Virtual Events

The rise in remote working means that many companies are working with employees all over the world. If you are planning a corporate event, you may be looking to create immersive experiences that can bring together your entire workforce – regardless of where they are.

While gathering everyone under one physical roof is hard to beat when it comes to creating shared moments and delivering your message with impact, virtual events can offer some great options not only in preventing the spread of Coronavirus but also in reducing the carbon footprint of an event.

Virtual conferences

Developments in virtual conference technology enable business events to run smoothly, in a
convenient time and place for attendees.

Virtual events provide a fantastic way for businesses to bring together and connect with
global audiences, no matter their location, to one virtual ‘place’.

What can we do for your virtual conference?

  • Complete delegate management, including a registration site, and ensuring that all
    delegates have access to your virtual event.
  • Collatera design and guidance, ensuring that your event has a strong identity
    reflective of your brand, and the distribution of any physical collateral.
  • Speaker and content management to ensure that the messages you want to deliver
    are done so in the way that best reflects your business’ goals.
  • Creation and management of an online ‘hub’ or ‘community’ that delegates can use
    to stay up-to-date with event news, ask questions, and network with colleagues.
  • App creation and management, which will allow us to analyse the success of your
    virtual conference, and provide a platform for delegates to communicate with one
    another, plan their virtual agenda, and leave feedback following the event.
  • Creative and interactive entertainment to keep delegates engaged.

Why consider a virtual conference?

Virtual conferences allow for an online alternative to in-person conference events, even
delivering the same sessions, workshops, panel discussions, and interactive experiences.
As more and more companies are becoming tech-savvy, hosting a virtual conference or
including more virtual content in your event could be an ideal solution to restrictions on travel or other unforeseen issues.

Benefits of hosting a virtual conference event include:

1. Saving money: Without the need to book conference spaces, accommodation,
transportation or larger-scale set-ups, a virtual conference can provide big cost
savings. The leftover budget could be used to increase the quality of your virtual
experiences, event promotion, or project collaboration.
2. Expanding your audience: The convenience of joining a virtual event from
anywhere in the world can allow you to draw in a wider audience globally depending
on your goals. Plus, the potential affordability and ability to watch recorded sessions
at any time is a great incentive to attract more attendees.
3. Networking made easier: As well as providing a space for synchronised interactions
in sessions, virtual events can give attendees immediate access to other contacts
and meeting opportunities. No need to walk from one end of a conference hall to the
other to find your contacts!
4. Improving efficiency and productivity: Coordinating your event online can save
your team time organising the schedule, and give everyone a flexible working and
project management solution. Analysing an online event can also be a lot more
efficient than measuring offline activities, with attendee details, demographics and
engagement trackable through online analytics.
5. Championing the environment: With less need to travel and fewer resources used
to host a virtual conference, the carbon footprint of your event could be massively
reduced. Waste from physical attendance, air pollution from travel, and energy used
to power a large event space can all be reduced or eliminated by hosting a
conference virtually.

How to create a virtual conference
A virtual conference can take as much or even more know-how to plan successfully than a face-to-face event. Around 10% of people may not even be able to sign up to the event due to technical issues, so having a dedicated team to remove these barriers to entry can help you focus on getting your required results.

Other steps like sourcing the right hosting software, integrating your other event systems, and coordinating with speakers and sponsors could hinder the performance of your event if not planned carefully.

That’s why enlisting the help of an event agency to help plan and manage your virtual conference can save you a lot of hassle if you’re new to virtual events.

Top Tips for Hosts and Attendees

For Hosts:
Make sure your speakers have customized their presentations for a virtual audience.
A speech that works well in a live venue may not translate perfectly to a virtual one.
Speakers may not at first realize it, but gestures and other visual cues that they (sometimes unknowingly) use during a live speech won’t work in the virtual event. For this reason, speakers skilled in virtual events will utilize special materials for that delivery medium, such as a modified slide deck which helps convey information or emotion that wouldn’t otherwise be communicated effectively across a digital medium.
Keep the sessions interactive: Depending on the size of the audience, the degree to which the virtual session can be made interactive will vary. Even large virtual conferences, however, can be made more interactive simply by using audience polling features which are available in many online event platforms. Explain to the audience how to submit questions via the platform, and encourage them to do so, be it during a designated Q&A period at the end of the session, or during the program. Make sure speakers keep an eye on questions as they are submitted, so they can address some of them on the fly during their prepared remarks.
Do a comprehensive A/V check – and take it seriously. Most speakers can do A/V
checks at live events in their sleep, as it’s an exercise with which they are exceedingly
familiar. That’s not the case with virtual events. Even if a speaker has done virtual sessions in the past, there’s no guarantee their next virtual event will use the same technology platform as their last. Check everything in advance – audio/video quality, screen sharing, host-to-speaker private messaging, audience Q&A – and do it all with the same equipment and internet connection that the speaker will be using on event day.
Plan for technical issues. Live events are conducted in well-controlled environments,
where skilled A/V technicians are overseeing the entire endeavour. That’s not the case in a virtual conference event, where there are a host of potential breakpoints (network connectivity among them) that nobody has to even think about when putting on an in-person meeting. Develop contingency plans for whatever technical issues might crop up during the session. For example, if speakers are using slides, have them send their presentations to the event host in advance – so if the speaker loses connectivity, the host can at least step in and advance the slides for them.
Provide the audience with takeaway material. There is an undeniable “experience”
associated with in-person events that’s difficult to replicate in a virtual environment –
networking opportunities, the energy in the ballroom, even just the excitement of traveling to the conference venue. To help enhance the perceived value of the event for remote attendees, give them something tangible to take away from each speaker’s program, such as a coupon for a digital copy of the speaker’s book, or even just a written summary of key points and tips to remember to actualize the speaker’s advice. These might not be a perfect substitute for the experience of attending a conference live, but they at least provide some additional value to remote attendees, helping to favourably influence their impressions about the virtual conference.

The majority of issues are down to bandwidth. Hosts should confirm bandwidth at your
host location and perform a bandwidth test (www.speedtest.net). A dedicated hard-wired connection is the best way to guarantee a successful stream.
Testing tip: When carrying out any testing on your stream, try to do this at the same time of day as the webcast will take place to replicate location bandwidth usage.
What kind of internet connection do you need for live streaming? For mission-critical
broadcasts, you require a dedicated, uncontested internet connection. This means you are connected via Ethernet to a network that is not being used by any other system or device.
If there is not a dedicated internet connection available, streaming can be achieved over a shared network, Wi-Fi, or 4G. However using these methods increases the likelihood of a failure and is not recommended.
Provide a helpline. If your delegates are having issues, ensure they are able to call for
support. Most issues are down to incorrect login details, incorrect browsers, or local
bandwidth. Make sure you have a copy of the information sent out to the attendees in
advance with all recommended settings on to hand so you or the person on the helpline can quickly respond to the issues.
Post-event webcast: Make a copy of the webcast available online post event for those
delegates who could not view at the time. This is useful when it comes to a platform across various time zones.

For Attendees

  • Prior to your live stream, make sure you use the correct login in details and are using
    a compatible browser. This information should have been sent to you with your invite.
  • Give yourself plenty of time prior to the broadcast start to log on.
  • Close all unnecessary applications on your computer or device. If too many
    applications are running, your speed can be compromised, which can affect your
    viewing experience.
  • Restart your browser and limit open tabs. If you browser has been open for a long
    time or its open with multiple tabs, your computer speed maybe compromised.

Final thoughts
Though physical events are an extremely effective means to promote your company and
engage your audiences, virtual conferences can provide a convenient alternative for
delivering your key event messages.
If you’d like to know more about hosting a virtual event, you can speak to one of our
experienced Event Managers who will be able to help you with your requirements.

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