Don’t Let Online Lose its Fun
How to host a successful virtual conference
Just because we had to say goodbye to convention centers and handshakes doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to successful conferences altogether. Read below for 10 tips on how to hold a virtual conference without losing any of its value.
- You NEED to have interesting content
At the most foundational level, make sure your conference focuses on topics that people care about. Know your audience and what they expect, then take it a step further. Don’t be boring.
- It’s okay to make mistakes
Not every presentation needs to be perfect and polished. Guests see value in authenticity and showing emotion, and most people understand the difficulties of virtual events. Just try to overcome any challenges quickly and move on.
- Spend time improving the little things
To elevate your conference above the rest, take whatever steps necessary to ensure you have high-quality lighting and sound, whether that means investing in new lights and a headset, or using what you already have. Consider sending the conference presenters basic sound and lighting equipment in advance so the guests will have the best possible viewing experience. This will make all the difference.
- Rely on real-time commenting
Having a comment stream running through any presentation allows the audiences to remain engaged, and it acts as feedback for the speaker to gauge audience response. Utilize this tool in unique and creative ways. However, make sure you have someone in charge of moderating the comments.
- Don’t forget about everyone’s favorite incentive: FOOD!
Even though you have gone virtual, you can still incorporate food into your conference. Consider sending gift cards to attendees so they can order food while they participate and watch different sessions.
- Include closed captions
Invest the time and money in live captioning for all your videos. This will make the conference accessible to more people by catering to guests' unique needs.
- Networking, networking, networking
This is a MAJOR reason people attend conferences in the first place, so make sure to build in moments for connection and allow time for guests to have conversations with each other.
- Keep it fun
Spice things up by adding in games or quizzes in between different presentations. Allow for interactive components such as Q&As or small group discussions so guests stay alert. Avoid using only pre-recorded videos, and instead mix in livestreamed videos where guests can watch and communicate with presenters in real time.
- Have a backup plan
At some point, you will face a technological difficulty, however minor, so be sure to have a plan in place in case of internet problems, screen sharing difficulties, and beyond. To help avoid any issues, prepare all your speakers in advance and even hold a practice run to ensure everyone knows how to use the technology correctly.
- Continue the conversation beyond the conference
Keep in contact with the attendees and follow up with information on similar topics. Some organizations have even created online communities that guests can join after the conference ends.
The demand for virtual events remains at an all-time high, so be innovative in your execution. People still desire knowledge and connection, so use this opportunity to provide just that at a much lower cost than ever before. And who knows? Maybe when the world goes back to normal, companies will continue holding online events after realizing their value and potential.
— April Hooper ’22