How Do You Plan a Virtual Event?

New to online event organization? You might be feeling a little panicked at the idea of holding a virtual event. After all, they’re completely different from live events, so you might as well throw out everything you know about event planning—right? Actually, the opposite is true. If you’re wondering, how do you plan a virtual event, the answer is: in almost the same way as an in-person event. There are some differences, of course, but much of what you know about live events is applicable to virtual events too.

1. Start with What You Already Know

If you’ve organized live events before, you’re already halfway towards knowing how to plan a virtual event. Most of the concepts that are important at live events are also important at virtual ones. So, it’s just a matter of shifting your focus from the physical to the online environment.

There is a learning curve for your first virtual event, but it’s not as steep as you might think. For each aspect of a live event, there’s a corresponding aspect to an online event. You may not have a traditional venue to organize, but you do have a virtual event space. You still have an audience, sponsors, exhibitors, and content to organize. Some points to consider include:

  • What kind of experience do you want to create?
  • Will your event be live or pre-recorded?
  • Is registration required, or is your event open to public access?
  • How and where will you promote the event?
  • Will you have event sponsors and/or exhibitors?
  • Will content continue to be available after the event is over?
  • What relevant data will you gather before, during, and after the event?
  • What metrics will you track? What are your KPIs?

Make sure to also consider the date and time of the event. There should be no major or competing events that conflict with your preferred dates. While people can attend your event from the comfort of their home on Christmas Eve, for instance, it’s not likely that they will.

If you’re going for a national or global audience, remember that time zones will come into play. You may want to offer multiple sessions for live content or make content available after the initial live session.

view of proglobalevents xtendlive virtual event

2. Consider Your Audience to Define Your Event

For any kind of event, whether live or virtual, it’s your audience who defines what the event will be. What does your audience want from an event? What content do you need to offer to make your event essential for that audience?

Start by thinking about the format of the event. What kinds of content will you include? Live events often include speakers, workshops, and similar kinds of content in addition to exhibitor and sponsor booths. You can offer modified versions of the same kinds of content at an online event.

If you’ve previously held a live event that you’re now pivoting to an online environment, consider that your target audience may be larger as a result. It’s much cheaper and more convenient to attend an online event than a live one. People who avoided live events for these reasons or because of COVID-19 might be more likely to attend if your event is online, which may mean a larger audience with an expanded demographic.

To collect up-to-date demographic information, ask attendees to complete a post-registration survey. This will help you determine what your audience is like, so you can provide tailored content.

Collect leads at a virtual event

3. Pick an Event Platform/Venue

Once you have these initial questions answered, you can start to look at virtual event platforms. It’s important to consider event content first, however, because you’ll need to pick a platform that can support the kind of content you want to produce. Once you know about the content you plan to offer, you can look for an event platform that meets your needs. The simplest solution is an all-in-one platform that can host the event and provide tech support for content providers and attendees.

Another question to consider at this point is whether you need a virtual event venue. If you’re running a simple webinar, you may not. Instead of a venue, you might have a website with video conferencing built in. The next step up would be a 2D virtual platform that provides a flat view of rooms like a lobby and networking areas. But if you’re planning a more creative event or large conference, you may want a 3D immersive platform that attendees can explore and engage with in a more visually stimulating experience. With both 2D and 3D platforms, you will choose from standard templates or have customized venues created.

Virtual events are better than webinars

4. Content Creation: Find Sponsors, Exhibitors, and Speakers

All events need good content to attract attendees, but with virtual events, your content really needs to be valuable and engaging. It’s harder to keep people interested in virtual event content simply because you have more competition. At in-person events, attendees are focused on what’s happening around them at the event venue. During a virtual event, your competition is the entire internet. Add in the fact that people are attending from home or work, and there’s a lot of distraction that can pull attention away from your content. So it has to be good.

  • Focus on adding engaging content that encourages attendee participation – It’s important to keep audience engagement high, and providing ways to participate in the event is a good way of doing this.
  • Look for speakers who are experienced with online presenting – They should not only be good speakers, they also have to know how to interact with and engage an online audience.
  • Put together sponsorship and exhibitor packages that play up the benefits of going online – Virtual events have plenty of sponsorship opportunities, plus the ability to gather high-quality attendee data.

5. Promote Your Event

Once you start planning your event content schedule, you can also start promoting the event. As with any in-person event, the content you’re providing is a key reason for attendees to participate. Your event promotion should focus on the most important selling points, such as content, speakers, or networking opportunities. Any marketing content you create, whether it’s emails, social media posts, or anything else, should make it clear that you’re offering content attendees will find valuable.

6. Schedule a Rehearsal

Before your event goes live, run a rehearsal so you can iron out any technical issues that arise. This will give your speakers and other presenters the chance to test the event platform and their equipment if they’re working from their own home or workspace.

Good Planning Makes a Great Event

Events of all kinds require a methodical approach to planning. When it comes to planning a virtual event, the same holds true. Pay careful attention to preparation and planning to improve your event, engage your audience, and ensure a good ROI for you and your sponsors.

Our team of experts can help fill in the gaps of your planning or take care of it all. Contact us to learn more!

Ivan Fujihara

Chief Financial Officer

Ivan brings 25+ years in senior level management experience from a variety of technology industries.  His background includes accounting management, analytics and audit management for technology companies.  He has worked with companies such as THX, Ltd, Recruitology , Double Click, Creative Labs and more.  Ivan has also served on the board of Lincoln Families, a non-profit that supports East Bay children with the objective of disrupting the cycle of trauma and poverty.

Matt Rulis

Vice President of Sales

Matt is a marketing professional and has been managing marketing strategies, campaigns and environments for a diverse client base for over 15 years. From a service perspective, Matt and his team of Account Executives focus on fostering relationships to uphold a greater than 99% customer satisfaction rating year-over-year. Additionally, with extensive experience on the client-side of the industry, he understands that alignment between expectation and budget is paramount to a successful project. As a result, ProGlobalEvents' clients can expect a competitive advantage paired with top quality products and services. Matt is an avid fly-fisherman, enjoys most outdoor activities and is a true college football fanatic.

Tom Foley

VP of Operations

Heading the fabrication side of ProGlobalEvents is exhibit and event industry veteran, Tom Foley. For over 35 years he has been responsible for building amazing exhibits and environments for clients. Tom started out in the production area and has broad experience in project and operations management. He currently oversees production, warehouse, graphics and project management departments. Tom studied machine tool technology and welding before entering the industry. As a true "builder" he also enjoys restoring and modifying classic American cars.

Dick Wheeler

President

Dick serves as President of ProGlobalEvents and President of ProExhibits and is a board member of CEMA (Corporate Event Marketing Association). At ProExhibits he has been nationally recognized as an innovator and driving force in the fast-growing trade show exhibit and event industry. Under his leadership in 1997, the firm received INC magazine’s INC 500 award as one of America’s fastest-growing companies. His informative articles on developments and innovations in the trade show exhibit and event industry have appeared in national trade publications. Dick has a B.S. degree from Wittemore School of Business & Economics at the University of New Hampshire and has completed the Entrepreneurial Executive Leadership Program sponsored by MIT, YEO and INC. He is actively involved in Vistage, an interactive group of over 20,000 CEO’s and presidents worldwide and is a member of CEMA and EDPA.

Jack Connolly

Creative Director

As an experiential creative director, Jack prefers to draw outside the lines. He tells stories with original content and impactful design to ignite meaningful conversation.

 

Jack brings 20 years of event industry knowledge to ProGlobalEvents. He specializes in building live & virtual platforms for audiences to connect, engage and immerse themselves in the power of a shared experience. His skills range from ideation and concept development to defining an attendee journey through storytelling and design.

Jack understands the creative process is not linear, but a collaborative process between agency and client. He manages teams of designers and technology developers to pioneer impactful brand experiences. His diverse skillset and leadership ensure for award-winning results and memorable impressions.

 

In 2019, BizBash named Jack one of the top event designers in North America. SXSW awarded his work the “People’s Choice in Innovation” in 2021.

Jody Tatro

Chief Executive Officer

In addition to being CEO of ProGlobalEvents, Jody is also the CEO of ProExhibits. With Jody at the helm, the company has been recognized repeatedly as one of the Top 50 Women Owned Businesses in Silicon Valley. She has set the outstanding client service standards for which the firm’s account management team is noted. Jody is a recipient of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Award, the Junior League Community Volunteer Award and is listed in Who’s Who of Women in Business. Following her graduation from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Jody held various sales positions in several technology companies.

Paul Miller

Chief Marketing Officer

Having served in a number of executive roles for companies in Silicon Valley for over 25 years, Paul has a client-side perspective of the corporate events industry. He has a broad set of experiences working for startups as well as global firms such as Applied Materials. At ProGlobalEvents, Paul helps the company to reach clients through traditional and digital marketing programs. With an extensive background in the High Tech sector, he’s also involved with technology strategy both internally and for clients. Paul is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, the Stanford Engineering Design School and Claremont McKenna College. In his spare time he is a also a principal member of the non-profit Gratitude Network which mentors award winning social entrepreneurs.