How to Host a Successful Virtual Conference: A 2021 Guide - SmartKarrot

How to Host a Successful Virtual Conference: A 2021 Guide

What is a virtual conference and how to host a successful one in no time? Read on the blog to get your answers unlocked.

How to Host a Successful Virtual Conference

2021 has unlocked many ‘first-times’ for us and it is no wonder. One such surprise that it has unleashed upon us is connecting with the world via virtual conferences. According to a report by PCMA, 79% of the event planners have gone virtual this year. This staggering percentage announces our heavy reliance on remote work tools. On that note, this step-by-step guide highlights how to host a successful virtual conference for absolute event success. Read on to further your knowledge. 

Table of Contents 

  • What is a Virtual Conference?
  • How do you create a virtual conference strategy?
    1. Step One: Look for the most important Features
    2. Step Two: Go Specific about the Topics and Speakers
    3. Step Three: Promote Your Virtual Event
    4. Step Four: Secure your Virtual Conference
    5. Step Five: Increase Engagement at a Virtual Conference
    6. Step Six: Do not Forget to Follow Up

What is a Virtual Conference?

People often confuse a virtual conference with a virtual meeting or a meeting. Generally, virtual conferences are hosted online and include live sessions, panel discussions, demos, and more. The purpose of virtual conferences is lead and demand generation, adoption and retention, brand awareness, and relationship building. While having said is easier than done, pulling off a stellar virtual conference needs planning, presentation and proactivity. The below steps break down the process of hosting a virtual conference online. 

How do you create a virtual conference strategy?

Step One: Look for the most important Features 

You will come across many free webinar platforms online. Although they are free, they do not provide all the requisite features needed to host a large-scale virtual conference. Here is a checklist that you must run through before choosing your pick: 

  • Customized Form Fill up
  • Multiple Hosts or Panelists
  • Maximum number of Attendees
  • File sharing options
  • Screen sharing options
  • Chat messaging options
  • Automatic email notifications
  • Event recording options
  • Audience reporting and analytics 

Aside from this, use a pre-recorded video instead of having a speaker making an introduction. Share your screen and navigate your attendees through your site of software. Finally, make sure to consider how hardware and equipment can improve your virtual event. For this, you might consider investing in an HD webcam as that can mark a stark difference in the results. 

Step Two: Go Specific about the Topics and Speakers

It is not ideal to cover all that you know about the topic in one go. Be specific and zero in on a particular niche that you wish to shed light on. It is always recommended to secure a panel of 2-4 industry experts as opposed to one for selecting a speaker line-up. This will give room for more insights, more discussion and your attendees will feel as though they receiving more value because of the varied perspectives. 

Step Three: Promote Your Virtual Event

First and foremost, send out email marketing posts to your clients and post them on your social channels. Additionally, you can also post details about your event on online discussion forums and reach out to other companies from your niche. Note that a virtual conference is not just about getting a substantial audience base, you also want to have a strong attendance ratio. Once you are done with that, send reminders to each of your attendees and create a social page where they can discuss with other members about the event details, if they wish to. This is a good way to promote your event as with this, the attendees can ask questions and learn more about the conference. 

Step Four: Secure your Virtual Conference 

Always gear up with an extra layer of security before you stream your virtual conference live. Opt for webinar software that needs two-factor authentication for the hosts. Further, this should have a protected in-built password for virtual events. With this, only the admins will have the right to mute and unmute participants and allow people to share or unshare their screens. You can also enable a virtual waiting room. This allows admins and hosts to pre-screen attendees before they are allowed to join the event. Also, if someone unfamiliar tries to enter the event, they will not be allowed to join in. 

Step Five: Increase Engagement at a Virtual Conference

Relevant content is not enough to keep your audience’s attention at all times. Start taking live polls and surveys during your live stream. This will keep a tab on how engaged are your participants with the event. This will also keep them more involved. Aside from this, enable your own chat messaging options that allow both private and public texts. End your event with a planned Q&A session. Virtual hand raising and audience spotlight tools that show the person asking a question on a video live stream replicate the live Q&A experience even further.

Step Six: Do not Forget to Follow Up 

Most of the webinar tools send out a transcript to the attendees, once the event is over. Do not forget to send out a quick survey, which can be in a ratings-based or a Q&A format to get the right feedback from your audience. Know what did they like and know what could have been done better. To encourage attendees to take the survey, promise to upload responses on social media, or enter anyone who answers the survey into a prize drawing.

Parting Thoughts

And finally, don’t be afraid to go virtual. The world is changing rapidly and you will need to buckle up and pace up with its offerings. As you rebuild your event programs and look to the future, take advantage of virtual events and experiences. Follow these six steps and you are halfway through a stellar virtual conference anyways. 

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