One of the major differences between an in-person event and virtual event is venue. An in-person event is held in a physical location while a virtual event is held on a video conferencing platform where attendees can connect, engage and listen to your speakers.
There are many digital tools available online, but not all platforms are suitable for your virtual event. Different platforms have their pros and cons.
You have to know your event objective so as to match it with the most suitable virtual platform. The right platform can make all the difference in a virtual event.
1. Choose a virtual event platform that allows you to stay connected from the beginning to the end
Some platforms require a stronger internet connection and fast bandwidth to stay connected.
Don't forget that your attendees will be connecting to your event from different locations, different devices and different network services.
2. Choose an easily accessible virtual event platform platform
Does the digital tool have a mobile application platform that can easily be accessible to your attendees?
If your attendees cannot receive the access link on time, they may not be able to show up at your event at all. The lesser work the attendees have to do before attending your event, the more likely they are going to show up.
3. Choose an all-in-one virtual event platform
What are the necessary features that you need in a virtual platform? Does it have features like video conferencing, audio, recording, Q & A, Live chat, Live Poll, slideshow, screenshare, private chat?
A single platform where you and your attendees can accomplish different tasks at once is usually the best. If you have to use multiple platforms to achieve your event objective, you will find it inconvenient to use. You will waste time, energy and money setting up your virtual event and consequently confuse your attendees.
However, you must understand that it is difficult to find a virtual event platform that has all the features. You need to understand that some features are must-haves while others are nice-to-haves.
4. Choose a virtual event platform that allows you to integrate other features
Some digital tools may not necessarily have an all-in-one feature, but they can allow this features to be integrated effortlessly.
A suitable virtual platform should be able to enable you plan and promote you event seamlessly. You should be able to plug in other systems for different functionalities. For instance, you may want to use a payment system like PayPal, Paystack or Stripe to collect registration fees.
You can integrate a registration system where registrants go directly to get all the essentials including the agenda, sessions, exhibitor and sponsor directories.
5. Choose a virtual event platform that offers virtual networking
One of the major motivation for attending virtual events is networking opportunities.
Your attendees earnestly hope to connect with other attendees and speakers like they would in an in-person event. This is why whatever platform you are using must offer networking opportunities.
6. Choose a virtual event platform that offers branding option
Every event has a brand to create, protect or strengthen. Hence, it will be inappropriate for you to choose a platform that is inconsistent with your brand.
A suitable platform should allow you to customize the design, colour, layout, elements and fonts to fit your brand.
7. Choose a virtual event platform that is user-friendly
Every participant in a virtual event is not only an attendee but also a user of the platform. A user friendly platform must have an aesthetically appealing but not complicated interface.
This user experience directly affects the overall event experience. The platform must be easy to use and navigate. If you as the host find it difficult to use the platform, how much your attendees?
The more complicated the interface, the slower and harder it will be for attendees to find certain options. The platform must also be easy to set up. You do not want to spend 12 weeks setting up your virtual event.
Don't forget that not everyone who is attending your event is tech savvy. This is why the virtual platform must usable by attendees of diverse technical experience levels and age groups.
8. Choose a virtual event platform that shows you accurate data of attendees
In event planning, data is everything. You need data to evaluate the ROI of your virtual event. You need data to plan subsequent events?
How many attendees connected to your event? How many attendees disconnected from a particular session? How many attendees connected via their phones or computers? How many of them engaged in a conversation or responded to a call to action?
9. Choose a virtual event platform that has a long-term investment
Looking for the most suitable event platform requires hardwork, time and patience. It takes additional effort to understand the technicalities and set up your event. This is why you need a platform that has a long term investment.
Using a single platform for a long time will enable you to comfortably, confidently, effectively and efficiently plan subsequent events hitch free.
More so, it will be easier to keep the log of data in a single platform. You can also predict the cost and plan your budget for future events.
10. Choose a virtual event platform that makes the contents available and accessible post-event
Not all your attendees will make it to your event due to a last-minute change of plans. This is why it is important to choose a platform that makes the content accessible to them post-event.
Although live sessions allow for audience engagement, Q & A, live polls and networking, recorded sessions allow you to edit the contents and make it consumable, concise and hitch free. You can also monetize these contents if you wish.
11. Choose a virtual event platform that has a good customer service
The customer service is as important as the platform itself. You must be able to access and effectively communicate with the customer service representative either through live chat, email or voice call.
12. Choose a virtual event platform that provides a comprehensive guide and technical support system
In a virtual event, anything can go wrong at anytime before, during and after your event. Sometimes, you may not have the required knowledge, skill or time to fix it. Sometimes, it may be too complicated for you to fix it.
At this point, you need a comprehensive troubleshooting guide or support system to assist you.
13. Choose a virtual event platform that has positive reviews and recommendations
Before you eventually settled for a platform, ensure that check out for unbiased reviews of this platform.
What are previous users saying about the platform? Ensure that you get the opinions and recommendations of previous users of this platform.
14. Choose a virtual event platform that is appealing to sponsors and exhibitors
How do you monetize your virtual event?Engaging a sponsors and exhibitors in a virtual event is more difficult than in an in-person event.
It may be difficult but not important. In sponsorship, nothing goes for nothing. What do your sponsors stand to gain. Your delivery matters. Can you run electronic ad campaigns or banners on your platform? Is your platform appealing enough to meet the demands of your potential sponsors?
You can place your sponsor's logo on the welcome page of the event. You can also create customised pages within the virtual event.
15. Choose a virtual event platform that offers the type of experience you want your attendees to have
What experience do you want your attendees to have? Do you want it to be strictly educational or informational? Do you want it to be engaging and interactive?
16. Choose a virtual event platform that fits your budget
Some platforms offer freemium and premium services. Can you afford a more advanced platform or you want a virtual event platform within your budget?
Every platform has different price packages. Hence, you have to determine the price package within your budget.
17. Choose a virtual event platform that allows a live broadcast
Does the virtual platform support a live broadcast? Does it support automated subtitles in different languages? Depending on your event objective, if a virtual event platform is able to live broadcast your event, you will be able to create a sense of emergency among your viewers.
18. Choose a virtual event platform that allows you to pre-record your event
Does the virtual event platform offer you an option to pre-recorded contents of sessions or speakers? Can you schedule and upload this pre-recorded content? You may need to pre-record the contents for speakers who may not be able to attend the live event.
19. Choose a virtual event platform that allows you to integrate social media
There is strong likelihood that attendees may want to share quotes, screenshots or event takeaways with their social media audience. Can this virtual event platform allow your attendees to share contents directly from your platform?
20. Choose a virtual event platform that captures and records your event.
This is a very important feature especially if you want to use the contents to market subsequent events. It will be a plus if your speakers and attendees can gain access to the event content anytime. How long can you access this content?