Virtual Conferences 101: The Ultimate Guide To Online Events

by Tracy Jackson

Last Updated on June 18, 2022 by Tracy Jackson

virtual conferences

Here is your ultimate guide to hosting virtual conferences.

In this detailed guide, you will learn:

  • What virtual events are,
  • What are the different types of virtual conferences you can host,
  • What a virtual events platform is,
  • What are the top features you need to look for in a virtual conferences platform,
  • What are the benefits of hosting a virtual event/ virtual conference,
  • How you can monetize your virtual conferences and more.

So, let’s get started!

Disclaimer: If you choose to buy something using the links in this article, I may receive a commission at no extra cost.

Know that I only promote stuff that I use and trust for my readers and the reputation of this site.

Chapter 1: What is a Virtual Event?

A virtual event is an online event that allows attendees to interact with each other and the speakers in real-time.

Virtual conferences usually take place for several days and include live presentations, networking opportunities, and breakout sessions.

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What is a Virtual Meeting Platform?

A virtual meeting platform is an online meeting space that allows users to meet, interact, and collaborate in real-time.

You can use virtual meeting platforms for various purposes, including webinars, training sessions, and team meetings.

What is a Hybrid Event?

A hybrid event is an online event that combines the best of both in-person and virtual events.

It’s an excellent option for organizations that want to reach a larger audience but still provide the personal connection of an in-person event.

Virtual/Online Conferences vs. Virtual/Online Events: What’s the Difference?

Conferences and events come in all shapes and sizes. And with the rise of technology, we’re seeing more and more virtual/online conferences and events popping up.

But what’s the difference between a virtual conference and a virtual event? Here’s a quick breakdown:

Virtual conferences are usually educational, primarily focusing on presenting information and fostering discussion among attendees.

Virtual events, on the other hand, are more about providing attendees with a fun and engaging experience.

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While there may be some educational elements to a virtual event, the primary focus is entertainment and networking.

So which one is right for you?

It depends on your goals for the event.

For example, a virtual conference is probably better if you want to educate your attendees and get them talking.

On the other hand, a virtual event might be a better option if you want to provide a more fun and relaxed experience for your attendees.

Chapter 2: Tips For Hosting Your Next Virtual Conference

Have a Keynote Speaker

When planning your online conference, you must have a clear and concise message that you want to get across to your attendees.

One way to do this is by having one or more keynote speakers or business leaders who can deliver your message engaging and impactfully.

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This method will set the tone for the rest of the conference and give your attendees a clear understanding of what the conference is all about.

Plan for Interactivity

Just because your conference takes place online doesn’t mean it has to be a passive experience.

Plenty of ways to make your conference interactive and engaging for attendees.

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You can use chat features, poll attendees, and even host breakout sessions where attendees can interact with each other directly.

Make Use of Technology

There are a lot of great tools and technologies out there that can help you make your virtual conference more interactive and engaging.

From video conferencing software to social media, there are plenty of ways to use technology to your advantage.

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By following these tips, you’ll be well on hosting a successful virtual conference.

With some planning and creativity, you can create an online event that is just as engaging and impactful as a traditional in-person conference.

Chapter 3: The Benefits of Hosting Virtual Events or Hybrid Events

Dynamic Reach and Engagement

The barriers to entry get lowered when your event is virtual, which allows you to engage with a more diverse and geographically dispersed audience.

And because attendees can tune in from anywhere in the world, your conference has the potential to reach a much larger audience than the in-person conference. 

Increased Interaction and Engagement

Virtual conferences provide more opportunities for attendees to interact with each other and the speakers.

Attendees can ask questions in real-time using the chat feature and engage in private one-on-one conversations.

And because you can record virtual events, attendees can go back and watch parts of the conference that they may have missed or want to see again.

Improved Accessibility and Inclusivity

Virtual conferences are more accessible for people with disabilities and those who cannot take time off work or school to attend in-person events.

And because you can record virtual events, they can be made available to people who could not participate in the live event.

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Lower Costs

Virtual conferences are typically more cost-effective to produce than in-person events since there is no need to rent out a venue or pay for travel and accommodation expenses.

Additionally, many virtual conference platforms offer free or discounted rates for nonprofit organizations.

Collect Powerful Data With The Best Virtual Event Platforms

When you use the right virtual event platform, you can collect data about your attendees that you can use to improve future events.

For example, you can track which sessions are most popular, which topics are most interesting to your audience, and how long people stay logged into the conference.

You can also use surveys and polls to gather feedback from attendees about their experiences.

The best virtual event platforms will also provide powerful marketing and promotional tools to help you reach your target audience.

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And they will offer features that make it easy for attendees to connect with the speakers so they can continue the conversation long after the conference.

Chapter 4: What Are the Various Types of Virtual Events?

Online Training Sessions:

Live virtual events focus on providing attendees with educational content and training.

These can be small, intimate sessions with a few dozen participants or large-scale webinars with thousands.

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Product Demos and Launches:

Virtual events are also significant for showcasing new products or services, especially if you’re launching something big.

These events tend to be more high-energy and interactive, with plenty of opportunities for attendees to ask questions and give feedback.

Panel Discussions and Keynote Speeches:

Similar to in-person conferences, virtual events often feature panel discussions and keynote speeches from thought leaders in your industry.

These can be live or recorded in advance, and they’re a great way to provide attendees with valuable insights and perspectives.

Networking Events:

One of the most popular types of virtual events is a networking event.

These are usually more informal than other types, giving attendees the chance to connect, exchange contact information, and build relationships.

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Q&A Sessions:

Another common type of virtual event is the Q&A session, where attendees can submit questions for panelists or speakers in advance.

These sessions are usually live and are a great way to get direct feedback from attendees.

Trade Shows and Expos:

Virtual events are a great way to showcase your products or services to a large audience, just like in-person trade shows and expos.

However, these events usually have a more sales-focused approach and feature special offers and discounts for attendees.

Virtual Booths:

Similar to trade shows and expos, virtual events often feature virtual booths where attendees can learn more about your products or services.

These booths are usually highly interactive, with plenty of opportunities for attendees to ask questions and get more information.

As you can see, there are many varied types of virtual events that you can choose from.

But which one is right for you? The answer depends on your goals and objectives.

For example, an online training session might be the best option if you’re looking to educate your audience.

But a trade show or expo might be better if you’re looking to generate sales.

Chapter 5: Key Features of Virtual Event Platforms

Customization 

You can customize your events with virtual conferencing platforms to match your brand perfectly.

For example, you can use custom branding, logos, and colors to make your event stand out and build brand awareness.

Attendee Engagement

Interactive Virtual conferences are interactive and engaging.

Many features allow for engagement, such as Q&A, chat, video conferencing, and more.

Flexibility and Scalability

Virtual conferences can scale your events up or down depending on your needs.

You can also make last-minute changes without any problems.

Affordability

Hosting a virtual conference is much more affordable than an in-person event.

You don’t have to worry about travel, accommodation, or other costs associated with in-person events.

Automation Features

Virtual conference platforms come with a range of automation features that make it easy to manage your event.

For example, you can automate tasks such as sending reminders and follow-ups.

Event Management Software Integrations

Most virtual conference platforms integrate with event management software.

This aspect makes managing your event easy and getting the most out of your platform.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Virtual conferences offer sponsorship opportunities that can help you offset the cost of your event.

You can also use sponsorships to generate more revenue for your business.

Analytics and Reporting

Virtual conference platforms can track attendance, engagement, and other metrics.

This data can help you understand the success of your event and make improvements.

These are just some of the critical features of virtual conference platforms.

If you’re considering hosting a virtual event, choose a platform that offers the needed features.

There are many benefits of hosting a virtual conference.

With so many features and advantages, it’s no wonder that more and more businesses are turning to virtual conferences.

Consider a virtual conference if you’re looking for a way to take your events to the next level.

Chapter 6: How to Monetize Hosting Virtual And Hybrid Events

While the world of events has been forced to go virtual for now, that doesn’t mean your event can’t still be successful.

There are plenty of ways to monetize hosting virtual and hybrid conferences. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

-Sell sponsorships:

This feature is an excellent way to monetize your event with a large audience.

You can sell sponsorships for different parts of the event, such as the virtual “room” where you hold conferences or specific sessions.

-Sell tickets:

Just because your conference is virtual doesn’t mean you can’t charge for tickets.

Tickets can be a great way to monetize your event since you won’t have to worry about the cost of renting space or other physical costs.

-Sell advertising:

Another option is to sell advertising on your conference website or in your virtual “room.”

This aspect can be a great way to monetize your event if you have a large audience.

-Sell products:

If you’re hosting a virtual conference, you can still sell products related to the conference, such as books, t-shirts, and other items.

This feature is a great way to monetize your event and generate revenue from your attendees.

Repurpose & Share Content

Finally, don’t forget that you can also monetize your virtual and hybrid conferences by repurposing and sharing the content.

For example, you can record the sessions, sell them as an on-demand product, or share them for free on your website or social media channels.

You can also create blog posts, podcasts, or videos from the sessions and share them with your audience.

This aspect is an excellent way to monetize your event and ensure that your attendees get value from the conference.

Chapter 7: How to Optimize the Virtual Conference Experience with a Mobile Event App

You can enhance the virtual conference experience with a mobile app.

By providing an app for attendees, organizers can offer a more engaging and interactive experience.

Here are some tips on how to optimize the virtual conference experience with a mobile app:

– Use the app to promote networking and social interaction among attendees.

– Provide features that allow attendees to customize their experience.

– Use the app to deliver timely updates and announcements.

– Offer features that make it easy for attendees to access conference materials.

– Make sure the app is compatible with all major mobile platforms.

By following these tips, organizers can create a more prosperous and enjoyable virtual conference experience for all attendees.

Chapter 8: How to Prove ROI for Virtual Event 

The key to any successful event, virtual or otherwise, is proving ROI to your boss or company.

Here are some tips on how you can do that for your next online event:

– Keep track of who attends each session with an attendance tracking tool.

– Use surveys and polls to gather feedback from attendees.

– Use social media to track engagement and reach.

– Use analytics to track website traffic and activity during the event.

– Generate a post-event report that includes all of your data and findings.

What is The Important Data You Can Collect at Virtual Events?

Number of Registrations:

The number of registrations is the essential data you can collect at a virtual event.

The number of registrations will give you an idea of how popular your event is and how many people are interested in attending.

Number of Attendees:

Attendance is another critical metric to track as it will give you an idea of how many people showed up to your event.

Number of Leads:

A lead is someone who has expressed interest in your product or service.

Tracking the number of leads generated from your event will give you an idea of its effectiveness in developing new sales opportunities.

Number of Sales:

If your goal for hosting a virtual event is to generate new sales, then tracking the number of sales generated is the most important metric you can follow.

Number of Downloads:

If you offer digital products or resources on your website, you can track the number of downloads for your event.

In addition, tracking will show you how effectively your event drove traffic to your website.

Number of Page Views:

If you want to track how much traffic your event generated to your website, you can follow the number of page views.

Tracking will give you an idea of how many people were interested in what you had to offer.

Number of Social Shares:

If you want to track how much buzz your event generated on social media, you can track the number of social shares.

Tracking social shares will show how many people were talking about your event on social media.

Number of Comments:

If you want to track your audience’s engagement, you can track the number of comments made on your blog post or social media posts about your event.

Tracking will give you an idea of how interested people were in what you had to say.

Number of Email Subscribers:

If you offer a newsletter or other email list, you can track how many new subscribers you generated due to your event.

This feature will give you an idea of how effectively your event drove traffic to your website.

Number of New Customers:

If you want to track the number of new customers generated as a result of your event, this is the metric you should track.

Tracking will show you how effectively your event generates recent sales.

Number of Repeat Customers:

If you want to track the number of repeat customers generated as a result of your event, this is the metric you should track.

This tracking will give you an idea of how effective your event was in generating new sales from existing customers.

As you can see, there are various essential data points you can collect from virtual events.

By tracking these metrics, you can measure your event’s success and determine whether it is worth hosting again in the future.

Chapter 9: How to Protect Your Virtual Events from Cyberattacks

End-to-End Encryption:

End-to-end encryption is the gold standard when it comes to protecting your data.

This feature means your encrypted data is secure from when you send it until the recipient receives it.

That way, even if someone were to intercept your data, they wouldn’t be able to read it.

There are a few different methods to encrypt your data, but one of the most popular is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).

The same encryption protects sensitive information like credit card numbers and passwords.

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If you’re unsure if your data is encrypted, look for “HTTPS” at the URL’s beginning, indicating that SSL is in use.

Another way to protect your data is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

A VPN encrypts all traffic between your computer and the VPN server, making it impossible for anyone to eavesdrop on your data.

Cloud-Based Technology:

Another way to protect your data is to use cloud-based technology.

For example, the information you store on a remote server instead of your computer.

As a result, your data will still be safe if your computer is lost or stolen.

There are several different ways to use the cloud, but one of the most popular is to use a cloud-based storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox.

These services encrypt your data and store it on their servers.

That way, even if someone were to hack into your account, they wouldn’t be able to access your data.

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Another way to use the cloud is a cloud-based email service like Gmail or Outlook.

These services encrypt your data and store it on their servers.

That way, even if someone were to hack into your account, they wouldn’t be able to access your data.

Compliance with Global Regulations:

Regarding data protection, it’s essential to comply with global regulations.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most important of these regulations.

This regulation requires businesses to protect the personal data of European citizens.

If you’re unsure if your business complies with GDPR, you can contact the European Commission’s Data Protection Officer.

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You should be aware of a few other global regulations, including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the UK Data Protection Act (DPA).

These regulations are similar to GDPR, but they have some different requirements.

Conclusion

So, there you have it!

My guide to virtual conferences.

I hope that this has been helpful and that you feel more prepared to tackle your next online event.

Remember to stay organized, keep communication open, and use the right virtual conference platforms for the job.

With some planning and effort, your virtual conference will be a success!

Thanks for reading.

Do you have any tips for hosting a successful virtual conference with a virtual conference platform?

Let me know in the comments below!

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