How To Plan A Virtual Event

Virtual events are quickly becoming the new standard across dozens of industries. Here are some important things you need to know about how to plan a virtual event.

Did you know that 67% of companies use virtual events in addition to in-person events?

The pandemic has catapulted virtual events and meetings into the spotlight, and they aren’t predicted to be going anywhere. Market predictions forecast that the virtual events market is likely to grow by a whopping 23% annually. 

The takeaway? Knowing how to plan a seamless virtual event is likely to be an increasingly valuable skill. 

Virtual events are not without their pitfalls and teething problems. To avoid these, proper planning is crucial. Fortunately, once you know about the key steps involved, planning a virtual event is not necessarily harder than a physical one. 

Are you ready to find out how to plan a virtual event like a seasoned pro? If so, keep reading as we share some of the most important steps with you. 

Start Early

One of the most important elements in planning virtual events is to start early. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “Oh well, it’s all online, so how much time can the prepping take?”

Realistically, virtual events require just as much preparation time as physical events. What’s more, they also require the same amount of time to market. 

For small events, you will likely need 3-6 weeks to plan and market it successfully. Larger events can require upwards of 2-4 months. 

Pick the Best Platform for Your Needs

When it comes to running a virtual event, platform choice is key. There are numerous platforms to choose from. Some claim to be an all-inclusive option, covering things like registration, monetization, agenda, live streaming, and ways to engage the attendees, while others solve a specific need like video streaming. There are pros and cons to the all-inclusive route vs the al-la-carte approach to formulating your platform playbook, so it’s important to consider which aspects of your event are most important. One of the key platforms to get right is the tool for live content distribution. Some of the common options include:

  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Youtube
  • Google Meet
  • Adobe Connect
  • Vimeo
  • Shoflo Studio (coming soon)

These are just a few of the main platform choices to look into. 

When selecting a platform for your virtual event, one of your first considerations should be your users. Is there a platform they are already using? 

You don’t want to force attendees to download new conferencing software or sign up with a service they don’t typically use unless necessary. For some types of events, you should also consider where your viewer base is. For example, if you are planning a Livestream event, you may want to look at streaming from social media platforms such as Facebook.

Besides this, you also need to think about the requirements of your virtual event. Some questions to ask are:

  • How many people do you anticipate attending the event?
  • Is the event for a private or public audience?
  • What communication features do we need?
  • Do you want to customize the platform with your event branding?
  • Do you need to upload pre-recorded content?
  • Do you want an analytics capability?
  • If your event is live, do you want platforms to allow for recording and storing of the content?
  • What are the security considerations?

As you can see, there is quite a lot to consider when picking a platform. What works for one organization might not work for another. 

For instance, Zoom is one of the most prominent platforms used for virtual events and conferences. However, Zoom doesn’t allow for much customization and has been in the news recently due to security concerns.

In some cases, this might be a non-issue. However, if you are sharing sensitive information during your event, then you might want to consider a more secure platform such as Microsoft Teams that comes with SharePoint encryption. 

On the other hand, perhaps the content you are covering does not contain sensitive information. In this case, if your event will attract a large number of attendees, then Zoom might be an option to look at, as it supports up to 10,000 participants.

Select a Convenient Time and Date for Viewers

Another important consideration is what is the most optimum time and date for the event? To answer this, you will have to think about your attendees. 

Are they in different time zones? Will they be attending the event professionally, or in their free time?

Based on the answers to these questions, you should pick a time that works well for as many people as possible. 

A common trend now is stretching what used to be a one to three-day event over the span of a week or more. Most people don’t want to watch 4-6 hours of video conferences in a day. An hour or two is much more digestible and allows for higher levels of attention. 

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