How to Host a Virtual Event in 2021 + Helpful Tools
The spread of the Coronavirus crisis globally has changed the conditions for businesses, and the event industry has not been an exception either.
When such an emergency strikes, it seems that everything is just coming to a standstill, and we are all aware of how the COVID-19 has shaken things up around us.
Event planners and organizers should go for virtual events to avoid further loss of interest.
We agree that the term virtual event seems to be a bit futuristic, but the truth is that it’s been around since 1993 when a coffee pot cam went live on the internet.
Right now, many large conferences and events have gone online wholly or partially, which in turn brings advantages to them.
A larger group of target audience alongside the reduced costs are the most prominent pros associated with this transformation.
Whether you fancy it or not, many organizations are staging different types of virtual events on the internet, and it’s time for you to follow the same procedure as well.
In this review, we are going to discuss virtual events and the tools you can use for your business.
At the outset, you will have a bright idea about the solutions to be used as the novel Coronavirus spreads and keep on holding events at the highest rate of success.
The Impacts of COVID-19 on the Events Industry
The events industry is a significant global business that is represented by millions of professionals.
Let it be a small local business or a nation-wide governmental regulation; everyone has struggled to cancel events and faced tough times over the past few months.
Driven by the social distancing bits of advice, all those who deal with events in any way should rethink about the way things used to be.
We don’t know how long public gatherings will be kept limited, but losing connection with the target audience is the last thing we could ever want.
Keeping some practical tips in mind can help us manage through these crazy times easier.
For those who manage teams, either small or very large ones, embracing the role of a leader can dramatically prevent crumbling.
Being a true leader means having mindful of the team’s morale and making the most appropriate decision at bottlenecks.
It’s not strange that our mind goes blank at times, and therefore, keeping proper communication with employees is the key to success during these times of crisis.
Additionally, being transparent and honest with clients is a must.
Everyone could experience a canceled or postponed episode of events, and it’s nothing strange.
If you have to change plans in this way, announce that clearly to your audience and avoid dancing around it at all costs.
Reassure them that this situation is a common problem all over the world, and the change in plans will finally pass.
Moreover, we should not forget about the upcoming plans for our business.
Keeping an eye on the future of the industry after passing behind the crisis can help us make long-term decisions more efficiently.
Whether it is the end of fall or next year, it’s a no-brainer that a sharp spike will be observed in business.
As a flourishing business owner, spend some time putting that condition in perspective to prepare solutions and plans for it.
Nobody knows about the landscape of industries in the future, but we can at least have a vision for the worst conditions and sow the seed for success in advance.
Some experts go further and predict the hybrid solutions to become the new trend even after the current restrictions lift.
With the emergence and improvement of new cloud-based solutions for events, hybrid events seem not far from replacing the wholly in-person gatherings.
By the way, what is a virtual event exactly? What kinds of them are at our disposal for the current situation?
What Are Virtual Events?
In simple words, all the meet-ups that can take place online without having to attend a physical location are called virtual events.
Unlike the general belief that only the less important and small sessions could go the virtual route, so many big conferences at an international scale are now being held virtually.
Why Should You Host Virtual Events?
Online and virtual plans offer plenty of perks.
First up, choosing the online approach makes things simpler for both participants and organizers for event entry.
You, as a host, don’t have to pay for a place to hold the event, and consequently, can charge lower fees for tickets.
On the other hand, a more extensive range of participants is likely to attend since they don’t have to pay for conference travel.
Additionally, despite the importance of the content you offer, you should know that in-person meetings are often about networking and finding new connections.
Many of your attendees seek meeting new people, and you can likewise provide the same chance for them through appropriate online tools.
Before getting down to the list of available products for virtual events, let’s go through a general overview of different online events and the way we can shape them better.
Tutorials entail a variety of events such as how-to classes, product descriptions, and FAQs.
If you present a new product, service, or teach a particular skill, you can use online events to increase user engagement and maintain a better relationship with them.
For more in-depth activities, online courses and webinars are a better fit.
This way, you can make use of additional tools to teach skills more profoundly.
Interviews and Conferences
Share your knowledge with people as an online event through live sessions of Instagram or other social media channels.
You can also invite a guest and host events featuring other experts for the more extensive experience.
To spice things up, go for some contests or interactive games to keep the sessions engaging.
It seems to be a pleasant experience to take part in a business or scientific conference from the comfort of our living room.
You have undoubtedly seen pictures of gentlemen who dress ties, sit in front of a webcam while wearing pajamas!
A relaxed experience, isn’t it?
Aside from that, even the more critical events at large scale, including live concerts, could be streamed online and, therefore, be held virtually.
This is also an excellent chance for those who can’t reach the place and attend it in person.
How Can You Hold Virtual Events Efficiently?
Based on the business and requirements, an assortment of approaches could be applied to move conferences and other plans to a virtual setting.
Set Out a Strategy
As a piece of first-person advice, try to map out your strategy in the first place.
Start with simple questions like what, who, how, and why.
What is the main reason behind holding this event? Do you intend to have more connections, increase revenues from admission fees, or convey ideas?
Who are your audiences? What are their most important interests? What do they want to do when they attend the event?
Why should they choose you over other event hosts? How are you going to stay ahead of the competition on a calendar full of virtual events?
Put a focus on these questions that help to create a roadmap more realistically.
Tell Others About Your Plans
Next, you need to promote your event to the prospective attendees.
Organic and Paid Promotions
Make use of different social media channels for event promotion.
Try to use the media that is used by a more significant number of people in your area and suits your activities.
Opting for a modern and optimized event calendar can assist you actively in this regard.
Consider categorizing and labeling your events so that people can easily distinguish the ones that are supposed to happen online.
Plus, you can use third-party event websites and services that can promote events to the audience efficiently.
If you are not on a budget, go for paid sponsorships.
Don’t forget about popular influencers and bloggers in your niche since they can leave a high impact on people.
Below you can find some useful platforms that come in handy for different purposes.
If used correctly, these tools bring you many favorable results more than what it appears to be in the first place.
Keeping in Touch With Registered Users
Sending a simple “thank you” email right after someone secures an RSVP can forge a close bond between you and them.
Mix this message up with details about the event, and most importantly, inform them if they are required to use a webcam or mic during the session.
Use your social media and email marketing platform to send updates about the event on specific intervals.
Instagram and Facebook stories can do well for this aim.
These tools can also be good practices to remind them about the big day.
Again, clarify everything about the session and also the plans you have made.
Host Your Event
On the day of your event, make the final checks sometime before the scheduled hours.
Technical difficulties are the last thing you ever want when your event starts.
So check the internet connection, update the necessary programs, and test your mic and camera ahead of time.
Sending a final reminder a few minutes before the event could be a good idea, too.
Try to let others show up by waiting a few minutes before starting the main topics.
Never forget about comments or questions that arise during the session.
You can also double check your connection and hardware functionality by asking people about the quality of voice or video.
Engage the Audience After the Event
Good job! Now that the event has gone off, it seems that you are done, and the work is over.
Say a determinate NO to that thought!
Post-event activities and follow-ups are highly critical.
You can start by sending another thank-you email to attendees.
Ask them about the ups and downs and the ways you can make improved sessions in the future.
Surveys are exceedingly practical, and you should take advantage of them while you are still fresh in minds.
Moreover, you can send an overview of the session to those who couldn’t make it to the event.
Share photos and videos with them to trigger their engagement.
If possible, send them a free video of the event to show you care about them although they did not attend.
Virtual Events Tools
Now that we are beginning to see the daylight for a successful event.
It’s about time to find out about the tools that best match our needs.
Webinars and Online Conferences
A typical webinar consists of displaying slides, sharing the screen, and having narrations in real-time.
Participants are kept in the loop through dedicated panels for chatting or sending a voice message.
It best resembles a class without gathering in one place and often lasts around an hour or two.
As earlier stated out, online conference lacks the benefit of networking.
However, as the COVID-19 hit, platforms started giving updates to cover this need to the greatest extent.
Many applications now support chatrooms and live streaming to help people widen their circle of communications.
Plus, individuals have the chance to see the keynotes, make plans, talk to each other live, and enjoy interactive sessions most efficiently.
If you need a webinar or online conferences for your virtual events, check out these top-rating tools.
After the wake of coronavirus, the stocks of the Zoom Video Communications Inc.
experienced an exponential increase and reached its maximum rate ever.
Flexibility and comprehensiveness are the top qualities of the Zoom platform that allow you to host webinars with up to 100 attendees.
The popularity of Zoom has led other software companies to provide integrations with their products as well.
Many event calendar plugins now have full compatibility with Zoom to bring a better experience to people arranging online webinars.
The 6connex platform is available to use on any browser or device without having to download anything.
It can be easily integrated with social media and supports multi hosts for events.
Furthermore, 6connex equips hosts with virtual booths for their conferences and encourages individuals to reach top ranks in leaderboards.
Real-time reporting and analytics are among the key features associated with 6connex.
This feature assists businesses in measuring the interactions of their audience and use the generated leads for improvements.
Additionally, you can add gamification, feedback surveys, and polls to your virtual events to encourage interactions even further.
CISCO Webex Meetings
Webex is a product of CISCO with a great focus on quality video conferences.
It has a free version that lets you have video calls as long as you wish and supports 1GB of cloud storage.
An exciting feature of Webex Meetings is the ability to have a meeting call you rather than you sign in to it.
Considering the current global conditions, the company has decreased prices considerably to make it a proper choice for budget-conscious firms.
The application is available for Android, iOS, and desktop.
Google Hangouts gives quick access to video conferences using your existing Google account.
The interface is easy to use, which lets you start a meeting and add ten users to it.
You can use your list of Google contacts to add, remove, or restrict users for your video calls.
Both one-on-one and group sessions of Hangouts have a high quality.
Besides, the integration with Google Drive brings you a good chance to share virtual events with others offline.
A cool feature we found in group calls on Google Hangouts is that it automatically displays the person who is talking in bigger dimensions and reduces the aspects of other live shots.
You can put Demio into use for live videos, pre-recorded webinars, or a combination of both.
It supports appropriate CTAs to increase user engagement and promote services or products.
Demio supports event management tools alongside voting features, which come in extremely handy for you as a webinar host.
Also, there are useful reports and analytics available to help you measure how good you’ve done on your plans.
Overall, Demio has a user-friendly platform that counts for reliable video connections for the complete duration of online conferences.
Stories on Social Media
Stories are now becoming one of the most powerful marketing tools for businesses.
Platforms are increasingly adding additional features to social stories in an attempt to make them more appealing.
They can be great for sharing videos and other visuals, conducting polls, asking questions, and so on.
If your virtual events in any way include entertainment, TikTok, and Snapchat should be the top choices on your list.
The live video feature is nearly added to all popular social media platforms thus far.
Going live is a fantastic way of increasing engagement and gaining the trust of people.
Statistics show that, on average, a live video can influence people positively six times more than sharing a normal video.
Since almost all platforms support this feature, you should act smart and choose the one with the most prospects for the desired virtual events.
Livestreams are available on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok.
Practically all of them support displaying comments in real-time and allow you to keep an eye on the number of attendees during the session.
Don’t forget about live-tweeting as a great solution to come into direct contact with your audience.
You can use this approach to host Q&A sessions and provide users with information about your business or relevant knowledge.
The Bottom Line
Holding virtual events comes with plenty of challenges, but it presents a great chance to attract more audience.
By adapting yourself to this new trend and remapping your plans accordingly, you’ll save a great deal of time and money.
The event industry all across the globe has taken steps to help cease the COVID-19 pandemic by going the virtual route.
Therefore, no matter where you currently stand in the lifecycle of events, you can always opt for the perfect tool and achieve your business goals during this global crisis.
Keep yourself in the loop and expand your communication with people right away using the aforementioned online tools.
February 6, 2021
February 5, 2021