Hosting virtual events - ultimate guide

Hosting & Planning Virtual Events: The Ultimate Guide For Beginners 

Mia Milic

USA

16.04.2024.

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Virtual events gained most of their popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the restrictions, social distancing and inability to have actual in-person gatherings. Nevertheless, people still use them to this day because they have proven to be quite effective and convenient. 

When you hear the words “virtual event” what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me it’s definitely an online lecture, but the correct answer to this question doesn’t really exist since virtual events can represent a wide range of different things including virtual conferences, webinars, trade shows, job fairs, training sessions and even virtual team-building exercises! It’s basically an event that involves people interacting in an online environment on the web, rather than meeting in a physical location. 

Why is a Virtual Event better than the actual in-person event?

People are used to in-person events more than the online ones, but that doesn’t make them necessarily better. Good thing about them is that they have an audience who is physically present and as a result it’s easier to establish strong bonds with customers and form long lasting connections. 

Here are a few reasons why you should decide on Virtual Events: 

  1. A greater time flexibility
  2. There is no need for traveling
  3. Saving money and reducing expenses 
  4. People from all over the world could join
  5. Increased reach
  6. It is easier to get feedback
  7. Less challenging
  8. More accesible 
  9. Environmentally friendly 
  10. They provide valuable insights

How to host a Virtual Event?

Believe it or not, hosting a virtual event isn’t nearly as hard as you may think! Because we live in the digital age these events are bound to become more and more common so there’s no harm in learning how to host them! 

However, your approach to an internet based meeting can’t be the same as the one you would have for the actual physical event. There are different obstacles that you would need to tackle and it requires you to have a whole new outlook on things if you want your event to succeed. 

No matter the age or your knowledge of how the technology works, with a little guidance and practice you will be ready to organize online gatherings in no time. Here are a few tips and tricks to make this journey easier for you:

  1. Pick the best platform

There are plenty of available platforms that you can choose from that offer different features. Your choice depends on the type of the event you plan on hosting. Live-streams are best for holding conferences or workshops, so if that’s your plan you can use Facebook LiveStream or YouTube Live. If you are hosting a video conference or a team-building event, Zoom turned out to be the most popular choice. 

  • Here are some of the best free platforms for hosting Virtual Events:
  • Zoom.
  • Microsoft Teams.
  • Google Meet.
  • Dialpad Meetings.
  • TrueConf Online.
  • FreeConference.
  • Slack Video Calls.
  1. Engage, engage & engage

Just think of the most boring event you have ever been to, it’s probably because the host was not capturing your attention. Any virtual event’s engagement rates are an important aspect in determining its success. 

A good host is always enthusiastic, has clear communication and interacts with the audience. Try to make your content as relatable as possible and don’t shy away from storytelling or using funny anecdotes. 

You are probably wondering, how can the gathering be interactive if it’s online? Actually, research shows that 47% of people are more likely to ask a question at a virtual event

On most of the online platforms there is an option of a live chat which can be a great tool for communicating with your audience. For example, a quiz is always a good option. They are very adaptable to a number of people attending and they can easily be done in an online environment because they don’t require standing up from the seats. You can possibly divide people in teams but you don’t have to. Attendees can write their answers on pieces of paper or in a live-chat and whoever raises their hand first, gets the word. 

Engaging with people will make your event more memorable and interesting. 

  1. Choose the right time

When hosting a virtual event you should take in consideration how many people will be able to attend. Even though the meeting is online people can have varied schedules and possibly live in different time zones. 

The best time is usually early evenings during the weekend but the secure thing to do is ask your audience for suggestions and go with the one that most of the people are able to attend. Also think about how much time should be left for a Q&A. Bear in mind how many factors need to align and choose the most fitting time for an event. 

After all, you can always upload the video on YouTube or the platform of your choice after the event is finished so that anyone who didn’t make it in time can watch it on their own terms.

  1. Promote your event

One of the most crucial steps for a good virtual event is  promoting it! This can help you attract a bigger audience and extend the reach of your event. You can do this via social media, email newsletters or targeted advertisements. 

Powerful marketing is the key to a successful event and by promoting it you can extend its reach. Social media can be one of the best tools to spread the word about your event. Be sure to use the platform that your target audience uses the most so you can reach the right people. 

Younger audiences are usually on Instagram And TikTok while the older ones tend to be on Facebook and Linkedin. Middle ground for every viewer most of the time is Twitter and YouTube. 

Don’t forget to use #hashtags, they are your best friend!

  1. Understand your target audience 

For your event to be lucrative you have to know and understand your audience very well. Who are you talking to? Think about their age, occupation, likes and dislikes, level of education and what they are interested in. Try imagining all of your audience as only one person. 

Your target audience is the people that are the most frequent customers of your company. The ones that bring the most revenue or have an influence on your company’s objective. They are the ones you should be talking to and want to reach with your message. They are the ones who you want to sell your products and services to.

What will catch your audience’s attention in your speech is using a lot of the descriptors that they recognize themselves in. Try being as specific as possible so the audience could relate to what you are talking about. 

It’s always easier to host an event when you have a clear picture in your head of the person you are talking to. You can tailor your chosen topics specifically for their needs which can lead to higher engagement. This is one of the biggest pros of holding a virtual event is because you can reach a wider audience that you otherwise could.

How do you define your target audience? 

Gender identity, age, level of education and financial status are just a few examples of your target market categorization.  

To achieve the most beneficial research results, set apart these audiences into three main groups: 

  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • Purchasing tendencies
  1. Plan the content

If you want your event to pass as smoothly as possible you should definitely plan the content and have a good idea about the topics you want to talk about and cover. Define the objective and the goal of your event. You should cover all the important details and key points while keeping it as simple as possible. Definitely go over everything as many times as possible and time it so you have in mind how long your event is going to be. 

Planning high-quality content is going to demonstrate how knowledgeable you are in the area you are talking about and will ensure that your target audience comes back to attend the next event you plan on hosting. 

If you are unsure how to do that, follow the The 5 C’s of event management

The success of an event is determined by the following five essential event management elements: concept, coordination, control, culmination, and closeout. You can ensure that your event is well-organized, well-executed, and memorable for your attendees by incorporating these elements into your planning.“  

  • May Dalumpines (Digital Marketing Executive) 
  1. Concept – Think about why you are planning this event and who is your target audience. What do you and the consumers plan on gaining from this conference? Is your goal to increase brand visibility, sales, or subscriptions? Does your audience want entertainment or education? 
  2. Coordination – Organize everything and focus on what is important so everything can go as planned.
  3. Control – Managing and coordinating the entire event and preparing a backup strategy just in case something goes wrong.
  4. Culmination – The actual day of the event, everything you have done has led up to this moment. Make the most of it and be in the moment, try not to stress too much.
  5. Closeout – This includes all of the tasks you have to do after the gathering is finished. These procedures involve data analysis, gathering feedback from stakeholders and those who took part in the function, along with assessing the success of the event as a whole. The input received will serve to further develop your future event management skills.
Blog design virtual event 02

Can a Virtual Assistant help me organize an event?

I get it, all of this requires too much work and you don’t have enough time on your hands to do it. That’s fine, don’t worry about it, a Virtual Assistant (VA) can assist you in solving this issue with ease.

According to Investopedia – “A Virtual Assistant is an independent contractor who provides administrative services to clients while operating outside of the client’s office. A virtual assistant typically operates from a home office but can access the necessary planning documents, such as shared calendars, remotely.”

They can handle anything you need from developing an agenda to sending invitations and reminders as well as marketing and promotion. There is no denying that planning an event is stressful but hiring a VA 

can ease your mind knowing that you have an expert in that field taking care of things instead of yourself. This way, not only will your event be more organized but you will be able to relax and actually have fun and enjoy yourself which will leave a long lasting positive impression on your guests.

Most virtual assistants serve their business or clients by answering emails, drafting statements and letters, organizing files,  handling the administrative work, transcribing papers, organizing plans for travel, and managing timetables and calendars. 

There are hundreds of U.S.-based assistants working for companies who are available to assist planners for a few hours a month or several hours a day. Many of these assistants have specialized knowledge in social media, marketing, and event organizing.

Blog design virtual event 03

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Virtual Assistants 

If you don’t trust someone else enough to let them do the work for you, there is another solution you may go to. You can turn to an AI Virtual Assistant to help you navigate through the process of online event planning. 

How does that work you may think? They can help you find the best time and date for the gathering and can schedule and reschedule tasks on your calendar. These assistants are able to analyze a broad range of data, such as the audience demographics, data gathered from social media, response studies and prior event engagements. By analyzing these pieces of information, AI generates useful insights that benefit event planners in making better choices which result in a more productive event. 

In spite of that, some would argue that AI still lacks a lot of the human factor which is very important for event planning. As a Virtual Assistant who is handling that job you need to have an endless amount of creativity and need to be able to find the optimal solution at all times.

If something unexpected occurs during the event you must think on the spot and figure out the best way to react, Artificial Intelligence VAs are still not equipped to do that in spite of the rapidly growing improvement of the programs. 

There are a number of activities that are too complicated for machines, so regular upkeep will be necessary to ensure the highest possible efficiency.  So no, AI virtual assistants will never completely take the place of people themselves, but if that is your preference you have the option available.

What are the best Artificial Intelligence Tools for event planning and management? 

There are probably tons of AI Virtual Assistants on the market right now, but not all of them can be useful for event planning. You should look for programmes that can help guide you through the whole planning process, manage event schedules and find platform settings for virtual gatherings. AI can also handle the attendee registration process, all sorts of marketing, from posting to your social media accounts to sending emails and it can give you the best insight once the event is over. 

These are the platforms that were designed to help you with that: 

  • ClickUp – the only AI-powered assistant designed specifically for event planning. You can choose from hundreds of different templates intended to take care of all of the work for you
  • ChatGPT – Anyone and everyone has heard of ChatGPT by now. It has really good features but it is not considered ideal for event planning. Although, it can be great for finding inspiration for your topic and what you plan on discussing. 
  • Jasper – It operates mostly with text-based content, similar to ChatGPT, but it also includes marketing elements to help spread the news about your event. What is unique to Jasper is it can completely match your brand’s personality. 

Virtual Event Planner Jobs

If you are interested in having a job as a Virtual Event Planner here are the things you should know beforehand. Being a good event planner is a skill you can master if you are determined to do so. 

You must effectively coordinate events through using technology, responding fast to modifications in demands, and distributing information to your customer base and potential participants, who can then seamlessly check into the meeting.

Virtual event planning is available in a variety of formats, similar to real conferences. It could be a seminar with just one person on stage, or it could take the form of a convention or training. The idea is to develop a unique visitor experience that differs from what other companies are doing as well. 

A virtual event planner must be excellent at interacting online. You may qualify for this profession by pursuing a degree in hospitality or a postsecondary certificate in event planning. Some planners get experience by working as an assistant to someone who is already in this career field. 

Schedule a Call

Are you looking to maximize efficiency and productivity in your business? myVA360 provides businesses with access to qualified virtual assistants who can save time and money. Get started today with a free trial and experience the great features that come with hiring a virtual assistant.

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