How to Create a Virtual Conference
So, it’s your turn to plan the conference, huh? Have you thought about an online virtual conference?
Virtual conferences make a lot of sense.
They are less expensive because you don’t need a venue (necessarily)
Nobody has to pay to travel.
People can attend from wherever they are
It’s easier to work around busy schedules which means you can get better title speakers
But this doesn’t mean that virtual conferences are a walk in the park. Here’s a quick guide on how to create an online virtual conference.
Determine the theme
If you are building a conference around a brand or an organization, the theme may be more obvious, but in any case, you will want to be as careful about theming your virtual conference as you are about in-person ones. Online conferences have a lot of competition, so you’ll need to get your audience’s attention.
Next, you will determine who will speak or present at your conference. From keynote speakers to live sessions, you will need content for your conference. Because the time commitment is more limited for virtual speakers than in-person speakers, you can shoot for higher caliber, but you need to get them excited about how easy you are going to make this for them and how great of an audience they’ll have.
Figure out your visuals
Then it’s all about design. What will your conference look like? You may benefit from a graphic designer, an event planner, or a full experiential marketing company like Gradient.
Check out two virtual conferences Gradient helped facilitate below to get you thinking about what yours can look like.
Determine your format
How do you want your conference to operate? Do you envision pre-recorded video? Live Q&A? Are you thinking of a one-session-at-a-time event or multiple sessions happening concurrently? Will there be breakout rooms for deeper discussions?
All of these questions impact how you create an online conference, just like hybrid events or in-person events. Later.com has some great tips here.
Build your schedule
Once you have your speakers and your format, you will build your schedule so that everyone knows where to be and when, and how they can access their virtual meeting rooms.
Craft the social aspects
One of the best things about conferences is the network opportunities. Make sure you have a plan for breakout sessions where attendees can mingle in real time. It’s also very helpful to have a plan for attendee engagement, including social media,
Pick a platform
Next, you will need to determine a platform that can execute your plan. While it may be possible to host a virtual conference on Zoom, it pays to investigate other options. Again, this may be a great time to engage the help of a virtual event planner, or even a full-scale virtual event platform provider (why not both?).
Now it’s time for engagement and marketing. A virtual conference needs an audience. You may be able to attract a crowd through the same channels as you would for an in-person conference, but don’t be afraid to take advantage of the global reach of planning a virtual conference.
Get your tech in order
As the big day approaches, get your tech in order. Make sure your speakers have an appropriate setup, with cameras and microphones as well as good looking backgrounds. Consider simple greenscreens to place behind them if they are connecting from an unruly environment. Make sure the lighting is ready. And make sure that your platform has the bandwidth to make everything run smoothly. A tech rehearsal the day before is absolutely essential.
Prepare your speakers
As the conference begins, make sure your speakers have everything they need. Provide a virtual liaison to attend each meeting and facilitate the tech, monitor the chat, and help make everything go. Even the best speakers need time to warm up so give them a way to connect ahead of time, speak with one another and start flexing their speaker points.
Creating a virtual conference is a lot of work. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone.
Looking for some creative marketing help? See how Gradient can help!