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Virtual Events in 2020 and How to Plan Them

It’s the year of virtual events. With trade shows, conferences and thought leadership summits being postponed or canceled across the globe, many organizations are left wondering how to provide value and stay relevant in the changing landscape.

For many, the answer has been to take their events online. From musicians livestreaming concerts to Google changing its Cloud Next 2020 to an online format, virtual events are already everywhere in 2020. And individual businesses can benefit from them, too.

Corporate events are an essential part of many annual calendars. Numerous corporations plan their annual events in the spring and summer, and those are now uncertain at best. But just like Google and Jimmy Buffett, businesses can take advantage of virtual events to boost employee morale and provide a little distraction.

Today, we’ll go over how to plan your event and the best virtual event platforms, so you can host your online award ceremony like a pro!

What Are Virtual Events?

Virtual events are gatherings that happen online rather than at a venue. Participants interact through an online platform, using video and chat features to see each other and communicate. Virtual events can bring together neighbors or people from all over the world. The important aspect of virtual events is that everyone is in the same “place” (online) at the same time.

Virtual events have been around as long as the internet, but as the workforce moves more online and remote positions increase, they’re becoming even more popular. They allow the event host to reach many more people over a larger area than they normally would, and they are typically cheaper than in-person events. You don’t need a brick-and-mortar venue, catering or drinks. When you learn how to plan a virtual event, you can connect with hundreds or thousands of people in their own homes.

How Do You Plan a Virtual Event?

Whether you want to hold a conference or thought leadership summit, host your annual awards ceremony or have a company-wide meeting, you can do it with a virtual event. There are platforms made for all types of events and numbers of people, and while it still takes time and thought to plan and coordinate your event, you can get them set up much faster than an in-person event. Here’s what you need to consider when figuring out how to plan a virtual event. 

  1. Define your purpose: Your purpose is your why – and it actually comes before your specific topic. Do you want to educate, appreciate or congratulate your employees?
  2. Pick your topic: Your specific topic is your what – a “how to” session, a company-wide meeting, a virtual award ceremony and so on. It’s how you’ll achieve your purpose.
  3. Choose your date and time: Virtual events may need to take into account different time zones. If your employees are working remotely, mornings are typically better, as everyone is more alert.
  4. Invite your speakers: Who has something to say on your topic? Whether you have an industry expert talking about developments, an expert within your company demonstrating a product or your management team giving out awards, your speakers are the foundation of your virtual event.
  5. Invite your audience: If you’re using your virtual event as a marketing tool, your target audience will be based on marketing metrics. For internal virtual events, your audience is easy: it’s your company!
  6. Design your event: Will you host a webinar, a slide share or a video presentation? What will your event website look like? If there is video, what will your background be? How will your speakers dress and move? And don’t forget branding: It should always be consistent with your business brand.
  7. Practice your technology: The most crucial part of a virtual event. Always set up your tech and test it before it’s time to make your presentation. Practice makes perfect!

Turning Live Events Into Virtual Events

If you’ve already planned a live event and unforeseen events have caused you to postpone it or even cancel it – think again. You can easily turn a live event into a virtual event. You already have your topic, speakers and audience, although you may need to pick a new date and time. If this is your present situation, skip right to step 6 above: Think about how your live event translates into a digital format. A presentation would work well as a PowerPoint or a screenshare. A training session could operate like a live product demo or a webinar. And an award ceremony or corporate summit will focus on video of each speaker, and of each award recipient, so you’ll need the ability to change views. 

As with step 7, you’ll still need to design your event a bit. Let’s take the award ceremony example. You may no longer have a venue, but you can still design a “set.” Dress up your office a bit and have your main speaker present from there. Design backdrops for any other speakers who will present from their homes. Have everyone dress up to add a touch of fun and formality to your ceremony. And don’t forget step 8 – practicing your technology should still be at the top of your list of how to plan a virtual event.

What Are the Best Virtual Event Platforms?

  • MegaMeeting allows an unlimited number of people to join in your virtual event, and has webinar, slide share and video capabilities. Plus you can buy a white-label version to add your own branding.
  • Virtual Summits makes hosting virtual events like conferences and summits easy, with audience management, templates and presentation tools and even a “virtual lobby” where attendees can choose their sessions.
  • WebinarJam is a top platform for hosting – you guessed it – webinars. You can host events for thousands of people, and even stream directly on various social media platforms.
  • BigMarker goes beyond video hosting to provide all the tools you need for virtual events: landing page templates, promotional items, interactive features and more.

Using Virtual Events to Recognize and Reward Employees

Virtual events can be just as beneficial to your employee morale as in-person events, and even more so in times of uncertainty. You’ll give your employees something to look forward to, break up the monotony of working from home and reward them for their patience and loyalty. Your employees will feel valued and appreciated, and you’ll reap the benefits of improved productivity.

Virtual Award Events Strengthen Company Culture

Virtual award events can strengthen your company culture. Corporate award ceremonies are often a time of year employees look forward to: They get to come together outside the work environment to bond, laugh and share – and they get rewarded for the hard work they put in all year. You don’t need to cancel or postpone a ceremony – virtual events allow you to capture the moment from a distance.

Five Award Ideas for Virtual Events in 2020

Virtual events are a great opportunity to keep your company traditions going and put a new spin on them. And thanks to EDCO’s drop shipping, you can arrange delivery directly to your award recipients’ homes. Rather than presenting an award in person, have them open it up on video! Here are a few ideas for awards to give out at your virtual events in 2020:

  • Teamwork awards: Teamwork has never been more important. Reward those employees who do a great job working together remotely.
  • Achievement awards: Recognize your workers who have mastered hosting virtual meetings, never missed a client call or are the fastest to respond to emails while working remotely.
  • Recurring awards: Instead of employee of the month, create an employee of the week or another weekly award to keep morale high.
  • Affordable plaques: Don’t all your employees deserve a little recognition right now? Choose an affordable option and show how much you appreciate everyone.
  • Lighthearted awards: Add a little positivity to your employees’ days and create an enjoyable company culture during trying times.

Don’t miss out on all the great benefits of company awards, like employee retention, improved productivity and an open and friendly company culture. Virtual events are about to become the new normal, and you can be ahead of the curve.