Anyone who has ever sat in a Zoom session knows the limitations of these virtual meetings very well. Distractions, awkward moments when you forget your camera or microphone is on, and keeping everyone engaged are but a few of the more pervasive challenges. And while many of us have somewhat mastered the art of facilitating a basic business meeting online, planning an effective virtual event adds an entirely new level of complexity to the equation.

Even as we look forward to getting back to more in-person events, industry experts agree that all or partially-virtual events are here to stay. The reasoning is simple: Virtual events connect more people in a more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly manner. 

The question now is, how exactly do we capitalize on the cost-effectiveness of using online resources with the necessity of person-to–person interaction? Our virtual event platform experts recommend starting with these five strategies to create an effective virtual event:

1. Engage Your Audience

According to the most recent survey data collected by Markletic, the top concerns for virtual event organizers are audience engagement and interaction. How often have you tuned in to a podcast or webinar, only to start another activity mid-way through? You may think you’re multitasking, but in reality, you just tuned out for a significant chunk of the presentation.

Live and pre-event polling give your attendees some input in  the content, and it is a great way to keep them invested in the presentation. Shorter meeting times – generally between 30 and 60 minutes – and smaller groups also work well to encourage participation. Other interactive options include roundtable discussions, quizzes, interactive games, and social media contests.

Some event organizers even send swag and other valuable pre-conference materials directly to the attendees to promote interest and excitement. 

2. Keep the Tech in Check

A lot of planning goes into hosting a successful virtual event, as it’s not just an expanded Zoom meeting. Your event will provide attendees with access to educational content and virtual sessions with industry leaders and networking opportunities, such as chat messaging and user generated content to keep people engaged and connected to one another.   You’ll also need to select a virtual event platform to host your event on to help you with this.

 Virtual event platforms have the ability to integrate all aspects of your event into one space, making navigation and interaction straightforward for attendees. They incorporate content delivery tools, networking features, robust data reporting, and more to provide a great event experience for attendees, sponsors, and organizers. 

Of course, to successfully host a virtual event, you’ll need a strong Wi-Fi signal and a well-lit, non-distracting background from wherever you’re broadcasting. This includes guest speakers who join from their homes or offices. It’s also essential that event organizers have technical staff at all source points to resolve any issues that may arise.

3. Secure the Experience

Attendees need to be able to trust that the data they are sharing with you during registration and throughout the event is secure. You also want to know that your internal data and content is not going to be accessed without permission. To avoid any unwelcome visitors or data leaks, pick a virtual event platform with advanced security measures and GDPR certification.

On Social27 Virtual Event Platform, your event security is our top priority. Our in-house security team and 3rd-party penetration testers ensure that all potential threats are mitigated and that your event and data are secure.

4. Generate Revenue

There are a number of ways to generate revenue through virtual events including registration fees and sponsorship.

Virtual trade shows and conferences offer unique lead generation and branding opportunities for sponsors. A virtual event platform allows sponsors to boost their visibility through social media channels, rotating ad banners promoting breakout sessions or event sponsors, online games for attendees that feature sponsor messages and links, and interactive virtual exhibit halls.

Many organizers now offer free access to their virtual events to increase conference registration. However, this may eliminate some revenue from hosting the event. To make up for this loss, consider making only limited access to the event free and promoting unique add-ons for an additional price. 

Add-ons can include VIP Access, membership passes, one-on-one meet and greets with presenters, etc. This sales data can also generate income on the back end of the conference, allowing for targeted ads and offers to go out to those who paid for the extras.

5. Provide Networking Opportunities

One way to energize your attendees is by offering individual interaction and networking opportunities. Chat rooms, one-on-one meetings, virtual booths, and live chat conversations will create that desired interaction and collaboration in a virtual space. 

At the time of registration, you can also encourage them to opt-in to complete a survey of their interests, reasons for being at the event, background, etc. You can then use this data to provide attendees with profiles that match them for networking purposes. 

Conference dinners, cocktail parties, and other activities create a more casual atmosphere where attendees can get to know each other and discuss business ideas. Creating these virtual hangout areas for specific breakout topics will allow people to interact similarly to in-person events. That way, they can discuss ideas and chat privately or in a group.

Hosting an all-virtual or hybrid event has its challenges, but it can be just as effective as an in-person meeting with the right technology and practices. 

Want to host effective virtual and hybrid events? Check out Social27 Virtual Event Platform to see how we can help your organization tackle all 5 of these strategies and more!