With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown situation, more and more companies are turning to hosting virtual conferences online as a means of bringing communities together.
Aside from the obvious benefit of saving resources and reaching out to a wider audience, hosting a virtual conference gives you an opportunity to create a library of video content that you can repurpose to generate qualified leads for your business.
In this article, we’ll explain step-by-step how to host a virtual conference and share some actionable tips to help you get started with a step in the right direction.
How to host a virtual conference
Organizing a virtual conference means that you can strengthen community impact and generate engagement without having attendees show up to a venue. It’s similar to organizing an in-person event except that everything is done online through your WordPress website.
Here’s what you need to do to host a virtual conference for your organization:
Step #1: Choose a conference theme
The first step to hosting a virtual conference is choosing a conference theme. Bringing the conference’s sessions and presentations under a clear theme helps you deliver memorable and impactful events. The theme you choose will guide every aspect of the conference’s agenda.
Defining the conference’s goal and purpose can help you come up with a theme. You can also look at industry trends to come up with ideas. Make sure your conference theme is motivational and in line with your company’s brand, values, and products.
Here are some examples:
- Breaking Barriers
- Building for the Future
- Creating Customer Connections
- Explore the Possibilities
- Innovate, Integrate, Motivate
- People, Process, and Performance
- Success through Synergy
A conference theme also helps drive event planning in the right direction and keeps your messaging on track. As a result, you’re able to ensure that you meet your conference goals.
Step #2: Offer online conference registration
The best way to let attendees register for your virtual conference is by offering an online registration option. This way, you won’t have to manually keep track of email RSVPs and your entire event registration process can be automated. This can help you signups no matter if they are paid or free.
Online conference registration software can tell you things like how many people will be attending. Having this information before the day of the conference can help you be prepared. For example, if you get more registrations than what you were expecting, you could preemptively take measures to ensure there’s no bandwidth issues during the conference.
The easiest way to offer online conference registration is by using event registration software like Event Espresso. It lets you create registration forms for your conference. If you want to charge for registrations then you can use Event Espresso to create and sell tickets for the conference. Plus, you can fully automate the conference registration and ticketing process.
Check out these recommendations for hosting virtual events with Event Espresso for more information.
Step #3: Include a mix of live video and prerecorded presentations
Unlike in-person events where presentations are live, virtual conferences give you the option to pre recorded presentations. However, it’s a good idea to include a mix of live video and pre recorded presentations in your conference. Having some live video sessions adds a human element to the conference event. And the benefit of using pre recorded content means that you don’t have to worry about latency issues during the conference.
For live video, we recommend using a streaming service like Zoom, Google Meet, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or YouTube Live to broadcast the conference session. You can have speakers pre recorded sessions and presentations and upload them to a video hosting platform before the day of the conference. Prepared content – such as presentation slides, reports, and PDFs – can be made available to attendees during the presentations so people can follow along.
Step #4: Engage viewers
In contrast to in-person events, with virtual conferences, you need to think about how you’ll engage viewers. Everyone attending the conference will be tuning in to the presentations using some sort of a device that has distractions built into it. Therefore, you should make a plan for how you’ll engage viewers during the conference.
For example, you can have live polls and surveys during the conference to generate attendee engagement and collect data. If you enable a live chat option then you could encourage attendees to ask questions. Or, you could have attendees send in questions for speakers before the event begins. This way, they’ll stay engaged with the presentation to have their questions answered.
Step #5: Encourage networking
One of the major downsides of hosting a virtual conference is that attendees can’t network with one another the way they would in an in-person conference. As an event organizer, your goal is to mimic a real-world conference experience, online. This includes creating networking opportunities for attendees.
You can use meeting and webinar software that offers live chat features to host your virtual conference. This way, attendees can talk to each other during break sessions. Another way to encourage networking is by leveraging social media platforms. For example, you can start Twitter threads using your event hashtag to encourage people to connect with other attendees.
Step #6: Share and promote the recording of the virtual conference
As we mentioned earlier, hosting a virtual conference gives you an opportunity to create a library of video content. This includes pre recorded sessions, live sessions, presentations, and other resources that you can repurpose to generate qualified leads.
After the conference, you might consider sharing the recording of the virtual conference with your email list to encourage people to attend your next conference. You can also publish it on your business website along with downloadable resources and reports.
Hosting a virtual conference is a great way to strengthen community impact and generate engagement amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. All you need is conference registration software and a webinar (or meeting) tool.
To recap, here’s what you need to do to host a virtual conference:
- Pick a theme for your event.
- Offer online conference registration on your business website.
- Have speakers and presenters plan for a mix of live video and prerecorded presentations.
- Engage viewers by conducting polls and surveys, enabling live chat, and asking attendees to submit questions for speakers before the conference session.
- Set up networking opportunities for conference participants.
- Share and promote the recording of the virtual conference.
Check out the Event Espresso demo today to see how you can set up online conference registration and sell tickets.
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