An auditorium packed with an engaged crowd…thunderous applause…fixated gaze as business leaders reveal the new and the next…awe inspiring product launches- sound familiar? It might, except only in a slightly distant past! Online Conferences, aka Virtual Events are the new normal, and they sure are here to stay.
Virtual events have been around for long, even though they still have a futuristic undertone. The world’s first livestream, happened way back in 1993 when a nail-biting webcam footage of a mid-drip coffee maker brewed up millions of views.
Well, that was 1993, but here we are in 2020, and in a world struck by the pandemic. Landslide shifts have occurred in how business is conducted. This shift has also led to an increased technology adoption to enhance meeting productivity and overall optimization. AIRA is an impressive AI based meeting assistant that has been making great strides in the online meeting space.
Online meetings can be easily enabled by a plethora of popular tools, like Zoom, Google Meet, MS Teams among others. Online conference, though enabled by some of these platforms, is a different game altogether. Make no mistake, just because the physical logistics are missing, it doesn’t mean that an online conference is a piece of cake. On the contrary, it needs meticulous planning and execution.
Before we dive into some of the ways to successfully host an online conference, let’s understand why they’re important to begin with.
A well hosted online conference can become a valuable asset for your business. It can help you attract large volume of attendees, and keep them coming back again with more references. Some of the world’s largest conferences have gone partially or completely digital, and have been that way for years now. Online events can reduce costs and carbon footprints, while also making attendance accessible to a wider audience.
Now that we’ve established the importance of online conferences for your business, let us look at some of the ways to host it successfully.
- The context in your content
A random and loose content framework for your online conference will deliver just that- a random low value online conference. With a set of different presenters lacking congruence to the overarching theme, the sessions can get somewhat incoherent. This leads to attendees cherry-picking sessions, thus impeding the overall learning.
A high impact online conference demands great effort into curating the overall experience that helps bring out the intended value of the content. Think of a well curated museum or art gallery, and how the very act of curating the artefacts on display greatly enhances their value.
- Make it easy to market
Everyone who has a stake in your online conference, is your promoter. As such, your event marketing ecosystem comprises your presenters, sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, and anyone else who could potentially be a part of the value chain. Providing them with specific messages, keywords, images and other marketing artefacts related to the conference will help them establish the buzz using their own social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter etc. Hold frequent discussions with these stakeholders, and address any issues they might have well in advance. For all these online calls, make sure you are using intelligent meeting tools like AIRA, to ensure the meeting notes can be reviewed and shared, as and when needed.
- Social in the mix
Quite often, online conferences are perceived as lack lustre because of the absence of the kind of networking and in person interaction that physical events offer. However, with great online hosting platforms like Zoom, GoToWebinar, Hopin among others, it is possible to create high quality interaction online if the approach is well thought out. Using the chat feature during live sessions is a great way to achieve this. Furthermore, creating bespoke chat groups based on topics, attendee interests can serve as online meeting rooms for like-minded people to network and interact.
- Incorporate some live video in your sessions
With platforms like Zoom, streaming video during a live event is much easier now. Also, with online conferences becoming the norm, almost all social media platforms now have a live video feature. You can also create a lot of buzz by live tweeting an event. This can drive better engagement. According to Facebook research, live videos can average up to six times more engagement than regular video.
The use of live video also helps elevate the digital experience for the attendees, by leveraging the power of your videos to excite, engage and emotionally connect with your audience. We can’t guarantee that they’ll stop missing the excitement of being present at the event physically, but this step sure helps to bridge that gap
- Set your Presenters up for Success
Getting a marquee list of presenters for your event amplifies your chances to succeed with your online conference. However, even the most seasoned presenters will tell you how much they value feedback and opportunities to practice well ahead of the actual event. Remember that even the best rock stars put in gruelling practice sessions ahead of their gigs.
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Get your partners together on calls ahead of the online conference, to exchange notes and to discuss conference workflow. You can help them review and share the minutes and highlights of these online meeting by using AI based meeting tools like AIRA
Ensure that you are supporting your presenters with all the details around the event. It is also extremely important for them to be well versed the technology platform you’d be using to host the conference, to avoid any real time glitches. After all, for presenters to work the proverbial room, it is important to know how to use the various features of the platform they’re using to keep the audience engaged.
In conclusion, the above techniques are just some of the many ways you can successfully host an online conference. The nature of your business, and your audience persona will also determine how you adapt to the various modalities involved in hosting the event. Online conferences are a great way to get inspired, exchange ideas, enrich your knowledge portfolio, adds great value to your business, and so much more