Don’t have access to a venue? Well, what if you could launch an amazing event from the couch in your living room? All you need is a camera and a microphone to host a virtual event.
Even if you do have a venue for your event, it can become a much bigger experience if you also take it online. You can even use the live stream as part of your event marketing strategy.
That’s why we’re about to cover…
- Why you should host a virtual event
- How to plan and execute a virtual event
- Virtual event ideas you can use for inspiration
Why should you host a virtual event?
Virtual events—also called online events—refer to events that take place on the Internet. They can be organised from your living room or streamed live from the official event venue.
With the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus developments, you may be hesitant or unable to plan a physical event. Whether that is the case or not, there are many benefits to hosting a virtual event:
- It’s both faster and cheaper to organise.
- You can host it from almost anywhere.
- People can attend from all over the world.
- You can easily measure attendance and engagement.
- The recording of the event can be repurposed.
Even if you’re hosting an in-person event, you can still enjoy all these benefits by live streaming it at the same time.
How to plan and host a virtual event
Now that you’re sold on the concept of hosting a virtual event, let’s look at the nitty-gritty. It’s not that different from planning any other event, apart from a few key considerations we’ll cover below.
1. Choose a time and date
The time and date for your virtual event are even more important than for in-person events. That’s because your attendees might live in vastly different time zones.
Decide who you’re targeting with your virtual event before you decide when to host it. If you want attendees from the US, Europe, and Australia, it can get tricky to please everyone.
Tip: Read our guide on choosing the date for an event to help with your decision.
2. Plan the event format
A virtual event can be as simple as streaming yourself talking about a certain topic while taking questions from your viewers in the chat. You could also interview a guest live and host a Q&A session.
But the possibilities are endless. You can host a cooking class, yoga lesson, sales conference, or any other event that can be filmed. Heck, you could even live-stream your wedding.
Tip: We’ve covered how to pick a theme for your event in one of our guides here on the blog.
3. Pick a streaming platform
You have quite a few options when it comes to streaming platforms for your virtual event. But the choice shouldn’t be based on your own preferences. Pick the streaming platform based on where most of your attendees can view the event.
Here are some of the most popular streaming platforms (in alphabetical order):
- Facebook Live
- IBM Cloud Video
- Instagram Live
- JW Player Live
- Twitter Live
- Vimeo Livestream
- Youtube Live
4. Get the right equipment
It’s also important to have the right equipment to live stream your virtual event. You could, in theory, get by with a smartphone. But the results will be much better with professional tools.
Here is the essential equipment for a virtual event:
- Encoder (hardware or software)
- WiFi connection (has to be very fast)
- Accessories (cables, tripods, and batteries)
Tip: Learn about the equipment you need in our guide on the basics of live streaming an event.
5. Promote your virtual event
The best channel to promote your virtual event is the one you’re broadcasting from. So if you’re live streaming on Facebook, you should promote your virtual event with Facebook ads.
But supplement this with the usual event marketing strategies to make the event a homerun. Ask any influencers—such as speakers and entertainers—to help with event promotion.
Tip: Use this virtual events marketing playbook to make sure you cover all bases.
6. Engage with your audience
It can be tricky to engage with your online viewers when you’re hosting a live event. But when your event is purely virtual, you can focus your attention solely on your online audience.
Make sure you reply to as many comments as you can to keep the conversation going. Don’t forget to have some rules for chat moderation if you’re hosting a big live event with many attendees.
Tip: Learn about live polls and competitions in our guide on audience engagement.
10 virtual event ideas to help you plan your own
We’ve gone over the basics of why and how to host a virtual event. Now we’re going to look at 10 ideas that you can put into action.
1. Music event
The music industry has been quick to jump on the live stream bandwagon. Loads of bands now live stream their concerts and even their rehearsals. Call up your bandmates and roll the film.
Tip: Read our guide to a successful music event for additional information.
You don’t need a big conference hall and expensive marketing collateral lying around. Navid Moazzez regularly hosts virtual conferences where both attendees and speakers dial-in.
Tip: Check out our guide on how to host a conference if you’re planning a virtual summit.
3. Virtual reality
Tip: We’ve previously covered AR and VR at events.
4. Gaming tournament
Speaking of games, you don’t need a VR headset to organise an online gaming tournament. If you’re not sure where to start, look no further than the eSports industry for inspiration.
Tip: Read our guide on how to organise a gaming tournament for extra planning tips.
The world’s first virtual reality theatre platform has launched. If you know some actors, there’s no reason why you can’t jump on that trend.
Tip: You can use our guide on how to organise a show to help you with the planning phase.
You can host a live webinar where you teach the audience any number of skills. It could be anything from cooking to business.
Any virtual event can be turned into a fundraiser. YouTube’s LiveChat has SuperChat options, which allows your audience to donate money to boost their message to you.
Tip: Find additional details on how to organise a charity event in our guide.
8. Fan convention
The comic book, gaming, and film communities can often be found online. All you need to do is reach out to fans and announce that you’re planning a virtual fan convention.
Tip: You guessed it—we’ve covered how to start a fan convention right here on this blog!
9. Blogger event
Bloggers are notoriously busy, but if there’s one place they all hang out…it’s online. As with the fan convention above, you simply need to reach out and invite them (maybe via their blog?).
Tip: You can find out how to reach bloggers by reading our guide on blogger events.
10. Wine tasting
Gary Vaynerchuk decided to review wine on Youtube in 2006, and look where he is today. Why not host a virtual wine tasting event where everyone gives their opinions on fermented grapes? If wine isn’t your drink of choice, you can do the same for beer, rum, gin, or any other beverage.
Tip: We’ve covered grape and glass types in your guide on how to host a wine tasting.
That’s everything you need to know about hosting a virtual event. You now have a step-by-step guide on what to plan and how to go about it.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!