A remote-first world empowered by global connectivity has challenged event planners to adopt strategies that don’t rely solely on in-person events. While we can't deny the impact and value of in-person events, industry trends show that virtual events help event organizers reach a broader audience and engage attendees in innovative ways. This article walks through some basic questions and considerations for putting on a virtual event.
What is a virtual event?
A virtual event is an online-only, multi-session event that delivers the value of an in-person event in a virtual environment. Attendees interact with each other and view live streams on the web, rather than meeting in a physical location.
Why should you embrace virtual?
Here are a few key reasons to consider hosting a virtual event:
Widen your audience — Going virtual opens your event to more people! Virtual events let you connect with your audience across the globe and include attendees who otherwise wouldn't have access to that experience.
Save on costs 💰 — Make your budget go farther by saving on travel, vendors, and venues. Virtual events are possible anywhere there's an internet connection.
Personalize the attendee experience — User data lets you seamlessly engage and personalize the event experience. Use Groups to make sure that attendees receive the content that's most relevant to them, including personalized notifications, discussion boards, and more.
Embrace sustainability — Save the environment one virtual event at a time. Virtual events reduce food waste and carbon emissions due to travel, and they remove the need for printed paper materials like event signage and paper agendas.
Crisis-proof your event — Life can happen in a big way sometimes. Going virtual can protect your event from getting squashed by unforeseen world events.
What are the components of a virtual event?
It's important to think through the participant experience for your virtual event the same way that you would for an in-person or hybrid event — from start to finish. The main components to consider are:
Attendee Engagement & Networking
This probably sounds familiar! It's not all that different from an in-person event. The principal difference that we see is the increased need to manage participants' attention while considering each of these.
What features does Webex Events offer for virtual events?
Nearly all Webex Events features are useful for virtual events! Check out our full features overview article for details on each one.
What are some recommended tactics for going virtual?
Hire an emcee — Have a host or emcee, just like you would for an in-person event. A great emcee keeps the energy up, facilitates smooth communication, and acts as a point of contact.
Embrace virtual sponsorship offerings — Offer your sponsors the opportunity to sponsor sessions, banner ads, splash screens, virtual giveaways, notifications, game challenges, and more. Take a look at our Showcase Sponsors guide for a mountain of other opportunities.
Facilitate sponsor connections — Make it easy for attendees to indicate their interest in a sponsor, exhibitor, or speaker, and to interact with them using the Attendee Calls to Action in Sponsor profiles.
Manage participant distractions — Create a central hub for all event content, removing the need for participants to "leave the event" at all. Embed live streams, recordings, session collateral, and more. We recommend shorter, more targeted sessions than you would typically put on for a live event. Demos, interactive "hands-on" sessions, and case studies are all great options.
Rehearse and test — Have your presenters do a dry-run the day before the event with the same technology they'll use for the real deal. Test your Event App beforehand to confirm that everything looks and works just how you want it to. These actions help minimize tech hiccups and get everyone on the same page.
Keep them engaged — Engagement also helps manage attendee distractions. ☝️Support engagement with moderated discussion boards, live polling and Q&A, and the event game. Send automated session reminders and announcements to help increase attendance and engagement.
Kick off a community — Virtual events are a great way to jump-start a 365-day Community. If you want your participants to engage with your community all year long, be intentional with your choices to encourage the experience to continue. Sessions-based forums promote long-term conversations around your content, and on-demand playback gives your content a longer life.
Encourage networking — Give your attendees multiple networking options with chat features, networking Game challenges, the Wall, and Shake to Connect (Branded Apps only). Video Rooms are also a fantastic way to facilitate informal “Birds of a Feather”-type meetups, where people connect and talk about topics of interest. Use survey and polling features to crowdsource the topics.
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