advise you on which speakers specifically are good at creating content for virtual events. They will also help your speaker perfect content and delivery, as well as advise on which technology platforms might best suit your needs.
When it comes to your platform, choose wisely
While there are many free services, it's worth paying for a platform that will make your event look and feel more professional. Be sure to take your specific needs into account when making your selection. Find one with the onboarding tools, level of engagement, social media integrations, and quality video and audio that you require. Make sure it's compatible with any other tech you’re using, is easy to onboard, and meets your security, GDPR, and data requirements.
Engage your attendees before, during, and after your virtual event
Start by launching a digital marketing and promotion plan, including a website, landing page, host platform, and/or social media rollout. If you plan to run ads, target them strategically to where your potential audience is. Professional speakers often have a large audience as influencers. Use that to your advantage by turning them into event ambassadors.
During the event, it's important to connect people, allowing them to engage both with the content and each other. Creating spaces such as breakout sessions and networking rooms will help build momentum and a sense of community. Encouraging the use of social media, along with your unique hashtag, will help spread the word and continue conversations.
After the event, create a highlight reel containing soundbites from high-profile speakers to share via a newsletter and social media, along with the main takeaways and any photos of the event. You can also follow up with an email or newsletter linking recipients to any recording from the event. It's a great way to reach people who couldn't attend, and thanking those that did.
Creating a sociable atmosphere
Having a dedicated moderator to guide the conversation while relaying information between speakers and attendees is a must. Another sure-fire way to get everyone involved and interacting is to host team games, and/or by using interactive features such as polls or quizzes and encouraging live-tweeting. Finally, think about a shoutout of names as people tune in. This acknowledges their participation and makes everyone feel welcome.
Prepare for technical issues
Technical problems are bound to happen, so it's best to anticipate them and find solutions before they occur. Here are some things to consider to help things run smoothly.
- It’s good to have support. Anticipate the needs of those less than tech-savvy team members by providing easy to follow instructions, FAQs, and/or other resources on how to find help if necessary.
- Don’t overshare with screen sharing. Put your computer on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode and place non-presenters on default mute to avoid any interruptions during the event.
- Testing, testing, 1,2,3. Test your internet connection and have your speakers do the same, have backups of visual and pre-recorded video, and always be clear on roles and responsibilities throughout.
Converting a live event into a virtual one
It seems for the foreseeable future most live events will become virtual ones. Therefore, it’s important to know how to make the transition quickly. Start by updating all communication touchpoints, including your event website, social media, newsletters, and email. This lets attendees know that the event is going virtual and what to expect next. Next, determine which of your platform's tools would best showcase your content while delivering the maximum wow factor for your audience. Finally, preload content, check the video and sound quality, activate your security features, and leave enough time in the schedule to do a dress rehearsal. This helps to eliminate any issues on the day.
Virtual Events by BlueJeans
Now you’re ready to host a virtual event. You’re going to do a great job, we promise! Before you get going, we’d love to share some helpful suggestions on how we can help you make your event memorable.
Broadcast Live or Share On-Demand
They say go big or go home, but with BlueJeans, you can go big from your home. Our platform allows you to host up to 150 on-camera presenters and up to 50,000 attendees. Our HD video guarantees high quality production value both during the event and in post-event recording viewing.
Qualify leads in real-time for long term results
Improve virtual event outcomes while encouraging engagement on a whole new level by sending product-specific polling questions to evaluate buyer behavior and enable question up-voting to respond to hot topics. Increasing your relevancy can increase your conversions and make for a much more engaged audience.
Win the popularity contest by leveraging popular integrations
BlueJeans makes it easy to turn your virtual event into a full-stack marketing machine with promotion, amplification, and follow-up support from popular marketing automation, CRM, social media, and event management platforms.
Virtual event follow-up
Once the big day is over, it’s time to take some small but essential steps to keep your virtual event momentum going. Start by debriefing with speakers to go over what went well and where there’s room for improvement. Use your platform’s post-event reports and analytics, Q&A and chat transcripts, and command center to gain crucial insights and key learnings. Then reach out to participants through email and/or newsletters. Include shareable content such as links to the event video. And finally, review attendee comments and follow up to let everyone know you appreciate their time.
Repurposing a virtual event
Even though the event is over, there’s still lots you can do. With all this new content, you can write a blog post, turn your recordings into a podcast, chop up your virtual event into smaller micro presentations, and create visually appealing infographics to share on social media, newsletters, or emails.Then, strike while the iron is hot and start planning for your next event.
So now that you've read "Virtually Effortless Virtual Events" why not try BlueJeans for your next virtual event! Click here to try free for 14 days.