A Complete Guide to Virtual Conference

virtual conferences guide
Written by Micah Phillips

With the advent of the COVID-19 global pandemic, organisations and businesses around the world are pushed into a virtual sphere. Hosting virtual conferences and virtual meetings have become a new trend. Organisation around the world have leveraged virtual event technology in 2020 to keep the business going. It helps them to connect with remote employees and delegates seamlessly. A sudden spike in virtual events platforms has been witnessed in 2020. With the restrictions imposed on travelling and mass gatherings to ensure public health safety, virtual has become the new normal.

Today, virtual conferences have become the first choice of digital marketers and event planners. Organisations around the world are tapping on the most powerful tool to keep the business going even in the time of the global health crisis. The merits offered by virtual conferences are far beyond the reach of in-person conferences that are confided into four walls. It offers opportunities to reach a wider spectrum of audience globally. The roadblocks faced during physical conferences such as space limitations, travel costs, etc. are not an obstacle with Virtual conferences.

Nowadays, virtual events and hybrid events have completely taken over on-ground events. Right from virtual conferences, meetings, AGMs to 3d trade shows, exhibitions, product demos, a comprehensive virtual event platform serves all. A recent survey reports a large percentage of event planners have gone virtual. It enables organisations to connect with remote workforce and global delegates seamlessly in real-time. Attendees can tune in from their respective remote locations from the comfort of their own space and access the conference virtually via any device.

To host a successful virtual conference one must have the right virtual conference strategy and a game plan. The second comes in line is picking up the right technology. Nowadays, the competition between the platforms has taken another step. The market is full of virtual conference platform service providers that offer engaging and interactive virtual conferencing solutions. Selecting the right depends on the needs and requirements of your business. In this article, we have shared a quick go-to-guide for a virtual conference in 2020. Let’s get started!

What are virtual conferences?

Virtual conferences are an online replication of on-ground conferences that are hosted on a virtual conference platform. A virtual conference is an online gathering of people to have discussions on common interests, topics, goals, or objectives. Virtual conferences include panel discussions, town halls, webinars, AGMs, educational sessions, training, product demos, and much more.

Virtual conferences enable organisers to reach and connect with a large audience segment globally. Whereas attendees can tune in from their respective geographical locations to access a virtual conference without having to travel. The enormous perks offered by a virtual conference are not possible to achieve with physical conferences.

However, selecting the right virtual conference platform is a must to ensure a successful event and to enable your attendees to have real-time conversations.

Undoubtedly, virtual conferences have taken over physical conferences and walking steps with hybrid conferences in the current scenario.

Why to host a virtual conference?

The results of virtual conferences are just a 10x of physical conferences. It opens the realms of opportunity for organisations to connect with a wider spectrum of audiences at a time. The obstacles faced during physical conferences get completely resolved with virtual conferences. Here is a list of advantages of leveraging virtual event technology and host a virtual conference:

● Wider reach and Increased attendance

Virtual conferences are hosted online and are no more confined to 4 walls, it results in having a better reach. It can tap a large number of audiences globally without any constraint such as space limitations and geographical barriers. However, resulting in having better attendance at conferences when compared to traditional conferencing formats.

● Reduction in expenses

Virtual conference results in saving a lot of assets for both the parties involved. Attendees do not have to spend on travel and accommodation to attend a virtual meeting or a virtual conference. All they need is a device supported by an internet connection to be part of a virtual conference. Whereas an organiser gets relieved from renting a venue with larger space capacity, making arrangements for foods and drinks, hiring staff, and so on.

● Better networking

Virtual conferences enable attendees to have better networking options. It allows attendees to interact with hosts, speakers as well as with other attendees in real-time. Attendees get a chance to voice out their opinions and share their feedback seamlessly with virtual conferences. Whereas the ability to organise live polls, surveys. Q&A offered by the platform helps in gaining attendees insight which is not always possible with the traditional format.

● An eco-friendly alternative

Physical conferences result in having a huge amount of carbon emissions and the disposal of waste after every event. Whereas virtual conferences are an eco-friendly alternative for hosting conferences. It results in escalating carbon footprints during the event along with reducing the disposal of waste considerably.

● Greater ROI

With virtual conferences, we can expect an improved return on investment when compared to traditional live conferences.

● Valuable data tracking

A comprehensive virtual conference platform keeps a track of every attendee right from the start till the finish line. Physical conferences can only provide the data in terms of the number of registrations and attendance at the event. Whereas virtual conference platforms record every digital footprint of attendees. When did they join? Whom they interacted with? When did they leave? What they liked, shared, and downloaded? What they commented on and so on. The platform offers a complete report of data analytics. It helps in measuring the performance metrics and the success of the event. It even makes the planner aware of the impediments to improve at the next conference.

How to host a virtual conference?

Hosting a virtual conference is entirely different from in-person conferences. To ensure a successful virtual conference, making the right virtual conferencing strategy, picking up the right virtual conference platform, and doing promotion is a must. We have listed a few steps that help you host a successful virtual conference. Have a look:

1. Create a virtual conference strategy

Firstly, when you decide to take your conference online you need to create an effective virtual conference strategy. It helps in achieving the desired set goals. Determine the objective of your conference and what you want to achieve out of it. You need to ask yourself a few questions before planning any strategy. Here is a list of questions:

● Will your conference be gated or free?
● Is your virtual conference, live or on-demand, or both?
● Who are your target attendees?
● What engagement features do you need in your virtual conference?
● Duration of your conference
● An approximate number of attendees, and so on.

Once you know the answers to all the questions, you can plan your virtual conference strategy.

2. Select the right technology

Technology plays an important role in the successful execution of a virtual conference. Selecting the right virtual conference platform is a must. Today the competition is high and a wide range of virtual events platforms are available in the market. Selecting the best depends on the needs and requirements of your business. Go with the platform that offers customisable packages and comprehensive virtual event solutions. An interactive and engaging virtual event platform enables you to hold your attendees throughout the conference without letting them fall apart. The platform that offers the ability to host an endless number of attendees without any audience cap is the best choice. As it does not restrict the number of attendees you wish to host. Before making a final call, ask a virtual event platform service provider for a demo.

3. Keep time zone consideration in mind

While finalising the date and time of your virtual conference keep the time zone in mind, if you target global attendees. Make it a point to do some research before locking down the date for a virtual event. Look out the calendar for any national holidays, as it will directly affect the attendance at the conference. Keep time zone consideration in mind to ensure maximum attendance.

4. Marketing and promotion

Marketing and promotion is the key to make your attendees aware of your upcoming virtual conference. You can make use of direct mails, public relations, social media integration, and so on to market your upcoming event. Marketing is the key to maximise your attendee attendance at a conference

5. Keep your registrations easy

Not every virtual attendee is tech-savvy. It is advised to keep the registration process easy. Allow your attendees to navigate seamlessly throughout the conference. If possible share a guide with them about how to join a conference over email.

6. Send reminders

Send reminders to the registered attendees over the email along with a direct link to a virtual conference. Send it prior 2-3 days before the actual date of the conference. Therefore, it reminds attendees to keep themselves free on the prescribed date and time.

7. Keep your attendees engaged during the conference

Once you go live with your virtual conference keep your attendees engaged with the entire event. Organise live polls, surveys, Q&A to gain their insights and opinions. You can even opt to organise games like spin the wheel or quizzes amid long sessions and offer your attendees with virtual goodies.

8. Follow-up survey

Once your conference ends, do not forget to send a follow-up survey to the attendees. It helps in gaining their insights and knowing about what they enjoyed at the event and whatnot. The follow-up survey helps in converting fresh leads as well as make the organiser aware of the part which needs improvement.

If you are not aware of hosting a successful virtual conference, I hope this article will help you out. Organisations around the world have adopted new ways to keep the business running. If you are still new to virtual or hybrid events, now is the time to embrace virtual event technology and get started!