Virtual events skyrocketed in importance in 2020, and 92% of companies plan to host a digital event, meet-up, conference, or other virtual gatherings in 2021.
These virtual or hybrid event settings have a natural appeal given the potential benefits and apparent conveniences. Virtual conferences encourage a greater diversity of attendees and speakers because there is no need for travel. There are measurable environmental benefits that make virtual event experiences a sustainable option. And, not to mention, there are countless types of event technology that can replicate (or even improve) some of the most-loved aspects of in-person events.
To achieve the full potential of digital conferences, though, marketing teams and event organizers must not lose sight of any event’s most critical element—the attendee experience.
Two crucial areas can easily make or break an attendee’s virtual event experience: the quality of event sessions and the availability of networking opportunities. Let’s explore how to approach each of these areas, along with general digital event best practices and ideas, to maximize your virtual gathering’s success.
Best Practices for Virtual Conference Sessions
The quality of your digital event sessions is arguably the most important area to focus on. Sometimes conference sessions do not address the “what’s in it for me” for attendees (a.k.a. WIIFM). In that case, virtual audience members will likely become disengaged with the sessions or skip them altogether (along with any future events that you host).
Many brands seem to liken their virtual events to webinars and employ similar tactics to structure the experience. This is a fundamentally misaligned approach, given that virtual event attendees expect a very different experience than they would get at a webinar.
To build a virtual event schedule that your audience will love, consider these planning elements.
Are Live or Pre-Recorded Sessions Better For Virtual Events?
A key differentiator of virtual events is that the sessions can be live-streamed, pre-recorded, or a mix of both. Each of these options provides unique opportunities for your team and carries a potential consequence to your audience experience.