Throwing an event used to mean spending weeks securing the perfect venue, endless hours on the phone with vendors, and days consumed by the logistical nightmare of getting everyone's travel plans exactly right. Now, due to COVID-19, in-person events have been eclipsed by virtual events, becoming the new must-have on everyone's calendar. So, what is a virtual event? And how do you guarantee all the results and engagement of an in-person event while keeping your attendees safe in this new norm?
Let’s first define a virtual event, and then check out a few engaging virtual event ideas for inspiration.
What is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event is any organized meet-up that takes place online rather than in a physical location. There are many benefits to moving events online, including a lighter event production lift, reducing costs and carbon footprints, while simultaneously making attendance accessible to a broader audience.
No matter the size or style of your happening, these simple tips and tricks will keep your audience fully engaged in your virtual event and pinned to the edge of their screen.
How do I throw a successful virtual event?
Whether you are hosting a company webcast, marketing webinar, or training educast, your virtual events should make everyone feel included and engaged. Start by defining your goals for bringing people together. Ask yourself:
- What kind of experience do I want to offer? Live, on-demand, or both? Do I want to allow access once the event is over?
- Where will the content be seen? Will it be gated or free?
- Do people need to pre-register?
- What KPIs and data do I want to track?
When is the best time to host a virtual event?
They say success in life comes down to good planning. That's why choosing an optimal time and date for your virtual event is crucial. When considering your event, take global time zones, as well as international and religious holidays into account. If finding a time that suits everyone is not possible, ensure that your content is available afterwards for those who couldn't attend.
How do I promote my virtual event?
Once you've established the why and when, it's time to get down to the business of promoting. Whether you're featuring a noteworthy speaker, skill-sharing, or creating an opportunity to network, use every avenue available to get your message out.
- Social media has great options – such as event countdowns in Instagram Stories and Facebook events.
- Consider listing your event on sites such as Eventbrite. Always include event details, a registration link and a simple, informative hashtag like #digitaltransformation2021 so people can learn about your event, and promote it through online conversations.
Hitches, glitches, and tech troubles, oh my!
Create a checklist of all the things that could go wrong from a technical perspective, and do a dry run before the event to smooth out any issues. Test your content sharing capabilities to ensure all visuals and presentation materials are displaying the way you want. Do a run-through with your Q&A, polling, and event controls, so you feel comfortable using them before the big day. A little prep should guarantee you can handle whatever comes your way when the pressure of a live event is on.
Everyone is welcome in a virtual event world.
Being a good host comes down to creating an atmosphere where everyone is welcome. That means providing an accessible environment with captions and visuals for audio and descriptions for visuals. Ensure you are using clear language, large fonts, and high color contrast across all your presentations. When putting together your panel, include people from diverse backgrounds, so you are always representing different points of view.
How to invite participation at a virtual event.
As all good conversationalists know, the best way to have people pay attention to what you are saying is by keeping them engaged. Get familiar with your platform's interactive features since simple things like online polls or quizzes, live-tweeting, or shout outs of people's names will keep folks tuned in. Using a moderator to field questions will keep the conversation flowing and friendly.
Real swag helps spread the word about your virtual event.
Offering swag can help boost early registrations and interest in your event. Additionally, you may want to send a gift following the event. A post-event swag bag can include a thank you note, a link to download on-demand content, branded materials, and/or any information on upcoming events, including a discount if applicable.
Let's get this party/virtual event started.
Now that all the hard work is done, it's time to get creative with how you choose to throw your virtual event. There's a ton of interesting categories and great ideas out there to let your virtual event win the internet. Here are some of our favorites.
Engaging Virtual Event Ideas
Entertaining virtual events
Do it for the fun of it. A virtual event that focuses on an enjoyable group activity can have powerful benefits, like team-building, increasing job or customer satisfaction, and boosting morale. No matter which of the following ideas you choose for a virtual event, you really can't go wrong when your goal is to have a good time.
Where virtual event galas meet real world glamour
To generate excitement about your glittery gala, start by thinking about sending a stylish, old-fashioned paper invitation to your online event. Then, add a little elegance by inviting the attendees to get decked out in black tie or cocktail attire. Arrange for a meal, bottle of wine, or a mocktail to be delivered beforehand for attendees to savour during the event. You can also hold many of the same activities online that you normally would at your in-person gala, such as virtual auctions or raffles, for a truly engaging virtual event.
Host a virtual event that breaks the ice, literally
With the slow-down in the restaurant and bar industry, hosting a cooking or mixology class has become more popular than ever. The interactive environment will provide attendees with much-needed social contact, while allowing them to learn new skills. You could even reach out to local celebrity chefs or bartenders for a delicious cross-promotional opportunity. Just be sure to send kits or a list of ingredients beforehand so that participants will have everything they need in advance. Now all that's left to do is raise a glass or a fork and enjoy!
A virtual event that tours the real world
A virtual tour of museums, galleries, or theatres is a great way to get a behind-the-scenes peek at local or international venues. Hire a virtual guide to share stories, educational material, or historical facts unique to the destination. You could even feature an in-depth tour of your lab, factory, office, workshop, tradeshow, or test kitchen. Anything can be interesting with a little preparation and a sense of adventure.
Informative virtual events
If your goal is to do good, here's the place to start. You'll find ideas to help you create virtual events that yield real-world and heart-warming results.
- A virtual event that’s good for your health: Many people have been struggling with physical and mental health during the pandemic. Why not use this opportunity to help people stay healthy and happy? You can organize short workouts, invite a dietician to speak about nutrition, or host a meditation event. There's no wrong choice when it comes to self-care.
- Tis’ the season for a virtual event: This year has not been an easy one; that's why it's more important than ever to have a holiday party that involves your whole team. A virtual holiday party is a great way to bring people together while keeping them safe. Platforms such as BlueJeans can handle up to 50,000 people, so team size should never be an issue. Having good sound quality will make holiday carol karaoke a welcoming experience where everyone can sing along. A platform that offers a robust content sharing solution will allow the whole team to shine during the 'mandatory' ugly holiday sweater competition.
- Good virtue is great for virtual events: Why not use your virtual event to promote real and long-lasting positive social change? You could ask your group to select their favorite charity and raise money together or pick one that aligns with your company's charitable giving program. Whether you're raising money to help frontline workers, supporting local food banks, or helping raise funds for homeless shelters, you're bound to feel better when making the world a better place.
Networking virtual events
Who needs a golf course when virtual events are making it possible, heck even downright enjoyable, to network from the comfort of your own couch? Here are some great ideas to get you started. Just be sure to remember that you're on candid camera.
- Network at warp speed with this virtual event: With Speed Networking, attendees have a short conversation in private rooms and then are rotated out, ensuring they meet as many people as possible. Set a time for attendees to join, and allow them to network and share contact information before moving on to the next person.
- A virtual event that gamifies networking: What the world needs right now is fun, sweet fun. That's why gamify networking is so great. It makes reaching out and connecting with other people a whole lot less intimidating. Plus, you can make it even sweeter by giving out award points for forming a certain number of connections or attending networking sessions. Networking has virtually never been this entertaining.
Try Your Next Virtual Event Idea on BlueJeans
So now that you've read "6 Virtual Event Ideas that Deliver Results" why not try BlueJeans for your next virtual event! Click here to try free for 14 days.