A virtual conference allows remote attendees to join live meetings or webinars from their computers and interact with others doing the same thing. It’s completely hosted through the web, with no need to gather in one specific, in-person space.
In addition to hosting live online events — like keynote speakers and company presentations — a virtual conference can include digital networking opportunities, forum discussions, live chat rooms for attendees, and other features that allow attendees to experience many of the same benefits as an on-site event.
Live streaming is just like broadcasting, except live streaming delivers content over the internet instead of airwaves. Think of a Zoom meeting as an example of everyday live streaming.
With the average global consumption of video per day at 84 minutes, learning how to live stream a conference is a no-brainer. Increasingly, live streaming is replacing traditional avenues of content distribution because it is real-time, more engaging than static content or a faceless webinar, and less expensive than bringing an audience together in a physical location.
For organizations seeking success with a live online conference, it’s important to work with tools like a learning management software (or LMS) to flawlessly launch your digital content. We’re here to help walk you through the steps you need to look like a pro to your organization and audience.
Virtual events require a pivot from traditional events, and getting buy-in with your team is important for the success of the overall event. With the nature of online events, much of the leg-work will be in setting up processes that make the overall conference a success. Our recommendation is to do as much prep work as possible and keep everyone in the loop on changes as soon as they become available. A couple of things to do first:
Confirm visuals that will be shared with the virtual event as soon as possible.
Mobilize your team to focus on tasks in categories like customer management, event communications, technical support, and troubleshooting, and then assign responsibility.
Decide which tools you’ll need to actually take the event virtual (Read “What Gear Do I Need?” below.)
Just like a traditional conference, knowing what’s on the agenda is important, and you need to consider how to adapt to an online audience with shorter attention spans. Streaming is just the first step — providing a two-way interaction for your audience is the next essential step. So when you’re outlining your content for a virtual event, take special care of things that will really make a difference with your audience, like engaging visual elements, chatrooms, and social media integration.
Is being live on stage, or in the middle of an in-person workshop, the same as being in front of a camera on your computer? Not even close, which means you’re going to have to adapt your presenters and your team to manage the new status quo. A couple of suggestions:
Have your entire team practice being on camera, run through their talking points, and learn how to change their delivery for a camera.
Consider how to stream your event for the visually and hearing impaired, either for the live stream or to use the content for multi-purpose distribution post-event.
Outline a plan for what to do if you have an unstable connection, on-screen interruptions, or other small changes to your schedule. Being prepped in advance for the eventuality of a “hiccup” will be vastly important before you live stream.
A virtual conference creates a lot of useful content so you need to consider how your team will manage all of the information you’ve created and gathered from breakout rooms, presentations, forums, workshops, and more.
With a virtual conferencing solution like MC | LMS, you can take code from live streaming and live webinar providers to design a user experience that mimics an actual live conference, giving you and your team a content advantage even after the event is over with post-event, on-demand delivery.
With a virtual conference, the goal is to grow both engagement and revenue while providing value for the attendee through education and useful content. For that, we recommend a number of tools to help you get started.
First, find a program to manage your virtual event. Organizing your digital assets, and attaching data to it, will be important in measuring the success and gaps of your event. A platform that can manage virtual conferencing, on-demand content and certifications is going to best help you achieve your goals.
With a platform like MC | LMS, you can live stream content, track performance, manage a content library, and streamline your delivery in less than a week. First, we build your custom site and set up your live stream with custom benefits and features, then we integrate with partnering software to make your live stream successful. We work with a number of tools like Zoom, StreamSpot, and TelSpan — for a full list of platforms we integrate with, or to learn about our recommendations, reach out to us here.
When it comes down to it, hosting a live conference and hosting a virtual conference are two very different beasts: one relies on in-person interactions, and the other has no in-person component at all, relying on live streaming videos, chat rooms, and engaging speakers for a personal connection. With that in mind, it makes sense that the benefits of a virtual conference are vastly different, too.
However, you don’t always have to choose between hosting a live conference and streaming a virtual one. In fact, building a strategy that includes both is an excellent way to optimize your resources, engage your audience, and see better returns on your investment.
So, whether you’re focusing on a virtual-only event, or looking to expand your in-person event online, here’s what you can expect to experience (and gain) by going virtual with your conference:
By taking your conference online, you drastically increase your audience reach. Instead of being hindered by travel costs, both attendees and speakers from all over can join instantly. Plus, it’s easier to find an hour in their often busy schedule.
On average, a virtual event can be up to 75% cheaper than hosting an in-person event. Whether your intention is to create a virtual-exclusive experience or create a hybrid virtual/live event, you’ll save!
With a virtual event, your engagement is just getting started. After the original event has passed, you can take your sessions, keynote presentations, and more, and host it online to be redistributed across a number of other platforms.
With in-person events, getting feedback can be hard. With virtual events, your audience is online, engaged, and more likely to take a poll about how their session is going. Plus, since everything is housed online, attendance, revenue, and engagement rates are easily trackable.