Mastering the Art of Hosting a Virtual Event: Easy How-to Guide

Sarah Wisbey

Sarah Wisbey

Content Contributor, HeySummit

What’s your business's ultimate goal? If it’s to build a community of loyal customers and make sales, hosting a virtual event will help you achieve that goal faster.

Virtual events allow you to showcase your business to a captive global audience and take them from cold leads to paying customers. 

If you want to host virtual events with high conversion rates, keep reading as we give you the lowdown on how to host your most successful event yet. We’ll cover a blueprint for hosting your event, along with 5 top tips to make it easier than ever! Ready?

What is a virtual event?

A virtual event is an event that takes place online rather than in person. These digital events are made possible with virtual event or webinar software. Virtual events can take many formats, such as webinars, virtual conferences, trade shows, live streams, product demos, or interviews. 

5 Advantages of hosting a virtual event

If you’re not yet sold on the advantages of hosting a virtual event, check these reasons you should start doing them: 

1. Broader reach and increased accessibility

  • Global audience: Virtual events eliminate geographical barriers, allowing participants from around the world to attend without the need for travel.

  • Inclusivity: They are more accessible to people with disabilities, those in remote locations, and individuals with scheduling constraints, ensuring a more diverse and inclusive audience.

2. Cost efficiency

  • Lower costs for organizers: Virtual events often incur lower costs than physical events, saving on expenses such as venue rentals, travel, accommodation, and catering.

  • Affordable for attendees: Attendees save on travel, lodging, and other associated costs, leading to higher participation rates and better returns for your online events.

3. Enhanced data collection and analytics

  • Real-time insights: Virtual event platforms like HeySummit provide detailed analytics on attendee behavior, engagement levels, session participation, and more.

  • Actionable data: You can use this data to measure the event's success, understand attendee preferences, and improve future events.

4. Flexibility and convenience

  • Ease of participation: Participants can join from the comfort of their own homes or offices, making it easier for them to attend.

  • On-demand access: Events can be recorded and made available for viewing on demand, allowing attendees to engage with content at their convenience.

5. Environmental benefits

  • Reduced carbon footprint: Virtual events significantly reduce the environmental impact associated with travel and physical event infrastructure.

  • Sustainable practices: They promote a more sustainable approach to hosting events, aligning with global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and environmental impact.

How to host a virtual event 

If you want to host an event that converts your attendees into sales-qualified leads, follow these virtual event best practices: 

Event planning phase

1. Define your goals 

As part of the planning process, you’ll want to identify the purpose of your event. Is it to gain brand visibility, make sales, grow your online community, or establish thought leadership in your industry? 

Being clear about your goals will help you design an event that is useful for your virtual audience and aligned with your business’s overall mission. Try to stick to one goal per online event to avoid overcomplicating things or sending mixed messages to your audience. 

Once you know what you want to achieve, think about the steps you’ll need to take and the content you'll need to share to accomplish those goals. 

For example, you want to establish thought leadership in your industry. In that case, you’ll need to find a relevant topic to deliver new research that will pique your audience’s interest. 

Here’s an example of an online event whose primary goal is educating its audience. The sign-up page clearly defines who the event is aimed at, along with the credentials of the people hosting it: 

1. Define your goals 1. Define your goals 

2. Understand your target audience

Once you’ve established the primary goal of your event, you’ll need to think about who exactly this event is for. This will help you develop targeted content with a message that resonates with the audience and compels them to take your primary call to action.

Speaking to your existing customers can help you gather insights about what type of event your audience will be most engaged with. 

Ask previous event attendees for feedback on what they found useful and missed. If it’s your first online event, ask existing customers what event they’d like to see from your brand. 

Speaking to your customers is an invaluable way to understand how you can serve them and host an event that meets their needs.

3. Set a budget

One of the most significant advantages of hosting an online event is that it costs significantly less than an in-person event. Even so, you’ll want an overview of the event's cost and how you’ll finance it.

Draft a budget plan with estimates for how much income your event will generate and the estimated costs. This will help you allocate your resources effectively and ensure you don’t lose money on the event.

Use our free budget template to make this process easier.  

4. Target potential sponsors

Once you have a budget, you can contact potential event sponsors to secure partnerships for your virtual event.

Need some sponsorship ideas and inspiration for writing proposals? Check out this post.  

5. How to choose the right virtual event platform

Next, you’ll want to decide which virtual event platform is best for hosting your event. 

Key features to look out for include: 

  • User-friendliness and accessibility

  • Interactive tools (chat, Q&A, polls)

  • Integration capabilities (CRM, social media)

  • Analytics and reporting features

  • Pricing

If you’re looking for an all-encompassing platform that takes you from an initial idea to marketing, execution, reporting, and analysis, then HeySummit is your ideal solution.

The platform takes the admin out of organizing virtual events, as everything is simple to set up and customize from your personalized dashboard. 

5. How to choose the right

A wide choice of event types allows you to customize each event to align with your goals. 

You can also access multiple video, CRM, and marketing integrations from a single dashboard, allowing simple, effective event management.

Event content design 

Once you have an overarching plan for your event, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. This includes developing your event content to make it as engaging as possible.

Here’s a process you can follow: 

1. Develop an engaging agenda 

So, you have a topic and theme for your event; now, you need to figure out how to turn it into engaging content.

You can do this by: 

  • Thinking about the critical question the attendees want answered in your event

  • Structuring the event schedule so it’s balanced and won’t cause a high drop-off rate 

  • Balancing presentation and interaction time

  • Including breaks and networking opportunities

Take a look at this example of an agenda for a free webinar run by Wix: 

1. Develop an engaging agenda 

It’s clear that you will learn what is changing in the context of Google search rankings and leave the event with concrete strategies for tackling these challenges. 

Giving your attendees a specific takeaway from your event is more likely to engage them and get them to show up if they sign up—your ultimate goal! 

2. Create high-quality content

The quality of your event content depends on the following: 

  • Sourcing expert speakers and presenters

  • Being specific about what the attendees will take away from the event 

  • Preparing informative presentations and materials to take away

  • Utilizing multimedia (videos, games, slideshows, infographics)

  • High audio and video quality 

2. Create high-quality content

An all-in-one event platform like HeySummit is incredibly useful for covering all your tech needs. Seamless integrations mean you don’t need to worry about the quality of your live stream or how you’ll share resources after your event. Everything is taken care of for you to deliver your show-stopping event.

3. Include interactive elements

There’s nothing worse than an online event that’s a presenter monologue.

To engage attendees, you want to include interactive discussions, live polls, Q&A sessions, and breakout sessions to keep attendees involved.

Use gamification to increase engagement and facilitate networking and collaboration.

Fostering collaboration is easy when you use an event platform like HeySummit with built-in networking features

Marketing your virtual event

There’s no point in coming up with loads of virtual event ideas, designing your content, and sourcing multiple speakers if nobody will show up for your event!

You need to take your marketing seriously. Here’s how: 

1. Pre-event marketing

You’ll want to build an event landing page and registration system to which you can send leads.

To get a high number of sign-ups, your landing page needs to entice people immediately and get them excited about your event.

Take a look at this virtual event landing page example from Neil Patel Digital: 

1. Pre-

The “Don’t Panic” headline immediately makes you curious and draws you in as you ask “about what?!”. The copy offers you the solution to this panic—which you can get if you attend this live streaming.

How will you get leads to your event landing page? Here are some ideas:

  • Using your existing network, like podcast host and founder of Brand Factory did for his Influencer and Entrepreneur summit 

  • An email marketing campaign

  • A social media campaign (paid or organic) 

  • Affiliate marketing (asking sponsors or speakers to share your event with their audience)

  • Using influencer marketing

  • A pop-up with an event teaser and details on your event website 

  • Relevant blog articles with the CTA to sign up for your next event

2. Pre-event engagement

Once you have some sign-ups, you’ll need to encourage them to show up on the day! Keep attendees engaged by sending them fun reminders and updates about your upcoming event.

Leverage social media engagement by sharing teasers and behind-the-scenes content. You could also ask your speakers or presenters to re-share this content to their profiles to create some buzz around your event.

When someone receives a confirmation email for the event, add social sharing buttons to encourage attendees to share it with their network. 

5 tips for successfully hosting a virtual event

5 tips for successfully hosting a virtual event

So, you’ve completed your online event's planning and marketing phases, and it’s time to get the show on the road!

But if you want your event to be a success, there are some essential elements to keep in mind: 

1. Technical setup and testing

  • Ensure you have a stable internet connection and backup options if the connection fails.

  • Test all equipment and software before your event. This includes the event platform you’re using and your audio and video quality. 

  • Charge all the devices (laptop, router, cameras, microphones, headphones) you’ll use for your event in case of a power cut.

  • Conduct a rehearsal with speakers and moderators and make sure they know how your tech platform works.

  • Brief your speakers about unexpected things that could happen and what attendees they should expect.  

  • Have a backup plan so you can troubleshoot technical issues.

2. Make it easy for attendees to join

  • If you have a complicated sign-up process, specific platform attendees need to download, or any hurdles for joining, you will notice a poor sign-up-to-attendance ratio. 

  • Make it clear and easy, with simple instructions for how people can join. Take this example from a live stream of a festival: 

2. Make it easy for attendees to join

The event email contains one link that takes attendees directly to the festival website's live stream. Couldn’t be simpler!

3. Plan your live event management

  • Have a clear event timeline, with detailed timings for each section, to ensure you don’t run overtime or lose attendee engagement.

  • What’s your contingency if things don’t go as planned and you don’t receive the expected response? 

  • Try to avoid cramming too much content into the timeframe either; this will leave attendees overwhelmed and may mean they struggle to grasp the key message you want your live event to convey. 

  • Do you know how polls, breakout rooms, and Q&A features work? If not, double-check these features before starting the event to ensure a smooth transition between event elements. 

  • Remember that if your live event is glitchy, or you look like you don’t know what you’re doing, you may rapidly lose audience engagement. 

  • What’s your CTA? Make it super clear what you want your virtual attendees to do after your event, and reiterate it several times so they understand. 

4. Follow up and ask for feedback

  • When you close the window on your live event, you cannot breathe a sigh of relief and forget about it! 

  • Following up with attendees is essential to keep them engaged with your brand. The quicker you follow up after the event, the better. 

  • Send thank-you emails and a follow-up survey asking what attendees thought about your event. 

  • Let them know where they can engage with you and follow your updates and where they can find your next virtual event. 

  • Share any event highlights, the resources you discussed, and recorded sessions. 

  • Are you giving attendees a time-bound exclusive offer to attend your event? Share it in the follow-up email. 

  • Did you raise any key points of particular interest to your audience that boosted their engagement? Use these points to keep the conversation going on social media.  

  • How are you going to build a community around your event? Can you offer networking tools so attendees can connect with each other? 

5. Measure your success

  • Once you collect your virtual event feedback, you’ll want to analyze it! 

5. Measure your success

  • Review your key performance indicators and metrics (attendance, engagement, satisfaction) and analyze what that means about the success of your event. 

    • For example, did you get high signup numbers but poor attendance? Perhaps you didn’t send enough communication in anticipation of your event. 

  • Compare your analytics against the initial event objectives you put together in the planning phase.

  • Identify where you can improve and plan how you’ll do things differently for your next virtual event. 

Get ready to host your next successful online event

Now, you have all the tools you need to plan, host, execute, and evaluate your next online event.

When you use HeySummit for hosting a virtual event, you don’t need to worry about the technical side of your event. The all-in-one platform takes care of everything from registration to attendee networking, hosting, and post-event analytics.   

Transform the way you host a virtual event, and give HeySummit a try for free.

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