The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Event Planning
The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Event Planning
Are you planning your next big virtual event? If so, you've come to the right place! In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about virtual events; including which platform to choose and advanced virtual event strategies to take your next virtual event to the next level.
What is a virtual event?
A virtual event can simply be defined as a gathering that takes place online. Similar to in-person events, virtual events aim to bring like-minded people together for a variety of reasons including networking, relationship building, training, learning, and so much more. Virtual events can take many forms including webinars, live streaming events, online trade shows, and virtual conferences.
The beauty of virtual events is that they can be accessed by anyone anywhere in the world, as long as they have a stable internet connection. To mimic in-person interactions and ensure connectivity, virtual events often leverage tools that help create a more interactive experience such as video conferencing, chat rooms, live polls, and more.
How does a virtual event work?
A virtual event is an online gathering that simulates an in-person event or set of interactions. To simulate an in-person event, a virtual event platform is used to facilitate the event. The virtual event can take any number of formats including but not limited to panel discussions, live presentations, round table chats, keynote speeches, and so much more. Depending on the platform chosen, participants will also have access to a wide range of features that make interacting online as opposed to in person seamless and effective. This means interacting via chat rooms, live polls, Q&As, video chats, virtual networking sessions, and more. The event host or facilitator will be present during the event to ensure everything runs smoothly from start to finish. This includes welcoming guests, answering any questions, and facilitating activities throughout the event. After the event has concluded, the event host or facilitator may follow up with a survey or questionnaire to collect feedback that can be used to inform future events.
Hybrid Events vs Virtual Events
Choosing between hosting a hybrid event and a virtual event can be difficult, especially if you aren’t well versed on what each one has to offer. While both hybrid and virtual events aim to bring people together, virtual events allow attendees to join exclusively through an online platform whereas hybrid events allow participants to join both virtually and in-person. Choosing between the two largely depends on your intended outcome. If you have a concentrated audience in one geographical area, you may want to host a hybrid event. If your audience is largely dispersed and you wish to have no geographical bounds, hosting a virtual event is for you.
Virtual Events vs In-Person Events
Virtual events are the opposite of in-person events as they take place exclusively online. In-person events have a live audience and take place in a physical location whereas virtual events take place in a virtual environment that simulates an in-person event. It’s important to note that virtual events are more inclusive. Less costly, and easier to pull off.
Virtual Meetings vs Virtual Events
Have you stopped to consider the difference between virtual meetings and virtual events? Virtual meetings are real-time interactions that take place via a video conferencing tool between a select group and normally occur internally. Virtual events normally offer much more than a virtual meeting and often occur among a much larger group of people. These people are often a curated target audience that are outside of your organization.
What are the different event types of virtual events?
There are many different types of virtual events. The one you choose will largely depend on your goals, objectives and audience. Here are some of the most common types of virtual events:
A webinar is an online presentation or workshops that focus on a select topic. These virtual events are often broadcasted to a select group and can be hosted by a singular individual or an organization. The main value of hosting a webinar is having the opportunity to educate your intended audience on a select topic while helping you communicate in real-time from anywhere in the world.
- Virtual conferences
A virtual conference or webinar is a meeting that takes place in a virtual environment for any number of reasons. Similar to in-person conferences, virtual conferences often gather keynote speakers or a select group of professionals to learn from one another, collaborate, brainstorm, or network.
- Virtual meetups
A virtual meetup is an informal online gathering that takes place among like-minded individuals that share common goals or interests. For example, an online meetup may take place among startup founders that are eager to learn from one another or exchange ideas, or even among movie buffs that want to connect with other film lovers to discuss storylines.
- Live streaming events
Live streaming events are events that take place in real-time that are broadcasted by the host and streamed over the internet by guests. Live streaming events may be used for anything from a product launch to a sports game, or a webinar. Live streaming events are also excellent resources to use if you want to extend your reach or get in front of consumers that aren’t able to attend an in-person event.
- Virtual job fairs
Virtual job fairs are events that are used by employers to connect with potential employees. Similar to in-person job fairs, these events are used to promote openings and get to know candidates. Virtual job fairs are especially important in a virtual environment where organizations may be hiring for remote opportunities as opposed in in-person roles.
- Virtual team building events
Hosting a virtual team building event is an excellent way to build comradery among remote teams. Virtual team building events are often used among remote organizations to promote teamwork and collaboration via the use of games or challenges that require teamwork and strategic thinking.
- Virtual workshops
Virtual workshops are events that take place online with the end goal of teaching attendees a new skill. This can be anything from a workshop on improving communication in the workplace to a workshop on how to prioritize mental health while working remotely. These are learning opportunities that are often led by an industry expert or skilled professional.
- Online trade shows
Online trade shows are virtual exhibitions that allow companies to showcase their products and services to potential customers in hopes of garnering additional exposure or making a sale. Often featuring virtual booths and networking opportunities, online trade shows provide organizations with an excellent opportunity to market their products and form genuine connections.
- Virtual product launches
Often used with the intent of garnering a global audience, virtual product launches are events that empower organizations to showcase a new product, feature, or update to an online audience. These events are used by hosts to build hype around a product and consumers to learn more about a product.
Virtual Event planning and hosting considerations
Executing a virtual event requires you to be extremely clear about your goals and objectives, and carefully choose what aspects to include to hit those goals. Here’s how to start planning your virtual event.
- Nail down your event format and theme
Nailing down your event format is key to hosting a successful virtual event. In order to nail down your format, you must first determine your object. From there, you can work backwards and determine which format will help you achieve your objectives. Many virtual event platforms make it possible for you to create a fully customizable event with unique features that allow you to sew your theme into the fibers of your event. For example, if you’re hosting a virtual event around health and wellness, you may want to leverage a tool like Remo to create a custom virtual environment that mimics a gym or yoga studio.
- Identify your audience and prepare attendees
Identifying your audience is important for two reasons with the first being user preferences. It’s important to identify your audience so you can create an event that caters to their preferences. This will allow you to make more informed decisions during the preliminary planning stages that ultimately lead to more positive attendee experiences. Secondly, it’s important to prepare attendees for your virtual event. It’s important to consider that everyone may not be tech savvy or well versed in the realm of virtual events. These individuals may find virtual events confusing or even overwhelming which is why it's important to prepare them in advance. This can be done by circulating instructions or even an informational video prior to the event.
- Invite speakers, sponsors, and industry experts
A virtual event is only as good as its content which is why it’s important to craft a comprehensive agenda that is jam-packed with valuable segments. Inviting industry experts and guest speakers is a great way to make your event more engaging while providing your guests with additional value. These segments can then be used to host round table discussions, or initiate networking opportunities.
Before you can nail down a guest speaker and invite industry experts you must first:
- Determine the date and time of your event – when will your event take place?
- Determine the purpose of your event – what do you want people to take away from it?
- What type of speaker are you looking for – a keynote speaker or a breakout session speaker?
- Flesh out your marketing plan– are you planning to enlist the assistance of your speakers in
- advertising your event?
- Your budget for a speaker or speakers – are you willing to pay or would you prefer to add a submission form where experts can apply and volunteer their time?
- Budget accordingly
The key to generating a virtual event budget is to identify all of the components that have an associated cost. An excellent way to keep track of your costs is to generate a simple spreadsheet that you can use to itemize each cost in detail. If you’re working with a team to bring your event to fruition, it's important that everyone remains accountable to the budget. This means briefing your team on the budget in addition to teaching them how to properly account for dollars spent. Your entire team must use expenditure tracking to disclose how much money has been spent and what it has been spent on.
- Choose the right virtual event platform
A virtual event platform is a software application or tool that can be downloaded directly to your device or broadcasted from the web platform to host online events including seminars, conferences, workshops, and more. Typically, a webinar platform is an all-encompassing tool that enables you to facilitate and host a virtual event seamlessly with a suite of tools that help with scheduling, registration, and audience engagement. Features often include screen sharing, polling, Q&A sessions, chat rooms, and whiteboards among others. A comprehensive virtual event platform will also provide analytics that can be used to gather audience insights like attendance and engagement while simultaneously providing you with the information you need to shape future events.
Virtual event platforms are becoming increasingly more important as organizations around the world continue to embrace remote-first policies which is why it’s important to learn more about the webinar platforms that are worth your time. While there are many options to choose from, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Remo, GoTo Webinar, and Webex have all proven to be popular choices.
What are the best virtual event platforms for hosting virtual events?
Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing platform that allows individuals and organizations to host and attend virtual meetings, webinars, and online events. Zoom provides users with a variety of features that help deliver exceptional virtual experiences including video and audio conferencing, screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, recording and playback, chat, and breakout rooms. With Zoom, facilitators or hosts can assign participants to breakout rooms manually or automatically and can set timers or reassign participants as needed.
- Microsoft Teams
Microsoft teams is a collaborative communication platform that allows individuals to come together and share information in real-time. With Microsoft teams, you can chat with your colleagues, make video or audio calls, or hold virtual meetings or events with a variety of features and functions. Again, facilitators can create breakout rooms manually or randomly, and can set timers or end breakout rooms manually.
GoToWebinar is a web-based platform that allows organizations to host and manage live webinars, online events, and virtual conferences. This platform offers a wide range of features including custom registration pages, branding options, automated email reminders, polls and surveys, and analytics. GoToWebinar makes it possible for users like yourself to present your screen, video, and presentation with attendees in real-time while taking advantage of interactive features like chat, Q&A, and hand-raising. This platform also allows users to create up to 20 breakout rooms in which attendees can be assigned manually or randomly. Again, users can set timers or end these breakout rooms manually.
Webex is a web-based video conferencing and collaboration platform that makes it possible for users like yourself to connect and collaborate online. This platform offers features such as HD video and audio conferencing, screen sharing, file sharing, virtual backgrounds, recording, and breakout rooms. Webex also allows users to host and join virtual meetings, webinars, and training sessions from anywhere, or any device.
BigMarker is an all-in-one platform for hosting webinars, online events, and virtual conferences. This cloud-based solution allows businesses, organizations, and individuals to create, manage, and deliver high-quality webinars and events with a range of features including live-streaming, screen sharing, whiteboarding, polling, breakout rooms, and more. Similar to other platforms BigMarker supports breakout rooms and users can assign breakout rooms either manually or automatically and set timers or end the breakout rooms manually.
Remo is a virtual events platform that was built to help users host exceptional experiences. Designed to replicate in-person networking experiences, Remo is the ideal solution for anyone that is looking to host interactive virtual events, conferences, or meetings. Unlike other platforms on this list, Remo provides you with a virtual venue where participants can interact with each other and engage with the event host or speakers. In addition to features like video and audio conferencing, screen sharing, interactive whiteboards, virtual backgrounds, and breakout rooms, Remo also makes it possible for you to create a fully customizable virtual environment for your event.
Advanced virtual event strategies to take your event to the next level
Strategy1: Promote your event
Unlike traditional events, which need 6 to 12 months of planning, you can conceptualize and bring a virtual event to fruition in no time. Here are a few general tips to keep in mind when promoting your event:
Before the event:
- Make landing pages.
- Send email reminders.
- Make a website for the event.
- Send out direct mail campaigns.
- Figure out who your target audience is.
- Create contests and social media posts.
- Launch your email marketing campaigns.
During the event:
- Share downloadable resources.
- Continue to send out reminder emails.
- Use live chat or chatbots to answer queries.
- Organize branded activities and experiences.
- Make real-time social media updates (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).
Strategy 2: Create a custom virtual environment
The beauty of leveraging virtual event platforms like Remo is having the ability to create a fully customizable virtual event space. With virtual event platforms with these capabilities the sky is truly the limit. You can let your imagination run wild and create a virtual floor plan of your own or work with a professional to bring your vision to life.
Strategy 3: Gather sponsorships
Event sponsorships are an excellent way to cover the costs of your event. Not only this, but a list of notable event sponsors help build trust and credibility. Virtual event platforms like Remo made it possible to build sponsors into your virtual event by providing you with the space necessary to include them in your floor plan. All you have to do is select a floor plan that includes sponsor banner slots.
Strategy 4: Follow up with polls and surveys
Collecting feedback after the event has finished is an excellent way to derive insights that wouldn't have otherwise been available. This can be a great way to receive feedback, engage with attendees, and strengthen your network. These insights will help you learn what went right and what went wrong so you can double down on successful verticals during future events.
Host your next virtual event with Remo, the premier choice for virtual events
Remo is an immersive virtual event and meeting platform that empowers event hosts or facilitators to recreate natural interactions in any type of gatherings, from global networking events to virtual meetings between colleagues. Where other telecommunication tools make it possible for you to host virtual networking events, Remo empowers you to take your event to new heights by creating customized virtual environments and unlocking access to intuitive one-of-a-kind tools. For the first time ever, you can create a captivating virtual environment specifically for your virtual event and keep your audience engaged with exclusive features. Simply create your own custom environment or have an expert do it for you.
Interested in optimizing your next virtual event? Get started with your FREE TRIAL today or click here to learn more about how Remo can help create and sustain more impactful networking relationships.