Virtual conferences are becoming increasingly popular as individuals seek to stay connected, engaged, and informed without investing large amounts of time or money travelling to physical locations.
Virtual events are beneficial for those individuals who live far away from educational institutions or training centres to broaden their education and knowledge base.
Additionally, virtual events are an excellent way for professionals to keep current on industry standards, best practises, and emerging technologies without requiring them to travel long distances or pay high prices for plane tickets. So, here are 7 virtual conference best practises to achieve success.
Define Your Format
The first step in planning a successful virtual conference is deciding your specific goal. There are several different styles of virtual events ranging from free webinars hosted by well-known brands up to paid virtual conference events sponsored by various companies and organisations.
There are several different formats for holding a virtual conference. The first is a free webinar made available to as many people as possible through social media, live streaming tools, or any other vehicle that can reach your audience (i.e., email blasts, etc.).
Webinars may also be embedded on third-party websites, with the host website collecting revenue for each view of the webinar, which further drives traffic to their site.
Another format is what is sometimes called “virtual exhibitions.” This method utilises an application to gather event information from the hosting organisation(s) and provide it to attendees via mobile devices in the form of QR codes.
Attendees download the free app on their phones and scan the QR code to access event information, presenter profiles, specific learning tracks, or other relevant content.
The final format is a conference with paid registration that includes virtual exhibition features. This type of event may consist of one or several tracks (i.e., sessions) offered in different curriculum formats like live streaming online, or on-demand access for later viewing after the live event has ended.
Choosing a Host
Who is hosting? Is it you or someone else? How do they want their name associated with the virtual event if someone else is hosting? First impressions are made within seconds, so whether you or not, make sure your name accompanies this link.
Perhaps an initialism like “brought to you by” might also be necessary. Remember, search engines pick up on these words, and it’s the first thing people will see when they’re searching.
Choosing the Venue
When selecting the live streaming provider for your virtual conference, there are several factors to look out for:
- Make sure they offer the type of platform you will need for your event (i.e., open to the public, closed network, or invitation only).
- Give preference to companies that offer quality customer service if you need help during the live broadcast.
- Be sure that their online hosting platform allows you to set up chat rooms and other interactive platforms within the webinar itself (i.e., polling), which can be very beneficial when bringing an audience together in real-time.
Understanding Your Audience
Companies are using virtual conferences across multiple industries as an opportunity for employees or members of different teams who work together offline but never actually meet face to face.
If you are organising a virtual event for this reason, then I suggest using a hosting platform that allows for audio conferences or even video conferencing so team members can discuss the topics at hand while still being able to see and hear each other.
If your virtual conference targets a more broad market and will not be restricted to select groups, look for solutions that offer many webinar formats options, allowing people to engage with speakers through chat rooms and polls questions, etc.
If, on the other hand, your event is exclusive to guests only where they have paid directly via online payment platforms like PayPal, then it may be easier for you to use software platforms provided by the live streaming provider themselves since most of these platforms allow for text chat within the webinar.
Choosing a Platform
There are several options for choosing the best platform for your virtual conference, including Skype and Adobe Connect. Each has specific features that make it unique. If you plan on recording or watching online later, look for platforms that allow you to save content easily (e.g., YouTube) so that you can upload the videos to your website afterward.
The following are essential steps to planning a virtual conference: understanding your audience, choosing an appropriate platform for the event, determining the best venue options, considering hosting options, promoting your event, and other considerations to create success.
Market Your Event
It would be best if you began to market your virtual conference three months before it began. It is important to let every participant know about the various aspects of their experience at your event (e.g., registration process, what will be provided during the actual chat).
You can also consider inviting speakers to know who else is attending throughout this period. Once you begin marketing, use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to make announcements about upcoming events related to your virtual conference (e.g., workshops or debates) as well as the online discussion board itself.
An easy way to advertise is to create a flyer including your logo and the event’s dates, time, and place. You can also create an announcement video using free online services like Powtoon, Vimeo, or Wistia.
Choosing a Time and Date
You should start this process at least one month before you plan on having your virtual conference. This allows for ample time to send invitations to participants ahead of schedule and gives you the chance to evaluate the response to see if you need to extend or change the date.
Once that information has been determined, arrange for all necessary equipment (e.g., streaming software) until there are no errors so that nothing will distract from your purpose.
Virtual conferences are becoming increasingly popular because of how easy they are to organise and the many benefits they offer, both in cost-effectiveness and time management.
Using virtual conference best practises will help your event run smoothly to focus on engaging discussion with your audience instead of worrying about technical difficulties. I hope this article provides you with valuable insight into how to plan a successful virtual conference so that you have what it takes to hold one successfully.