What You Need to Host a Virtual Conference: Ideas, Tips, & Tools
Virtual event platforms have fundamentally shifted the way people connect and interact. A new era of digital-first engagement is taking hold and virtual conferences are picking up momentum.
But there’s a catch.
You can’t just string together a couple of webinars and call it a conference. The truth is, organizing a conference, even a virtual one, is a demanding endeavor. There’s one disadvantage to hosting virtual events – namely, that your guests cannot interact in person. For this reason, a lot of care and planning goes into the choice of your AV integration tools to create a truly engaging conference.
Here are some best practices that can help you host a successful virtual event.
1. Create a strategy
Set clear goals from the start, whether you’re planning to host a virtual conference with thousands or a small-scale event. Make sure you know why you want the event to take place so you can line up an exciting line of speakers and topics. Capitalize on the absence of geographic barriers to invite guests and feature subject matter experts who wouldn’t have been available otherwise.
2. Understand your audience
Another crucial factor is to understand your audience. But before you can know your audience, you need to break down who you want them to be. Are you targeting professionals in a particular field? Or is it a large-scale event bringing together individuals from multiple disciplines?
What kind of audience do you want to attract and what do you want their takeaway to be? Answering these questions will help you curate an experience that creates value for everyone involved.
3. Make it easy for others to market
Successful events get marketed and promoted. Identify the key selling points of your conference. For instance, a popular speaker or a certain topic, and develop an appropriate marketing strategy.
- Send direct mail campaigns and launch email marketing
- Run ads to strategically target the people you’d like to have at your conference
- Leverage social media to reach your target audience and keep them engaged prior to the event.
- Find an influencer whose brand aligns with your own and work with them to market the event
4. Create an event page that converts
Develop a microsite where attendees can find all the information they need on the event and get them excited enough to promote the event on your behalf. Additionally, you can also grant people access to the site after the conference so they can consume the audio visual content they missed out on. This way, no one will feel left out.
5. Have the right mix of live and pre-recorded content
Just because the event is virtual doesn’t mean most of the content has to be pre-recorded. You don’t want the audience attending your event to feel like they’re in a lecture.
Keynote presentations, panel discussions, and product reveals should be live-streamed, allowing people to engage with speakers in real time. Pre-recorded content offers a wide array of logistical advantages, but it does not create a connection between speaker and audience. Live content, contrastingly, lends an air of authenticity to your conference, which fosters interaction and prompts guests to tune in for each session.
6. Troubleshoot tech problems ahead of time
Prepare for attendee interactions before the event. How will you manage attendee and exhibitor tech support issues? Do a dry run of your event and have a back-up plan in place.
Now, this is where pre-recorded content comes in handy. Use it to keep your guests engaged as you solve problems behind the scenes.
Create an easy-to-follow guide that enables speakers and attendees to troubleshoot any tech difficulties they might have without disrupting the event. Some hosting platforms come with tech support built in; still, it’s advisable to consider using more than one platform in case you encounter issues with internet connections.
7. Encourage interaction while you host a virtual conference
There are plenty of opportunities for engagement during virtual events. Organize a chatroom where participants can network 1:1 or interact as a group. Encourage attendees to ask questions in a q&a session through live chat to be answered after a panel or keynote speech.
Here are some other tools you can use to engage your audience.
- Live polls
- Quizzes, contests and giveaways
Make sure someone is monitoring the group chat for any inappropriate audio and video commentary or non-related promotions.
8. Ensure the event is accessible
Accessibility is an issue even in an online world. Having live captions and sign language interpreters during the conference ensures everyone can happily tune in and enjoy the online event. Since virtual conferences aren’t bogged down by geographical barriers, it’s crucial to have language interpreters on site.
Defining your audience will help you understand where they’re from and what language they’re comfortable using.
9. Leverage the power of mute
“Can everybody mute?” It’s a phrase everyone has heard enough of during the last two years. Virtual meeting etiquette dictates that you should keep your microphone muted if you’re not presenting or commenting. However, there’s bound to be someone who’s unaware that their microphone isn’t being muted.
Make the most of your AV solution to help take control of everyone’s mic so you don’t have to worry about background noise or someone interrupting.
10. Utilize Analytics
Track your performance metrics to gain clarity as to the effectiveness of your meeting. Did you meet your goals and where did you fall short? Post-event, take time to connect with your team to figure out what worked and what didn’t so you can better prepare your video systems for the next live event.
Setting the Stage to Host a Virtual Conference
Even though you don’t have to book flights and a meeting venue or figure out accommodation, hosting a successful event in the virtual realm can be just as tasking as a face to face or in-person event.
Mint Solutions offers customized AV system solutions for conferences of any size. From collaborative spaces, conference rooms, and sizable meeting areas, we have the expertise and excellent customer service acumen to design commercial-grade audio visual integration solutions. As a project manager, let us help your teams’ work, thrive and network.