With the pandemic still proving a health and safety threat, the prospect of holding an international conference somewhere physical is not yet on the table. That means all events are best conducted virtually, which may prove complicated if you’ve never hosted one online before.
Businesses shouldn’t fear going virtual, though. Aside from the fact that such conferences are more cost-effective and sustainable, they’re not too challenging to arrange. You just need to know how to conduct everything online, which is exactly what this practical guide is here to teach you.
Keep Attendees Engaged
A disengaged audience doesn’t do your event any favours. The problem with virtual conferences is that it’s easier for people to lose focus and stop taking in what the presenters say.
You can work around this in several ways. For one, reducing each session’s length can ensure that attendees don’t start drifting off in the middle of the conference. It’s best to ensure that they run no longer than an hour, with the last 15 minutes dedicated to a Q&A.
Providing a moderator to answer questions in real-time can also help, as can creating relevant conversations on social media during each presentation. What’s more, polls can establish the level of interest during the conference, so changes can be made if the event isn’t keeping people engaged.
Think About Time Zones
An important consideration to make when hosting an international conference online is what time will suit most people. Location-based events are all set in one time zone, but that’s not a benefit you have when hosting a global conference virtually.
Think about who you’re trying to reach and how the time differences will affect them. There will likely be some people who are disadvantaged by your scheduling, but that can’t always be helped.
Transcribe Each Session
Given that virtual events are more accessible for international attendees, it’s likely that your conference will attract people from all over the world. As a result, you’ll need to consider how best to manoeuvre around language barriers to ensure that everyone understands what they’re watching.
While people may have translators helping them in real-time, you may also want to consider hiring professional interpreting services to transcribe each session of your conference. That way, attendees will be able to access material after the event, which details everything that happened in a language they understand.
For businesses in the financial sector, you’ll want to enlist the financial transcription services of Global Voices. With a network of nearly 10,000 professional linguists who know over 150 languages, this company can ensure that all essential information is transcribed accurately for anyone who needs it.
Pick The Right Provider
Accessibility is essential when going virtual. The last thing any company wants is for important guests to be denied entry because the hosting software isn’t intuitive or has too limited a capacity.
When choosing a provider for your conference, you want to consider elements like ease of use and max capacity, as well as high-quality video production and audience engagement tools. They’re factors that you don’t typically have to consider when picking a physical space. However, without taking them into account online, it could severely hinder the success of your conference.
Make Networking Possible
Networking is an essential element of conferences. It’s through this that connections are made, and the prospect for new business deals is established.
Unfortunately, the lack of congregating in a physical space can make this more difficult, but it’s far from impossible. Private messaging features on the event platform can help with this, as can having pre-scheduled face-to-face meetings. The latter requires planning from both the organisers and the guests, with the former needing to make their list of attendees public before the event. By doing this you can ensure that people get to connect with those they’re most interested in, and therefore, get the most out of the conference.
Create Enough Entertainment
Conferences may be a business matter, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still have an injection of fun.
How you choose to incorporate that into your virtual event may depend on the audience you’re appealing to. However, live music and group activities are often excellent for keeping people’s spirits up, regardless of who’s in attendance. As long as there’s something to lighten the mood and tackle boredom between sessions, it should stop attendees from logging off.
Until it’s deemed safe for people around the world to come together again in a physical space, virtual conferences are the norm. That might mean a lot of adjustments on the side of the host, but there’s no denying this form of the event still has its benefits. With any luck, some of these positives can be translated back into face-to-face conferences once they return.