With crisis comes opportunities and 2020 has been a year where the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner to the work for various industries and sectors of the economy. So much so, some of the world’s biggest conferences called off their events – from SXSW, a technology and music festival, to Google and Facebook calling off their annual developers conference.
However, many took up the challenge of hosting their events through virtual conferencing and brought communities together for it. This was not limited to tech events but also various music festivals were organised to raise donations for the frontline workers others affected by a coronavirus. Various broadcasting platforms such as Twitch, Zoom, and Google Meet became popular choices to host a virtual conference.
While hosting a virtual conference might seem daunting, it is one of the best ways in the current situation to connect with your industry members and sector. Here are some tips your business must consider to host a successful online conference and webinar:
1. Set The Right Theme
To host a meaningful online conference for a day or a week, it needs to have an overarching theme. A series of various sessions scheduled as is without any pretext or context will leave your attendees clueless, distracted, and directionless. A successful virtual meeting is one where all the topics, sessions, workshops are brought under one umbrella or theme which gives a context for the conference.
2. Live Sessions
Various platforms such as Facebook and Instagram provide live streaming options for users. Along with this, Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Team, and various other video hosting platforms allow for a live session to be conducted. Such live streaming makes a virtual conference more humanised and allows attendees to ask questions and queries. Thus, while your conference remains virtual, it allows your audience to participate and engage.
3. Make It Interactive
While hosting a virtual conference, it is important to keep it engaging. The best way to do it is by allowing and encouraging attendees to ask questions and conduct a live Q&A session. These can be done by means of online polls, conducting activities, and quizzes. Virtual sessions are mostly passive in nature and therefore, to conduct a successful one, organisers need to understand this nuance. Another way to keep it interactive is by letting your audience to submit suggestions or questions before a session is conducted and have it addressed towards the end. People asking questions in such a scenario are far more likely to be around to hear it answered.
4. Run A Demo Session
Conducting an online conference can be tricky. There can be many potential failure points and it is certain to hit some technical glitches while going live. Thus, to avoid any unmitigated risk, run a demo session with your speakers much in advance. Test your equipment and internet speeds, identify back up points in case of any failure, and plan for potential trouble.
5. Simple Is Best
Hosting a virtual conference is not exactly the same as a normal conference at a particular location. You will need to re-create and re-imagine your online sessions in a virtual manner and strip it down to the bare minimum. Keeping it simple will go a long way in making your online events a success. Use the popular streaming sites such as Facebook/Instagram Live, initiate a Twitter thread. Make it transparent and make it easy for your audiences to access the content for more reach and engagement.
6. Engage And Network!
While hosting an online conference can seem tedious, it still maintains getting almost the same traction and opportunities to network as at a physical conference. Video hosting platforms such as Zoom and the likes provide chat features which help in having a discussion between the host and participants, even during a session. Facebook and Instagram Live session encourages participants to comment as the session is being conducted, as well as allowing for a break out session, one-to-one conversations.
Conducting an online session and virtual conference brings in a new avenue of engagement and keeps your brand image alive with your audience. It also allows your business to create a series of video library which can be reused at a later stage. Apart from keeping your audience safe by keeping them social distanced with each other, virtual conferencing allows your audience to participate with experts from your industry and your brand too.