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8 Things To Consider When Organising & Setting Up A Virtual Conference

In today’s social distancing world, many event planners might find themselves organising a virtual conference for the first time. In-person conferences are similar to virtual ones in many ways, but there are some key differences too. Ultimately, you want your virtual or hybrid event to resemble an in-person one as closely as possible – while still leveraging the benefits of a remote conference. The team at Purple Patch Group, an event management company in London, put together a list of eight things to consider when organising a virtual conference. 

1) Agenda
How will your virtual or hybrid event be structured? You want a coherent logic to your sessions which also accommodate your presenters’ schedules. With hybrid events, which incorporate in-person and remote elements, the agenda is particularly important. Virtual events also have an advantage over in-person ones – you can space out individual sessions of a remote event. Instead of packing your sessions into one or two days, you can hold them over a week or even a month. People might hesitate to register for an event that seems like it takes a month to complete, but if you package your sessions individually, it could appeal to your attendees’ busy schedules as well.
2) Your Context
As with a traditional conference, you want your virtual event to have a clear theme. Sure, you can plan several webinars and virtual lectures on different topics, presented by different speakers. But if you don’t draw a clear connection between your conference elements, you’ll have lower attendance. You can reinforce the “big idea” of your conference by hosting short introductory sessions before each speaker, explaining how their presentation relates to your overall theme.
3) Outside Marketing
When planning promotion for your event, consider ways in which other people can market for you. The best promotors are your presenters, exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees. Send your presenters material that they can disseminate to their networks, like specific copy or images. To get attendees to promote your event, you can use a platform like Snoball to allow them to share events on social media and through email.
4) Social Aspect
The social aspect is one of the biggest challenges of a virtual or hybrid event. Conferences are for networking as much as they are for learning, so consider how you’ll recreate that experience online. A video conferencing platform that allows live chat function, like Zoom, is one key way to do this. To take full advantage of live chat, structure the conversation. Prepare thought-provoking questions beforehand and devise a system for channeling responses and audience questions.
5) Live Video
For a virtual event, you’ll have to decide if you do synchronous (live), asynchronous (pre-recorded), or a combination of both. Live videos are great for fostering interaction from your audience, but they have more technical requirements than pre-recorded. If your team doesn’t handle tech too well, then prepare as much as you can ahead of time.
6) Tech Support
Virtual and hybrid events have different tech requirements from live events. Before you plan your agenda, look for speakers, or prospect for sponsors, you should nail down your tech situation. Find a platform you and your team are comfortable using or arrange training sessions to familiarize everyone. It’s also a smart idea to keep dedicated tech support on call during the event, especially if you’re live streaming any part of it.
7) Speakers
You, as the event planner, may not be the only one new to virtual conferences. Your presenters may also have little experience delivering talks virtually. Try to prepare your speakers as much as possible by going over the video conferencing platform with them, explaining how audience participation works, and discussing what your overall goals from their presentation are. Presenters hate surprises just as much as event managers do. But unlike you, speakers aren’t well-versed in adapting to the unexpected in the world of event planning.
8) Registration
You’ve may have already used an online registration software for in-person events, so switching to a virtual event will be simple. Registration and access are vital components to the attendee experience, however, so you want to be sure you’ve selected the right platform and that it will run smoothly. Consider if your event will be paid, if people can sign up for individual sessions, and – for important privacy reasons – how you’ll process and integrate data that attendees provide when they sign up.
Final Thoughts on Organising Virtual Conferences

Whether you’re diving in for the first time or you’re an experienced virtual event planner, it’s always beneficial to review the basics. And with virtual conferences becoming so popular recently, there’s never been a better time to become a pro at holding remote events. Keep these eight things in mind and you’ll pull off a great virtual conference.

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