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How to Run a Successful Online Event and Get Networking Again

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In 2020, thanks to the global pandemic of COVID-19, businesses have had to put face to face meetings, networking events and conferences to one side. Online or virtual events offer forward thinking event organisers the opportunity to keep meeting and engage with their audiences again.

What Is A Virtual Event?

A virtual event is an organized meeting of people that takes place online, rather than face to face in a physical location. A virtual event will normally involve a host and an audience, which can range from a small group right up to a large-scale international conference with attendee numbers in the thousands.

Online events have come a long way from the early webcam livestreams of the 90s. With faster internet connections and conferencing technology platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, it’s easier than ever to connect and engage with others online.

In addition to the all virtual event hosted online, there are also hybrid events which involve a physical location, such as a lecture theatre, with a mixture of a face to face and virtual audiences attending.

Read more about hybrid events

How To host a successful virtual event

As a start, anyone planning to host a virtual event needs to consider the types of events that are now possible with modern online event and conferencing tools. The following guide introduces you to the online events you can now host and how best to engage your audience.

Virtual Classrooms And Training Courses

The webinar format of presenting to an audience has been around for many years now. With COVID-19 restrictions preventing the traditional classroom format from happening, event organisers have looked towards virtual solutions to continue offering their training events.

Fortunately, virtual training has moved forward from the webinar format, which often suffered from low engagement. With modern conferencing tools  such as  Group Map and Sketchboard your attendees can interact on a whole new level. With the use of ideas boards, your participants can engage in group exercises, contributing ideas and solving problems collaboratively. 

Online Conferences And Networking Events

Stepping up into the world of larger scale events and conferences, event hosts can feel confident that modern conferencing tools can handle thousands of attendees. With group chat feeds, voting polls and break out rooms, your attendees can engage with speakers and hosts as if at a traditional conference. At Event Exeter, we’re delighted to be able to offer event and conference organisers a state of the art conference platform.

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Top Tips For Organising An Online EventOnline Events

1.      Have A Plan For Your Event

Whatever event you have in mind, you should always have a plan. Start with what you want the audience to experience, is it a straightforward presentation of product, service or project findings? Or are you looking for your audience to collaborate and engage in the subject of the event? The answers to these questions will shape the timings of your event and whether to include question and discussion time. For online events you’ll also need to plan how to facilitate discussions.

2.      Choose The Right Time For Your Audience

When planning your event programme, focus on the needs of your audience. Business orientated events work well with an early start, allowing delegates the rest of the day to continue their work. One of the greatest benefits of online events is the option for audiences to take part anywhere in the world. Consider where they are and how their time zones could work alongside that of your domestic audience.

3.      Promote Your Online Event

Promotion is key for your event to be a success. Without it you risk nobody attending! Online advertising platforms offer a vast array of targeting options, and formats. However, you will know your audience best so look into how they interact digitally with your organisation. Do they visit your website or are they on a mailing list? Maybe they follow your social media channels. All these offer great starting points to reach your audience and direct them to an event sign up page. 

4.      Have A Plan B for Tech Issues

Preparing for technical hitches is arguably the most important tip to running a successful online event. Nobody likes to experience connection losses, poor video and audio or vital components of your event not reaching your audience. To keep things running smoothly and professionally rehearse your event beforehand, and think of alternative options in case the unforeseen happens. 

5.      Be Inclusive

Just like a traditional event you’ll need to consider accessibility, make any presentations visually clear with contrasting colours and large fonts. Ensure your speakers use clear everyday language that your audience can understand. If your event includes several speakers or a panel discussion, be sure to have a diverse range of voices in your event, this will encourage better discussions with different backgrounds and views. These are easy and considerate steps to make when putting your event together, and they can benefit your audience and your organisation enormously.

6.      Make It Engaging

Online events can fall behind their traditional counterparts when it comes to audience engagement. With no physical audience presence, it can be hard to gauge the reception of your event. There are of course many ways to facilitate audience interaction with your speakers and hosts, they just need careful planning. Chat windows work well for Q&A sections of your event and are a good way to avoid the awkward silences that can be common on video-based events. Polls and voting are easier to share in a virtual event and they’re a great way to aid your events discussions. 

Planning A Virtual Event? Talk To The Experts....

With our team of award-winning event managers and access to the latest video conferencing technology, Event Exeter can support your organisation on large scale online or hybrid events and conferences. Contact eventexeter@exeter.ac.uk or call 0300 555 0214 or click the link below for details.

Online and Hybrid Event Packages

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