Virtual events are officially no longer an afterthought. For years, virtual events were a last-minute add-on to the live event. It was often wishful thinking that the addition would generate some extra revenue or allow so many more people who couldn’t attend live the ability to still participate. It has existed but was largely underutilized by attendees because why stay home when you can take a trip and be there for the “real thing.”
With our global pandemic shutting down in-person, physical interaction, virtual meetings are the only game in town when it comes to meetings and events. Now that we’re all aware of that, now what? Where do we start? First, we need to determine which virtual event platform is best for what you’re trying to accomplish.
How to Know Which Platform to Utilize
Despite the incredible number of Zoom meetings that have been held over these days of Quarantine 2020, Zoom is but one of the many platforms that can be utilized to execute your virtual events. So how do you know which platform to utilize? Here are 8 questions to help determine which virtual event platform to recommend for you:
- What is the date of the event, how long will the meeting run, and how many people will be attending? It goes without saying that some virtual meeting platforms cannot be set up effectively for an event next week and other platforms will be limited in how many people can join. Knowing the basic background information, we will know if certain platforms need to be eliminated as potential options from the very beginning.
- How many presenters will there be and where will they be located? If you’re bringing six presenters to a studio to stream out to your people, that’s different from ten remote presenters or a hybrid of both in-studio and remote presenters. Any scenario can be accommodated with a virtual event but knowing the structure of how speakers will be presenting will help narrow the list of potential delivery platforms.
- Will all of the content be presented live, will it be recorded, or will there be a blend of both? Some platforms are better for live, some are better for recorded content and some platforms are better than others at a mix between the two.
- Is this a “peer to peer” event or a “presenter(s) to audience” type event? The heart of this is to find out if attendees will need to be heard audibly at any point or if they will only be receiving the content. Presenters to the audience could be a webinar for a massive audience or it could be pre-recorded content that gets sent out. Peer to peer could come in different forms as well but this question speaks specifically to whether you want attendees to be heard as co-collaborators or not.
- What do we need to do about access control and security? This question requires a bit more understanding about who is driving the presentation. From a technical standpoint, your audiovisual provider will be handling the behind the scenes components. That said, do you require unique logins for attendees or will the virtual event exist on a website behind a firewall that they log into with a password already? Understanding who has control and what security elements need to be in place through the platform itself will be important.
- What elements of your virtual event do you want in place to increase attendee engagement? Do you want a chat feature? Does the chat feature send only to presenters and organizers or do you want to allow people to chat with one another directly or only to the entire group as a whole? Do you want the ability to have audience polling during the event? Do we need a solution for Q&A? Is this just chat? Do you want the moderators or speakers or the entire group to see these questions in real-time? Attendee engagement is important, especially since this entire event is held Thinking through these potential options will help determine which virtual event platform is best for your event.
- Do you need people to register for this as part of the platform? Registration can be utilized as information gathering as well as for streamlining a way to communicate with your attendees. Do you need a robust registration component as part of the virtual platform or do you have that covered already (or not need that at all)?
- Is your audience required to attend or are you trying to promote attendance to an optional event? This question could be the most important of all but more as understanding the purpose of the event. Often this is the first question that we ask, “Who is your audience?” The more we know about who your audience is and what you’d like your audience to experience, the better we can match your event with a platform to meet and exceed your expectations.
Virtual Events are Here to Stay
This won’t negate the live event portion of all events in the future, but virtual events will still be a part. Trends are communicating that even when live events do come back, they will come back as hybrid events, including a virtual component with the live event for increased reach and to accommodate the preferences of attendees of whether to travel or not. Your production provider or audiovisual partner will take the lead on how behind your event dream. The answers to these questions will provide the preliminary details to help find the best virtual event platform to launch your specific virtual event.
Let’s talk about the best online option for your event! Contact us today.