Virtual Events Guide : The only guide you'll ever need!

Your one step key to all your queries about the virtual event and virtual event platform. What, why and how you can host a successful event?

A virtual event is a digital alternative to a physical event. All the participants interact through a digital medium virtually.

You can host tons of virtual events. Corporate events, fairs, trade shows, award functions, townhall and AGMs (Annual General Meetings) to name a few.

The year 2020 accelerated the growth of the virtual event industry. According to a report by TOPO, 63% of organizations are moving to digital conferences or events.

The research by Technavio suggests that – The virtual events market will grow by $ 269.20 bn during 2021-2025. Whereas the year-over-year growth rate of the virtual event market for 2021 is estimated at 40.37%.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” - Alan Kay

Moving to new technology can still be a challenge for many. Also, it takes confidence to try it out. But if we will not try then, how we will find out what works or whatnot. According to tech leader:

Reed Hastings
Co-founder, chairman, & CEO of Netflix

Stone Age. Bronze Age. Iron Age. We define entire epics of humanity by the technology they use.”

Reed Hastings
Co-founder, chairman, & CEO of Netflix

Moving to new technology can still be a challenge for many. Also, it takes confidence to try it out. But if we will not try then, how we will find out what works or whatnot. According to tech leader:

1. What are virtual events?

A virtual event is an online event. In this type of event, participants can communicate simultaneously together while they are in different locations. It aims to replicate a physical event in a digital setting.

Here are some interesting insights on virtual events

These insights are unravelling a unique story of virtual events.

Now that you have understood virtual events. Let’s have a look at different kinds of virtual events.

2. TYPES OF VIRTUAL EVENTS

You can host different types of virtual events. The following list will give you some idea about the versatility of virtual events. and so on.

According to the Apricot survey, the most common use of virtual event technology by organizations are:

  • Standard member meetings with a share of 58% in the total number of events
  • Followed by Guest speaker meetings with a share of 51%
  • And Panel Discussions with a share of 41%

The potential of virtual events is unlimited. You can host any event virtually. Now let’s see how it stacks against Physical events.

3. Physical vs Virtual event

Hosting an event physically or virtually comes with its own pros and cons. One needs to weigh these factors before deciding the medium of your event. The impact of these factors can be seen in a following table.

Factors Physical Event Virtual Event
Cost Venue, travel, food, staff,accommodation, banners and entertainment Setting up a virtual platform. Also you need good microphone and speakers
Number of Attendees Limited You can limit the number of attendees as per your requirement. Otherwise, unlimited
Demographic/Geographical barrier Local International; beyond any geographical barriers
Content Distribution of content is easier. Multiple sessions are held at same time Content distribution can be decided upon the response.
Navigation Map/flow chart required Simpler and easier navigation can be provided to attendee
Engagement Face-to-face communication, handshake and eye-contact Multiple options available for engagement. Eg – Gamification, AR photobooth, emoticon integration and social wall.
Data Collection Have to be collected manually Could be done automatically
Impact on Environment Not environment friendly; cause a lot of paper wastage. eco-friendly alternative

Now that you know how things work differently on each of these mediums, it’s time to move to pros of virtual events

4. PROS OF VIRTUAL EVENTS

Hosting an event physically or virtually comes with its own pros and cons. One needs to weigh these factors before deciding the medium of your event. The impact of these factors can be seen in a following table.

Cost-Effective

Save money by avoiding expenses like booking venues, food, tickets and accommodation. 84% of firms saved money by hosting a virtual event.

Substantial ROI

Since you save a lot of money by cutting down your expenses, you get better ROI (Return on investment). With a virtual event, you get a more extensive reach at a lower cost.

Flexibility of Time

Host an event for a wider audience around the world. You only need to mention the local and international timing of your event.

  • 52% of organisations witnessed the same or more attendance than they’d expect at an in-person event.

Maximum Attendance

The virtual event provides greater access to a large number of people.

  • 91% of respondents used virtual events to connect with existing members
  • While 62% of them used it to connect with new people

Amplified Engagement

The virtual event offers a lot more options for engaging the attendees. 

Gamification, AR Photobooths, Quizzes, Giveaways/competitions, Health and Wellbeing Activities and talent hunt are some of the options, to begin with.

Engagement can increase the success rate of your event by 150% over those who don’t try to engage.

High Success Rate

The biggest concern of anyone is the result of their event. And the virtual events in a short period proved their worth by delivering the optimal results.

Still in doubt?

Go read ahead

  • 90% of organizers reported success in accomplishing their goals through the virtual event.
  • Out of which, 56% organizers claimed highly successful in reaching their goals
  • 66% of planners felt confident that they will achieve their goals

Environment Friendly

It is not a secret that in-person events are a source of paper wastage. And this is not good for the environment. But consider this, according to the world counts –

  • 324 litres of water is used to make 1 kilogram of paper.
  • 10 litres of water is needed to make one piece of A4 paper.
  • 93% of paper comes from trees.
  • 50% of the waste of businesses is composed of paper.

Convenience to Make Connections

Along with a slew of advantages, virtual events offer more convenience to make the connection. For this, you can create places dedicated to connecting, likeVirtual Networking lounges.

In fact, the Apricot report says, 62 % of event organisers aim at making new connections.

Easy to Collect Feedback

The virtual event helps in collecting feedback. You plan it in-advance. And can fine-tune your visitors’ experience.

Live polls, surveys, Push Feedback forms, Q&A and rating systems are effective ways to find out audience preferences for future events.

Access to Real-Time Event Analytics

Keeping a tab on visitor’s activity is not possible in a physical event. But this is not the case with the virtual one.

You can maintain Real-time user activity logs.

This can include the number of people who joined a live session, attendee locations, live chat and networking options.

Also, you can see who got in touch with a particular exhibitor or sponsor, what they interacted, shared, downloaded, number of sessions they attended and a lot more.

These were some of the pros of virtual events. Now let's understand how you can organise one for yourself

5. HOW TO ORGANISE VIRTUAL EVENTS

Organising a virtual event is not so different from a physical one. Here also, you need to make plans and strategy.

And this planning can be divided into three stages –

  • Recognise your objectives

    The first step in planning any event is understanding your objectives. Ask yourself questions like why you want to hold this event? What do you want to accomplish from this event?

    Define your goals. These can be connecting people, making new connections or generating revenue.

  • Understanding your target audience

    After having an understanding of your goals, you need to select your target audience. For whom you are organising this event? Or whom you want to target with this event?

    Also, you need to understand your audience. What are their aspirations, thought process or attitude towards virtual events?

  • Preparing a strategy for the event

    Now that you are clear about your goals and target audience, it’s time for planning your event.

    • Firstly, you need to decide the format of your event. Will your event be live-streamed or pre-recorded?
    • Which platform will you use for your virtual event?
    • What will be the timings of your event?
    • Where will your event be available?
    • Who will be able to access your event?
    • Which social media channels will be used for promotion?

    You can also look at previous events for referencing.

  • Inviting sponsors and exhibitors

    Sponsors and exhibitors are essential for your event. They will determine the budget of your event. And also, your event’s reputation will be directly linked with them. So try to get as many highly reputed sponsors and exhibitors onboard as possible.

    The better sponsor and exhibitor you will have for your event, the better the hype will be. It will keep the attendees excited and will pull more people.

  • Deciding the Budget for the event

    You have prepared a strategy for your event. And now it’s time to decide the Budget for your event.

    It is one of the most crucial steps because the execution of your strategy depends upon it.

    So carefully plan the allocation of funds for each part of your strategy.

  • Selecting a right platform

    You need to opt for an apt virtual event platform for your event. This platform should provide you with solutions and services that will provide your audience with an immersive experience.

    For this, you should select a virtual events agency or company that holds experience in hosting virtual and hybrid events.

    While selecting a platform, look for features like Networking tables, 2-Way interaction, AI Matchmaking, B2B Meeting Scheduler, Dynamic Lobby, Access Management, Animated Dynamic Banners, Seamless Navigation, Teleportation, Gamification, and Live Q&A to begin with.

  • Content creation and promotion

    The promotion of your event begins with impactful content. Remember, you are going to communicate with the world through this content.Your content will not only introduce your event to people but also promote it. The content has to be tailored according to the format of different social media platforms.

    And lastly, it should have the ability to force people to take action (looking for your event/registering for an event).

  • Testing the selected platform/Identify the technical issues

    Before the D-day, you have to test run the platform. See if it is working perfectly. Also, you need to identify the possible technical issues that can happen at the event. Comb these issues out and prepare with back-up for these issues.

  • Register your attendees

    Register your attendees in-advance for the event. This will reduce the load on the server during on the spot registrations. Also, remind people about the timing of the event through notifications, emails and messages.

  • Share the crucial info

    It is highly advised to share crucial information about the event with people during the event.

    This information can be Agenda, speakers and guest and how to navigate through the event. What and where are the different sessions and other information about the event.

    This will provide a lot of convenience to attendees.

  • Engaging audience

    The success of your event depends upon the experience of your audience. For this, you have to keep them engaged.

    You can conduct polls, surveys and Q&A sessions to interact with your attendees.

    Also, you can Gamify your event. You can place a leaderboard and ask your attendees to play a game or visit all corners of the venue to score.

  • Provide opportunities and options

    Apart from entertaining, you can offer your audience a value proposition. This proposition can be anything like an opportunity to connect with speakers and guests. You can include Networking lounges, Networking tables, AI-matchmaking and similar options for exchanging virtual business cards and so on.

  • Have breakout sessions

    If you plan to host an event that is long in duration or have many sessions, you need to provide breaks.

    This will save your attendees from complete exhaustion or burnouts. For this, include breakout sessions.

    Give your attendees time to relax, comprehend the previous session and get ready for the next session.

  • Collect and analyse the feedback

    Before the attendees leave the event, ask them for feedback. And collect this feedback.

    This will help you understand the individual’s preferences, expectations and experiences from your event. And based on that, you can make changes to your next event.

    Also, you can analyse the visitors’ activities to get a better picture of the same.

  • Post photos and videos on social media

    Share the photos and videos of your event on social media. This will help you to demonstrate the success of your event.People who didn’t attend your event would like to know more and attend your next event.

    Let’s explore the options to engage visitors in your virtual events

6. How to engage your attendees in your virtual event

Now that you have decided to host a virtual event, you must look for ideas to engage your audience. The following list will help to do the same:

Content

To engage the audience, you must make sure that your content is interesting. It should have the ability to grab the audience’s attention. Your content has to live up to the hype which you are targeting to create.

Production Quality

The production quality of your virtual event should be decent. Your venue, equipment like camera and microphone and other setups will act as the first impression. And will directly impact the performance of your event

Live Polling

Live Polling is another impactful technique the host can use to engage people. Polls can be based on topics relevant to the event. Or it can be casual, depending upon the nature of the event.

Survey

Surveys provide you with two benefits. One that gives you a deeper insight into attendees preferences and perceptions. Another advantage is it keeps your attendees engaged.

Push Notifications

A push notification can be used in multiple ways. You can remind people to join your event. Apart from this, you can guide your attendees in the event, informing them where a particular session is happening.

Live Q&A

To engage your attendees, you can use a Q&A session. This will help your attendees clear their doubts and queries. Also, it will keep them engaged throughout the event

Networking

One of the most desired features is Networking. Many people attend a virtual event just for it. This feature will not only keep your attendees interested but also attract more people to your event. You can have a dedicated Networking Lounge at your event.

Gamification

Gamification is one of the most effective ways to keep attendees engaged. You can have an option to play online games such as spin the wheel, shooting game and more. Also, you can organise a competition like visiting all the exhibitions of your sponsors in your event. Along with this you can also add a Leaderboard challenge. Here, visitors can see the points they earned.

Other Innovative features

Through different features, attendees can socialise among themselves. You can add features like photo booths, social wall and emoticon integration.

Also, you can add an option of collecting a Digital certificate. For this, you can use digital signatures.

can see the points they earned.

Social Media

Through different features, attendees can socialise among themselves. You can add features like photo booths, social wall and emoticon integration.

Also, you can add an option of collecting a Digital certificate. For this, you can use digital signatures. can see the points they earned.

Limit the length of sessions

It is crucial to decide the length of the sessions in your event. Since it is a virtual event, it is easy to get distracted by long sessions or meetings. So make sure that your sessions are of the right length. A long session will make it hard for attendees to focus and comprehend information.

2-way Virtual Interaction

You can provide your attendees with a feature dedicated to converse with the speaker or guest. It can be a 2-way virtual interaction.

It will encourage them to reach out to speakers and can get desired information.

7. FAQ's - Virtual Events