Mastering the Art of Planning Virtual Events

Picture of Ben Aflalo
Ben Aflalo

Head of Product at Gloww

how to plan a virtual event

More businesses than ever before are using the internet to connect with clients and customers. While in-person conference and live events remain popular, they’re being quickly supplanted by virtual events. Today, everything from employee onboarding to global conferences with high-profile keynote speakers is happening virtually. 

If you’re currently migrating from the real world to an online-only model, this might be your first time considering how to plan a virtual event. Far from being a second-rate compromise, they’re a cost-effective alternative to in-person events with far greater reach. Thinking of making your networking session a virtual one? Interested in bringing together great minds from across the globe? Read on for everything you need to know about hosting an event virtually. 

Virtual Events Explained

While the content of virtual events are often similar to what you’ll find at an in-person event, all of the interaction takes place online. They’ve become increasingly common in recent years as more industries have shifted to embrace hybrid and remote working. Today, online events can refer to everything from a virtual conference to networking events. 

While the likes of Facebook Live have made it easier than ever to host last-minute virtual events, most companies look to other tools to deliver a richer and more interactive experience. Some might be resistant to the idea of saying farewell to in-person events, but a virtual experience has many advantages. 

For starters, travel restrictions are no longer an issue, meaning hundreds of attendees can participate, regardless of which time zone they’re based in. What’s more, a live stream can be recorded and distributed at a later date, making virtual and hybrid events a valuable asset for continuous learning. 

There’s More Than One Type of Virtual Event

Virtual events can be broadly separated into a few main categories. Firstly, there are internal events. These cover everything from team meetings to customer onboarding. External events are more focused toward the customer. More broadly speaking, they refer to any event when you’re dealing with event attendees who aren’t your employees. 

Webinars are another popular type of virtual event. They tend to be produced by companies looking to introduce their products or services in more detail. However, companies may also choose to invest in webinars to increase authority and demonstrate industry-leading insights. 

Although traditional conferences still exist, there has been a shift toward online-only events over the past couple of years. While conflicting schedules can still pose a problem for the virtual conference, it’s easy to record sessions for those who aren’t available to follow any live streaming sessions. 

Why You Should Consider Hosting a Virtual Event 

There are many reasons to host a virtual event. Have you always wanted to organize a conference, but could never realistically find room in your budget? Although there’s still some cost involved, virtual conferences are relatively inexpensive and you can see a much healthier return on your investment. What’s more, you’re far more likely to secure maximum attendance with an online event. 

Additionally, you can capture a staggering amount of data from a virtual event. As well as monitoring attendance rates, you can delve deeper and look at attendee engagement and follow-up metrics. 

With an in-person event, attendance isn’t always guaranteed and it can be difficult to determine how successful an event actually was. With a virtual event, none of this is an issue and you can effortlessly fine-tune your event planning for the future. 

Planning a Virtual Event 

Is this your first venture into virtual event planning? Putting together a virtual event planning checklist is surprisingly easy. Below are just a few of the things to consider to ensure virtual event success. 

Consider Your Audience 

If you’re making the switch from in-person events to virtual ones, don’t assume you’ll be catering to the same audience. While previous attendees are almost certain to return, you’ve just unlocked a much wider audience to capitalize on. 

Having a clear handle on your target audience is going to inform the content of your next virtual event. This can include everything from the topics you plan on addressing to the speakers you’ll source for Q&A panels. 

Although virtual events make it easier to connect with international audiences, you might decide that your message isn’t ready to go global, just yet. If you think your event will strike a better note in one territory than another, focus first on executing a killer event here. 

Do You Have the Right Tools for the Task?

You might have a willing audience and some captivating content ideas for your next virtual event, but none of this matters without the right tools. To make the right impression, you’ll need a full-featured video event platform. You’ll want something that’s readily accessible and guaranteed to work for the most attendees possible. What’s more, event platforms should allow you to make things more interesting with interactive elements to keep your audience engaged. 

While many elements can be pulled together with nothing more than a computer, you’ll also need to ensure you have the right event tech and broadcasting tools at your disposal. If you want to keep things simple, a computer webcam and microphone should suffice. However, if you are keen to capture the attention of a global audience and establish yourself as an industry leader, it wouldn’t hurt to sink some money into high-end event technology and production values. 

Put Together an Agenda 

A successful virtual event needs a tight agenda. Again, you can keep things as simple as you like. If you’re hosting a shorter live event virtual experience, it’s best to provide attendees with an ironclad agenda so they know exactly what they’re getting. For more exhaustive virtual events, you’ll need to think about a lot more. 

Will you be inviting guest speakers to speak during your event? They’re not worth securing a high-profile speaker if you’re not underlining it in your agenda. What’s more, let people know your event will be interactive. If a keynote speaker is prepared to partake in breakout sessions with attendees, draw attention to this. 

With all these elements established, you can create an actual schedule for the event itself. Be realistic when sequencing your session and make sure you’re leaving plenty of time for break. 

how to plan virtual event

Don’t Forget About Event Promotion 

As with any event, promotion is pivotal. You might have secured huge numbers of attendees for in-person events, but even this loyal audience needs reengaging if you want to guarantee their appearance at your next virtual event. However, event promotion isn’t just about securing participants. It should be an ongoing process that continues during the event itself and after it’s finished. 

Leverage social media to provide live updates as the event is taking place to stir up outside interest. Just because an event is finished, doesn’t mean you can stop promoting. Let participants know their attendance was appreciated, ask for feedback, and deliver a steady stream of rich content derived from your event sessions. This will also help with your branding strategy. 

Always Do a Practice Run

If you’re familiar with hosting virtual event management, you’ll understand the importance of testing your tech ahead of time. As well as pre-empting any technical problems, a rehearsal will help you nail down timing. Ideally, a full test run is required. 

This gives speakers and presenters ample time to rehearse the event script, while your technical team can test conferencing software and broadcast equipment. What’s more, you can test the interactive features your attendees will be using. If there’s a virtual networking element at play, make sure attendees can actually connect with their counterparts. 

5 Tips for Hosting a Great Virtual Event

Even an experienced virtual event planner runs into trouble sometimes. To increase the odds of online success, below are just a few of the tips you’ll want to remember when compiling a virtual event checklist

Think About Your Goals 

If you don’t know why you’re planning a virtual event in the first place, there’s no point hosting one. Be specific when outlining your goals. Are you looking to engage existing customers and encourage them to buy more? Is your focus instead on new customer acquisition? Once you’ve determined your needs, you can offer richer, more relevant content. What’s more, it’ll be far easier to collect feedback and measure how successful your event actually was. 

Keep Your Audience Engaged 

Now that virtual events are so commonplace, you’re not going to make waves by broadcasting boring lectures to uninspired audiences. While keynote speakers will be a major selling point, you also need to incorporate interactive elements to engage your audience. This can be as simple as allowing participants to communicate with each other in planned breakout sessions. Alternatively, you can use collaboration tools and interactive apps to generate feedback from attendees in real-time. 

planning a virtual event

Always Have a Backup Plan 

Even after a pain-free rehearsal, it’s always a good idea to have a contingency or two in place. Decide what you’ll do if a keynote speaker is running late on the day or if key broadcasting equipment dies in the midst of a session. Even if you can’t deliver the virtual event as originally planned, you should still be able to offer a seamless experience for attendees

Send an Event Recap 

One of the best things about virtual events is that you can continue to use them as rich content for years. Q&A panels with industry experts can become high-authority videos that lend real clout to your company website. 

You’ll also want to provide tailored recaps to those that attended, as well as those who RSPVd and failed to show. You can include entire recordings of standout sessions or screenshots to cover product demos and tours. If your event was particularly successful, don’t be afraid of singing your praises in follow-up email marketing campaigns. 

virtual event planning

Post-Event Follow-Up: Download Reports and Analyze 

You might think a virtual event went well, but the devil is in the detail. Once an event has been completed, set aside some time to study every last bit of reporting data you have available. 

Look at basic metrics like attendees and weigh these up against those who confirmed that they would be making an appearance. Next, look at engagement levels during the event itself. Have you invested heavily in a virtual event? It’s time to take a closer look at the fiscals and see whether the revenue that’s been generated was worth the outlying investment. 

As well as letting you know whether your virtual event was a smart business move, you’ll get useful insights that will help steer future event strategy.. 

Plan Your Next Virtual Event with Gloww

If you’re a remote or hybrid business, you’ll need to integrate virtual events into your day-to-day operation. However, even more traditional companies can leverage the cost and time-saving benefits of virtual networking, customer onboarding, and conferences. 

Whatever type of event you’ve got planned, you’ll need the right conferencing solution at your disposal. With Gloww, you have everything you need to plan and execute successful virtual events. Looking to streamline employee onboarding and staff training? With Gloww’s user-friendly platform, you can put together engaging sessions in moments. Keen to make the right impression with clients? Use Gloww’s ready-made templates to host unforgettable webinars and establish yourself as a thought leader. Check out our light webinar template, colorful template for webinars, and a cool pale blue webinar template.

Interested to learn more on the topic? Have a look at our articles on virtual product launch strategy, as well as running a hybrid event.

If you already have plans, you can get started with Gloww today. Looking for more advanced features? Check out our pricing plans for more information about our premium services. If you still have any questions about hosting a virtual event with Gloww, get in touch with us.

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Picture of ben aflalo
ben aflalo

Ben Aflalo heads Gloww's product team with over two decades of leadership experience. Passionate about leveraging innovative technology, he is committed to building products for the greater good.

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