13 Virtual Event Best Practices for Hosting Online Events
A virtual event is any kind of event that takes place online rather than at a physical venue. Functionally, it’s nearly identical to an in-person event, with exhibits, networking, guest speakers, and support staff ready to answer questions and fix technical difficulties. Virtual events serve as an opportunity for attendees to connect with people from around the globe and access a robust distribution of digital content that may not be available at an in-person event. In some ways, a virtual event can be more inclusive, cost-effective, and timely for all involved parties.
You might host a virtual event instead of an in-person one for many reasons. For example, you could host a virtual event to accommodate more guests; physical venues usually limit how many people can attend for safety reasons. It may also be a good idea to host a virtual event when people cannot physically attend one, especially for attendees living out of state or abroad. By hosting a virtual event, no one has to miss out. Virtual event spaces offer some other unique benefits as well:
The great thing about virtual events is that there are many types to consider. You can tailor a virtual event to meet the specific needs of your target audience and stakeholders. By understanding the types of virtual events available, you can make a more informed decision about choosing the one that best helps you achieve your business goals. While you can use a virtual event for any kind of gathering, here are the main types:
While this list doesn’t feature every tip, here are the top 13 best practices to follow when hosting digital events.
Before hosting online events, always define what type they will be. The type of event you choose, from sales workshops to academic conferences, ultimately determines other vital aspects, such as potential guest speakers and activities.
Not all virtual event platforms are made equal. You should choose an online platform based on its features and accommodations, making sure it provides the necessary tools you need for your virtual event to succeed. To learn more about how virtual office and event space software can benefit you, request a demo with Kumospace.
The agenda acts as a guide for the guests, ensuring they know what will happen at every stage of the event. Prepare a solid program plan to keep attendees engaged throughout the entire experience.
During the early stages of the event development process, identify who your target audience is. Your primary audience will help you carve out a niche for your event and determine the best way to appeal to them.
Look to Tomorrowland 2020 as a guide for how to identify and target your primary audience like a pro. Typically an in-person music festival, the transition to online during 2020 could have presented some challenges. But because the festival organizers understood their audience so well, they were able to deliver the same quality experience virtually to more than a million online attendees.
You can’t have a virtual event if no one attends. By performing a lead generation analysis, you can find potential leads for your event and help stimulate interest among your target audience.
Your marketing efforts are an essential part of reaching a larger audience and increasing attendance. There are many ways you can market and promote your virtual events, like using social media, email drip campaigns, and paid advertising.
There is nothing more frustrating than technical difficulties disrupting the flow of a virtual event. Always check your technology (audio, visual, chat, etc.) on the front end to ensure you avoid these problems.
No matter how much you test your technology before the virtual event, sometimes technical issues can arise at no fault of your own. With a support team on standby, they can quickly address these errors so you can proceed with the event as planned.
Accompanying high-quality content is just one major part of many successful virtual events. Ensure that this content, whether it’s documents, videos, or presentations, is readily accessible to your guests.
Depending on how long the virtual event is, intermediate breaks can help to space out activities and alleviate audience fatigue. Generally, you should include a scheduled 10 to 15-minute break between every 75 minutes of activity.
If you’ve partnered with sponsors for your virtual event, you should always showcase them. These organizations help to fund your event, and in return, you promote their brands.
Shortly after the virtual event ends, you should follow up with the attendees. You can email them a survey, ask for feedback, or simply give thanks for attending. This information can help make your next online event even better.
As accessible as virtual events are, sometimes people cannot attend due to various reasons. Record the online event so guests who couldn’t attend can conveniently view it on their own time. For example, Salesforce’s World Tour Sidney Reimagined 2020 virtual event made the live feed available as on-demand videos once it was over.
While it can seem tedious, event management is an essential part of any effective virtual meeting or event. From planning to marketing to budgeting, managing every part of your event will help to ensure that it goes smoothly with minimal disruption. In general, there are seven primary elements of event management to consider throughout the process, including:
Clients: Your clients are the sponsors of the event. These are the organizations that help to fund the virtual event, and in return, you make space to promote them during it. You may or may not need clients depending on the size, reach, and scale of the event.
One of the best ways to ensure your virtual event is more engaging is by weaving in the human experience, essentially recreating an in-person experience within a digital space. This means, for example, allowing attendees to interact with your core talents, featuring games, or offering them fun incentives like rewards and gifts. You can also allow your attendees to collaborate and text chat with one another in real-time.
The more your participants are involved in the action, and the more engaging and immersive the event will be for them. For example, Google’s SheetsCon 2021 virtual event successfully drove significant audience engagement by using tutorials, social media, and giveaways.
The key to hosting a successful virtual event is by following the best practices. Whether you’re hosting a fundraiser, live music stream, or any other kind of live event, they can all benefit from these guidelines. While you may not need every best practice listed, these tips have universal applications–so the more of them you can use for your virtual event, the more likely it is to be successful. You should also generate reports, use metrics, and review key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your event. This information can help you to improve future virtual events.