Virtual conferences and remote events have become a increasingly popular since the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, and this form of event has proven to be an effective way to bring people, companies and organizations together from all corners of the earth.
With the latest advancements in technology, and the abundance of reliable live streaming services, hosting a virtual conference has never been more accessible or straightforward. From the ease of organizing, to audience engagement and monetization opportunities, organizations are flooding to live-streaming options, or even hybrid / semi-virtual events.
That said, we’ve created this guide as a means to provide you with an in-depth look into the world of virtual conferences. We hope that it provides you with a comprehensive glance into the necessary steps to effectively and efficiently host a successful virtual event.
Table of Contents
1. What is a Virtual Conference or Event?
2. What Makes Virtual Events Beneficial Today?
3. How to Plan a Successful Virtual Event
4. Selecting the Right Live Streaming Platform
5. Engaging Your Audience During Your Event
What is a Virtual Conference or Event?
A virtual conference is an online gathering that follows the same format as a traditional in-person event, but allows you to host it virtually anywhere and anytime. Since it’s type of event that allows the attendees to tune in for any location in the world, they are typically hosted on a platform that is both user-friendly and accessible. These virtual events should also provide the necessary tools to allow for interactivity and engagement, just as an in-person event would.
Virtual events are quite popular for professional networking, online conferences, summits, workshops and meet-ups. After the coronavirus pandemic, it’s become more normal and accepted to also include a virtual option for personal events, such as weddings, showers or memorial services. All of these common types of events can be accessed remotely, and with the proper equipment, preparation and marketing, you can host a successful and engaging event, whether it’s fully virtual or a hybrid of virtual and in-person.
What Makes Virtual Events Beneficial Today?
A clear advantage to this form of event is that a large group of people are able to gather in a secure and protected setting, regardless of their geographical location. Virtual events provide a great platform for professional networking, conferences and general meet-ups. They enable attendees to connect with one another, without having to travel or be physically present at a single location. That’s pretty amazing.
Aside from the ease of accessibility, one of the main advantages of virtual conferences are that they have significantly lower set up costs than traditional events or conferences. You don’t need to worry about booking venues, renting equipment, catering and travel expenses. All you need is a reliable live streaming platform for your event and the right technical know-how. That’s potentially tens of thousands of dollars saved for a single event.
Further, without the need of a physical location, factors that are entirely out of the control of humans – such as weather, location or transportation – are no longer an issue. There is no need for a “rain date” when your event is virtual, and if the need really does arise to where the date needs to be moved, it can happen seamlessly. This makes it all the more easier for organizers to control the event and ensure that guests have a hassle-free experience, and it ensures that the hard work, time and preparation that goes into planning the event will not be wasted.
Virtual events provide the opportunity for a much larger audience. With physical events, there’s a limitation on how many people can attend based on the size of the venue or meeting space. Virtual events are not limited by space, and they provide an opportunity to reach more potential customers than ever before. And if anyone is not able to attend, there is almost always a recording of the event, which allows individuals to watch the play-back at a time of their choosing and get brought up to speed.
How to Plan a Successful Virtual Event
The key to planning a successful virtual event is in the preparation and execution of the technical aspects, as well as ensuring that you have engaged your guests throughout your event. With the right technical setup and marketing plan, you can create an interactive, digital experience that will leave your attendees raving about the event.
In terms of technical aspects, you need to make sure that your virtual platform is reliable and secure, and that it provides all the necessary features to support a successful event. This includes having quality audio-visuals for presentations, breakout rooms for discussions and networking activities, as well as having real-time Q&A and polling features.
Consider the following steps for how to ensure your virtual event is a success one:
1. Define Your Objectives and Plan Ahead
Before diving into the technicalities of live streaming, it is crucial to define your conference’s objectives and desired outcomes. Consider the purpose, theme, target audience, and specific goals you want to achieve. This will help shape your conference’s content, format, and overall structure. Once you have a clear vision, plan your event timeline, including session topics, speakers, and any additional features like Q&A sessions or interactive workshops.
2. Select a Reliable Live Streaming Platform
Choosing the right live streaming platform is pivotal to the success of your virtual conference. Look for a platform that offers high-quality video streaming, interactive features, scalability, and robust technical support. Sorrentino Media, for example, specializes in providing comprehensive live streaming services, tailored to meet the unique needs of each client. Evaluate different platforms based on their features, pricing, and ease of use to ensure a seamless streaming experience for both organizers and attendees.
3. Invest in Production Quality
A well-produced virtual conference with high-quality audio and video can significantly enhance the viewer’s experience and engagement. Consider partnering with a professional production company, like Sorrentino Media, that can provide technical expertise, equipment, and skilled personnel to handle the production aspects of your event. Their expertise in lighting, sound engineering, camera operations, and post-production can make a world of difference in delivering a polished and captivating virtual conference.
4. Engage Your Audience with Interactivity
One of the advantages of virtual conferences is the ability to engage attendees through interactive features. Incorporate live chat, polling, Q&A sessions, and networking opportunities to foster engagement and collaboration. Utilize the features provided by your chosen live streaming platform to encourage active participation from your audience. Sorrentino Media’s live streaming services include interactive features that enable real-time audience interaction, ensuring a dynamic and engaging virtual conference.
5. Prioritize Technical Support and Testing
To avoid technical glitches during your virtual conference, prioritize thorough testing and technical support. Conduct rehearsals, ensure stable internet connections, and test all audiovisual equipment in advance. Sorrentino Media offers technical support throughout the entire event, ensuring a smooth streaming experience and prompt troubleshooting if any issues arise.
6. Promote and Market Your Virtual Conference
Just like with in-person conferences, effective promotion and marketing are essential for attracting attendees to your virtual event. Leverage various marketing channels, such as social media, email newsletters, and industry influencers, to create awareness and generate interest. Sorrentino Media can assist in creating visually appealing promotional materials and trailers, helping you effectively market your virtual conference to a wider audience.
7. Post-Conference Evaluation and Feedback
Once your virtual conference concludes, take the time to evaluate its success and collect feedback from attendees. Analyze attendee engagement, session popularity, and overall satisfaction to gauge the effectiveness of your event. Solicit feedback through surveys or online forms to gain insights for future improvements. Sorrentino Media can provide analytics and reporting services to help you evaluate your virtual conference’s performance and identify areas for enhancement.
Selecting the Right Live Streaming Platform
Choosing the right live streaming platform is a crucial decision when hosting a virtual conference. The platform you select will have a significant impact on the overall experience for both organizers and attendees.
You’ll want to consider the following components to how you’re making your selection:
- Quality and Reliability: Look for a live streaming platform that offers high-quality video and audio streaming capabilities. Ensure that the platform can handle a large number of viewers without compromising the stream’s stability or quality. Sorrentino Media, for example, provides a reliable streaming infrastructure that ensures seamless delivery of content to a global audience.
- Interactive Features: The ability to engage and interact with attendees is essential for a successful virtual conference. Choose a platform that offers interactive features such as live chat, polling, Q&A sessions, and virtual networking opportunities. These features promote audience engagement and enhance the overall conference experience.
- Scalability: Consider the scalability of the platform to accommodate the number of attendees you expect for your virtual conference. Ensure that the platform can handle the traffic and provide a smooth streaming experience even with a large audience.
Sorrentino Media’s live streaming services offer scalability options that can adapt to the size and demands of your conference.
- Customization and Branding: Look for a platform that allows you to customize the streaming interface to match your brand and conference theme. This includes options for branding elements such as logos, colors, and graphics. A cohesive and branded streaming platform helps create a professional and immersive experience for attendees.
- Technical Support: Technical issues can arise during a live stream, so it’s essential to choose a platform that offers reliable technical support. Ensure that the platform provides prompt assistance in case of any technical difficulties or troubleshooting needs. Sorrentino Media’s live streaming services include dedicated technical support throughout your virtual conference, ensuring a seamless experience for both organizers and attendees.
- Cost and Pricing: Consider your budget and the value provided by the platform when evaluating the pricing options. Compare the features, scalability, and technical support offered by different platforms to determine the best fit for your conference requirements.
Engaging Your Audience During Your Event
There are a plethora of ways that a virtual conference can be engaging and captivating to the audience, and quite frankly, it is a critical part to ensuring your event is a success.
One popular way to engage the audience is by having a live chat or Q&A session. By encouraging viewers in real time to interact with the live-chat feature by asking questions or sharing their own insights, it will deepen the discussion and have an impact on how the event resonates with viewers. A good way to plan for this is by designating dedicated Q&A sessions with speakers in order to allow time for them to address any audience queries. This fosters engagement, facilitates meaningful discussions and makes attendees feel actively involved in the conference.
Another excellent approach is to incorporate polls or surveys wherever applicable. It’s an excellent way to keep users engaged, and it can provided valuable data on opinions, preferences, and feedback from your audience for future events or initiatives. Surveys can also be distributed either during the event, or also post-event to gather more detailed insights into how the event went and what attendees thought. Analyzing this feedback can then help you improve future conferences and tailor the content to better meet expectations and achieve more desirable results.
A third way to engage your audience is through the use of interactive workshops and activities.
These can be some hands-on exercises, group discussions, or virtual demonstrations. You can also split attendees out into chat rooms where they may need to work through a problem together in real-time, or discuss an example scenario and how they would approach a solution. Of course with this form of participation, it’s important to provide clear instructions and opportunities for all in attendance to actively participate in these activities. This fosters a sense of involvement, allows for greater takeaways and learning opportunities, and can ultimately enhance the networking aspects of your conference.
With the advancement of live streaming technology, hosting a virtual conference has become an accessible and impactful way to connect with a global audience. With careful planning, thoughtful execution, and reliable technical support in place, hosting a successful virtual conference can be an immensely rewarding experience.