When you see the term virtual, it means something that exists with the help of technology, such as computers and the internet. So, when you combine it with event, it generally stands for an event that is held over the internet. It does not physically exist, but with the help of technology, it can appear to do so. Using the right software, you can hold a virtual event so effortlessly.
Speaking of which, the current global pandemic has made it even more popular than ever. As the term Work from Home (WFH) is applied to most institutions around the world in response to the ongoing situation, the rising popularity of a virtual event is inevitable. From an online class to a global conference, the virtual event becomes the lifesaver of all people who wish to do their job in the middle of this COVID-19 crisis.
According to Livestream, 80% of the audience prefer watching live video from a brand to reading a blog. Also, about 64% of the audience are more likely to purchase the product after watching a video. This proves that virtual events can be used for your product marketing as well. It’s a perfect tool to attract customers by promoting your product in live events. For the record, Facebook is also included in the top social media sites used for live events. It reportedly has eight billion views each day from 500 users. Got the excitement yet? Now, without any further ado, let’s move on to see things that you should know about a virtual event.
Why should we hold an online event?
- It is budget-friendly
While a physical event costs a lot of money for the venue, electricity, food and beverages and other props, a virtual event simply requires a mobile device and internet connection. This is a more affordable option for event planners who wish to spend less money. In fact, you can use the money for something else, such as inviting a great, well-known speaker or buying additional properties to support your event.
- It is more sustainable
Imagine you’re running a physical event in a building, with over 200 participants in it. Let’s say, your event succeeds, your audiences satisfiedly leave the building, and now what? Only trash remains in the aftermath. The thing is, the bigger your event is, the more trash you can produce. Research shows that big event, such as Coachella, generates 107 tons of waste per day during the festival. So, if you conduct your event virtually, it will definitely help to reduce the amount of waste. No more tickets, napkins, straws, and hand towels to waste.
- A good starter to express your creativity
If you’re a person with a lot of ideas inside your head that needs a kind of platform to express them, creating an online event is the perfect solution. An event does not always have to be a big bazaar or a big seminar with a lot of professionals in it. You can just simply attract people with your creativity, such as making tutorials, showing off your talents, making podcasts, or even sharing your experiences. Don’t feel discouraged just because this is a virtual event, and don’t be afraid that you will not get many viewers or comments. It’s absolutely fine to make a good start and learn from the experience to make your next event better.
- It is efficient and flexible for the attendees
Judging from the attendees’ perspective, what makes them want to come to a virtual event is because it doesn’t require them to get out of the house just to go to the event. Some people find it hard to attend an event due to several reasons, and one of them is the timing of the event that does not match their schedule. By holding a virtual event, the attendees can just relax and stay exactly where they are, no transportation needed. It is also possible for the attendees to request playback of the event in case they still miss it, so they no longer need to worry about being late or anything.
- It is the only alternative
Now tell me, can you find a better solution to hold an event or proceed with a meeting during crises, for instance, COVID-19, storms, or travel bans? You can count on a virtual event at times like this although it may not be as compelling as a physical event. After all, it’s better to proceed with your business online instead of giving in to the situation and doing nothing.
Switching to a virtual event might not be that difficult, as people also keep up with technology. Real-time features enable you to enjoy almost the same experience as an in-person event, so you can rely on virtual events when you have no other choice.
What to prepare for a virtual event?
- Deciding how long will the session be
Whether your event is going to be held for 24 hours straight or broken into an-hour session each, you decide. Make sure that you allocate the time wisely so that the audiences can enjoy their best virtual event experience. Some platforms offer an on-demand session or a recorded video of your live event, in case the audience missed it. If you choose to have an on-demand session, you also need to make a decision on how long the session is going to be available on the platform after the event. So, again, you decide whether the event will be live-streamed, on-demand, or both.
- Is your event going to be free or paid?
Beside deciding the length of the event, it is also important to inform the audience whether your event is going to be held for free or chargeable. Just like an in-person event, a virtual event holds almost the same value in terms of content. When it comes to an event, you may demand some payment to compensate for your ideas.
After all, creating an event is not easy, and you have every right to make your audiences pay for the hard work. However, it’s totally up to you, knowing that many events are now held for free. Some of them even donate the money for the unfortunate children, health care workers, and others. Creating a free event is eye-catching to public as people tend to feel interested in something that is free.
- Providing the best content
While a virtual event does not offer much convenience as a physical event does, all you can do to make it better is by pouring your idea and creativity into a great content for your event. For a virtual event, good content makes a good impression on the attendees, so there is a chance that they might come into your next event. Creating big event matters, but providing good content is a must. Do some research on your target audience’s preferred topic before planning the event.
- Promoting the event
One of the ways to gain audiences is by promoting the event. Nowadays, you can easily promote your event without having to waste paper for flyers. With the help of social media, your event can be published worldwide in just one click. Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are the most used platforms in the promotional industry. Depending on the target audience, you can create a powerful promotion through these social media. Use attractive images and videos, influencers, hashtags, or anything that can help boost people’s engagement.
- Finding ways to keep the attendees engaged
This is really important as the parameter of success in your event is that you can keep your attendees engaged throughout the event. Moreover, if your event is held virtually, chances are there are going to be many distractions coming ahead. Try to make your attendees actively participate during the event by means of interactive sessions, such as Q&A, live polls, or shoutouts.
- Testing internet connection and equipment
Dealing with connectivity issues is not something new. In order to run a virtual event smoothly, there is a need to check your internet connection regularly and come up with solutions in case an unwanted technical issue happens. After all, the internet connection does have a significant role in this. Make sure to do speed tests on the connectivity and test your video and audio quality beforehand.
- Prepare your attendees
Not only you have to prepare yourself for the event, but you also need to prepare your attendees for it. You need to understand that not all of your participants are tech-savvy, so it’s best to get everything prepared. Provide your attendees with a guide to operate the platform by email or posts on social media. Use informative yet catchy language for the content because that would get them interested to read it.
What are the key elements of a virtual event?
- Event website or platform
The key element of a virtual event is the platform in which you’re going to have your event streamed. It can be your website, event platforms, or social media. Your audiences will be enjoying your event through this platform, so make sure that you get everything settled before showing it to them. While promoting an event on your website, make sure that your profile covers all information concisely. Put your social media links, FAQ (Frequently Asked Question), and interesting designs for the headers and contents. Don’t forget to post regularly about your upcoming virtual event, so that the audience will stay updated.
- Live chats or Q&A (Question and Answer)
This feature is a must during a live streaming event. By interacting with the audience, you will keep them engaged. Open a Q&A session through the live chat tool and give your audience a chance to ask anything or just say a word about your event. This way, your audience will be able to express their mind and communicate with one another.
- Audience feedback
Before the event is over, you might want to receive some inputs from your audience. Keep in mind that regardless of how bad or good the feedback is, it will be useful for hosting your next event. It’s not a bad idea to ask your audiences’ opinion because after all, they are the ones watching and they are also the ones who have the rights to judge. There is always a lesson behind every story, and if it is taken wisely, it will help you improve to be better. Conducting a survey or feedback also allows you to determine the percentage of your event’s success rate.
- Live presentation
Your content or live presentation will be the most important element in your event. Even though the event is held virtually, the feeling of being presented in front of public is real. The way you deliver the information, the way you respond to a question, the way you interact with the audience—all seems just like an in-person event. All eyes are on you, so you will literally get the chills if you’re not confident. Try your best to communicate the value of your content and create some engaging sessions.
- Live polls
While having an online event, you can boost your attendees’ engagement by using interaction tools, for instance, live polls. In other words, you’re letting them participate in polling. You can ask several questions or make small quizzes and put the choices in the polling box. This is a fun way of connecting with your audience indirectly.
In order to avoid miscommunication and other issues, it will be useful to set up email for your audience. By email, you can give information related to your event to your audience, which will help boost their enthusiasm. Sending powerful messages along with compelling images or videos in your email is also considered as a marketing strategy. Make sure to guide the audience from the beginning until the end of the event. Do a follow-up after the event as well to give you the insight of your event so that you can make it better next time.
All in all, holding a virtual event might be so much easier compared to a physical event as a virtual event doesn’t require that much effort and money. Now that you know what a virtual event is, are you ready to create a virtual event on your own?
Claire is a event enthusiast who spends her free time indulging in writing reviews, journals, short stories, and some helpful tips for articles. she aspires to educate and inspire people through her contents. Helping producers of virtual events and meetings share best practices and techniques for producing virtual events and building virtual communities.