Virtual conferences have become popular in recent times. They enable organisations to speak to a global audience, cut the cost of organising the event, and increase the ROI. While the trend of organising virtual conferences is picking up, they are not a fad. In fact, organizing a virtual conference is quite environment-friendly and easy, making them ideal for organizations of all sizes.
So if you’re thinking of hosting a virtual conference, there are a few things you need to know first. In this blog post, we will walk you through the process of planning a virtual conference from start to finish. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right event management platform to marketing your virtual event .
Before we begin, let’s get comfortable with some concepts.
What is a virtual conference?
In simple terms, it is a conference that is organised and held online. It can be delivered in various ways, including live streaming, webinars, and pre-recorded sessions.
Virtual conferences work the same way as real-life iterations; that is to say, you have all the core elements of the event presented in an online format. They can be adapted to fit any industry or topic, which makes them perfect for businesses of all sizes.
Participants sign up online and receive an access code or login details which they can use to get into the virtual event. Once they are in, other customisation features like business card details, avatars and so on can be set up.
The event itself goes on pretty much the same as an in-person conference. There will be many people networking, speakers doing live sessions, sponsor booths for people to interact with and more.
What are the benefits of a virtual conference?
This is a question that we get asked a lot. And it’s understandable – with so many choices, it can be hard to decide which type of conference is right for you. Below, we’ll outline some key benefits of virtual conferences that may help you decide.
One of the main benefits of virtual conferences is that they are more cost-effective than traditional face-to-face conferences. This is because virtual conferences eliminate the need for travel and accommodation expenses. Additionally, virtual conferences generally have lower registration fees. So, a virtual conference is an excellent option if you’re looking to save money.
Virtual conferences are more convenient than traditional face-to-face conferences as they can be attended worldwide. You can attend a virtual conference from anywhere in the world – all you need is an internet connection. This makes it ideal for busy professionals who can’t afford to take time out of their schedule to travel to a physical location. It also offer flexible scheduling options to fit them into your schedule easily.
Finally, virtual conferences offer several unique benefits that are not possible with traditional conferences. For example, virtual conference attendees can choose to view sessions from multiple tracks simultaneously. This is not possible at traditional conferences where attendees are limited to the sessions they can physically attend. It can be a hectic rush for attendees, where they might miss out on various content, sessions, or even booths.
Virtual conference attendees can easily connect with other attendees and speakers through chat features and social media. Furthermore, many virtual conferences offer recordings of all sessions, allowing attendees to review what they missed or want to hear again.
Overall, virtual conferences provide a more flexible and comprehensive experience for attendees and organisers alike.
Checklist for conducting a successful virtual conference:
The first step in planning any event is determining your goals and objectives. What do you hope to accomplish with your virtual conference? Who is your target audience? Once you clearly understand your goals, you can begin to plan the specifics of your event.
If you have never planned a virtual conference before, consulting with someone who has or can provide you with the technical backup you need is helpful. Sarcon has extensive experience planning and conducting virtual conferences. Our state-of-the-art 3D conferencing service can help you easily organise anything from a simple one-hour webinar to a major conference with hundreds of sessions.
Here’s a checklist of what you should keep in mind:
Identify Target Audience
The first and most important step is identifying the ideal audience type for the conference. Reaching out to those individuals from targeted verticals with promotional materials such as emails, social media ads, and PR are some of the ways you can attract a relevant audience.
The search for speakers must start after you have identified the target audience. Ultimately, the speakers should be the ones who can solve the solutions to the audience’s problems. Speakers who match the needs of the audience are the most ideal. When reaching out to them, highlight all the benefits of virtual conferences.
Also, explain how many audience numbers you expect and how the conference will benefit them (the speakers). If the conference format allows, you can also permit speakers to sell or advertise their products/services through the conference platform.
Create the Structure
Virtual conferences need the same structure as in-person conferences. An engaging agenda is essential for keeping attendees engaged throughout the virtual conference.
Make sure to include a mix of activities such as :
- Opening sequence
- Keynote speeches
- Panel discussions
- Breakout sessions.
- Other activities
Set up a Landing Page
Landing pages are critical to informing people about the event and leading to the registration pages where people can sign up. This is a crucial step which should not be ignored. Even if the conference is high-profile, you can still create a limited access link.
Landing pages also give people an idea of what sponsors are at the event. Virtual event platforms like Sarcon can help with creating dedicated ticketing microsites. These can be customised according to the event theme and serve as a singular place to handle all registrations.
Promoting the Conference
Promoting the conference can drastically affect viewership and attendance rates based on the industry, type of audience, and methods used to promote it. According to Markletic Event Research,65% of marketers need more than 6 weeks to promote large virtual conferences and achieve the appropriate volume of registrations. Therefore, make sure to promote your virtual conference well in advance so that people have time to save the date and plan their schedules accordingly. Use social media, email marketing, and other channels to get the word out.
Some of the more effective ways to do it are:
- Using Social Media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
- Sending Emails en-mass to your mailing lists.
- Press Releases to reach other masses of audiences.
- Banners, Pop-ups and notifications on your website.
- Getting the speakers and sponsors to promote the event from their end.
Prepare your Team
For attendees to have a seamless experience, your staff must be well-equipped to handle any issues they may face in navigating and exploring the event. Virtual conferencing platforms like Sarcon provide ample pre-event documents and dry runs to ensure the event goes on without a hitch. Choosing people from your team and training them to use the online platform to answer queries effectively will help enhance the experience and enable you to conduct a successful virtual conference.
Analyse the Conference
Use the power of the selected virtual conferencing platform like Sarcon to obtain insights into various aspects of it. Analyse data reports, see which speakers attracted the largest audience, which sponsor booths had the most chats and much more so that your next conference can be even better.
Conducting a virtual conference is not as complicated as it may seem at first. By following the checklist mentioned above, you can be sure to deliver a successful virtual conference that will engage and delight your attendees. Learn how to use a virtual conferencing platform like Sarcon today!