How to Host a Virtual Event – The Ultimate Guide

By Flow Team - On October 20, 2020

Virtual events are ones where participants attend a session online and a host presents a topic or conducts a discussion. Some examples of virtual events are webinars, live interviews, podcasts, virtual conferences, live Q&A sessions, etc.

With the advent of technology that makes live streaming and web-conferencing so easy, the popularity of virtual events is increasing. The ease of hosting an online event further makes these a popular choice for both businesses and individuals.

But, do you know how to host a successful virtual event?

For most of you, the answer would be no. And, even if you have hosted a virtual event before, you can still learn the best practices of how to increase impact.

In this post, we will provide you with a detailed virtual event guide with tips on how to ensure the success of your virtual events. You will also learn how to make your events engaging as well as things to do after your event is over.

But, before that, let’s first look at some of the reasons why you should host a virtual event in the first place. 

Ready to find out more?

Let’s get started.

Why Should You Host Virtual Events?

Virtual events have their own set of advantages over offline events. The biggest advantage is that the cost of hosting a virtual event is lower than that for offline events. You don’t need to pay for a venue, logistics, seating, food, resources, and handouts for virtual events. 

The second advantage is that it is easier for everyone to attend from the comfort of their homes. This convenience often helps hosts get many more registrations and attendees for virtual events than they would for offline events.

The third reason why you should host virtual events is that they require a lot less effort and preparation. Technical difficulties aside, there’s very little scope for last-minute disasters.

Having said that, I must tell you that hosting virtual events is not easy and you need to do your bit to ensure that things go smoothly. 

Want to learn how to ensure the success of your virtual events?

Read the next section to find out.

Step-By-Step Guide on How to Successfully Host a Virtual Event

Now that you know why you should be hosting virtual events instead of in-person ones, it’s time to start planning for your next event. 

First, you should do some research and check out the different types of virtual events that you can host. Find some great examples, see what your competitors are doing, and get an idea about how these events are conducted. Those of you who have some experience hosting virtual events can skip this step. 

Also, before we get into the details of how to ensure the success of a virtual event, you should first decide what type of event you want to host. The rest of the process will be based on this.

In this virtual event guide, I will tell you the step-by-step process of how to host virtual events from start to finish. This post is your virtual events guide on how to host one and how to ensure that it is a success. 

Ready to get started?

Here you go.

1. Choose the Right Virtual Event Platform to Host the Event

After you have made the decision to host a virtual event, the first step in the process is to select a hosting platform. Your choice of virtual event platform will largely depend on the kind of event that you want to host.

If you want to host a webinar, you may want to go with a professional tool like FLOW that provides advanced features and options to host successful virtual events. FLOW can help you design impactful webinars and measure engagement in a way that’s relevant to your content and audience.

However, if you want to host a live video, you can simply use a social media platform to do that.

Similarly, for social media virtual events, different platforms provide options like Stories or live videos that you can use. You can host live Q&A sessions, interviews, tutorial videos, and a lot more using these options.

Choose the right online event platform based on the type of event that you want to host. You should also look at other factors like the number of attendees, length of the event, and other features that you want like polls, surveys, Q&As, etc. 

This is especially important for long, business events like webinars and online conferences and summits. So, choose your hosting platform based on the kind of features that you want. 

Also, for professional conferences, webinars, etc. you will need to create landing pages and promote your event. Plan ahead and choose a platform that can help you with all aspects of hosting a virtual event. 

2. Make a Strategic Plan for the Event

By now, you know which type of event you want to host and on which event platform. Now, it is time to make a detailed plan covering all aspects of the virtual event from start to finish.

What should you include in this strategic plan?

Here are a few things to get you started:

  • Set your goals for the event and make them measurable and realistic
  • Define the KPIs or metrics for online events that you will use to measure your virtual event’s success based on your goals
  • Define what kind of an experience you want to deliver to your audience
  • Decide whether you want your event to be live or on-demand, free or paid, etc.
  • Choose the topic and list the content requirements
  • Plan for any activities or resource handouts that you need to prepare for your event

Overall, during this stage, you should have a clear understanding of what your event will be and how you want it to go. Visualization helps, but documenting your plan is better as it helps make sure that things go according to plan.

Create a game plan and document it to ensure that everyone working on the event is on the same page. Also, make sure that you assign roles and responsibilities for your team members.  Make sure everyone is accountable for their part of the process and knows what’s expected of them.

3. Select a Date and Time

Selecting a date and time for your event is not something that you can randomly choose. You need to put in some effort into deciding on these components so that you get the best possible attendance.

For this, do some research and find a date when there are no competing events or holidays. Also, choose a date and time when people will likely be available to attend your event.

After all, if you organize an event during working hours on a weekday, you may lose out on a large number of prospective attendees who will be busy with work.

You can also look at your website and social media analytics data to find out what times your audience is most online and active. This will help you narrow down on a perfect time slot for your event.

Put some thought into this and choose a date and time when you can expect to get good attendance. If you have any guest hosts, you need to make sure it suits them as well.

4. Promote Your Event 

This is one of the most important steps to ensure the success of your virtual event. You can plan and host a great event with amazing content, but it will still be a failure if most of your target audience doesn’t even know about it.

Promoting your event is a necessity if you want to reach the right audience and get the maximum possible registrations for your event.

Before we get into how to promote your event, you must first understand and identify your event’s key value proposition. What is it that your audience will gain if they attend this event? What exactly are you offering?

Once you are clear on that, you can then draft the promotional content or message that you can use to attract your target audience.

Use a mix of marketing platforms like social media, emails, advertising, etc. to get the best results. Don’t forget to include the event name, date, time, value proposition, and a CTA in all your event promotional materials.

Here’s an example of a social media event promotion post with information on the date, time, panelists, and how to register.

Here’s an example of a social media event promotion post with information on the date, time, panelists, and how to register.
Image via Instagram

You can also use social media to start an event countdown and create a sense of urgency to get more event registrations. A brilliant way to reach more people on social media is to create an event hashtag and use that in all of your social media promotions.

Another part of event promotion is designing a high-converting landing page with strategically-placed CTAs to get more registrations.

You can also leverage your event co-hosts or guests as influencers and ask them to promote the event on social media as well.

5. Create Great Content

Now, the most important part:

The actual content that you will present or use in your event. 

The first rule is to choose a relevant topic and then explore it in greater detail than already available online. Think about why someone would attend your event if the information that you are providing is easily available elsewhere.

Make sure that you provide valuable information and useful resources during your event. Also, make your presentation engaging and informative at the same time. While providing useful tips is important, you don’t want people to get bored either.

Also, prepare some activity sheets or resource documents that you can provide to all of your event attendees. These should be in a form that they can use, even after the event. Think about the key takeaways from your event and create a handout/resource that you can give to your attendees. 

Apart from the presentation, you should also prepare for what you’ll say and rehearse it several times before the actual event. Seek feedback from friends and family to improve your presentation skills and ensure that you keep things engaging.

6. Do a Rehearsal to Avoid Last-Minute Tech Troubles 

As mentioned earlier, the key source of trouble for virtual events is technical problems. You cannot afford to have any video or sound issues during your event. 

Therefore, you should check all your technical equipment like speakers, video cameras, etc. and ensure that everything is working well. In fact, you should do a rehearsal event with your team to identify and eliminate any potential problems.

These are the six easy steps for how to ensure the success of your virtual events. However, your work is not done as soon as you go live and your event begins. You also need to prepare for some things during and after the event to make your event a success.

Wondering what these things are?

Keep reading…

Ways to Boost Attendee Engagement During the Event

You have promoted your event and got the desired number of registrations for your event. But, you see people leaving your event way before the scheduled end time. This may be because they are bored or don’t find the event useful.

Sounds like a nightmare right?

Well, that’s why you should ensure that your event is interactive, instead of it being a one-sided conversation. You need to keep the participants involved and attentive throughout the event.

But, how can you do that?

That’s what you will learn in the next section of this virtual event guide. Here are some tips for capturing the audience’s attention and keeping them engaged throughout the event.

Make it Interactive

There are many ways in which you can make your virtual event interactive and engaging. Here are some of the best techniques to get you started:

  • Ask questions and allow your attendees to answer, just like you would during an in-person event. Luckily, most professional hosting platforms allow audience comments, so you can have a two-way conversation.
  • Let your audience ask their questions and you can choose to answer a few. Most people do this at the end of the event, to keep things organized.
  • Conduct polls to find out the audience’s response to your questions during the event and to keep attendees engaged.
  • If you have a low number of attendees, then you can ask everyone to keep their web cameras open, so that they stay attentive.
  • Conduct quizzes or surveys, whenever relevant, to keep your audience busy and hooked.

Provide Resource Links

Another way to make your event engaging is to provide useful resources to your audience as well. You cannot just rely on a presentation to keep them hooked.

Send them a link to a survey and ask them to find out how much they know about a topic. You can also send them resource links to dig deeper into a topic than what is covered during your presentation. 

Basically, give them something to look at or do, while you talk about it, so that they are equally involved in the event.

Try these engagement strategies for your online events and ensure that your audience has a great experience.

Things to Do After the Event

After the event, there are still things you can do to provide a better user experience and gain valuable information.

You can, for example, ask for participants’ feedback about your event to get insights into what they did or did not like about the event. This will help you plan your future events better.

You can also provide them with activity sheets or other useful resources along with instructions on how to use them. This will help your participants actually apply what they learned during the event in real life.

You should also seek event feedback on social media via a simple post thanking your attendees and asking them to share their experiences. Good feedback can be used as testimonials and bad feedback can be used to fuel your future strategy. Either way, it will be beneficial to you.

Final Thoughts

If you are planning to host a virtual event, irrespective of what kind of event, this is your ultimate online event guide on how to do it right. Use this guide as your reference for conducting successful virtual events that get high attendance and engagement rates.

What are you waiting for?

Follow these best practices to ensure the success of your virtual events. Also, try experimenting with a few different types of events to see what works best for your business.

Do you have any further questions on this topic that you would like to ask? Leave your questions in the comments section.

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