How to Set Up an Online Conference

It’s not always possible to attend in-person events, especially since the spread of COVID-19. But even if there wasn’t a pandemic, many companies have employees located around the world, making it next to impossible for some of them to travel to events, such as training and conferences.

With the advance in technology, virtual events are now possible and a great alternative where everyone is included. So how do you organize and set up virtual conferences? Here’s where technology comes in. If it’s your first virtual conference, don’t worry, we’re here to help!

group of people looking at laptop

What is a Virtual Conference?

A virtual conference is where participants enter a virtual environment where a host teaches and demonstrates theories and skills while the participants engage with the host or each other. A virtual conference has a more intensive itinerary than other virtual events, such as webinars. They can last for several days and have a multimedia component to the coursework.

For in-person events, participants would receive the address and directions to the conference’s venue. When it comes to virtual conferences, participants will, instead, sign up to attend through a certain platform and receive an email with a link to when the conference is live. Participants will need to ensure that they have a strong internet connection and that their speakers and microphone work to interact during the virtual conference.

At the time the conference is scheduled, participants can click the link where they are brought to a sign-in page. They can choose their name and customize how they’re represented, such as through an avatar.

Once the participant enters the virtual conference portal, they will be able to engage face-to-face with the other attendees and view educational resources, among other things. Each virtual conference platform will have a different layout and vary based on the number of participants.

Virtual Conference Platforms

With more companies switching to online events, there are more platform options available. The most popular one is Zoom. It simplifies video conferencing and allows for messaging. It can work on most devices and its high simplicity rate has led to its widespread popularity. Users can start up the program and effortlessly join all types of virtual events. There can be 100 interactive video panellists on the platform at one time.

When you host a virtual conference, you can mute and unmute panellists, enable presentation sharing, and record conversations using the platform’s features. Cisco WebEx is another widely used platform for virtual events. While Zoom and other platforms offer many of the same features, it comes with a bonus: built-in artificial intelligence that detects and minimizes background noise.

computer tablet and cellphone on table

How Do You Choose the Right Platform?

If you want to host a virtual conference, you need to choose a platform or software with the features you need. You need to think about what the conference is about and how best to convey the information while encouraging people to participate.

Here are some examples:

  • Use screen sharing to better explain complex points, such as using new software or navigating a website.
  • Make a video introducing the virtual conference instead of a live speech.
  • Create a slideshow and virtually share handouts and files for people to review and follow along. These can be copies of the presentation, meeting agendas, or workbooks.

PRO TIP: One aspect of hosting virtual conferences is the same as any in-person conference: you need good equipment. Some laptop microphones and webcams are low-quality, which means that you will need to invest in some hardware. Good lighting can also improve the quality of the conference.

Some commonly used platform features include:

  • An attendee limit
  • An online conference registration form
  • The ability to assign multiple hosts/panellists
  • Automatic email reminders/notifications
  • Audience engagement tools
  • Screen sharing
  • File sharing
  • Chat messaging tool
  • Audience analytics and reporting
  • Event recording
  • Live-streamed and pre-recorded content
  • Integration with team collaboration and marketing tools

A video conferencing and webinar platform usually offers free programs that contain a lot of useful features, allowing companies to save money. There are many reasons why you should switch to virtual conferences.

man tapping phone in front chart on computer

Why Host Virtual Events?

Like anything, hosting virtual conferences has pros and cons. Running your event online can be better for your company when compared to face-to-face interaction.

Small and large companies save money that would have been used for catering, booking a venue, hotel accommodations, and travel expenses. Hosting your own virtual conference is cost-effective because you generally need to pay for:

The convenience of virtual conferences is immense! You don’t lose out on family time, spend hours (or days) travelling to the venue, or try to get work done outside of your usual work environment. Unlike face-to-face events, you can more easily opt-out of attending. As long as you have a strong internet connection and the virtual conference platform works on your device, all will be well.

Internet connection does pose a risk on both sides of the virtual conference. If the host is having technical difficulties, they can always reschedule. But if participants have a poor signal or their device affects their experience, they will have to sign off.

Additionally, some platforms for virtual conferences put a time limit on meetings in their free plans, which limits face-to-face networking.

We Make Virtual Event Setup Easier

Have an upcoming virtual event? EventPro’s event management software makes registration and organizing an in-person and virtual event much easier. It lets you automatically track attendee signup, sends email confirmations, prevents overbooking, and more.

Try a demo today to create a successful virtual conference!

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