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Virtual Event Planning: The Ultimate Guide to Engaging Online Conferences

Ask any researcher, and they'll tell you virtual events lack the high-quality discussions of physical conferences. But does this mean your online event is doomed to fail? Absolutely not. In fact, with a digital-first approach,...

Ask any researcher, and they'll tell you virtual events lack the high-quality discussions of physical conferences. But does this mean your online event is doomed to fail? Absolutely not. In fact, with a digital-first approach, you can create impactful discussions, find the right speakers, and ensure a seamless experience for participants.

What is a Virtual Event?

A virtual event is an online conference that connects people globally to spark meaningful discussions. It involves interactive presentations, breakout rooms, virtual poster sessions, and spontaneous networking. Virtual events can be conducted in different formats like livestream, on-demand, asynchronous, and simulated live.

Fourwaves' poster hall with scientific presentations Fourwaves' poster hall with scientific presentations

Virtual events have numerous benefits including attracting a global audience, encouraging diverse voices and perspectives, saving costs, minimizing environmental impact, and boosting convenience for both speakers and attendees.

Choose Your Virtual Event Management Tool (3 Features to Look Out for)

Many researchers feel that virtual events don't live up to their expectations. However, with the right virtual event management tool, you can enhance networking and quality discussions. Here are three key functionalities to look for in a platform:

  1. Built-in tools to facilitate networking: Live video chat, private messaging, and public discussion boards are essential for meaningful interactions between participants.
  2. Virtual poster session for group discussions: A virtual poster session allows researchers to present their work and engage in group discussions. Platforms like Fourwaves offer a seamless experience where participants can freely explore different posters.
  3. Tools that enhance presentations: Features like laser pointers can make presentations more engaging and interactive for both speakers and attendees.

A presentation on Fourwaves A presentation on Fourwaves

By leveraging these tools, speakers can bring impact to their ideas and recreate the high-quality discussions that participants love.

7 Steps to Creating a Successful Virtual Event that Engages Your Participants

Here's a step-by-step guide to planning a successful virtual scientific event:

Step 1: Know your participants' tech comfort level

Understanding your participants' tech savviness is crucial. Conduct rehearsals with speakers to ensure they are familiar with the platform and troubleshoot any technical issues. Provide clear instructions for attendees to navigate the event platform.

Step 2: Find sponsors to lighten the load

Sponsorships can help cover expenses and bring added value to your event. Set sponsorship goals and approach organizations that align with your target audience and mission. Create dedicated sponsorship pages on your event website to attract potential sponsors.

Step 3: Find speakers who are masters of online engagement

Engaging speakers are key to capturing and maintaining participants' attention. Look for speakers within your network and review their past webinars to gauge their style. Make sessions interactive by allowing attendees to participate in polls and live chats.

Step 4: Call for papers from star authors

Quality presentations depend on the research work of your speakers. Create a call for papers email sharing the details and guidelines for submission. Consider using an abstract management software to streamline the process.

Step 5: Create a website to set the stage

An event website legitimizes your conference and prepares participants for the event. Include essential pages such as home, program, submission portal, sponsorship, and FAQs. Update the website regularly with relevant information.

Step 6: Plan networking sessions to spark conversations

Networking sessions are vital for engaging participants. Offer breakout sessions, one-on-one communication with speakers, and incentives for attendance. Use virtual event platforms like Fourwaves to allow participants to join ongoing discussions and interact through live chat.

Step 7: Promote your conference with the future in mind

Develop a marketing strategy that highlights the key messaging of your event. Use social media, conference announcement sites, and sponsors' networks to reach a wider audience. Implement post-event marketing to stay connected with participants and generate momentum for future events.

With these steps, you can plan and execute a successful virtual event that engages your participants and sparks meaningful discussions.

Get Started Today!

While virtual events may not replicate the high-touch engagement of physical conferences, this guide shows that with the right approach, you can create impactful discussions and connections. Consider using an end-to-end academic event management system like Fourwaves to streamline your virtual events. Start your free plan today or book a demo to explore the possibilities.