The entire working world is changing. There’s no doubt about it, we’re now performing an increasing number of work-related processes online. It’s not just our day-to-day jobs either, it’s all aspects of the industries that we work in. With the evolution of video hosting and streaming solutions, corporate events are rapidly moving from in-person to virtual.
Hosting a virtual conference is a natural move for any organization that already offers a face-to-face event for its audience, and is an exciting opportunity for businesses that don’t already have an existing conference offering.
In this blog, we’re going to look at exactly what a virtual conference is, why your business should consider hosting one and give you a step-by-step guide on what you’ll need for a successful event.
What is a virtual conference?
Physical conferences are ubiquitous across all industries, but not everyone enjoys travelling hours (even across countries and continents) to get to the event, not to mention the associated costs.
But with wide-spread adoption of new technology, there is now a way to bring your organization’s conference to the comforts of your audience’s home - saving them huge amounts of time and money.
A virtual conference is a way of bringing all of the same elements of your physical event together, using creative methods and technology to interact and educate your company’s audience.
A virtual conference, just like a physical conference, involves a series of sessions (likely spanning multiple days) with thought-leaders in your field to create valuable content for your audience.
These engaging and interactive virtual events are broadcast across both live streaming technologies and pre-recorded videos, and allow attendees to interact in a virtual environment - as opposed to a physical location.
The idea of a virtual conference is to be as close to an in-person event as possible, without being held in an actual physical location.
Why should you host your events online?
Hosting a virtual conference instead of a physical event will offer your business (and audience) numerous benefits, and saving a huge amount of money on event costs is just one of those advantages.
Benefits of hosting a virtual conference include:
- The ability to increase your audience size, since there will be no time or travel limitations. They can simply access your conference on their home or work computer, no matter where in the world they are located.
- You'll save time with the lengthy setup procedures associated with in-person events.
- You have increased flexibility in how you’ll broadcast your event. You can use guest speakers around the world, you can choose how interactive to make the sessions and you can make changes at a moment’s notice.
- You can easily collect feedback and audience data from your virtual conferencing software’s analytics reports.
So, now you know exactly what a virtual conference is and just a few of the many benefits you can realize from hosting one, here are five steps from Genesis Integration that will help you plan your online event.
Step one: Develop your theme, topics and focus
To attract the right audience and ensure your virtual conference is a valuable asset for your business, it’s important that you have a clear purpose, topic and theme that motivates your audience to attend (and pay for a ticket).
Engagement is slightly trickier for virtual events than in-person events, since your audience will be distracted. They will probably have their phone in their hand, they’ll be walking around their house to make a coffee and they might have family members to speak with.
This means you need to strategically choose a theme that will provide the most value to your audience, and keep them engaged throughout the entirety of the event.
Step two: Organize a compelling programme with exciting speakers
Once you choose your theme, the next step is to create a compelling programme of seminars that will keep your audience engaged throughout the event. These seminars should be based on core topics that add real value to your audience. When your attendees are actually learning from the seminars, they will be significantly less likely to become distracted.
Take the time to create your seminar topics carefully, and then find thought leaders who can present them. You’ll want to use speakers who are experts on particular topics, and also those who are known by your audience. Consider getting a few ‘headline’ speakers involved that will make attending your event even more appealing.
Step three: Start promoting your virtual conference to build an engaged audience
Once your virtual conference is planned out and you’re well on your way to building a schedule full of valuable seminars with high-profile speakers, it’s time to start a marketing campaign that will attract your desired audience.
A marketing campaign for your virtual conference should consist of email marketing blasts to your existing clients, a social media program where you will drip post details about the event and what will be involved (who will be speaking and what topics will be discussed), partnerships with other organizations and sponsors as well as a dedicated web page for further information.
Step four: Bring together the technology you need to host your virtual conference
You’re getting close to your virtual conference. Your seminars are planned, you have a list of world-class speakers and your event tickets are just flying off the shelves after a successful marketing campaign. Now you need to get hold of the technologies required to host a seamless event.
The technologies you need could vary from anything as simple to using a video hosting platform such as Zoom, Pexip or Qumu, or something more complicated that involves a range of audio visual (AV) technologies paired with a formal virtual event platform.
Unless your organization has its own internal team of IT and AV experts that can set up and manage a seamless virtual conference event, we recommend that you get in touch with an outsourced AV expert to run the event for you. It’s not only cost-effective compared to a physical event, it will give you the peace-of-mind that nothing will go wrong.
Some questions to keep in mind when planning what technology you will use, include:
- What platform(s) will you use to broadcast the event?
- How can you increase engagement through interactive solutions?
- How can you keep your virtual conference secure?
- Will you have a virtual environment where exhibitors can showcase their products/services?
- Will your seminars be streamed live or pre-recorded, or a mixture of both?
- How will you offer networking opportunities to attendees in a virtual environment?
Are you looking for the answers to any of these questions, or want to ask another question about what technologies are needed to host a successful virtual conference? Contact Genesis Integration today. Our team of audio visual (AV) experts would love to answer any questions you have.