Businesses that have successfully hosted conferences that require the physical attendance of participants often decide to host virtual conferences or online conferences with one thought in mind – if we can hold a successful face-to-face conference, a virtual one cannot be that hard … After all, everything is almost the same except that the participants will not be physically present. What most forget is that there are several key differences between a face-to-face conference production UK and a virtual one, and, there are a thousand and one ways that an online conference can become a flop.
So, how do you go about planning for and hosting a successful online conference?
1. Plan ahead and make participants anticipate for each upcoming bit of the conference
When planning an online conference, you may pick different presenters to share their thoughts through a Webinar and think that you have hosted a great virtual conference. The problem with this scenario is that the presenters will share different thoughts when their turn comes and this gives attendees a chance to cherry pick when to attend and who to listen to. The end result is usually that attendees end up learning little if anything at all.
If you are looking to offer real value to those attending your virtual conference, you should carefully plan and curate how the presentations will be made so that the attendees anticipate each upcoming presentation. A virtual presentation is akin to a museum in one key way … In a museum, a well-curated exhibition tends to bring out the value of each of the items on display to the fore. Similarly, if you properly plan for presentations to made in a great order when hosting an online conference, all of the speakers will be able to deliver value to the attendees both individually and collectively.
2. Yes, it is your virtual conference but do not hog the limelight … Give other stakeholders a chance to market themselves
People and entities that have a stake in your online conference are best primed to promote the conference. Some of the stakeholders in an online conference may include presenters, sponsors, people/entities with exhibitions and attendees just to name a few.
For the online conference in question, we focused on helping presenters and vendors who had played a strong role in sponsoring one of our key initiatives. To help them boost their profiles, we provided specific language and images that they could put up in their mail correspondence and key social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn (Image below).
Additionally, in this particular case, we did not encourage the attendees to market the event since our research showed that their efforts would not have such a great impact on the prospective audience. This is not to say that promotions made by attendees do not always translate to great returns. In fact, such efforts have worked tremendously well in other events hosted virtually. For example, AssociationSuccess has in the past gotten attendees of their events to share Surge Events they are hosting through their social media handles and through a platform known as Snoball with great success. Goes to show that this is something definitely worth considering.
3. Find a way to promote meaningful social interactions
Critics who favour face-to-face events over online conferences often opine that their preference of the former over the latter is because in online events, there is a certain level of inter-personal networking and interactions that you cannot achieve. Though this is true, with the right pinch of creativity and proper planning, the quality and level of interactions in online events can be quite high and meaningful.
4. Spice your online event with some live video feeds
In this case, providing ‘live video’ means ensuring that there are actual people speaking in real time during the conference and not just pre-recorded videos and audio files.
Today, you can rely on platforms like Zoom to stream live video feeds during an online conference. Even a few live video feed snippets can make your virtual conference more relatable, personable and engaging. Live feeds can boost engagement among participants in your conference tremendously.
5. Ensure that participants in your conference have access to easy, quick and reliable customer support
If you are looking to make your online conference look stand out as a top-tier professional event, ensure that the attendees have unfettered and quick access to competent customer support services.