At the beginning of this year, numerous organizations and individuals had ambitious projects aimed at transforming their future. With the ongoing pandemic, most have become still like a lake. Only a few of them were successfully able to utilize and adapt in order to conduct them with the help of virtual events.
With virtual events constantly delivering on multiple aspects, we can indeed say that they’re setting milestones in the digital arena. With such an impact emanation, companies are now equipping and understanding in detail to conduct webinars, virtual meetings and maneuver sponsored sessions and viral booths. For those intuitive minds who wish to conduct events with the help of the digital arena, questions like these might pop:
Is it possible to conduct a virtual event as effectively as a physical event?
What are the Pros and Cons of a virtual event?
How to run a successful virtual event?
Firstly, let’s know on a ground-level about virtual events. Have you attended a meeting or a conference with the help of tools for video conferencing? Have been a part of a webinar? Have you participated in an online workout session? These are the live examples of a virtual event. Genres of virtual events can be classified into the below categories:
Similar to in-person events, virtual conferences are arranged between a live, combination mission of breakout, keynotes, sessions, etc. They can contain and include tools for community engagement. Virtual conferences aid in goal development, knowing contents in high demand, and interaction with the rest of the attendees. However, it isn’t as effective as an in-person event which helps in networking and leads capturing.
Webinars let attendees worldwide connect and hear as an individual or a group of speakers who put their content forward. The time ranges from 45- 80 minutes. They can either be conducted for free or can be charged. Tools for video conferences that enable pre-recorded or live videos, tools that offer Q&A are majorly used by webinars. Webinars usually have a cent percent attendance because of their one-off educational nature. For example, individuals who reside in a different country and are unable to attend due to financial trouble or time constraint can attend webinars hassle-free as webinars are cost-cutting when it comes to traveling and attending an in person event. They are inclusive of external and internal training.
External Hybrid Events
Events that are conducted outside the organization are typical external hybrid events. A higher volume of video production should be capitalized in order to provide in-person quality to the virtual attendees. Individuals who cannot travel get an opportunity to educate themselves and be a part of learning in external hybrid events. When there are in-person events, it is easy to network and engages but here it becomes a tedious task.
Internal Hybrid events
Department meetings, training, sales kick-offs, town halls, etc fall into the category of internal hybrid events. Events like these are utilized to spread a message throughout the organization when employees cannot be assembled in one place. For companies that travel through countries and continents, these events are particularly useful. Internal hybrid events are highly ideal to host events that are partially in-person and part virtual.
Why host a Virtual Event?
Virtual events are organized to spread companies’ messages which will indeed generate leads, revenue, construct goodwill, and carry adoptions. It is for the same reason that the in-person events are hosted and virtual events are held for similar reasons. Event management organizations and planners have been deciding between the available formats as everything comes with its own pros and cons. Decide whether or not to host a virtual event, reconsider your goals, and measure who can be reached virtually v/s in person.
Pros and Cons of a virtual event
- Wider audience reach
With no travel cost or the necessity to take separate time off from the office, virtual events can be the go-to option for many of your attendees as it is easy to register and attend it at your comfort. This increases the accessibility rate of the event to attend virtually for the attendees who are unable to attend in person. Travel bans, extreme weather, or anything else, you can attend the event irrelevant to any of the above-mentioned situations.
As there will be no requirement for a location, beverage, and refreshments, event coordinators and staff, room, and travel expenditure, the budget for the virtual event is significantly reduced for a virtual event. This is one of the best aspects of virtual events. Also, you can accommodate any number of employees and guests from any part of the globe. Due to the convenience, highly in-demand speakers would gladly be part of the event for a comparatively lesser price.
- Accurate data: Organisers can acquire very insightful, accurate data from the individuals who are attending the event even without post-event initiatives. This data that has been collected aid organizers tune the content of the event for future editors.
- Closet stress: We would have to dress up according to the type of event either complete formals or business casuals etc. But with virtual events, you can be at home and attend the event in your comfortable attire.
- Highly Accessible: Virtual options permit you to take in attendees especially the ones who are attending in person due to geographical location, travel, etc. to attend the event.
Cons of Virtual Events
- The Event Duration has to be limited
Fix- Unlike a live event, a virtual event has a prerequisite necessity of a very short duration span. While sitting in front of a screen, your audience will not have a very long attention span. Experts have determined that the average attention span for the audience attending a virtual session is 20 minutes. With long-form content, there is a very good chance that your audience will lose interest beyond a certain point. Thus, it is necessary to take certain measures to ensure their attention is sustained. To do so you can entertain your guests with an assorted variety of content to reduce the mundaneness. You can also add gamification elements like prizes or leader-boards such that they have an incentive to participate more actively.
- Limited Scope for Interaction and Networking
Fix- Although not always directly, the actual fact is that the technology used in online networking brings people together. By incorporating the appropriate technological components, you can very easily convert the supposed un-interactive experience into one that will engage all the participants and give rise to a lot of meaningful interactions. You can add a calendar interface to the platform you’re holding your event on. This will give your attendees the added feature of pre-scheduling a person-to-person meeting with the key speaker. They might definitely have some points which they would have wanted to bring up to only the key speaker. With this setup, they will be able to accomplish the same effect. To stimulate more fruitful links among your attendees, you can also include a chat platform. This will allow them to conduct discussions even after the event is over if they wish. All this will add value to your event albeit in an indirect manner.
- The necessity of technology and corresponding know-how
Fix- There’s really no escaping the fact that you will require a significant amount of technological components. A virtual platform’s core functioning represents the conversion of a live event into digital using the appropriate tools. To mitigate this issue, it is best advised to utilize the services of a standalone expert. They will take care of all the technical aspects for you. You can also look within your organizational structure for someone who may be familiar with gadgets and set-up. As a last resort, you can try to learn their functioning yourself from Google or external sources.
The Essence of events
In-person or virtual, all events are a part of an integrated marketing mix. Think of it from a holistic point of view. All your employees, staff, and attendees will attend in-person events. In fact, they all function together with the marketing mix. This indeed gives you an entire outlook of your interest through engaging and reaching them. In the same way, virtual events should be treated similarly. Virtual tools should be fused into your events and meetings
The Crux of Event Planning
- Efficacious Marketing
- Potent promotion
- Robust keynotes (Because Content is the king)
- Engineered engaging sessions for attendees
- Proffer choices that are applicable to different types of audiences
- Use of online event guidelines
- Gauge engagement for a better ROI
- Components of Event Management
Like any other event, virtual events are made up of similar events. Though food and beverages are not required. Virtual events are fabricated around content, data, and audience engagement. Network, connectivity, and good video quality (preferably high video quality) are essential requirements. These cannot be compromised. Below is the list of components of event management
- Website for the event
- Content for a live presentation
- One way video/ audio which is live
- Q & A
- Live survey
- Having content which is already recorded
- Synergetic video conferencing
Forums and technology to host a virtual event
Without maneuvering mobile phones and computers, attendance would not be possible. Technology is the key aspect of a virtual event. But virtual events are much more than video conferencing tools alone. Application of an appropriate event technology platform assists in promoting, executing, and managing the event. Here are the most crucial components of event technology that have to be implemented for your viral event.
Website for the event
For the promotion of your event, an event website is a necessity. It caters a similar purpose as an in-person event. The event website should communicate the vital benefits of the event, exhibit the speakers, compose FAQs, show the event schedule, and direct prospective attendees towards registration.
The most crucial and vital data collection tool for your event is registration. This grants the individuals who are attending the event to choose a custom made a preference for the event and put forward their personal information and payment options. A vigorous tool for online registration helps in easy registration. Acquiring all the important data for the organizers and marketers for a successful event.
Event App for mobile and online event guide
The most basic and crucial for virtual events are the online event guide and event app. This is the base for attendees who are attending from their respective houses as these are as essential as the in-person events. These are the main kiosks for web browsers and mobile applications as they function on these tools. Attaching links of sessions puts content on the attendee’s plate. This is where they get to customize and plan things according to their goals. They also help in connecting with the attendees. Give them tools for messaging which helps them to connect and network at a faster pace.
Marketing through email
Email marketing helps us increase registrations for the event, pull in more traffic, and keeps the attendees informed about the happenings of the event. This leads to more individuals attending your event and also feedback can be taken for future prospects and to get accurate feedback to improve ourselves. At all levels of the event, an email can assist the attendee. To automate emails that are branded and personalized, Select at which time you want to send the email, etc, email marketing can be very handy.
Feedbacks for events
As not all the audience who have attended the event get a chance to voice out their opinion. A feedback form or survey helps us know who engaged in the event. It also helps to find out what are the things that can be improved next time an event is conducted. To demonstrate how successful the event went by, feedback plays a crucial role.
Learn how to host a virtual event
The planning process for a virtual event is similar to that of an in-person event. Though virtual events all together have a different ambiance and feel, they are more or less the same and execution plays a vital role in doing so. Let us see what are the general questions asked while planning for a virtual event
- What are the KPIs for your event? How to build agendas around sessions and feedback surveys?
- Will the content chosen to be on-demand or will it be mediocre?
- How to deal with connectivity issues?
- Should the event be free or keep it as a paid one?
- What are the messaging tools, keynotes and how should it be conveyed via a guidebook?
- What is the time period of each session?
- Which tools will attendees have to use for networking, connecting, and planning appointments?
Data that should be collected at virtual events
- Attendance through demographics
- No. of registrations
- Click through rates and email essentials according to the event
- Feedback/ Survey results
- Total number of leads
- Social media reach and engagement
- The interest of your participants to invest in your products
- Ratings per session
Readying your Audience
Keep in mind that where there is technology involved, a strong scope of errors is also bound to be present. The same is strongly applicable to virtual events. There are a plethora of options available when it comes to video conferencing tools and technology platforms to hold events. The one thing to keep in mind is to never take your audience’s familiarity with technology for granted. This applies to both if they are sound and even if they are not. Considering that, it makes sense to give your participants some practice with the platform before the event commences. This will let your attendees ease into the platform functions, retain a higher audience, and overall create a better experience. Your guidance material need not be a long barrage of text. You can make that somewhat interactive and interesting as well. You can opt for pictures, videos, and any form of multimedia that suits your purpose. Further, you can add some witty or humorous material as well to further enhance your content.
Establishing Connections in Virtual Events
The factor of physical presence isn’t there in the case of a virtual event. This doesn’t mean that your attendees are devoid of the possibility to establish their network. A mobile application as we discussed before, used in a phone or a web browser can allow your attendees to make connections with the incorporation of a system of messaging. After attendees connect to the application, they can conduct in-person meetings with each other, the sponsors, and even the exhibitors. A lot of data is collected during the registration process. You can use it to connect the participating attendees with similar preferences to communicate with messaging or breakout sessions. You can also facilitate video conferencing and more interactive chat forms as well.
Making the move to a Virtual Event
You can effectively switch from a conventional setup to a virtual event in 3 simple steps:
- Inform your attendees on your website and via email that you will be opting for a virtual event and why you will be doing so.
- Make your attendees aware of how they can attend the event with the new virtual setup.
- Add links to the live broadcasts or the pre-recorded sessions on the agenda of your event.
Virtual Events as a Component of your Meeting Programs
To conclude, the addition of virtual events as a strategy in your official meeting programs is a very noteworthy idea. It is somewhat true that virtual events do not have the same prowess as in-person interaction. You may be faced with situations where you’ll be compelled to opt for the virtual route on short notice. Always keep a plan handy with the proper technology ready. This will essentially mean that you can make the switch to a virtual event as a viable alternative with high confidence. You can bank upon that option with the trust factor that you can bring out an engaging and intuitive experience for your attendees and keep them interested in your offerings for a long time to come.