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Virtual Events 101: How to Host a Successful Virtual Event

virtual event guide

Virtual events are great avenues for making connections, strengthening the brand, increasing company revenue or generating leads when it’s not always feasible to bring people together in the same space.

And as the world rapidly shifted to digital in the wake of the global pandemic, virtual events have become increasingly popular, making it the default format for many of today’s conferences and meetings.

However, hosting virtual events isn’t as simple as it sounds, with many companies still unsure about how to start or lack the sophistication to bring success to the virtual experiences they offer.

This article will answer the top FAQs about virtual events—from why it is a must in this day and age, the virtual platforms to explore to the best practices that will make every virtual event a surefire hit.

Virtual Events Best Practices FAQs

1. What is a virtual event?

Similar to in-person events, a virtual event is a gathering that allows a group of people to communicate, share ideas, and enjoy a shared experience. Virtual events occur online rather than in person, which is the only difference between physical and online events.

With the changing landscape of digital technology and the key developments in events management, virtual events are no doubt reshaping how future events are going to be held from hereon.

2. What are the benefits of virtual events?

Several benefits of virtual events are gaining massive traction among companies and event planners. Here are some of the attractive benefits of virtual conferences:

  • It reaches a wider audience
  • It saves money and time 
  • It produces and broadcasts high-quality content
  • It offers great opportunities to engage and network 
  • It allows for on-demand event viewing
  • It offers richer post-event analysis
  • It provides overall event flexibility

Read this article to get more sense on why it makes sense for you to host virtual events.

3. What are the types of virtual events? 

Before planning your virtual event, you first need to establish what type of virtual event you’re going for. There are many types of virtual events to choose from whose purposes vary. 

  • Virtual Summits and Conferences – Usually hosted over several days, they aim to brand awareness, generate leads, build relationships and exchange ideas. 
  • Webinars – The most popular type, they’re mostly educational, require less audience participation and span within a couple of minutes or hours.
  • Online Workshops – They’re ideal for businesses looking to provide skill-based training. They’re best with fewer attendees to allow greater interaction.
  • Online Trade Shows and Exhibitions – The equivalent of traditional trade shows that can incorporate webinars, virtual demos and virtual booths etc.
  • Live Streaming – These are events or video content that is transmitted over the internet in real-time.
  • Online Festivals – Compared to webinars, online festivals tend to be more entertaining and interactive with all sorts of performances. 
  • Virtual Roadshows – Like a physical roadshow, virtual roadshows are designed to spark product interest and knowledge.

Virtual events can serve many other purposes—be it educational, business-driven or entertainment. They can take many shapes and sizes, as long as you know how to design an experience that suits your goals and audiences.

4. How do you create a virtual event?

It’s more important now than ever for event planners to learn how to create a virtual event. If you’re looking at organising one, here are some steps you can consider organising a successful online event: 

  • Define your audience
  • Define your event objectives
  • Establish the virtual event format and ideal timing
  • Choose your speakers and moderators
  • Draft the event sequence or script and brief speakers
  • Find the right platform
  • Plan the event experience
  • Develop and distribute marketing materials
  • Expect and prepare for technical challenges
  • Nail the event experience by engaging participants
  • Keep your attendees engaged post-event
  • Measure results
  • Upload the virtual event recording on your website or social media

5. What are some good virtual event ideas?

As virtual events have become the norm, there’s now some pressure to set your virtual event apart from the competition. But the great thing about hosting online events is that you can be engaging and successful without racking up costs; you just need to flex your creative muscles. If you’re looking for virtual event ideas, here are some fun, simple thought-starters for you:

  • Add live games and contests
  • Hosts polls and Q&A
  • Start a treasure hunt
  • Invite a musical performer
  • Conduct real-time illustrations during sessions
  • Uplift mood with mindful activities
  • Encourage a virtual dress-up
  • Host a trivia or movie night
  • Come up with a social media challenge

Check out more online event ideas here.

6. How to attract attendees to a virtual event? 

Organising a virtual event is just one piece of the puzzle. The other thing you need to think about is how to get people to take an interest and sign up. Fortunately, as more people are glued to their mobile phones, there are many simple yet effective ways and tactics to promote a virtual event on digital. Consider the following to attract attendees to your next virtual event:

  • Get speakers to promote your event
  • Do social media ads based on audience targeting
  • Create your event landing page with a great branding and responsive design 
  • Prepare a social media content plan with event hashtags
  • Do email marketing
  • Share speaker bios and photos
  • Share behind-the-scenes and preparation updates
  • Incentivise referrals

7. How do you make an event unique?  

Beyond the usual virtual event ideas, many participants are looking for the x-factor to make them sit through the entirety of a virtual event. For event planners, this can mean thinking outside of the box and integrating next-gen technologies to truly make a virtual event unique and set it apart in a saturated market. Here are some unique virtual event ideas you can consider:

  • Using 3D, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can offer amazing experiences if you have the budget and the technologies to support your event objectives.
  • Design your event to be short and succinct.
  • Offer interactive experiences by being action-driven and using story-telling.
  • Artificial intelligence is another virtual event technology that can personalise participants’ experiences.

To learn more ideas on creating unique, attractive and engaging virtual events, watch this video.

8. How do you engage participants in a virtual event? 

People register to virtual events for two main reasons: for education and for engagement. While virtual events are easily accessible, one challenge event planners face is participants’ fleeting attention. Because of the online nature of virtual events, participants tend to get easily distracted or “zone out” in the process. But attendee engagement is an element that needs to be focused on as it is a key indicator of an event’s success. With a little creativity, here are some ideas to keep your attendees engaged at your next virtual event:

  • Deliver engagement kits to the audience’s homes – This way, they can engage with your content physically. 
  • Integrate team-building and Interactivity – Consider ways to get people out of their chairs.
  • Q&A polling and chat – Talk to your audience in real-time and entertain their questions and ideas.
  • Segment the event – Break up how your audience is consuming the event at different points by offering break-out sessions, Q&A and etc. 
  • Keep your content and design clear – Your content is your event. Deliver it as crisp and simply as possible. 
  • Create an emotional connection with the audience – Remember that you’re talking to people—not machines or mobile phones.
  • Have a great, engaging host – The host carries the virtual event. Having someone who can forge a connection with the audience will make all the difference. 

For more attendee engagement ideas, watch this video.

9. How can I introduce gamification in a virtual event booking platform? 

Gamification is the process of integrating game-like systems to incentivise participation. When introduced in your online event, it can elevate engagement and make a more positive overall event experience—from content retention, networking and satisfaction. Take note of these considerations to when planning to add a gamification element to your virtual event:

  • Align your gamification goals with your overall objectives
  • Choose your game format. Some creative games include:
    • Virtual escape rooms
    • Team quiz bees 
    • Polls
  • Communicate the rules clearly
  • Offer prizes
  • Track participation on your event platform

If you want to know more about virtual event gamification, check out this video.

10. What is the average registration to attendance rate for virtual events?

Encouraging people to register for your virtual event is one thing. But getting to them to actually attend is another. A good number of those who sign up will end up not participating at all. In fact, the average no-show rate among registrants is around 35% 

Before you think your virtual event is a failure for falling below this average, consider that many registrants will opt to watch an on-demand replay of your event. So be sure to host the event replay on your channels and distribute it to registrants. We also encourage event organisers to create bite-sized content from their event recordings since people usually just want to watch the highlights.

11. How to monetize a virtual event? 

Virtual events, apart from creating brand awareness and quality leads, can also be a great avenue to generate income. However, many companies and event planners are yet to capitalize on their online events. If you’re looking to maximise ROI on your next online event, here are some ideas to help you monetize: 

  • Provide premium tickets following a ticketing strategy
  • Offer sponsorship opportunities
  • Sell lead capture to exhibitors and sponsors
  • Sell commercial ad spaces on your event channels
  • Sell on-demand content
  • Offer event merchandise 
  • Upsell your products or services

You can find more clever ideas to monetize virtual events here.

12. What is a virtual event booth?

A virtual event booth is a space within the bigger virtual event. It serves the same purpose as a physical event booth, which is to showcase a company or exhibitors’ products and services and offer help and support to potential customers that can translate to a sale. Since it’s virtual, it can be integrated with branded elements such as logos and 3D design, as well as immersive features such as a chatbot and videos. They can also be used to host live demos, tours and discussions. Another interesting aspect of virtual booths is that you can track who visit your booth and what resources they are checking out.

13. How to choose the right virtual event platform? 

You’ve outlined your online event objectives and audiences. The next thing to focus on is choosing the right virtual event platform that will best support your needs. The one you choose will make all the difference. The key things to look for are as follows:

  • ​​It must have your must-have features
  • It must have  your nice-to-have features
  • It must be future-proof to support data tracking and hybrid events
  • It must be focused on long-term investment
  • It must support live and on-demand content
  • It must have a strong customer service
  • It must be user-friendly & intuitive 
  • It must be an end-to-end solution
  • It must be customisable and adaptable to your brand and needs
  • It must be able to engage sponsors and exhibitors
  • It must offer fewer barriers to entry
  • It must have a robust troubleshooting and support system
  • It must be a known brand in the events community
  • It must simplify post-event data analysis

To guide you deeper into your virtual event platform selection process, read this article.

14. What is the best virtual platform? 

With the rise of virtual events comes more virtual event players in the market. But not all of them are equal since each will offer features that are unique to them. However, the best virtual event platform will be able to cater to your needs, event goals and can guarantee ease of use, scalability, competitive pricing and customisation. This means you must do your due diligence and take the time to do your research. If you’re looking for these, consider Gevme, a flexible virtual event platform for professionals that offer all the features you must find in a solution at the best prices, along with world-class support and a technical team. Learn more about the GEVME edge.

15. Why choose virtual events over zoom or video meeting platforms?

When the world shifted to remote work, the popularity of video meeting platforms like Zoom and Google Meets have been unprecedented. Aside from work collaboration and meetings, they have been the default for hosting virtual events. However, video meeting platforms have limitations, especially for events that have highly specific outcomes and objectives. In some cases, virtual event platforms are the better option for virtual events. Here are some reasons:

  • Virtual event platforms are built for community-building and engagement
  • Virtual event platforms can support monetization features 
  • Virtual event platforms are scalable and customisable
  • Virtual event platforms offer a better user experience
  • Virtual event platforms can track participant behaviour and give valuable insights

In the new normal and the future of work, virtual events can help companies bring people together, reach out to existing audiences and expand to new ones. By making significant investments in virtual events and making them a key element of the business strategy, it will ultimately prove to provide efficient, effective and engaging experiences for attendees and planners alike, driving more business impact in more ways than one.

Level up your events with Gevme’s omnichannel event platform

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