Is your organization ready to take the leap and host a virtual or hybrid conference?
Technology has enabled organizations of all sizes to expand their conference reach from local or regional all the way to global. Virtual events give small organizations the opportunity to host a sophisticated industry conference that otherwise would not be economical. However, as we all know too well, with the many blessings technology brings to organizations, so too come significant challenges. And hosting virtual and hybrid events is no exception to that rule.
In this post, the team at iCohere takes a look at the top three challenges of virtual events and shares solutions to fix them.
Challenge #1: Inexperience with Virtual or Hybrid Events
For organizational leaders new to the virtual environment, it can be daunting to learn all there is to know about hosting a virtual or hybrid event. The complexities of creating content, marketing the event, finding the right speakers, and finding the right platform are just a few steps in the planning process.
Solution: Your first virtual conference should never be the one you produced. Part of the planning process stems from learning from others. You and your team should participate in several conferences during the planning process because experience will be your guide to what resonates with audiences.
What is most important for addressing this challenge is to find an experienced virtual event platform vendor as your partner to guide you through the process. Choose a vendor that meets the software and services needs of your organization. Services might include media production, virtual event management, and event support. Tap into the vendor’s expertise with virtual events to shave weeks off of research and planning.
Challenge #2: Limited Infrastructure or Staff
For smaller organizations especially, having a limited staff can make it challenging to research, plan and organize an event while carrying out everyday responsibilities. Just like in-person events, a virtual event requires the efforts of a team to be successful. Key roles for virtual event planning include an event manager, sponsor and trade show coordinator, marketing personnel, content development, speaker coordinator, and technical coordinator. In many cases, team members may have to take on more than one of the roles.
Solution: Your event platform vendor can come to the rescue for this challenge too. While your team focuses on identifying content and securing speakers and sponsors, the vendor can handle all technical aspects of the event, as well as training key personnel on the platform.
For assistance with developing the content and the framework of the event, consider hiring a consultant who specializes in eLearning and virtual events. The services they provide for the inaugural event can be used as a template for future events.
Challenge #3: Management of Technology and Virtual Event Logistics
Technology makes virtual events possible but technology itself is complex. There are a lot of moving parts that someone who attends an event doesn’t realize is even taking place. One common issue is insufficient bandwidth for the event. Audio in real-time communications is affected by the hardware and bandwidth available to each participant. It can ruin an otherwise well-planned session if participants cannot hear, be heard, or there is noisy static and other distractions.
Event planners may not realize the amount of support that is needed to host a virtual event. This includes customer support to assist attendees, and technology support so the event runs smoothly across all devices such as desktops, tablets, and smart phones. For hybrid events, we need to consider the logistics for hiring the webcasting crew, broadcasting the event, and event staging such as lighting, AV, and recording.
Solution: Virtual events have become an industry and there are many professionals who are certified and specialize in organizing virtual events for organizations. Choose a platform vendor that meets the software and services needs of your organization. To address this challenge, ask if your vendor offers any kind of red carpet service where they manage the logistics of the event for you, or a revenue-share partnership where they manage all the event set-up and technology, and your team focuses on content and marketing.
To learn more about hosting a virtual conference, save yourself hours of research and a lot of headache by tapping into the expertise of a conference veteran. Consultant Karen Niles, who has overseen more than 20 online conferences since 2006, provides a 3-part webinar series on designing, marketing, and managing online events. Learn more about her training and other trainings here.
Join the iCohere Academy for free and gain access to this ‘on-demand’ webinar and many others for free. Join the academy here.
Logon to the ‘iCohere Academy’.
Select ‘Courses & Webinars’.
Select ‘Karen Niles: Introduction to 100% Online Conferences’.
Select “Click to View Archived Recording”.
*You may have to download ‘WebEx’ to view this. Don’t worry, it is fast and free.