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Virtual Events: A How-To

Vimeo and Virtual Events

Virtual Events: Presented by Vimeo

You know the crackling feeling of an in-person event: the hum of excited attendees, the buzz of interactive panels, the energy of a packed venue — not to mention those glass-clinking happy hours. But with the need for virtual events ever on the rise, companies, and organizations of all sizes have had to pivot to live streaming to create digital experiences that mimic the magic of in-person ones. Whether you’re planning an internal all-hands, customer meetup, or an industry conference, virtual events can help you stay connected with your employees and customers, even if you can’t bring them all to the same place.

We know there are plenty of challenges that can come from pivoting to a live stream experience. How do you monetize your event? Is there a way to gate access for specific attendees? How do you help make joining an event easy and approachable even for the most tech-averse guests?

Here’s some good news: you don’t have to answer those questions alone. We’ve compiled a guide to help newbies and experienced streamers alike launch their own live event.

Unlike in-person or hybrid events, virtual events take place exclusively online. Speakers and audience members come together digitally to share in a brief session or multi-day virtual experience. If you registered and attended a virtual event recently, you probably saw keynote speeches, panel discussions, live polls — all happening via desktop, tablet, or mobile device

The beauty of a virtual event is that planners have full creative license to design an immersive experience. You’re not restricted by physical venues or a hard-lined budget for food and beverage.

In addition, event attendees can tune in from anywhere around the world, lowering the barrier of entry for those who couldn’t attend in the past.

Six use cases for virtual events

The event space is expanding — it’s not just broadcasters anymore. With so many events going virtual, let’s take a look at a few ways to take in-person events online.

Internal Events

These events are for employees within an organization. Programming varies from a quick, 30-minute meeting to an all-day event. Typical internal events include all-hands meetings, employee training, sales kick-offs, or company-wide events like holiday parties.

Conferences

Conferences are the most common virtual event. They can last for a single day or multiple days. They typically include a moderator or MC, multiple speakers and keynotes, breakout meetings, networking activities, and other experiences to keep attendees engaged.

Conferences attract virtual attendees interested in shared industry topics, networking experiences, and educational opportunities. Lead generation is important here, so expect to see free and paid events with varying access.

Webinars

Webinars are the original virtual events. They last between 30 minutes to an hour and commonly function as either a demand generation channel or a thought leadership channel. If you hop on a webinar, you’ll likely find housekeeping notes (aka “this webinar will be recorded”), speakers, a slide deck, data, and a few tools — like Q&A or live polls — to engage audience members.

Webinars center around actionable content. Organizations and creators looking to grow their audience can leverage webinars to increase thought leadership, brand awareness, and education around their services.

Festivals and award ceremonies

Fast-growing categories of virtual events include performing arts programs, music festivals, and award ceremonies. Organizations are adapting their experiences for an online-only audience and finding innovative ways to punch up excitement.

Performing arts events may include live talent, exclusive interviews, or other live entertainment to keep audiences hooked. They also attract a broader audience coming together to celebrate an artist, a type of music, film, or entertainment.

Sporting events

In the last few months, sporting events have transformed to adapt to the times, which means sports content covers everything from live streamed games, on-demand games, live interviews, and other content to keep fandom alive.

Faith-based events

Churches are finding new opportunities through video. Faith-based communities find a lot of flexibility by live streaming their sermons and community events. Whether those events are services, classes, community workshops, or just a virtual gathering — live stream helps a congregation stay connected even when they’re apart.

How to plan and host a virtual event

There’s a common misconception that virtual events require less planning than in-person events. The reality is that virtual events need just as much time and attention to be incredible experiences.

To help you hit the ground running, we’ve got nine tips on how to host a virtual event.

Determine your virtual event goals.

Before you plan your virtual event, you’ll need to identify event goals. Pro tip: This will also help you determine what virtual event type you should stream.

Ask yourself the following questions:

What are the goals for my virtual event?
Is this an internally-facing or externally-facing event?
How many event sessions do you plan to have?
Will the event registration be free, paid, or both?

Identify your target audience.

Any seasoned event professional will tell you the most important KPI is the attendee experience. Make sure your virtual event hits the mark by clearly identifying your audience beforehand.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Who are you trying to reach?
How do you need to reach them?
How will your audience interact?

Create stream-worthy content.

Content dictates everything when producing a live event — how you shoot it, what type of cameras you’ll use, how to light it, and even some of your encoding and technical choices.

Four components to awesome virtual event content:

Relevance: Make sure the live streaming content live streaming aligns with the interests of the intended audience, and that the content matches your brand voice and targeted prospects and customers.

Engagement: Keep viewers on their toes by encouraging interaction with the stream (we love keeping things exciting with the live chat feature). Keeping the audience entertained will make sure attendees get the most out of the day.

Consistency: If possible, turn the live event into a series (either annually or otherwise). “Keeping your events consistent is a guaranteed way to increase brand awareness and brand equity while engaging meaningfully with your audience,” says Vimeo’s Live Production Lead Tom Gott.

Actionability: What is the call to action at the end of the virtual event? If you want to convert the audience, make sure to facilitate viewer interaction after the event is over.

Gate event registration with ticketing.

This is where a Brushfire subscription gives you the biggest bang for your buck. Not only can you stream on Brushfire Online, but you can control content and attendee authentication by using our Ticketing & Registration platform.

Optimize your attendee experience.

By using Brushfire to sell tickets or registrations for your virtual event, you’ll also get access to a host of features that will maximize your attendee experience.


A VIMEO BLOG SERIES

This is the second installment of a blog series presented by Vimeo. If you’re new to video, live streaming, or online events, Vimeo is the premier video solution. The reliability and scalability powers more than 10 million events each year. Vimeo has simple tools to create, manage and share high-quality videos that connect seamlessly to Brushfire.

Sign up for Vimeo using Brushfire and receive unlimited client support and 10% off!

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