A conference is a great way to bring people from around the world together in one place, but when you can’t do that, there are ways of making it feel like an actual conference via technology.
In virtual conferences, you don’t have to worry about travel costs or lodging accommodations for your attendees. This allows you to relax and focus on creating exciting content and interactions for your audience.
This article will provide a guide with best practices and ideas for hosting an online conference. Virtual conferences aren’t as well known in the industry yet, so this will give some exposure to what they can be like and benefit event planners everywhere.
What is a virtual conference?
Virtual conferences are live events where presenters give their content via live feed or recorded video. They are digital, so there is no need for travel, lodging, or any physical presence of attendees.
The technology does not hinder the experience either because of new advancements in live streaming capabilities and virtual reality applications that create a more immersive environment for your audience.
So now that you know what a virtual conference is, you can attend one with confidence!
Below are some tips and tricks to make sure your first experience is as fun as it can be.
Prepare yourself beforehand: Do some research on the presenter(s) before the conference to understand what to expect. You can find bios on their websites or social media pages.
Connect with other attendees before the conference: If you’re able, connect with other people in your virtual “classroom” and introduce yourself.
This will make it much easier to ask questions during the presentation when you aren’t sure about something (which is completely fine because everyone was there for the same reason). It also helps create a cohesive community beforehand!
Make sure your microphone works well: One of the essential parts of any experience is communication. Ensure that your microphone is working correctly beforehand; check that there’s no background noise (an open window near where you are sitting, for example) and that your volume is high enough.
If the host can’t hear you well or at all during the conference, they will stop speaking and ask you to wait to address your question/comment.
Make sure you have a stable internet connection: This is incredibly important because we want everyone to participate in the virtual conference fully!
If your connection seems unstable, you could do a few things:
- Close any other tabs, programs, or windows that you have open.
- Turn off music players such as Spotify.
- Disable video chat programs such as Skype.
Ask questions: If someone goes over an important point relevant to you, don’t hesitate to raise your hand and ask a question.
Virtual conference best practices
Make it fun
Your audience knows they’re watching a screen, so you need to make sure what they see entertains them and keeps them engaged with your brand. People will be talking about your event; make sure they share your brand’s good side!
A benefit of hosting an online conference is sharing information on polls and surveys during sessions, which can help you gauge your audience’s interest and opinions on specific topics discussed.
Virtual reality applications and other technological advancements can help create a more authentic experience for your audience. In a world where everything feels borrowed, virtual conferences allow event planners to be creative and make their events stand out from the rest.
Virtual spaces can be created for live Q & A or discussions with speakers personally or anonymously via private chat rooms. You could provide a tour of your company’s office space or discuss important information about upcoming products/services in an intimate round table setting. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating experiences!
In this day and age, people want face-to-face interactions to feel comfortable. Virtual conferences can enhance the networking experience by allowing attendees to chat in live rooms with specific topics. This feature is excellent for smaller companies who are unable or don’t want to hire moderators for large discussion panels.
Focus on production
Producing virtual conferences may seem overwhelming at first because you have many content channels that need attention during sessions (i.e., speaker video feed, poll questions, Twitter hashtags, etc.).
However, breaking down the components and delegating responsibilities amongst your team members will make things more manageable and consistent throughout your event. A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple; save some time at the end of each session to collect data from polls or event surveys if feasible.
Virtual conference ideas
Here are some virtual conference ideas that include the best practices I have mentioned in this article:
Get creative with technology
Use different technologies to create a more immersive experience for your audience. You could start by having an opening keynote where you discuss or demonstrate specific applications and platforms being used in the industry today.
If you do not have a speaker to share these innovative ideas, a live feed of your office’s break room is always nice to see!
Run parallel workshops for attendees
A great way to add interactivity to your event is by creating smaller breakout sessions that focus on specific topics. Your audience can then attend relevant workshops that match their unique interests during free time slots throughout each conference day.
Keep it interactive with polling and surveys
Polls are a great way to take audience feedback throughout your virtual conference, so have them at the ready before each session begins! There are many free online polls that you can use to collect data about varying topics.
You might even want to give advance notice of which questions will be asked during specific sessions for attendees who wish not to participate in the poll but listen to the speakers instead.
Create a special green room and offer access to your speakers
A popular feature at conferences is what’s known as “the green room,” or where speakers gather before they take the stage. This is a place where speakers can prepare and relax before speaking to their audience.
You could also offer similar access to industry experts or guests who participate in your virtual conferences, allowing them the opportunity to chat with one another and share ideas.
After reading this article, you should better understand what it takes to produce an engaging virtual conference that meets or exceeds your expectations.