While hosting day-long virtual conference during social distancing protocols presents obvious logistical challenges, believe it or not, it can be done.
In fact, hosting a virtual conference these days can actually present a real opportunity for businesses. Because more and more industries are looking for support and connection, providing a forum for discussion and growth can help build and maintain relationships that last well beyond the pandemic.
So if you’re considering an all-day long virtual conference for your company, here are seven things you need to know to make it work.
1. Create and share the agenda beforehand
For virtual events that are going to be several hours long, having an agenda allows attendees to prioritize the sessions and speakers they’re most interested in. They also effectively illustrate the event’s overall value.
2. Ensure a seamless registration experience
Registration for your virtual event is key, since you’ll want all your attendees to be able to sign up and access your event with total ease. Email is the best way to promote your webinars and continue the conversation long after the live event ends.
At GoToWebinar, we’ve found that 73% of our webinar registrations typically come from email. We use email to attract our webinar audience, then use it to nurture prospects through the funnel. So remember: webinar success hinges on an effective email strategy.
3. Optimize your speakers’ virtual environments
Reach out to your speakers ahead of time to discuss where they’re planning to join the webinar from. If necessary, provide them with the hardware required to produce a professional-looking stream consistent with the rest of your event’s agenda.
Unless they’re an experienced full-time remote worker, an exhibitor is unlikely to have a professional studio setup in their home. But with a decent USB microphone, an external camera, and a simple backdrop, they can still lead a highly interactive session.
4. Conduct a dry run
With so many possible points of failure, you’ll likely run into a few technical hitches when organizing a virtual conference. To avoid this on the day of, have your speakers run through their presentations ahead of time as much as possible. Don’t assume your guests are tech-savvy. Test equipment and Internet connection speeds, and identify solutions and backup plans should things go south.
5. Use social media
During a lengthy virtual conference, social media platforms like Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are where conversations between attendees are most likely to take place. Lead the charge and create an atmosphere of sharing by establishing an event hashtag, and encourage your speakers and attendees to use it.
6. Take plenty of breaks to allow attendees to socialize and network
Social distancing makes it more difficult to be, well, social – but this doesn’t mean a virtual conference can’t offer the same networking opportunities you’d find at an in-person event.
Platforms such as GoToWebinar and GoToTraining come with comprehensive features that empower engagement during sessions, as well as the ability to break out* into smaller groups with other attendees. Learn to leverage these tools, and you’ll find that virtual conferences can be just as effective as in-person events at bringing people together.
*Breakout feature only available in GoToTraining.
7. A.B.E (Always Be Engaging!)
Create opportunities to interact with attendees through live Q&A sessions as well as tools like polls, activities, or even quizzes. Remember that you’re competing for people’s attention at all times, and by inviting viewers to participate rather than be passive, you’ll ramp up engagement while creating additional content.
Try inviting attendees to submit suggestions or questions ahead of sessions, and then address those submissions as the session comes to an end. People who ask questions are far more likely to stick around to hear them answered.
Invite GoToWebinar to your next online event
Whether you’re moving an existing conference online or starting a virtual one from scratch, GoToWebinar makes it easier than ever to create a seamless and successful event for both your attendees and exhibitors. Visit our website for more information or start for free today!