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With the COVID-19 pandemic situation continuing to pose challenges to event organizers around the country, there have been plenty of new solutions cropping up. Digital solutions and implementations have been favored, with Facebook Live events and Zoom conferences among some of the more popular options. These solutions have slowly gained traction as an increasingly important and successful method of hosting events during this time. 

Virtual conference, as the name suggests, is essentially event which involve online participants enjoying both content and interactivity in real time, even from different locations.

Image from: MeetingHand

Virtual conference may seem easier to organize, but in actuality, they are more challenging than physical events. To pull off a successful virtual conference, event planners need to have the working knowledge of both physical and virtual events, and with it, a myriad of challenges that will not be as easily resolved. 

Today, we’ll be looking at some tips and tricks to organize and conduct a virtual conference. If this is your first time planning a virtual event, don’t worry. This article should help make your journey into the world of virtual conference a much easier one. 

Before you continue, check out our comprehensive look at hybrid events here.

  1. Choose the right platform

First and foremost, choosing the right virtual platform in which to host your virtual conference should be one of the key factors you should look at. 

A good virtual conference platform should be able to combine the physical event planning software that is crucial for you to stay organized, as well as the virtual event options to accommodate your online audiences. This includes options like uploading videos, live chat and lead generation features for sponsors and vendors. 

A high-quality virtual conference platform is able to cover all of these options, while giving you great audience engagement as well. Some of the features you should be looking out for include live chat, lead generation, social media connection, the ability to upload pre-recorded videos, live video and feed recording, among others.

Virtual conference platforms are also able to capture important data and the insights that you can glean to make your next event so much more successful. Some of the data you’ll be glad to have include the participation numbers, engagement and drop out rates. By evaluating your attendees’ data during the event, you can gain more insights and information on your attendees, and improve your future content. 

  1. Identify your audiences

Virtual conference allows you to increase your reach and capture more attendees. Virtual conference present an excellent opportunity to capture new and engaged audiences as it gives you the chance to reach the kinds of people that ordinarily wouldn’t have been interested in the event, simply because they had no intention of attending in person. 

This is usually for two reasons, firstly because they’re unsure what benefits there are to attending the event in person, and secondly, geographical restrictions don’t allow them to travel. An added advantage is that virtual attendees can even join in from anywhere in the world!

Image from: The Future of Customer Engagement

  1. Planning your virtual event

A fully virtual conference is not just a straightforward rehash of physical events with digital elements. This is why preparation and planning are so important. 

Firstly, the most important things like slides, video and other background information need to be prepared, loaded onto your platform of choice and tested in advance. You should be aware of any deadlines and any complexities which will be required so that you will have more time to prepare the materials rather than have a last minute rush. You should also find out if there are any flexibility for changes or additions to your prepared content. 

Another thing that you should prepare for a virtual conference is the technical preparations for your participants. Things like access links for your participants, live chat systems, rooms for discussion (if there are any), and Q&A sessions are things that should be tested in advance before the actual event. The last thing you would want to have happening during the event is participants not being able to join because of a wrong link, or discussion rooms not being prepared for networking sessions. 

Testing is also an important part of the planning process. No matter how many times you have planned your online event or virtual conferences, you should always test and retest your systems to make sure that the virtual experience you are providing is a good one.

 

Image from: Parker Design

Testing will usually help you sort out any issues with the software or platform you are using and identify any problems you may have with providing content or ensuring that the live chat works, for example. This is also true for camera placement and positioning. You don’t want to have a camera facing a blind spot for the whole duration of your event!

Like any event, you should have an event flow, so that everyone is on the same page on what is happening and when. This will be a good guiding point for your planning team, as well as your speakers and participants. It’s always good to be prepared as much as possible before the event. 

  1. Have a great moderator / emcee 

Any good event should have an equally good mix of speakers, as well as a fantastic host or emcee to keep everyone’s spirits up. We cannot say much about having good speakers at your event, as this is wholly dependent on whether you or your client is able to engage relevant speakers befitting the event. However, we can say that research and knowledge into your event subject matter is key to engaging the right speakers for your event. 

As an event organizer, you should know that having someone to motivate your audience to stay alert, engaged, and excited about the content is very important. As a facilitator of the event, the virtual emcee or moderator is a key link between the content and the online audiences. They will be able to keep each session participant focused and keep each attendee more engaged with the content overall. 

Furthermore, they are able to manage the flow of the event as well, by contributing feedback, questions and comments from the online participants to the speakers. Not only will this further build a rapport between both speakers and audiences, it will also provide more engagement for the event. 

More details to be continued in Part 2

If you are starting to wonder how your next virtual conference can benefit from these tips and trick, pop us a a line at :-

hannah@milestone-production.com  

+603 7932 1001

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