Businesses are hosting more virtual events than ever before with the trend towards live streaming growing faster than anyone could have imagined in the pre-covid world.
The pandemic has had a huge impact on events with businesses being forced to pivot their events online for more than a year. As live streaming turns mainstream, webinars and virtual conferences are becoming a viable alternative to in-person meetings, events, exhibitions and training sessions and it is highly likely that they are here to stay with the hybrid event format also growing in popularity.
As a team, we were delivering virtual events for clients long before anyone had even contemplated a national lockdown or heard the term ‘zoom fatigue’ and we are often asked about the pros and cons associated with different types of virtual events.
While all virtual events are designed to connect people through live streaming, they each serve very different purposes and they all require engaging content to achieve any real impact. Whether you opt for a webinar, a virtual conference or a hybrid event, the format really depends on your audience and what you are aiming to achieve.
We advise clients to opt for a webinar when they need a simple way to deliver information to an online audience. Webinar platforms can host up to 3,000 people, although the average number of attendees is usually a few hundred.
Webinars run one session at a time with one or more speakers delivering content either through live video, pre-recorded content or a combination of the two. Webinar platforms provide a basic level of interactive features with attendees having an opportunity to ask questions in real time, comment in the chat and participate in live polls and quizzes.
A typical webinar usually lasts between 45 – 80 minutes and the webinar format is very well suited to delivering virtual training academies, thought leadership sessions, product launches and internal comms.
Virtual conferences are designed to mimic the format of physical events, enabling multiple sessions to run simultaneously, while allowing attendees to access different keynote speakers, educational sessions, breakout rooms and networking opportunities.
Virtual conferences are more complex than webinars and the possibilities are endless with bespoke virtual conference platforms to enable participants to create their own agenda and move easily between rooms to access content.
Although virtual conferences tend to require more planning and production than webinars, they are a great alternative to large scale events that would usually take place at a physical venue such as conferences, trade shows and expos.
Virtual conference platforms have the capacity to host more attendees than webinar platforms and they also tend to provide a more sophisticated suite of interactive features, which can really help drive engagement.
Combining virtual with in-person events, the hybrid event format allows delegates to attend a conference or event from anywhere in the world without having to travel to a physical location.
Although hybrid events require a high level of video production, one of the main benefits of the hybrid format is the ability to reach a much wider audience than an event at a physical location alone.
Considerations when Planning a Virtual Event
Whether you’re organising a webinar, a virtual conference or a hybrid event, it’s important to have a good marketing strategy in place to promote your event and encourage participants to register well in advance. Did you know, email is the number one driver in encouraging people to attend a virtual event?
Another key factor is deciding whether to charge participants to attend your virtual event or whether to offer access free of charge.
We advise making content available on demand afterwards for those unable to attend. It’s also a good idea to repurpose some of your content for your social media channels.
Feel free to contact our team for further advice on hosting a virtual event.
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