Virtual meetings have become a regular occurrence for many people, but let’s be honest, they’re not always all that engaging. You may be missing out on key opportunities to engage your audience when hosting a virtual meeting. Instead, take theby taking the meeting further and turn ing it into a virtual event.

How Do Virtual Meetings and Events Differ?

Virtual meetings are used for your everyday meetings and discussions over basic meeting platforms like Zoom or Google Meet. You can meet internally with colleagues or have a discussion with a partner or client. There may be an agenda or a screen-shared presentation to guide the meeting, but otherwise it is focused on communication rather than content. Virtual meetings help professionals from different locations come together to discuss a variety of topics. RSVPs are most often handled through Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar invites.

Virtual events on the other hand, center more around content and providing value to participants. Often with meetings, either in person or virtually, many members will leave the meeting feeling as though they did not gain value or learn anything new. The bane of many office workers’ existence are those meetings that could have been condensed into an email. This should not be the case with virtual events.

Virtual events can take several forms; webinars, summits, conferences, trade shows, and more. Check out our prior blog to view an in depth description of the different types of virtual events. They combine content, networking opportunities, and sometimes sponsors to create educational, fun, or otherwise engaging event experiences.

When Should You Hold an Event Rather Than a Meeting?

Often companies hold virtual meetings in situations that would be better served with a virtual event. Consider whether a conversation and simple screen share is enough, or whether your goal would be accomplished more thoroughly through engaging content, interactive experiences, and a virtual event platform to act as the home base for the activity. 

Virtual meetings are great tools for a variety of collaborative processes, or even just to connect with family members for a chat, but it’s important to know when to take your activity a step further and host an online event. 

If your goal is to make a decision, conduct a check-in, or provide an update to your staff, by all means have a virtual meeting. Education, either product education or knowledge sharing, is often better suited for an event than a meeting. Events can also help boost lead generation, grow brand recognition, and provide better networking opportunities than a meeting. 

To help you identify when to hold a virtual event versus a virtual meeting, we’ve compiled these use case examples to illustrate the difference:

Tech

Virtual Meeting: Tech companies are notoriously remote-friendly, so if you work in this field you’re probably no stranger to remote meetings. However, virtual meetings should largely be used for internal purposes here. Customers expect tech companies to have higher production value in their product presentations than customers in other industries. If you’re hoping to showcase a new product or update, you’ll want to make a strong impression.

Virtual Event: Holding a virtual event can allow you to create a more buzz-worthy and visually engaging experience. Tech giants like Apple have been creating artful virtual presentations to showcase new products while integrating keynote speeches from company leaders and designers. This content serves not only as great marketing and product education for new releases, but it also promotes the branding of the organization. Creating a great virtual event helps further your company’s image in terms of innovation, technician skill, creativity, and thought leadership. Even if your company is a smaller start-up, you can utilize virtual events to create a lasting impression on your customers while also showcasing new products, features, or updates.

Healthcare

Virtual Meeting: Sales Reps in the fields of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and more have been known to get creative in marketing their products to Doctors and hospital staff. However, it’s gotten a bit tougher recently. Some states and hospital rules have cracked down on sales people bringing catered lunches and gifts to medical professionals. Covid made driving around office-to-office unfeasible. Virtual meetings can be used to market healthcare products, but they’re not necessarily ideal for this purpose.

Virtual Event: Webinars on healthcare products better serve the sales staff and the healthcare workers. Webinars allow salespeople to present their products, answer questions in real time from interested parties, and easily track attendance and participation for followup. They can also have presenters in the field attend, or sponsor a webinar or virtual event to gain credibility by linking themselves with respected speakers in the field or specialty (while also providing a bit of funding for your virtual event or webinar.) Webinars are a great way to generate leads, and people are more likely to attend if you are providing them something of value as well. These can also be made available for on demand viewing, which is helpful for healthcare professionals that work odd hours or face frequent interruptions in their work day.

Finance, Law, and Human Resources

Virtual Meeting: Virtual meetings are a great way to connect with prospective clients. They give you an opportunity to connect face-to-face virtually and answer any questions or concerns promptly. However, getting prospects to agree to a meeting is the real challenge.

Virtual Event: Holding a webinar, summit, or roundtable is a great way to attract leads. For example, holding free informational webinars at the beginning of the year to address any legal changes that impact business taxes and filings, payroll, employment classifications, or other pertinent information for businesses can help you attract leads and showcase what your firm or company has to offer. Small business owners and start-up leaders tend to struggle with these topics, and can be great potential clients. These webinars also allow you to market your services to a large number of prospects simultaneously, which can save you time. Follow up after the webinar to invite them to one-on-one meetings, or provide service information, or even schedule demos.

Education

Virtual Meeting: Many colleges and universities hold informational sessions to help prospective students learn about their school, programs, and campus. This is a great virtual resource, as not all students can afford to travel to tour out-of-state schools. However, some schools are still using simple virtual meeting platforms to host these meetings, rather than creating proper virtual event experiences to help prospective students get the full picture and meet peers.

Virtual Event: Instead of simply telling prospective students about what the school has to offer or going through a PowerPoint over Zoom, schools can create virtual event experiences with on demand content, curated content based on their interests, virtual tours, and roundtables with staff and current students. Providing interested students with access to a virtual event platform can help them get a clearer picture of the school. Schedule live interactive sessions where students can learn about financial aid, campus life, popular majors, and more from knowledgeable professors and members of the campus community. Providing access to on demand video content such as pre-recorded introductions to the school, key staff members, and the admissions process is also helpful. Sometimes parents and teenagers do not have the same schedule, but it’s likely that both parties will want to learn about the school and access this content. On demand viewing makes that easy. A recommendation tool can even guide students to the right content, resources, and sessions, and peers to connect with by asking questions to gauge their interests in topics, majors, and more.

Get Started with Virtual Events

Virtual events are the way of the future. If you haven’t gotten started with them yet, it can seem intimidating. However, hosting virtual events is easy when you have the right platform.

Set up a demo today to learn more about what Social27 has to offer event organizers. Social27 can help you build a virtual event that will help your business achieve its goals and outperform any virtual meeting.