10 things you need to know about virtual events

While the days of live events and face-to-face interactions seem like they belong to a bygone era, virtual events are taking off at a rapid pace as an exciting solution to fill that void until we can meet again. Don’t get us wrong, we cannot wait to be back out scouring the globe for our new favourite venues and hotels, but in the meantime, virtual events are a good alternative to keep us connected.

We realise that sitting down to plan a virtual event may sound like an insurmountable task, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you can identify an agency partner to help you understand the many choices available and guide you towards the right platform to meet your company objectives. To kick off the planning for your virtual events, we’ve put together a list of 10 things you need to know to get started.

1. Virtual events are more than just live-streaming.

One way or another, you have probably already experienced a format of a virtual event, whether it be a gym workout on Instagram, a virtual pub quiz or an online museum tour. So why shouldn’t the corporate world follow suit? More than just live-streaming, virtual events can be online versions of the in-person event you were planning for, whether it be a conference, a trade show, or an exhibition. Our specialist platforms encompass so much more than just a Zoom conference call.

2. Think about what it is you want to achieve.

Have clear objectives for the event. Decide if you are trying to stay connected with customers and key stakeholders or is this event a source for generating leads for your business? There is a wealth of platforms available and the decision is driven by the objectives you want to achieve and the end-user experience that you want your delegates to have. Do you want something simple, with no registration required and all you need is a sleek looking website where video presentations can be seen? Or do you want a more interactive platform where attendees can participate in live polls and surveys, can talk to each other via 121 video calls and chats? Or do you prefer to fully recreate the live event by immersing your audience in photo-realistic environments that mimic the physical spaces your delegates would normally encounter, such as the welcome lobby, the main auditorium, a networking lounge? The answer to these questions will determine the type of virtual event and platform most suitable for you.

Virtial events

3. Virtual does not mean boring.

It is important to remember that online viewers consume content differently to live audiences, mainly due to the myriad of distractions that are around during our day-to-day lives. So, it’s even more crucial to focus on audience engagement. Think about what your delegates would have been excited for during your in-person event.

One great way to maintain the buzz is to make it more of a social experience. Keep your audience engaged and feeling part of the experience with live Q&As and polling, plus discussion boards and activity feeds where your delegates can articulate their ideas and questions around key topics. Creating in-app challenges and competitions, as well as virtual escape rooms, adds a fun element to your event, allowing your audience to connect with one another. You may even want to round-off the day with a high energy 30-minute DJ set or perhaps a revitalising yoga session.

4. Content is key.

No one likes watching a presentation made up of a seemingly endless number of slides. Don’t put your audience through “death by PowerPoint”; make your content engaging by adding built-in videos, exciting graphic design, and interesting transitions between each segment. Our in-house specialists have a wealth of expertise in designing and producing content that is visually beautiful, powerful and memorable.

5. Networking is not sacrificed, even in a virtual setting.

It’s a common misconception to think that networking will suffer as a result of your event’s digital transformation. Although your audience will not be physically present in one space, your delegates don’t need to forgo such important interactions thanks to the integrated guest communication features we can offer. Attendees can connect online, be it through private messaging, starting up one-to-one chats or video calls or by exchanging digital business cards. Depending on the type of event you’re planning, virtual exhibitions are also a great way for exhibitors to interact with your audience in real-time from each of their virtual stands.

6. Pre-event communication is even more important.

Navigating a new digital platform will naturally create a sense of unfamiliarity for many of your delegates, who are likely to be interacting in this way for the first time. Is there clarity about the event format? And how to access the platform you have chosen and get around it? We can help you manage this, as well as create strong e-marketing campaigns to promote your event and generate excitement. Clear and concise communication is crucial in order to maximise online attendance. In that sense, you may also want to consider building a separate event website and/or app to get a buzz going about your event – first impressions do count, and you want your audience to tune-in for more.

7. Design an event with a new dimension.

We all know how powerful immersive experiences can be to drive key messages or brand awareness, so why should this stop once you take your event online? We can recommend further layers of high-tech interactivity to elevate your virtual event to a new and memorable dimension, including:

  • Studio recording, where we bring your keynote speaker(s) into a film studio and pre-record their presentations, in order to bring that extra level of professional look to your event;
  • Augmented Reality, which can be used in two main ways: by juxtaposing graphics, charts or other objects into your speakers’ video presentations, letting them interact with those elements or by using smartphones to ‘place’ your products next to each of your delegates;
  • Virtual Reality, to create fully immersive environments that can be accessed from anywhere via cardboard headsets, which can be branded to your own company’s corporate colours and logo.

8. Technology should not be feared.

It’s normal to be a bit apprehensive at first if you’ve never delivered your event in a virtual format, but you can rest assured that our tried-and-trusted solutions can be relied upon. We are here to help pre-empt & prevent any technical glitches and ensure a seamless experience from start to finish, and we’ll always be prepared with back-up solutions.

9. Quantify your event’s success.

Your event doesn’t finish when the clock hits zero. Our powerful event analytics software can provide invaluable information on a wide range of elements of your event, ranging from registration numbers and attendance, audience participation and engagement levels, number of views of a particular item of content to post-event feedback and surveys, and satisfaction levels.

10. Principal. GE is here to help.

It may seem like an overwhelming task at first, but that’s why our team is here to support you along the way. We can simplify the decision-making process and advise on the best solutions for your business to help you achieve the overall objectives of the event, reach your audience and meet your ROI. We will also be there on the day(s) of the event, running it for you in the background, so you can be confident your event will run as smoothly as you’re used to with a live physical event.

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