WHAT ARE VIRTUAL EVENTS & which one is best for you?
At the time of this writing, the climate to host in-person events or even Hybrid Events may prove to be a daunting challenge. The challenges of implementing measures to fully combat the Delta Variant and Covid-19 have caused many companies and organizations to pivot from in-person events to remote events.
Before diving in and identifying which virtual event will work for you, it’s best to understand what are virtual events?
What are Virtual Events?
A virtual event is any event that happens virtually via technology such as video conferencing, live streaming, or webinars. Virtual events can be used by companies for marketing purposes. The type of event you want to plan depends on your “goals and purposes”, scope, and budget.
What are the types of Virtual Events?
As mentioned by Smarthsheet, there are 4 kinds of virtual events: Webinars, Virtual Conferences, Hybrid Events, External Hybrid Events.
Webinars*: Short for web-based seminar, a webinar is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the web using video conferencing software. A key feature of a webinar is its interactive elements and the ability for a presenter to give, receive and discuss information in real-time.
Virtual Conferences: A series of events consisting of scheduled talks and panels often over a multiday period. Often attendees need to register to attend the event, and attendees have the opportunity to talk in breakout groups or waiting rooms.
Hybrid Events: We wrote about this in an earlier post. They’re a combination of online and offline events aimed at many different audiences, taking place in both a physical location and digitally. They provide an opportunity for the organizers to use data collected from online surveys, social media, or other digital channels to create a better experience for attendees.
External Hybrid Events: It’s the same as Hybrid Events, with the only difference being that External Hybrid Events are for the public and Hybrid Events are private and self-contained. An example of an External Hybrid Event is if you had part of the event held at a physical location accessible to the public (outdoor park), and hosted virtually on Facebook Live or YouTube. A Hybrid Event would be in a secured location (hotel?) and use Zoom.
(* ~ Defined by Webopedia)
How to pick the right Virtual Event?
Again, the type of event you want to plan depends on 3 things:
Goals & Purposes
1) What are your goals and purposes?
Are you looking to share an idea or provide an Educational Lecture? Are you looking to offer a Product Demo? If so, webinars may be ideal if it’s one idea or one product If you’re sharing a great volume of content, holding the webinar over multiple days may work better in a virtual conference setting.
How many speakers will there be? How many events/sessions are offered for the attendees? If there are more than 2 speakers, and there is more than one topic to present, holding a webinar for your event may not suffice. At least a virtual conference is a better match.
How many attendees do you plan or can hold? If it’s a handful, a webinar format would work. If you’re looking to hold multiple events to house a larger crowd, at least a virtual conference is a better match. For Hybrid Events or External Hybrid Events you’d have to look at the location, and other resources needed to decide which type of event to use (Hybrid or External Hybrid).
If you’re looking to hold a major event through a Hybrid Event or you’re holding some of the events at a location, do you have the funds to cover the venue?
If you need help, can you outsource the event to a video production company that specializes in Live Streaming? If not a company, can you secure professionals skilled at troubleshooting or hire Livestream specialists/technicians?
If you’re doing it on your own, or your company’s doing it internally, do you have the resources to invest in the live streaming software, gear, and the appropriate bandwidth to run an effective virtual event?
In summary (and what’s next?)
Once you’ve found answers to these questions, you’re on your way to having a solid game plan for creating an event. Here’s one important thing to keep in mind to help guide your decision-making process. Successful events are inclusive, interactive with the audience, and interactive with presenters.
Also, the sooner you have the resources and foundations in place, the sooner you can focus your efforts on the next challenge, getting the word out about the event.
“How to market your event” is a subject for another time and article, but one thing to consider in marketing is visibility. Is the event available to the public (i.e. Facebook Live / YouTube) or self-contained (i.e. register/invitation-only via Zoom)? But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and focus on the task at hand.
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