As the world continues to embrace digital technologies, virtual events are booming and becoming increasingly popular: more businesses, networks, and social activities are moving their events to cyberspace instead of hosting physical gatherings. If you too want to host a memorable virtual event, whether it's a corporate conference, webinar, charity or fundraising event or anything in between, and wish for your next virtual event to be wildly successful in 2023– this guide is for you.
Hosting a successful virtual event requires careful planning and execution, which is why in this guide we will look at the latest best practices for hosting successful virtual events, from choosing the right platform to employing creative marketing tactics. We will introduce modern strategies to make your virtual events stand out and create long-term success.
What are virtual events?
A virtual event is an online gathering typically involving a webinar presentation or panel discussion with networking opportunities and other digital experiences. Virtual events can be hosted by individuals or organizations, and range from small local events to large-scale international gatherings. They are the ultimate way for people to come together and join an event, no matter where they may be, through social media, digital platforms, and the right technology.
Virtual events are becoming increasingly popular due to their convenience and cost-effectiveness: events can easily be broadcast to audiences worldwide and provide and reach thousands of people in your target audience. Moreover, they create exciting opportunities to gain knowledge and feel the energy of an event with minimal expense and resources compared to physical events. That is why people are gradually shifting their digital habits toward online alternatives.
Types of virtual events
There are many types of virtual events, from academic workshops and immersive virtual concerts to conferences and sports events. Let's look at some of the most popular types of virtual events.
Educational Virtual Events
Conferences, Webinars, and Seminars
Virtual conferences aim to create an engaging and interactive atmosphere to facilitate learning, collaboration, and networking. They provide an excellent opportunity for remote workers, students, entrepreneurs, and professionals to come together and share their knowledge, experience, ideas, and skills via a digital platform. In addition, virtual conferences provide an opportunity to stay informed, and offer invaluable insight into the latest industry trends with the results of polls and surveys, with Q&A sessions, breakout rooms for remote collaboration, or other forms of interactive content.
Webinars are an excellent way for companies to connect with people worldwide. Presenters can share their knowledge and experiences using digital tools in an interactive environment that allows attendees to ask questions or provide feedback. Due to their educational benefits, companies have started offering free webinars as a content marketing strategy.
A virtual seminar is an online event where participants interact with each other in real-time through video conferencing and other digital tools. Virtual seminars can be used to conduct lectures, training sessions, or any educational session. They are also an excellent option for those who may not be able to attend an in-person event due to geographic location, travel restrictions, or scheduling conflicts.
The main difference between a virtual seminar and a virtual webinar is that the former is intended to be interactive. In addition, the latter focuses more on delivering information from one source. In a webinar, the presenter typically delivers their content with little or no opportunity for participants to interact with each other. A virtual seminar allows for an open exchange of ideas, providing a more engaging learning experience. Additionally, virtual seminars often last longer than webinars and can include activities such as group discussions or breakout sessions that are not typically found in a webinar setting.
Virtual workshops are a powerful solution for those looking for an interactive learning experience without physical space constraints. They offer training opportunities for participants, allowing them to master the content faster and easier- amplifying traditional instruction and its reach.
Workplace Virtual Events
Virtual networking events are a way to facilitate business contacts and collaboration opportunities, where attendees come together online and make meaningful connections. These events build relationships with potential customers or partners, discuss new ideas, exchange resources and knowledge, or explore ways of collaborating on projects. People create a sense of togetherness by partaking in energizing activities that boost group spirit and sharing essential messages, facilitating collaboration.
Team building events
Instead of trying to organize a costly, time-consuming event at an organization's headquarters with employees from different countries and continents, virtual team-building events provide the perfect opportunity for cultivating team unity. They are often organized around a specific theme or activity that encourages collaboration, communication, problem-solving, creativity, and trust. Examples of virtual team-building activities include escape room challenges, virtual scavenger hunts, virtual trivia nights, or even participants playing online games together. Employees get to know each other better by participating in these activities and developing a more robust working relationship. Organizations can also use virtual team-building activities to build relationships and trust between colleagues who may need help to work together in person.
Virtual hiring events
A virtual hiring event is an online recruitment event that allows employers to connect with job seekers. It is an excellent way for employers to meet and interact with potential employees without arranging or hosting in-person physical events. In a virtual hiring event, the employer posts job postings online, and job seekers apply directly to the postings. Afterward, the employers review applications and select candidates who are a good fit for their organization. Then, through virtual interviews, employers assess the applicants' qualifications and decide whom to hire. By using a virtual hiring event, employers can save time and money while ensuring they are recruiting the best talent.
Business and virtual fundraising events
Virtual Trade Shows
Virtual trade shows allow exhibitors and vendors to showcase their products or service through online video conferencing, webinars, and virtual booths. They benefit businesses by enabling them to expand their reach beyond physical boundaries and connect with potential customers worldwide. Additionally, virtual trade shows can save companies money, as they do not require the travel and accommodation expenses required to attend physical events. Finally, these events allow vendors and exhibitors to interact with their customers through deeper personalized communication, allowing them to ask questions and address concerns quickly.
Virtual fundraising events
Charities and non-profits are now utilizing technology to make their voices heard, making virtual fundraising events one of the most effective ways to generate funds. Innovative advancements have enabled these causes to extend beyond their traditional boundaries in powerful new ways. They can include live-streaming events, virtual galas, online auctions, gaming tournaments, and other fundraising opportunities for a cause. These events offer an alternative way to engage supporters to raise funds for important causes and missions.
Get ready to make your shopping dreams come true with virtual events. The newest e-commerce and social media trend is live-stream shopping, allowing you to experience the excitement of a product showcase right from your home. These events let you participate in an interactive journey from clothes and technology to various products. These events typically involve retailers hosting an online sale offering discounts, product deals, special offers, and loyalty programs alongside their products. They are very convenient because customers can browse through products and have their choices shipped wherever they want. Moreover, virtual shopping events can be tailored to meet the needs of specific customers, target their marketing efforts better and maximize their sales.
Cultural virtual events
Virtual Art Exhibitions
A virtual art exhibition is an online space for artists to showcase and sell their artwork in a unique setting. It allows viewers worldwide to view and purchase artwork without being physically present in the exhibition space. In this way, it opens access to more viewers and potential buyers, which can help broaden the reach of an artist's work. It also helps artists avoid significant expenses associated with physical art exhibitions, such as transportation, setup and teardown fees, insurance, and catering. Furthermore, virtual art exhibitions allow viewers to interact with the artwork in a way that would not be possible in a traditional exhibition space; viewers can zoom in and out, rotate images, and leave comments. This provides a more immersive experience that helps build relationships between artists and viewers. That is why virtual art exhibitions are becoming increasingly popular, as they offer an easy way for established and emerging artists to share their work with the world.
A great example of a virtual art exhibition is the Vincent van Gogh online museum, an interactive digital experience that allows you to explore the artist's paintings, drawings, and letters. In addition, the museum’s website includes biographical information about Van Gogh, a timeline of his life, and an interactive map showing where he lived and worked throughout Europe. You can also explore numerous topics related to his art, such as Post-Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, and Japanese prints. The online museum offers a unique window into one of the world's greatest artists through its comprehensive collection of Van Gogh’s works, vivid accounts of his life and times, interactive maps, and timelines.
A virtual concert is an online music performance that allows fans to watch or listen in real-time from the comfort of their own homes. A virtual concert can be held as live-streaming video or audio broadcast, or feature pre-recorded content. Virtual concerts are becoming increasingly popular as they allow people to experience their favorite music without traveling long distances. Virtual concerts also enable performers to reach a wider audience, as they can stream their performances to people worldwide. Music promoters, venues and artists themselves often organize these events to increase their fan base and generate revenue. Virtual concerts often include interactive elements such as special effects, voting options, and live chat sessions between the performer and fans. They can also feature collaborations with other musicians or guest performers.
One of the most famous digital concerts in the history of the genre is Tomorrowland’s virtual concert, which was an amazing way to enjoy music from the comfort of your home. It featured some of the biggest names in EDM, such as David Guetta, Martin Garrix, Tiësto, and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, and others, all coming together for one epic show. Although it is not quite the same as attending a regular concert, a virtual concert still provides a fantastic experience with incredible visuals and sound. The audience can interact with each other through live chat and enjoy the show from multiple angles.
Fun and entertainment events
Virtual social events
Virtual social events take place online, usually over video-conferencing platforms. They may include virtual meetups, panels, group discussions, parties, and other activities. They can be organized around specific actions, such as collaborative work sessions or exam preparation. Virtual social events such as trivia nights, game competitions, and themed parties can create a relaxed atmosphere and encourage engaging and friendly conversation. Virtual social events are ideal for people who would otherwise be unable to attend in-person gatherings due to geographical or other restrictions, and virtual events provide a way for them to form meaningful connections without the costs associated with in-person gatherings.
Virtual sport events
Being a sports fan has never been more exciting. With cutting-edge streaming technology, fans of all kinds of sports can enjoy watching live games or catching up on classic matches. There is also an array of exclusive content available, like interviews with star athletes and other engaging material to keep you cheering for your team no matter the score. Competitions may involve any sporting activity, from running and cycling to team sports like basketball and football.
Participants compete against each other in virtual environments, typically using specialized gaming platforms or apps that allow for remote interaction with opponents. In many cases, players take part in real-time tournaments or leagues and can interact with their opponents via video conferencing, messaging applications and other ways. Competitions are often structured according to specific regulations that vary depending on the sport.
AMA (Ask Me Anything)
AMAs (Ask Me Anything) are virtual events where guests and attendees can ask the guests or hosts questions or discuss topics with each other. AMAs are excellent for networking, creating relationships, and better understanding the subject being discussed. An AMA allows attendees to learn more about the topic from the host's perspective. Additionally, it helps create an environment for meaningful conversations, as people can ask questions relevant to their interests or experiences. Overall, AMAs are an excellent way for people to share knowledge, build relationships and explore new topics.
Valuable tips for creating smooth-running and unforgettable events
Planning the perfect virtual event can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Follow a few fundamental guidelines, and you can be sure your attendees will leave with a great lasting impression. Use our helpful tips and best practices to host a successful and enjoyable digital gathering. And if you seek an alternative perspective on the same subject, be sure to also explore this additional virtual event hosting guide.
Now back to our tips!
Know your "why": Objective
Knowing why you are organizing an event is as important as the event itself. Make sure everyone involved understands the core value of the event and what needs to be done to make the outcome match expectations.
Know your "about": Agenda
Create the agenda for your upcoming virtual event and start planning the adventure. Answer critical questions like how registrations will be handled, whether you'll have live-streaming or prerecorded content, ideas on audience experiences, a feedback collection strategy, and tools to execute it all. Take into account the details, making sure no element is left behind. Finally, ensure your event has structure and clarity with an organized agenda.
Know your "whom": Target audience
Ask yourself who will attend, what kind of engagement they need, and how you can create the best interactive experience. Knowing this beforehand guarantees that all attendees will find value in participating in your digital event. Define the target audience for your marketing efforts, and use the right language, visuals and approach when speaking to them. Research the channels they use to consume content so that you can choose the right platform for distributing your message.
Know your "what": Content
Content is key.
- -- Craft a compelling message. Write content that resonates with your audience and conveys your event's objectives, tailored to your target audience: consider their level of knowledge, interests, and preferences. Deliver a valuable takeaway, and consider turning your live event into a series to ensure audience engagement and increase brand awareness. Finally, leave viewers with something to think about after it's over by providing key takeaways.
- -- Focus on visual appeal. Make sure visuals are appealing and informative. Consider using charts, infographics, or videos to communicate key points. Maximize accessibility: Give attendees multiple access points for your content, such as downloads, links, and streaming media. Ensure the content is easily accessible regardless of the technical setup of your audience.
Know your "when": Date and Time
Choosing the correct date and time for your online event is crucial for reaching your target audience. When deciding which day will be most beneficial for participation, consider different countries, their time zones and varying holiday schedules. Get your timing right to maximize attendance and participation.
Be ready for potential errors: Test run.
Appoint moderators to your gathering who can keep the conversation civilized and on track, just in case some people behave disrespectfully toward the rules or guidelines of the event. Moderators must be ready to help keep things running smoothly and keep everyone engaged and respectful.
Plan before the event for potential technical problems too. Identify potential technical errors that could occur during your gatherings, such as camera malfunctions or platform glitches. Use more than one platform to ensure your meeting runs smoothly and uninterrupted, and you have an alternative if any technical difficulties arise. In addition, test run everything and make sure to have an extra set of equipment and a plan B available in case unexpected challenges arise - it never hurts to be prepared for anything.
Promote your event: Create the Buzz before the Big Day.
Don't plan on an audience coming to you – advertise your event well so attendees know when it's happening and how they can participate.
1) Let the world know about your virtual event - spread the word and get people excited about what's coming! Make sure everyone knows when, where, and why they should tune in.
2) Create your event's home: Your website is your gateway to success! It's a critical promotional tool to generate interest in potential attendees and make them want to join you on your virtual or physical event.
3) Communicating your planned event's value, showcasing speakers, and providing a schedule of activities, helpful FAQs, and registration links ensure everyone knows how unique this experience will be.
4) From registration to reception, the first step for participants of your virtual event is a robust online registration process. Not only does it give attendees an easy way to sign up and make payments if necessary, it also provides you with valuable data that can be used to craft outstanding events and prove their success afterward.
5) The most important information is email, your event's most powerful ally. Use a reliable email marketing tool to reach attendees in style, as it will help you drive registration, spread pre-event info, and keep them up to date. In addition, you will have analytics within reach to assess how emails are performing in terms of open rates or click-throughs and determine what works best.
Ensure your audience is ready: Guidance
Before the big day, provide participants with a detailed agenda and any necessary links or materials so they can start prepping early. Technology can be tricky, and it's important to remember this when hosting virtual events.
1) To maximize the comfort levels of attendees with digital platforms before an event or session, provide them with helpful user guides.
2) Even better yet, give your guests a taste of what will come by giving test runs so everyone gets familiar with the technology and has the right app and platform installed on their devices. This will defuse stress, reduce the number of questions, and provide a better attendee experience.
3) Another option is to have a recorded introduction video that educates attendees beforehand, from access information to how to take breaks, and an outline of the session and the schedule. Also, make sure your webinar attendees are in the know and ready to go!
4) Create custom reminder emails tailored to your company's branding. Incorporate dynamic tags, logos, colors - whatever helps make a lasting impression on viewers before and after attending your event.
Engage your audience: Connecting
Virtual events provide an innovative opportunity for attendee engagement. From polling during keynotes to networking in a mobile app and utilizing event hashtags on social media, there are plenty of new ways for people to converse with each other.
Event technology can be used creatively to extend interaction beyond the limits of traditional video conferencing – ultimately making virtual gatherings as successful as offline events. Effective audience engagement is one of the critical elements of any truly successful event. Make it interactive with features like a chat feed, Q&A sessions, and discussions that promote knowledge sharing and create more meaningful conversations amongst attendees.
Invite attendees to share their experiences or opinions, and consider highlighting the most exciting elements of the presentation as well as any value-added benefits they could receive by engaging with your event. Involve your audience in conversations. Instead of being passive recipients of the given lectures, allow them to interact with one another and ask questions to each other and moderators, speakers, and performers.
Encourage meaningful, personalized dialogue that keeps everyone engaged throughout the session. This may seem tricky when working with large groups of people; however, splitting groups into smaller ones or sessions can make this achievable.
Make attendees understand that their opinions and ideas matter to others.
Make the event interactive: Taking action.
An engagement strategy also requires content that encourages attendees to take action, like taking a break and moving around, drinking water, using the chat box, submitting a question, or anything that will make them enter the activity zone instead of passively sitting and listening.
Make your event more effective and create maximum impact with breakout sessions. Incorporating refreshment breaks and discussion points during these intervals will provide the perfect chance to boost engagement while also allowing you to check how things are going.
Make attendees network during breakout sessions, build connections, and jumpstart conversations. You can also use a break to showcase sponsored content as well. Let them connect with icebreakers, online team-building games, and physical activity elements, encourage each other, send virtual hugs, or shake emoji hands.
Evaluation of the event: Feedback and data analysis
Effective feedback is the key to success for any virtual event. After the virtual event, reflect on the attendee experience and evaluate what went right or wrong, to make use of the expertise in the future. Take some time for a post-event debriefing that will help maximize the success rates of upcoming events. Utilize post-event surveys and other specialized tools to gain valuable insight into audience experience, agenda objectives, and the effectiveness of activities - all of which prove your events' overall efficacy.
As for practical data analysis, dive into information like registration details, attendee demographics, session registration stats, and email click-through rates. Take it further by evaluating post-event survey results, lead numbers, and buying interest - and analyze how satisfied attendees were based on ratings and feedback for each session. Remember, social media metrics show the reach and engagement generated from these virtual get-togethers. All these steps will guide future improvement and craft efficiently organized virtual experiences with maximum rewards from minimal expenses.
Send Event Recorded Valuable Content: Follow up
After hosting your virtual events, maximize their impact by encouraging further engagement and feedback by staying connected and sharing recordings on digital channels like your website or social media to build a network around these online experiences. This enables access for people who could not attend the event, and gives them a chance to go back and review some of their favorite parts.
This recurring engagement will build trust, a sense of communal identity, and loyalty, encouraging attendees to join again next time. A post-event follow-up effectively extends appreciation to attendees while showing you're already looking forward to welcoming them back.
Keep the energy and commitment: Networking.
If you want to maximize your virtual event's success and reach even more people, share further action plans with the audience. Not only will this help promote your lead acquisition, it will also serve as an excellent way for attendees to actively engage in open discussions about their experiences related to the event. Get them talking on social media platforms or other digital channels - let everyone tell their own stories of what made your virtual event extra special and what will be coming next. Ask for their ideas and suggestions for the next event and get them involved in creating it with you, be sure that they will be there for you.
Once you have your people, your target audience, on the same platform, don't just let them go; keep them together and be constantly in touch, like with a dear friend; as with any relationship, this also requires much energy, attention, consistency, effort, and dedication. Moderators can help here as the lifeblood of any upcoming events, because they keep conversations lively and don’t let the energy fade away. Ensure your moderators are always there to keep the discussions active, provoking with questions and interesting comments, and with live videos about upcoming events
Podcastle your next virtual event platform
These were the most important and valuable tips and strategies to help you build an impactful virtual event. Now you know how to take the right steps to create an engaging and enjoyable virtual event for your future guests. Last but not least is your “where”: the digital platform, which is your event's home.
GET STARTED WITH PODCASTLE
Create your next engaging virtual event with Podcastle. We will help you host a memorable, successful virtual event that will leave your guests feeling connected and engaged with you wherever they are. Our platform provides everything you need to broadcast storytelling, studio-quality recording, AI-powered editing, and seamless exporting. Start creating your event with the following steps:
First, Sign up and Get started with Podcastle for Free: Both app and web-based recording software are available.
Then use the remote recording feature, which can connect with ten people online from different locations and host an event.
Schedule an interview and send the invitations.
Invite your guests and provide details on the date, time, and description.
Enter the studio and start hosting your virtual event.
After the recording, you can edit your files with multiple effects and options on Podcastle's web editor.
By following these steps you can ensure your event is professional-looking, well-run, effective, and, most importantly – memorable. We hope we have provided you with enough knowledge and confidence to produce your highly engaging, successful events in 2023 and beyond. Take advantage of the digital age and stand out with your virtual event in an ever-growing virtual world. Happy hosting!