COVID-19 has made almost everything virtual; weddings, schools, church services, seminars, concerts, and even awards.
Virtual reality (events) still seems like a far-fetched and foreign concept, even with all of our technological advancements.
So, let’s take a deeper look at virtual events.
What are virtual events?
In 2020, we saw a massive shift from offline events come into the digital ecosystem.
Virtual events are the new norm where collaborations take place to create a custom online platform for your desired event.
Difference between in-person and virtual events
In-person events are where people gather together, face-to-face in a physical location to engage in meaningful conversation or getting to know a potential working partner personally.
Although physical events undeniably have their own charms, in-person events have now turned into a remote way of life resulting in virtual events!
It enables you to host a global conference, award shows, product launch, or recruitment fair using only a laptop or mobile device and internet connection from the comfort of your home or workplace.
Also, it helps you to connect with your audience with a cutting-edge virtual event platform that allows you to virtually replicate your physical event.
What are the types of virtual events?
Or even if we have never attended, we would have definitely seen images or seen movies of physical events.
However, very few individuals have participated in a virtual event, and even fewer have hosted one!
One of the difficulties with virtual events is that they can feel ethereal at first. To explain further, these are few types of virtual events:
It is also known as an online seminar and is just like a seminar that would be held in a physical environment, but it is held on the internet (web).
Webinars are used for corporate meetings and training, as well as marketing, advertising products as they are a great opportunity to broaden a brand’s reach, promote a company as an industry-trusted leader, and communicate with prospects and consumers on a user-friendly platform.
With this, any seminar can be attended from the comfort of their own home or workplace.
Virtual conferences are known for their highly engaging benefits and involve a series of major sessions led by business leaders who present to and interact with attendees, similar to physical conferences.
One click away from joining the event, people can attend sessions and streams by visiting a virtual lobby and participate in live onsite meetings.
Virtual conferences, like conventional conferences, allow businesses to sponsor events, sell tickets, and interact with speakers via polls, chats, and live Q&A sessions.
Internal hybrid events
Internal hybrid events share messages to employees gathered both in an office and virtually.
This type of event is ideal for company-wide announcements, training, town hall meetings, department gatherings, sales meetings and more.
Internal hybrid events connect attendees worldwide and the message can be recorded and shared later to eliminate scheduling conflicts.
External hybrid events
External hybrid events differ as their target audience is not limited to company workers only.
People from outside the company who may share a common interest or have a common problem that the hybrid organizer may be able to solve are the frequent attendees of an external hybrid event.
Conferences, summits, concerts, networking, trade shows, product launches and more are some good examples.
Also read our article on “Technical points to look out for when doing a virtual/hybrid event.”
Elements of a virtual event
As mentioned before, virtual events are the latest norm and the only medium for networking and disseminating sales.
Conducting a successful event it depends on 9 critical elements mentioned below:
1. Virtual event platform
You should consider your audience’s technology needs. Technical issues can ruin the event experience, and no one should require any special equipment just to attend your virtual event.
Is important to choose a virtual event platform that suits the objectives of the event and helps to achieve their required goals.
Read our article on “15 top virtual event platforms for 2021”
Because most platforms have limited custom feature capabilities, it’s essential to prioritize the most important features and look for platforms that give the most functionality within the budget constraints.
Most comprehensive virtual event platforms like Google meet or Zoom aren’t just mobile-friendly, but they also include features that can make your virtual event engaging.
Read our article on “How to record a Google Meet?”
With the right platform, you can add chats, quizzes, surveys, Q&A modules, gamification, holographic image, interactive virtual assets and more.
Staging is crucial as the stage plays an essential part in drawing the audience’s attention to the speaker, whether it’s a simple platform for speakers to stand on when presenting at a virtual event or a more complicated set-up for a hybrid event.
For a virtual stage, such as the one we see on TV or news shows can really bring the event to life.
If budget allows, hire a studio, create your own stage design set and decorate to promote your brand and the theme for your event. This works particularly well if you are creating a series of virtual events as you can reuse the set several times over.
3. Event registrations
Event registrations are your first tool for data collection.
Attendees use registration tools to sign up for virtual events, provide their personal information and preferences, and make payment if necessary.
A solid online registration tool makes it simple for attendees to register and provides organizers and marketers with the information they need to create a perfect event and demonstrate event success.
4. Live content and recorded content
The biggest concern for a virtual event planner is whether or not to go live and/or the content is pre-produced.
What is the difference between them?
Live-streaming content allows for more organic, human interaction, and is much more lively while pre-recorded content generally assures the event goes off without a hitch.
5. Audio-video systems
Whether online or in-person events, the AV system is as important as other elements.
Using a visual tool like slide changers is a perfect cue to ensure that speakers can control the presentation without any disruption from attendees.
If the sound is unclear, and the presenters can’t be heard or understood, virtual attendees will simply surf away from the presentation and into other things.
When a virtual event sales or services outsets more than expected, there is a definite need to unmute mics, nonscheduled questions and other interruptions that may ruin the speaker’s presentation.
Microphone choices and music for the virtual event has a powerful energizing effect on the mood and functioning of your audience and presenters.
Learn more about “AV system, its components and how they work”.
6. Live polls
Live polls are one of the fun tools for the organizers and attendees respectively.
Active engagement among the audiences can provide the planners and marketers vital data to be used after the virtual event for reflection. Quality info collection from attendees on their thoughts and also data at the same time.
7. Video conferencing
In terms of obligatory remote work and online teaching, video conferencing and online meetings have become crucial.
To keep a ball on the field and achieve company goals faster and more effectively, time monitoring, document management, and video conferencing software have become essential.
8. Interactive sessions
Interactive sessions are one of the important elements for the triumph of virtual events.
To keep the audience engaged constantly throughout the virtual event, interactive elements should be included so that the audience feels immersed in the flow of the virtual event.
We can add in a gamification function to let attendees engage with each other.
9. Feedback survey
Lastly, feedback surveys are “a must” for valuable insights for the organizers and the speakers to reflect and improve their performance for following attendees for a better outcome.
Event input tools can be used to collect feedback via surveys following the event, which can help determine its success.
This information can be used to filter leads and guide them toward sales.
Benefits of virtual events
Virtual events serve the same purpose as live events: to convey your company’s message to garner leads and sales, increase engagement, and build loyalty lifetime value.
Consider what you intend to gain from the event and how well you can achieve those goals virtually versus in person before deciding whether to make it virtual.
Here are a few reasons why you should host a virtual event:
- Save time and money with logistics– Since virtual events are pre-recorded, the same content can be used as many times needed, leading to time, and cost-saving, indirectly improving the event’s profitability
- Better data capturing- Event platforms provide insights on attendee engagement and satisfaction, allowing organizers to adjust and improve experiences based on this data.
- Convenience and flexibility for attendees– When you offer a hybrid event, you provide your potential attendees with a variety of options from which to pick. They can opt to attend the event in person, from the comfort of their own home or office, or while travelling. This adaptability allows the attraction of a large number of people to the event.
- Effective networking- During the event, attendees will have the opportunity to interact with people who aren’t in their typical circle. An interactive virtual event will ensure that all the attendees are conversing with one another and truly connecting on a professional level. Likewise, virtual events can also help hosts generate more business leads and form potentially important and long-term collaborations with other organizations.
- Go green – Virtual events are a much greener alternative than in-person events. Not a scrap of paper is required, and travel costs like greenhouse gases are eliminated, so we’re calling it: They’re great for the environment!
It’s a win-win situation for both the host and attendees!
How to host a virtual event?
Due to the pandemic, you have made up your mind to have a virtual event.
But how are you going to do it?
Hosting virtual events need as much care as a physical event would get. There are a couple of steps to consider when planning for your virtual event.
1. Start by asking some important questions
Firstly, you can ask the following questions when planning a virtual event:
- Will the content be live, on-demand, or a mix?
- Is a guide available for attendees?
- What are your goals for the event?
- What is the best virtual event platform for you?
- Is it a free virtual event or a paid one?
- How long should a virtual event be?
- How long will each session be?
2. Preparing the attendees
Preparing the attendee for virtual events relies on what it is that your participants need to know.
As mentioned before virtual events are not all the same type.
Since there are many different types of virtual conferencing tools and event technology options out there, we cannot expect the attendees to be well-versed in using videoconferencing technology.
So before the event, it’s best to create a guide for attendees explaining how to access the event by sending out an early email. Other steps to prepare attendees to feel welcome to the event are such as following:
- A confirmation email upon registration needs to be sent.
- Include all sorts of detail about the software or application used on the day of the event, to prepare themselves earlier than wait for the d-day for questions.
- Highlight the key speaker of the event.
- Inform if there is pre-recorded content.
- Encourage attendees to ask questions based on topics or themes of the event.
- Encourage the use of social media to engage with attendees by using poll questions on what they look forward to most during the event.
- Sending out reminders regularly prior to the event.
Planning a virtual event is a lot of work but we must make sure both presenters and attendees are fully prepared to join in the event.
3. Engage the attendees
Presenting the right content is only a fraction of your event’s success.
Due to Covid-19, many people have been required to sit in front of a computer for hours on end.
Known as “Zoom fatigue”, both mental and physical exhaustion caused by marathon video conversations is caused by a variety of circumstances, from multitasking during meetings to family interruptions while working from home.
If all you do is stream content in one direction, there is little reason for viewers to continue watching; therefore, you must find ways to engage and involve them.
With that said, lectures or keynotes can incorporate live polling to engage participants. Sessions can continue with live Q&A.
There are other ways to generate engagement and virtual conferences and events to gain attraction, such as:
- Offer a free ebook.
- Offer online coupons from sponsors or exhibitors.
- Create social media hype before and during the event.
- Create hashtags on social media.
- Host a contest with exciting rewards.
As known social media is an excellent instrument for interaction. Utilizing an event hashtag and encouraging attendees to share photos of their greatest takeaways from the day, workplace sets, and more can help attendees feel connected to the event.
4. Manage technical issues related to networking and connection
A technical problem is the bane of every virtual event. So as to avoid any possibilities of issues, basic technical terms have to be nailed down.
- First inform the audience what are things needed to access the event, like downloading a specific app.
- Conduct an AV run through with other presenters prior to the event. Simulate the event process from start to finish, including transitions such as screen sharing, speaker changes, and breakout rooms.
- As an event organizer, it is a must to prepare multiple device usage.
- Make sure to have a strong internet connection!
Even with all this preparation, if something goes wrong during the virtual event, don’t worry as in DOREMi, once we are in charge of managing your virtual event, we will be there from start till the end. Expert technicians hired will resolve any issues faced during virtual events.
5. Data analysis
Questions lingering when data analysis is mentioned are:
- What is data analysis?
- What is the role of data analysis in virtual events?
- What type of data can be collected in virtual events?
- How to use the data derived from virtual events?
In simple terms, data analysis is the process of understanding, interpreting, and deriving meaning from available data in order to make the right business decisions.
With that said, every minute, a sea of data is generated that contains patterns that may be converted into information, which can then yield valuable insights.
Data analysis is a rising trend in the events sector in 2020, as more firms realize its endless potential. Recognizing this trend, virtual event systems now include an analytics dashboard to help organizers collect and analyse data.
Data analysis lets event planners understand attendance and their actions better, making virtual events more impactful. Deliberate use of data analysis is now one of the primary determinants of business success.
There are two types of data collected in virtual events which are explicit and implicit data.
Explicit data is directly collected from attendees such as names, preferences, and feedback.
Implicit data is gathered through observation like the number of connections made and demographics of attendees.
Transforming event data into insights not only enables us to create more customer-centric events but also to ensure the success of our future events.
Virtual events generate a variety of unique indicators that can be turned into valuable information. These are some of the insights that can be obtained from data of virtual events:
- The number of connections made.
- Number of scheduled meetings.
- The most engaging and impactful type of events.
- The most viewed videos.
Lastly, event planners that want to execute great events must use the derived analysis found, as it provides a goldmine of data waiting to be analyzed. And here are the ways that can help to improve the quality of event planning and delivery:
- Engagement of the audience to improve.
- Discovering the latest contents, trends and patterns.
- Understanding the attendees’ actions/behaviour.
Having a good understanding of your event’s performance through statistics will help you improve for future events. In short, don’t underestimate the power of data as it can do wonders by staying in tune and grow it to new heights.
All in all, to have a virtual event 100% hiccup-free is to have a good understanding of how to carry out the virtual reality step by step.