Are you interested in planning a virtual event, but not sure where to start? 

You’re not alone. The COVID-19 pandemic is requiring many businesses to think outside the box on how to bring people together virtually. 

Online events are on the rise like never before. Since COVID began, Forbes reports that virtual events company 6Connex has seen a 1,000 percent increase in their virtual events.

On November 6, 2020, Goodwill San Diego did a livestream of our annual recognition event. Through the use of technology and a little creativity, we hosted an engaging virtual event that allowed us to develop meaningful connections with a wider audience. 

Goodwill San Diego’s Annual Recognition Event

We decided to livestream our annual recognition event through GoToWebinar. It cost us $249.99 for a one-month subscription.

We used our laptop, a Sony 4k video camera, an 8-channel audio mixer, a projector, and screen for a few attendees who were there in person. 

With GoToWebinar, we live streamed our event using the camera and laptop. We used the software to hold a live auction, created a poll for our viewers, and connected board members to speak remotely. 

You can check out our virtual event here

Let’s dive into why a virtual event is a good idea, and how to get started on your event! 

Why Host a Virtual Event?

In addition to protecting the health and safety of your employees, virtual events offer distinct advantages. There’s many reasons why you might opt for a virtual event – even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. 

  • Lower costs: going virtual helps you avoid costs of venue rental, meals, hotel rooms, air travel, and more. Take a look at some tips for planning a memorable virtual event on a budget
  • Accessibility: through an online platform, you can reach a wider audience. With no travel expenses or time away from work, virtual events are more budget-friendly and convenient for your attendees. There’s greater accessibility for people with disabilities or financial difficulties. 
  • Continued value: by recording your virtual event, you can create video reels of key highlights. Content from your virtual event can be repurposed, attracting more clients over time. 
  • Carbon Footprint: when you hold an event online, you reduce your organization’s carbon footprint. By cutting back on ground transportation, air travel, hotel energy and venue energy, a virtual event is more eco-friendly. An innovative tool from Intrado Studio uses a simple equation to track each attendee’s carbon savings. It even displays real-time carbon savings during the virtual event, and allows individual attendees to see their own contributions. 

So now that you understand the benefits of virtual events, you’re ready to start planning your own. 

How to Plan a Virtual Event 

Virtual event planning is a unique process – it is significantly different from in-person event planning. Here are some key steps to consider as you start planning your virtual event.

  • Establish goals for your event: think about why you are hosting a virtual event and how it will fit into your overarching business goals. Consider the main ideas you’d like attendees to take away from your event.
  • Define your target audience: who is going to be watching your event? What are your attendees’ challenges and pain points? What are their dreams and goals in life and in work? The answers will help you understand what motivates them, and craft content that appeals to them. 
  • Decide on a format and platform: is your event going to be pre-recorded, live, or simulive? Research different platforms and consider which platform is best for your business model and event needs. Compare pros and cons. Watch this video to learn more about some common platforms.
  • Select and confirm event speakers: think about who can contribute exciting and genuine stories that increase viewer engagement. 
  • Develop relevant and engaging content: in a virtual environment, it can be harder to keep your attendees’ attention. Think about how you’re going to keep them hooked. Live chat, polls, and Q&A are smart strategies to encourage participation and keep your audience invested. 

A New Method of Marketing

The ability of businesses to adapt and evolve their marketing efforts within the virtual landscape shows extraordinary resilience. 

And it’s safe to say that virtual events are here to stay. A survey of 400 event and marketing professionals revealed that 92% of respondents plan to incorporate virtual events into their event strategy after COVID-19. 

Start planning your virtual event today and watch it drive your revenue, save on expenses, and win you new customers.