In today’s digital era, it has never been more relevant to consider hosting a virtual conference. There are a number of ways you can create value for your users. One common way is through events – like conferences, meetups, or user-groups – where customers, clients, industry leaders, and other experts have the opportunity to exchange experiences and knowledge.
While in-person events bring huge value for attendees, they can also be extremely resource-heavy. They’re also dependent on getting people to come to a certain location for a set period of time.
In this article. we’ll provide you with a guide on where to start, where to focus, and what you need to create a virtual conference today.
Virtual Conference Benefits
- Virtual conferences are most often priced lower which enables smaller businesses and startups with a limited budget to purchase tickets to your conference.
- Lowers the cost you have to pay to run the conference - event space, catering, security, and much more.
- Virtual conference allows people around the world to join and interact with each other without spending money on flights and hotels.
- It also may help you attract high-demand speakers who don’t have the time to commit to an in-person conference but are happy to share industry takeaways via a quick video call or pre-recorded presentation.
- A virtual conference enables you to create a product — recordings from your conference — that you can continue to share and use as a lead generation tool for months and years after the initial live launch.
- Virtual conferences and virtual events can be conferenced as a marketing channel.
Tips for running s successful virtual conference
1. Create a game plan
Whether big or small, offline, or online, every event should have a strategy. Start with a key goal and concept, then take it from there. The earlier you can get planning, the better.
Before hosting a virtual conference, answer the following questions:
- What is the business issue you’re trying to address?
- What kind of experience do you hope to deliver?
- Will the event be live, on-demand, or both?
- Where do I want the content to be seen?
- Will access be gated or free?
- When is the best time for the event?
- Will you require event registration?
- How will you promote the event?
- Do you plan to work with an advertiser or other partner?
- Will people still have access to the event once it’s over?
- What KPIs and data do you plan to track?
2. Choose the right time
Picking the right date and time for your virtual conference is important, regardless of size or platform. Before sending out invitations to your network, do a little research. Make sure there are no competing events or holidays that would interfere with attendance.
Tips for choosing the right time for your virtual conference:
- Take time zones into consideration, too. If you plan to go global, try your best to pick a time that works for as many of your customers and followers as possible. If that doesn’t seem possible, make sure content is accessible after live presentations for those who couldn’t make it. It may also be worthwhile to plan multiple networking sessions and different virtual events for different time zones.
- Check analytics to see when your community is typically online. And for a firmer consensus, consider sending out or posting a poll for preferred dates. Emily Schuman, the founder of Cupcakes and Cashmere, used an Instagram Story sticker to set the time for an Instagram live session.
3. Promote your virtual conference
“Build it and they will come” may be a fallacy, but “promote it and they will come,” isn’t. Especially when you offer a good incentive.
Determine the key selling points your event has to offer attendees. It could be a noteworthy speaker, skill-sharing, an opportunity to network, and more.
Whatever you choose, make sure the value proposition is clear in your marketing.
Tips for effectively promoting your virtual conference:
- Share the virtual conference details by email and on social media. If you plan to run ads, target them strategically and choose the right format.
- According to Adobe, registrations tend to spike two-to-three weeks before an event. So it’s a good idea to ramp up around this time
- Take advantage of the social media tools available. Create an event countdown in Instagram Stories. Create a Facebook event with all the necessary information. Consider listing your event on websites like Eventbrite and in other places your audience will come across them.
- Speakers often double as influencers—so provide them with the details they need to become event brand ambassadors. Always include who, what, where, and how. That means no virtual event marketing should be without a link. Whether it’s a link to the registration form or your Instagram profile, show people where they need to go.
- Don’t forget to share an event hashtag. This will help people promote the event and drive conversations online.
4. Prepare for tech troubles
Before starting things off, test your Internet connection and equipment—and have your speakers do the same. Prepare backups of visuals and presentations in case a file gets an error. If possible, run a rehearsal. The sooner you identify problems, the sooner you can identify solutions.
- Not all of your guests are tech-savvy.
- Expect the troubles people may have by preparing easy-to-follow help guides or FAQs.
- Even better if you have the resources to provide support.
- Make sure it’s easy to find where and how to ask for help.
5. Make it inclusive
Just like in-person events, virtual events should be as inclusive and accessible as possible.
How to make your virtual conference inclusive:
- Make sure clear language, large fonts, and high color contrast is used at all touchpoints—including presentations.
- Provide captions and visuals where possible for audio, and provide descriptions where possible for visuals. Sites like Vfairs also include page narrations and allow text character sizes to be adjusted.
- If your event includes a panel of experts, try to avoid choosing exclusively cis white males. Unless you want your event to trend for the wrong reasons, make sure your virtual event showcases a diverse range of voices.
6. Encourage engagement
It’s simple: If you create opportunities for engagement, your audience will be more engaged. Why? It’s fun to see the outcomes of your engagement.
Tips on how you can encourage engagement:
- Ask viewers to submit questions in comments or through a chat tool. Chances are the people who ask questions are going to stick around to see if they get answered. Make sure to have a moderator assigned to the task of fielding questions.
- Virtually every online platform has interactive features. Ask people to participate in polls or quizzes. Encourage live-tweeting.
- Take requests and suggestions. Or simply shoutout names as people tune in. And at the end of the event, ask for feedback.
Conclusion: Virtual conference success
The impact and the power of creativity, energy, and deeper connection that begins with the initiative to run a virtual conference most certainly don’t end with a one-day event.
Make your virtual conference something to behold. We look forward to the success of your virtual conference.
About The Author
Rowena is an ambassador at Delesign. She provides customer support and represents Delesign online. Outside of work, she likes traveling, reading books, and playing string instruments.