Behind the scenes: how to host a successful virtual event
How to host a successful virtual event? This has been the question for the last two years. Virtual events have quickly become the new norm and planning and organizing them has become a large part of the Martel Media team’s work schedule and in this article, we will take you behind the scenes and present how to host a successful virtual event.
As much as we miss organizing and attending physical events, we also see the great value behind hosting events in a fully virtual format. Read the article to find out how Martel contributed to the success of one6G Summit 2021 and benefit from our tips and tricks for hosting successful online events.
What is a virtual event?
A virtual event is any event that occurs online. This includes webinars, demos, masterclasses, panel discussions, and interviews. On a broader scale, online events may even include virtual trade shows, conferences, and company-wide gatherings. When properly organized, online events can be incredibly successful for a number of reasons: they can be hosted and attended from anywhere in the world, they are more budget-friendly than physical events, they can increase audience and customer engagement, generate leads, strengthen the brand, thus helping organizations and their stakeholders establish themselves as industry leaders. Moreover, online events often give the audience direct access to the speakers, which helps to build trust and deepen established connections. But most importantly, virtual events can greatly expand the organization’s reach since speakers and attendees are not required to be in the same physical place, providing a unique opportunity to present their activities to a much broader, global audience. Below, you can find useful tip and tricks on how to host a successful virtual event.
Tips and tricks on how to host a successful virtual event
1. Preparing the ground
Whilst the technology to run virtual events has existed for many years and audiences are now more attuned and agreeable to joining online events, creating a flawless user experience by providing seamless delivery and quality content is absolutely vital. Before you start organizing an online event, you should try to answer some key questions.
- What is the purpose of the event?
- How does the event fit into the overall needs of the organization and/or its promotional campaign(s)?
- What is the envisioned content?
- Who is this activity tailored for?
- How will the activity engage and inspire?
- What time zone(s) are your audience and speakers in?
- What are the desired outputs and takeaways?
- Which platform is most suitable for the event?
- What resources and support will be needed to deliver the strategy effectively?
Getting the answers and setting out the key criteria for your event is key to ensuring effective planning and the best possible delivery. Make sure you start by that.
2. Choosing the right format for virtual events
Once you have selected the topic for your event and identified the speakers, it is time to choose the virtual format you are going to use. It is wise to test out the options you are drawn to — or even try out a combination — until you find the one that is most suitable for your audience and the easiest for you to implement. Some of the most popular formats include:
- Single presenter: a presenter shares their insights.
- Panel discussion: a group of experts discussing a specific topic.
- Q&A: expert(s) answering questions brought forward by the audience.
- Interview: a structured conversation where an interviewer asks questions, and the expert(s) provides answers
- Demo: a demonstration of a new product or technique
Consider mixing and matching: incorporate various formats and engagement activities but remember that one shoe does not fit all. Think about what your attendees will find valuable and choose the types of engagement activities accordingly to create a great event experience for your specific audience.
3. Choosing the right platform for virtual events
Hosting a successful virtual event has to do with choosing the right platform. Some of the platform choices include Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Webex. When researching platforms for an online event, it is essential to look at the pros and cons of each. One must consider not only the budget but also the platform’s features (such as recording and survey capabilities), the level of interaction between the audience and speakers, and the number of attendees allowed.
Once you have picked your platform, set up a test. Try out every feature you want to use during your event and record a test clip. It might also be helpful to get a second opinion on your sound, video quality, and backdrop.
4. Engaging the right event team in the organisation of the virtual events
Physical events often have dedicated event staff and volunteers in place to help things run smoothly. Digital events need something similar. A sharp tech support team is needed to help presenters navigate event technology and mitigate any trouble faced by event attendees. These individuals are there to help make sure each presenter is ready and able to go at the scheduled time. In this context, virtual events are more demanding, and they need to start on time and run according to schedule. At a physical event, some interactions can take place if there is a slight delay. With an online event, people are more apt to just log off. The tech support is also there to moderate chat rooms and ensure that the questions from the audience are passed to speakers and presenters.
Be sure to include contact information for tech support in your registration package and pre-event communication with speakers and attendees.
Martelians at the one6G Summit 2021
The best example of how to host a successful virtual event is the one6G Summit 2021. Martel Innovate wore many hats during the one6G Summit 2021. The work began during the early preparatory stages and continued to the post-event phase. Four Martelians supported the planning, promotion, organization, and management of one6G Summit through:
- Wide event promotion including the design and development of bespoke promotional materials.
- Editorial services (drafting event description and invitation emails, sending reminders to speakers and attendees, drafting and distributing press releases).
- Animation of social media channels (LinkedIn and Twitter) during the event.
- Platform management (Zoom webinar).
- Moderation of the event*
- Post-event services, such as video editing, collection of speakers’ presentations, reporting.
*Dr. Monique Calisti as one6G Summit 2021 moderator
When it comes to events, preparation is key, but facilitation plays an equally crucial role. Hosting a successful virtual event is also related to selecting the right moderator. This is, therefore, one of the most important decisions that event organizers need to take. In this context, a moderator is a person who guides the audience through the agenda and moderates discussions. Besides getting the full attention of the attendees, they need to be able to bring the discussions to life. The moderator always has a great impact on the success of the event, and a lot of thought should be given to the process of selecting the right one. Due to Dr. Calisti’s technical background and extensive experience in the business sphere, the one6G association saw her as a perfect candidate to moderate the first edition of the one6G Summit, the role which she gladly accepted.
The success of the one6G Summit 2021 can be measured through the number of participants and the echo it had on social media channels.
one6G is a non-profit association created to facilitate an early and easily accessible open dialogue on functional gaps and new requirements beyond 5G, up to 6G. Only six months since its inception, the association already counts 40 key industrial players and universities as members, bringing together research excellence from verticals, ICTs, SMEs, and academia. The founders of one6G have launched the one6G Summit as an annual opportunity to bring together the extended 6G community to discuss the evolution and development towards 6G networks of 2030 and the global impact of advancing mobile technologies. In 2021, the association embraced the virtual nature of the event to reach a large global audience and host meaningful conversations about technologies, such as AI, IoT, symbiotic share of resources by mobile/wireless/satellite coms, cloud computing, time-sensitive networking, etc., which will play key roles in developing the fundamentals of 6G. More information can be found at www.one6g.org