WHAT IS A VIRTUAL EVENT?
Virtual Events – What Are They and How Are They Created?
Virtual events were a lifeline for many companies during the pandemic, allowing events to continue when in-person interaction was not possible. Since then online tools which encourage engagement have come a long way, and the associated running costs have also come down, making virtual events more popular than ever.
But for those less familiar with virtual events you might be wondering what they are exactly, as well as how to create one. As well as how to make an event which is based entirely on-screen as interactive as traditional in-person events.
Fundamentally, a virtual event should be approached in the same way as a live event, in terms of marketing, promotion, engagement and making it unforgettable for your attendees. However, some areas require even more care and attention, such as engaging your attendees, all of whom join remotely. The virtual space you create should fill people with anticipation and make them feel like they are within an exciting venue. Whereas in reality they are sitting at home or at work, in front of a desk.
What is a Virtual Event?
Also known as an online event, virtual conference, virtual meeting, or live streaming event, a virtual event is one hosted on the internet instead of in-person. Most of us have attended a virtual event in some form, for example, joining a business video conference online.
Virtual events are used by organisations to host webinars, online training and company business meetings, or even to launch a new product. Some events are designed with the virtual event platform in mind, such as a webinar that can include online attendees and speakers from all over the world – something an in-person event would struggle to achieve due to the physical distances involved.
How is a Virtual Event Created?
By definition, all virtual events take place online so the most fundamental requirement for a virtual event is a website. This could be a platform such as Zoom or Google Meet which allow you to create and manage virtual events without having to worry about the technical aspects of setting up your own website.
However, having a dedicated website for your event brings numerous advantages such as enhanced branding and creating a more professional appearance to your virtual guests. It acts as a centralised information hub for attendees, outlining schedules and registration information and can be integrated with registration and ticketing platforms.
As well as this, a website can be used to promote the event by linking to it from social media posts, and be optimised for search engines (SEO) to help people find your website.
Even though your attendees are not visiting a real venue, virtual events still require a registration system. This is used to control access to the event, including setting restrictions based on ticket type, and also helps to ensure that only authorised attendees are able to participate.
Event registration provides valuable attendance information which allows the number of attendees to be tracked and to identify who is interested in the event. This data can also be used to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and identify areas for improvement.
However, it’s important to implement an easy-to-use registration system that allows attendees to sign up seamlessly. Make sure you provide clear instructions and guidelines for attendees regarding the event platform and participation and sending timely reminders and updates to registered attendees will help keep them informed and engaged.
It’s crucial to choose a reliable virtual event platform that can accommodate the expected number of attendees and handle the event’s features. The platform provides the foundation for a seamless, engaging, and secure event experience, contributing to attendee satisfaction, brand reputation, and the overall success of the event.
A smooth running virtual event free of technical issues with stable audio and video streaming, consistent performance, and the ability to handle a large number of simultaneous users, has a significant impact on event success. As well as providing peace of mind to the event planners, it plays a significant role in creating a positive impression among attendees.
If you need help in this area, get in touch with experienced event production company Indigo Splash to choose and manage your virtual event platform for you as part of our event solutions.
The virtual event platform needs to be complemented by high-quality audio visual equipment which allows clear and crisp audio, and sharp and vibrant video.
Rich and detailed event audio is essential for ensuring that attendees can clearly hear and understand the event’s content. Studio-quality microphones for presenters, speakers, and panellists, as well as proper sound mixing and balancing, will ensure a consistent and pleasant audio experience.
Visually compelling video brings the event to life, allowing attendees to see presenters, demonstrations, and other visual elements in detail. This enhances engagement and helps attendees stay focused on the content. High-resolution cameras, proper lighting, and effective video production contribute to a visually appealing and engaging event experience.
Reliable streaming technology ensures that the event’s audio and video content is delivered smoothly and without interruptions. This includes robust internet connectivity, adequate bandwidth, and efficient video encoding and decoding. Without seamless streaming, attendees may experience buffering, pixelation, or even disconnections, disrupting the event’s flow and negatively impacting the attendee experience.
At Indigo Splash, we developed a solution to this problem with a fail-proof system using a combination of gigabit ethernet, fibre optic and 5G mobile networks, resulting in a live stream which is free of interruptions. This technology also allows remote presenters to be brought in seamlessly, and even allowed them to prepare in a virtual green room.
Outstanding Digital Content
A key element of a virtual event is high-quality content that aligns with the event’s theme and objectives. Depending on the nature of the event, a mix of live and pre-recorded sessions, incorporating various formats like presentations, panels, workshops, and interactive sessions can be very effective.
As with content being delivered for any event, ensure it is engaging, informative, and relevant to the interests of your target audience’s interests. Well-designed graphics create a polished and professional impression, enhancing brand reputation and credibility.
Interactivity and Engagement
Interactive elements help to keep attendees engaged throughout the virtual event. Tools which help to foster interaction and encourage participation include live chat, polls, and Q&A sessions. These interactive elements allow attendees to participate actively and ask questions, creating a more dynamic and engaging event.
Data and Evaluation
Collect data on attendee engagement, participation, and feedback. Analyse the data to assess the event’s success and identify areas for improvement. Use the insights gained to refine future virtual events and enhance the overall experience.
As in-person interaction isn’t possible, it’s important to create opportunities for networking and community building among attendees, such as virtual breakout rooms or dedicated virtual networking sessions following the event.
Due to virtual events involving a diverse audience from around the world, virtual networking can expand your network beyond your immediate geographical area. By connecting with potential customers and partners, businesses can generate leads, share knowledge, gain insight, and uncover new business opportunities.
Virtual networking creates a sense of community, complementing the content and presentations offered at the event, and contributing to a more engaging and satisfying experience for attendees.
What Are The Benefits of a Virtual Event?
During the course of reading this guide, it has probably become apparent just how flexible and wide-ranging virtual events can be. By offering a convenient, cost-effective, and accessible alternative to traditional in-person events, virtual events have gained in popularity in recent years. Virtual events allow organisations to reach a global audience, expanding the potential for knowledge sharing, networking, and engagement.
Many of the expenses related to venue rental, travel, accommodation, and catering don’t apply to virtual events, making it more cost effective and accessible for organisations. It also means time and resources are freed up which allows organisations to focus more on their core business activities.
Creating a virtual event requires a wealth of digital content which can then be used afterwards. The beauty of digital content is that it can be revisited and viewed at the convenience of those that need information. So the content you and your production company have worked so hard to create, can keep on working for you long after the event has concluded.
There are several ways to use this content, from creating an on-demand content library featuring recordings of presentations, panel discussions, and other valuable content from the virtual event, to forming the basis of cost-effective training and development programs. As well as this, it can be repurposed as marketing material such as industry white papers or social media content to generate engagement and leads with potential new customers.
Virtual events offer a wealth of valuable data that organisers can use to improve their products, services, and future events. Virtual event platforms provide attendance and engagement data such as demographics, session viewing durations, and engagement with interactive features which can be used to assess effectiveness of different formats and strategies.
Sustainability is a major priority for many companies today and virtual events have a reduced environmental impact compared with their traditional in-person counterparts.
Virtual events are also more accessible than in-person events due to the reduced travel required. This not only saves on costs, but also means anyone with an internet connection can attend. Moreover, inclusivity is enhanced because those with disabilities can benefit from closed captioning for audio content and transcripts for visual content.
Key Takeaways For Hosting a Virtual Event
To summarise, here are some key areas to look out for when hosting a virtual event:
- The right virtual event platform can make or break your event so make sure you choose it carefully ensuring it has the features you need and can handle the number of required attendees.
- Always conduct thorough testing and rehearsals to ensure your presenters are familiar with the format and that technical glitches are minimised.
- Make sure your attendees are prepared, such as providing instructions on how to join the event.
- Ensure you use high quality AV equipment – a professional look and feel will have a significant impact on your audience.
- Incorporate interactivity to make it engaging – it’s easier for virtual attendees to lose interest compared to an in-person event.
- Use digital and video content afterwards in marketing promotions or employee training.
- Debrief after the event to learn what worked well and how future events could be improved.
Hosting Your First Virtual Event
If you or your organisation is thinking about hosting a virtual event for the first time it might feel daunting to see the number of processes involved. But with proper planning and the correct technology in place, your virtual event should be a great experience for your attendees. Not only this, with an effective content strategy, the digital content can also provide a springboard for your brand by incorporating it into marketing and promotional activities.
For those wishing to retain an in-person element to their event, virtual events can be combined with traditional events to form a hybrid event. This allows you to enjoy all the benefits of virtual events and in-person live events simultaneously.
Indigo Splash is an experienced event production company with full service capabilities meaning we provide everything you need to produce your virtual event. From video production and creating digital content in line with your brand guidelines, to live streaming a company event with the look and feel of a morning TV show. Contact us today to find out more about virtual events and how your organisation can take advantage of this accessible and cost effective medium.