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How to host a virtual event: four essential tips to get right

Virtual Christmas Party

Need to host a virtual event but worried about what might go wrong?

Learning how to how to host a virtual event isn’t straight forward, especially if you want to create a event that engages and entertainers. After a day working from home, in front of screen, a virtual event has to be pretty special for people to want to attend it. So the pressure is on right from the start. And that’s before all the worry about getting the tech to work sets in.

Last Christmas we delivered more virtual events than you could shake a virtual stick at; we worked with a variety of clients with different expectations and we learnt a lot.

Here are the four basics we think you should focus on to get it right.

1. Expectations

Before we hosted our virtual Christmas parties the most common emotion our clients mentioned was apprehension. Most of the people we worked with hadn’t hosted a virtual event before and didn’t know what the experience would be like. How would it engage and entertain?

People feel more able to be critical in the virtual world so be clear with attendees as to what their experience will be.

It’s essential to manage expectations and have good communication right from the off. Be in agreement on what the definition of a successful event is.

This matters for any event but especially so for virtual as it’s so new and expectations vary enormously.

2. Budget

The general perception is that virtual events are more cost-effective than physical events. Yes, there’s no venue hire and attendees don’t have to fork out for travel costs but I’m afraid virtual events are still expensive to run.

There’s the platform cost for a start but also if you want things to host a virtual event that runs smoothly you’re going to need a specialist team to deliver the technical elements.

All our virtual events are hosted at one of our virtual venues, designed to create an exciting destination with plenty of tools for attendees to get involved. Without these you’re just not going to have a very exciting event.

Basically talk to your event company and they can help you set and work within a realistic budget.

3. Content

Most people are spending more time than ever before on a screen so to make the idea of a virtual event appealing it’s going to need great content.

Our recommendation is to offer choice. A range of rooms with different content so brands can tailor the content to suit their personality. Offer sessions of varying lengths with breaks inbetween.

Also provide a range of pre-recorded and live content. Having some pre-recorded content is a great back-up in case there are any unforeseen technical problems with live content.

If your budget will allow, get a host to guide the event or at the very least include clear signposting about what’s happening, when.

And provide mechanics for people to interact, connect and respond to the content; from polls, chat boxes to video rooms.

4. Glitches

Let’s not kid ourselves, you need nerves of steel when you first hold a virtual event! No matter how much you prepare, there is a level of risk because you are relying on bandwidth, signalling, audio & visual plus the usual dramas of live events.

Successful virtual event management means planning for and preventing tech errors before they start.

Be really, really clear about how everyone logs in. A lot of platforms will only work on certain providers. Brief everyone before hand. Twice. Provide an easy way for people to contact you if there are problems.

Have a back-up plan. Remember that pre-recorded content? Make sure speakers & performers are working with stablised wi-fi.

And finally: work with experts and use an experienced tech team so problems can be quickly resolved.

Want to know more about our virtual events?

This year as we’re unable to meet up in person, we’ve created a range of virtual venues for events, designed to bring teams together and deliver a unique experience for each individual attendee. Our virtual venues are fully immersive settings which bring together interactive features, feel, sound, performance and visuals …. and of course are complimented by tasty food delivered to your home.

Inside your venue you will find a mix of live and pre-recorded workshops, entertainment and master classes. To personalise your event, your experience comes with a huge choice of activities, so that when you host a virtual event you create an event tailored to you and your guests

Recognising the current need to nuture our wellbeing, we’ve recently launched the House of Happiness; a relaxing retreat, where guests can escape the tedium of working from home and meet up with colleagues for uplifting experiences. And because, we’re all desperate to see something new and inspiring we’re shortly to launch the House of Talent, an urban warehouse where young new performers take to the stage presenting shows for every taste.

To find out more about our virtual venues and events click here.