In today’s digital landscape, hosting virtual events has become essential for businesses and organizations. But how can you make your virtual event stand out? To help you succeed, here are some key best practices of virtual events backed by statistics:
Virtual events are cost-effective. According to Ledger Bennett, 97% of event organizers reported cost savings by hosting virtual events compared to in-person events.
Engagement is critical, and virtual events offer interactive opportunities. In a survey conducted by Markletic, 75% of respondents said they attended virtual events to interact with speakers, while 67% attended networking opportunities.
You must select the right platform to host a successful virtual event. Now armed with these statistics, you can confidently plan and execute a remarkable virtual event that captivates your audience, expands your reach, and achieves your goals.
Get ready to unlock the full potential of virtual events!
What is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event refers to a gathering, conference, or meeting that takes place entirely online rather than in a physical location.
It is a digital experience where participants connect, interact, and engage with each other through various virtual platforms and tools. Virtual events can encompass a wide range of formats, including webinars, virtual conferences, virtual trade shows, online workshops, networking sessions, and more.
17 Best Practices for Hosting Virtual Events
As we learn to adapt to this new situation, we face the difficulty of organizing a virtual event. Event marketing strategy plays a crucial role in the success of any online event. As a virtual event planner, knowing some of the successful virtual event management best practices is essential.
Below is a list of expert advice for any online event planner to help with virtual event management.
1. Choose the event type you’re planning to host and define the objectives
Defining the type of event will help you build everything that follows.
However, it is still necessary to define the objectives of your virtual event and the theme. These must be clear to your participants to capture their attention and make them look forward to it.
Will your event have a seminar, conference, team building, product launch format, etc.? What are the messages that you want to share? Do you want to entertain, inform, teach?
Defining the type of event will help you choose the recording location, the speakers, the interactivities set up, shared documents, etc. However, its format must differ even if the content is similar to a physical event.
2. Choose the right platform for your virtual event
When choosing your virtual event provider, you must ensure they support the requirements to help you achieve your goals and vision. Do not get sold on the service quickly, but prepare a set of questions to help you inquire about everything needed. Remember, it must fit your needs as the host and works well for your attendees.
A few details that you may want to inquire about include:
- Session types
- Metrics available in reporting
- The number and quality of the design options available
- Engagement tools offered
- If any third-party plugins needed
- The customer support in your time zone
- Accessibility features available
3. Set a realistic timeline
While it takes 8 to 10 weeks for an event to be up and running, booking your event in advance is recommended. This helps you build it up to perfection and choose a date and time when most of your attendees can make it. The type of event can help you choose the best timing.
For example, a casual event can be scheduled on a Friday night, and a more formal one might be better placed on a Monday morning.
You should also consider having enough time to market for your event and build anticipation.
4. Bring in the best presenters and content creators
Everyone wants to feel welcome regardless of the event type you are hosting. Ensure that the presenters and content creators are diverse, offering many viewpoints and perspectives to draw as many people as possible. Since you are working virtually, transportation, accommodation costs, and limitations do not exist, and bringing in the best people worldwide is possible.
5. Invite participants to your virtual events
As usual, build your invitation email optimally. Specify if there will be a replay of your event and share the download links for your application. You should also use event registration software to improve the process.
The essential information about your virtual event must appear in your email, the access link to the virtual event, and the passwords or codes for access.
Also, share the calendar of your event and highlight the break times. Specify if there will be a replay of your event and share the iOS and Android download links for your event application if you have one.
You can also share the website link of your event so that your participants register directly using a form you have designed. List all the information as well as the speakers, sponsors, partners, and the event’s agenda.
6. Use virtual features to their full potential to create an immersive experience
Like any physical event, the user interface greatly impacts attendees, making them know what to expect from the first few seconds. Starting from the landing page, where users get their first impression and decide whether they want to proceed or not, the design and layout must captivate them to maximize sign-ups.
7. Run a promotions plan
Create a buzz before your event by communicating with your guests on different platforms and channels. Give yourself a solid promotional time to promote your event; a good rule of thumb is to have at least 3 months. Send emails and reminders, run promotions on social media, and use a calendar app to let them know where and when to connect.
Also, you can personalize a home page with applications, then load your program, images, and guest list. Once you’re ready, the app will help you send your guests all the essential information about the event.
In addition, you can alert them of a program change or delay. Then The app can send you real-live updates when guests connect. You will, therefore, have all the necessary information at your fingertips.
8. Make use of engagement tools
For successful virtual event production, you will need to pay close attention to details, whether it is an online or offline event.
Make your online presence even more unique with the help of apps like Slide or Slido.
Also, organize more interactive events by adding certain features such as Live Polling (Slide poll) or Slide-Sharing.
Grab your audience’s attention with an interactive quiz or turn on the digital note-taking option for your guests to share your presentation on social media.
Simple and effective, with a little organization, you can boost the participation of your audience and create commitment around your product from the comfort of your home.
9. Create links
With corporate events, employees can connect and go digital. They will have a unique opportunity to interact with people worldwide and in real time. You can also use Donut or Slack to allow them to connect and organize meetings in private rooms.
Regarding networking, a virtual event is no longer an obstacle. You can organize individual meetings with the help of applications such as Zoom and Whereby.
Your guests can create personal connections, face-to-face and away from the main event. Networking online, in addition to being secure and private, is a great way to ensure your guests are always in the virtual room where the event occurs.
As with any event, the details make the difference when planning a meeting or a concert online. To make your event unforgettable, you can call on a DJ or a musician who could play live. Also, you can use a virtual photo booth like Snapbar to create great memories during your online session.
10. Plan and prep your support
It is normal to have something that will not work quite as expected, so preparing for tech troubles and setting up a backup plan ensures the success of your virtual event. Inquire about how and when you can reach tech support and if they can respond to emergencies.
If presentations are prepared on PowerPoint, encourage presenters also to have them available on Google Slides. Ensure all presenters have enough time to get familiar and comfortable with the technology used.
11. Manage the quality of the content
It’s easy to get carried away with overpacking your online event with content. You must ensure it is information-packed, but overdoing this can make your guests click away. Avoid too-long presentations and incorporate a good mix of text, visual content, and engagement.
Assign enough time to manage the quality of the content you will present. Fix any glitches and ensure content is of high quality. This is your brand’s voice during a virtual event, regardless of its type.
12. Ensure your event is accessible
Upload content and recordings of live events as soon as possible to ensure your attendees can view them on demand. Consider captioning and sign language translation. Also, ensure your event supports computer-based and phone-based audio listening and speaking.
13. Highlight your sponsors
If you’ve got sponsors backing your event, make sure to highlight them. Consider creating a branded virtual waiting room, offering sponsored games, or sending branded goodies directly to attendees.
14. Boost morale
If you want to boost morale, why not use Uber Eats to deliver muffins and coffee before your next online meeting? Technology plays a vital role in keeping us in touch during this period.
Human contact is more important than ever, and with some creativity, you can make your events unique while connecting with your network.
15. Ensure rendering is at the top
To make sure that the rendering is at the top, here are some of the best technical practices recommended for Virtual Events:
- Sound is going to be the focus of your event. Did you know that poor sound quality is much less bearable than a poor-quality image? Audio will be the centerpiece of your event, so plug in a microphone and pay attention to your surroundings.
- Choose a room with carpet and furniture rather than tiling and earthenware.
- Use discreet and good-quality headphones and a microphone.
- Make sure anyone around you doesn’t make any noise during the recording. Switch off your microphone if you are not speaking.
- Switch your smartphones & watches to airplane mode.
- Have your face lit by natural light (main light)
- When using artificial light, choose a warm one.
Excellent sound and image quality also mean having a good internet questions. It is essential to test your internet connection before your live event broadcast. Use an ethernet cable or wifi for an optimal internet connection if it meets these criteria.
Plan for an upload bandwidth of at least 24 Mbps (= 3 MB per second). To test its connection, visit fast.com or speedtest.net.
No software download
Consider using an event management platform, as it can make things much more manageable. They can facilitate designing your virtual events by sending your campaigns, installing word clouds, votes, quizzes, and much more.
16. Measure success and generate detailed reports
Because everything is virtual, one of the key features of these kinds of events is the reporting capabilities. Tracking metrics and measuring success is fast, easy, and accurate.
Capture registrations to add to CRM or mailing lists for lead generation purposes. Track website traffic, new vs. returning registrants, downloads, and other types of engagement to measure your ROI and optimize your KPIs.
Check out our detailed guide on how to measure event marketing performance to market your event successfully.
17. Strengthen the relationship
Don’t just focus on building relationships within your community before the event, but during and after the event as well. Keep the communication going, ask for their feedback, promote other products or services, and excite them for your next event.
Virtual Event Ideas with Examples for 2023
1. Live Scribing
Bringing talented illustrators on board to create real-time artwork as panel discussions continue. This is an informative and entertaining way to engage your audience with a unique type of content that could be used in future marketing materials.
2. Virtual Concert
People are missing concerts and other in-person experiences, so musical performances can translate very well to virtual events. They add a fun element and keep the audience engaged.
3. Live Games and Competitions
Host an online video game tournament with an entry fee or provide engaging demos and ask the audience to vote for their favorite and announce the winner a few days later. This is a creative way to get the audience involved and have them constantly go back to the event’s social media pages to check who won.
4. Group Dance Lesson
If you are hosting an event with music and dancing, a group dance lesson is a super fun way to reflect your overall event theme, get lots of laughs, and get attendees out of their shells.
5. Cooking or Cocktail Class
Virtual cocktail or cooking classes are fun options for social events. Find a cook or mixologist, and have everyone join in from their kitchens, allowing them to learn some new skills, all from the comfort of their home.
6. Virtual Tour
Give live-stream guided tours in museums and venues as part of your virtual events, during which they can also answer any questions and make people more connected.
7. Live Translations
A major advantage of virtual events is that they can easily be accessible to international audiences, as well as participants with disabilities.
Many virtual event platforms now include features powered by AI, which will go a long way to making your virtual event more engaging.
8. Social Media Challenge
Think of a fun challenge on TikTok or Instagram and encourage people to take part in and share. This can be incredibly fun and effective for fundraising and building awareness.
9. Virtual Gala
Another common fundraising idea is gala dinners. Invite guests, share a meal (virtually) and try to deliver a treat or a bottle of wine beforehand for them to enjoy during the event.
10. Head Shaves and Other Dares
A method used all the time by YouTubers. In return for money, you can watch us do something crazy, a great idea for a virtual fundraiser.
11. A Pet Event
Invite furry friends to your virtual party by asking attendees to introduce their pets to the audience. Consider mailing goodie bags to the pets, which can go a long way.
12. Magic Shows
Magic shows are an unexpected and engaging way to entertain your virtual audience and keep them wondering, “How’d he do that?”
13. Virtual Jam Sessions
Host jam sessions where musicians gather and improv songs together, allowing attendees to unwind and create together.
14. Virtual Dance Party
One of the best stress relievers is to let loose and start moving. Host a virtual dance party, queue up a groovy playlist, and bust a move.
15. Virtual Happy Hours
Socialize in a comfortable setting while sharing drinks and casual conversation over video calls. Decide on a day and time, choose a theme, provide a stipend to buy drinks, and prepare conversation topics and happy hour activities.
16. TV Viewing Party
Gather on a video call to watch a special broadcast, such as a season finale of your favorite show, the Oscars, or a sporting event while streaming the show on a platform like YouTube.
17. Digital Breakfast in Bed
Start your day with a digital breakfast in bed by asking attendees to arrive in pajamas, allow them to lounge in bed for some time, eat breakfast, and talk with teammates.
18. Online Fitness Classes
Promote healthy habits through group accountability by hosting online fitness classes.
19. Virtual Coffee Breaks
Go on video calls and chat about non-work topics. Which helps build rapport with remote colleagues and leads to more effective collaboration.
20. Virtual Casino Nights
Test out luck in high-fun environments by joining with web-based versions of typical casino activities like roulette and blackjack, for example.
21. Virtual Story-Time
It turns out adults enjoy story time every bit as much as children. Read stories as a group and discuss them afterward, and maybe encourage attendees to write and share personal pieces as well.
22. Virtual Open Mic
These are virtual events where participants sign up for slots to share a talent, like performing a comedy set, singing, or playing an instrument.
23. Virtual Garden Party
Since remote employees do not always spend enough time outside, virtual garden parties force employees to get outside to stream the meeting instead of staying in living rooms.
24. Digital Barbeque
Similar to a virtual garden party, a Digital Barbeque focus on food. Attendees can use a personal mini grill to share and prepare their favorite Bbq recipes.
25. Wine tasting
In times of home offices and virtual businesses, receiving real packages in the mailbox makes us happy. Send appropriate drinks to all attendees so that everyone can participate in the tasting. You will be amazed to find out how many wine connoisseurs work in your company.
26. Virtual Trivia Night
Bring the excitement of your local pub trivia to the computer screen with a virtual trivia night.
27. Virtual Tarot Card Reading
Find a professional tarot reader to reveal to attendees what the cards have in store for them. Or get yourself a book, do a ton of research, and read their fates over Zoom.
28. Virtual Sand Art Workshop
You don’t need artistic skills to make beautiful sand art. Bring in a professional who can demonstrate the craft, and maybe send out the materials needed and get everyone on your team to roll up their sleeves.
29. Virtual Meditation
Experience the present on a whole new level and unlock deep inner reserves of zen. Choose between breathwork, classic mindfulness, or posed-based meditations and find an inner connection along with your team.
30. Virtual Escape Room
A virtual escape room is much more fun than you might think. You’ll need to explore and examine your environment and find clues to create a path to freedom.
31. Virtual Get-To-Know
Play a guess who game where you match your co-workers with clues from their past and present, and you’ll be in for many fun surprises.
32. Virtual Homebrewing
Host live instruction sessions for anyone interested in a home-brewing adventure helping brewmasters of all levels use ingredients and materials to create their very own beer.
33. Virtual Dress up
Come dressed up as different characters or imitate them, and the rest can guess what they are.
34. Polls and Q&A
These have always been used in virtual events, which can give you a good insight into what your audience thinks about a certain topic.
35. Audio-only discussions
An alternative to running virtual events without having to strain your eyes looking at the screen the entire time is audio-only discussions. They’re productive, cost-effective, and allow attendees to tune in to the audio while doing other chores at home.
36. Brand transitions slides
Make the best out of it and promote your sponsors whenever there is a slot open, like during breaks and in the time while shifting to the next set of the event.
37. Sponsored virtual swag bags
Who doesn’t love a bag filled with goodies! Give away to your audience a couple of sponsored virtual goodies like gift cards, vouchers, or discount coupons, etc. You can also deliver actual gifts to your audience before or even after the event.
38. Host a giveaway
Increase engagement by hosting a giveaway even before your event, and ask your attendees to tag their friends in it. You can even collaborate with your sponsors and host this giveaway which gives them a good reach.
39. Surprise attendees with home delivery
Make their experience at your virtual event worthwhile by sending gifts over to their homes to elevate their virtual event experience.
40. Post-event thank you gift
Let your attendees know you appreciate them by sending a post-event Thank you gift with a small thank you note; this will spread the good word of mouth.
41. Leverage virtual venues
You don’t need to invest in Hybrid Technologies to be creative. Be innovative by setting different backdrops to the speaker’s screen to make it more appealing. Many platforms support this, like the Microsoft team and even Zoom.
42. Revealing quiz
A great and fun way to get to know your teammates is by playing a revealing quiz and have them ask others something about themselves, and the rest can guess and answer.
43. Three Truths and a Lie
Get your audience to know more about your sponsor by organizing fun quizzes for your attendees revolving around your sponsors’ products.
44. Book Club Evening
Pick out a book and have your attendees read it in advance. Then arrange for an event to discuss the book and their opinions.
45. Campfire night
Get your team gathered online with their lights dim in the background, have a candlelit in front of the laptop with some marshmallows, crackers, and cheese, and get your virtual campfire night going on.
46. Incentive registrations
Besides celebrities tweeting, free incentives are the one thing that can help create a buzz amongst people. Announce that you will be giving out a limited number of incentives to people who are the first to register. Make sure it is attractive and exclusive.
47. Virtual Lounges
Virtual lounges help build the relationship between the sponsor and the audience, and if any of the audience is interested in the product, they can get in touch with the sponsor directly.
48. Ad space on your live stream
Selling ad space, banners, and pop-ups at the side can bring out the best of business.
49. Pre-event chat rooms
Allowing your like-minded audience to connect and interact before the event makes it more comfortable and easier to get the discussions going during the virtual event.
50. Birds of a Feather breakout session
Have a breakout discussion session for your attendees on a particular topic. That will help bring valuable insights into the subject.
51. Virtual dares
Come up with a list of dares that attendees will most likely have no problem doing. This can be quite a fun task to do together.
52. Treasure Hunts
Place clues in different rooms that attendees can look out for, or riddles placed in each room, and the person who answers it gets closer to the prize.
53. Build anticipation with a live countdown
There’s nothing like a live countdown to create hype and get your audience excited and engaged.
54. Keep the conversation going with chat engagers
Assign a person from your team responsible for answering questions and reminding the audience how to use the chat function. In this way, you keep the chat and engagement going.
55. Use your platform to help those in need
Give your community the opportunity to do something good while attending your event by partnering with a charity and supporting a fundraising idea.
Why do you have to host a Virtual Event?
While virtual events are definitely a super convenient option, especially during times when people are unable to attend due to time restrictions or travel costs physically, there are other benefits of hosting a virtual event:
- Cost-effective: Save time and travel/transportation costs for both attendees and organizers.
- A flexible schedule that can be amended last minute
- Wide variety of event types (demonstration, webinar, virtual dinner, classes, etc.)
- Easy and instant feedback collection via polls during the virtual sessions.
- Seamless insights collection and interpretation (number of invitations, attendees, engagement rate, etc.)
- Speed up the sales cycle with improved customer relationship building.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the best way to run a virtual event?
Think about how you can make your event different and add value. Tailor it to specific devices and incorporate the latest technology if possible. Find your niche because the more specific you make your virtual event, the more useful it will be for attendees. Always hold a mock event before the real thing to fix any technical issues and strengthen the overall dynamics. Plan it with accessibility in mind to ensure attendees can easily access it with clear details. Finally, make it as “real” as possible!
How do you plan a virtual event?
Kickstart your first virtual event by understanding your audience, defining your event’s format, choosing a suitable platform, hiring the right hosts and speakers, assigning the right time and date, and finally, promoting the event. Keep it short and simple, focus on audience engagement, and monitor and track results.
What is the best virtual event platform?
There are many great platform options out there, so it can often be overwhelming to determine the one you should choose. Narrow down your search by identifying the type of experience you want your users to have. Do you want interactive elements and payment functionality, or do you need a more traditional webinar format?
How can virtual events be improved?
Event organizers can improve virtual events by making full use of the tools provided by the platforms in terms of conferencing, streaming, and communication. Do not look at the event itself when considering engagement strategies, but share the agenda prior to the event, get the audience excited, and prepare for what’s to be discussed. Engage with them after the event with quizzes, feedback surveys, and even gifts and thank you notes.
Planning and running a virtual event can be overwhelming, but Think Orion, an event marketing agency, can help you achieve exceptional results. With their expertise, they can create a buzz, experiential engagement, and a lasting impression that drives the results you need while delivering a positive ROI. Learn more about their event marketing services today.