For many businesspeople, virtual meetings are given dismissive treatment as a bad second option that pales in comparison to in-person events. In this post, we want to give virtual events their due respect with a little tutorial on the different types of virtual events that are possible and when a virtual event option makes the best sense.
Types of Virtual Events
A webinar is usually a shorter meeting that lasts anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. These meetings are typically built around very specific content that is presented by one or two presenters or maybe a host and a presenter. They are often educationally oriented with a marketing slant where something is being offered for sale. Webinars often use chat and Q&A features for audience engagement. Most times, there is an on-demand recording offered for viewing anytime.
Virtual meetings are like in-person meetings with live presentations and discussions. Meetings typically have more complex agendas and varied content than webinars. They can offer an on-demand option for follow-up and after-event reviews just like webinars. What is key to understand about meetings is that they are usually longer and more wide-ranging in content than a webinar.
Yes, the virtual world can support conferences. This is news to a lot of people, but it is true. Much like in-person conferences, virtual conferences have complex agendas with general sessions, breakout meetings, and networking. With a dedicated platform like innoVia’s Zenevent, do not be surprised to find the ability to accommodate keynote speakers, town hall sessions, breakout rooms, exhibit halls, exhibitor appointments, scientific abstracts, and abstract presentation sessions, multiple creative options for networking, and capabilities for attendees to build their own tailored agendas. And, as with the other virtual event types, conferences can support on-demand post-event viewing.
All three event types are good options for delivering messages. Which one to go with is largely dependent on your objectives.
When is a Virtual Event the Best Option?
Accessibility: When you have a large contingent of attendees who will not be able to attend an in-person event and the content is time-sensitive, virtual is your best choice. This will allow the right people to get the information in due time.
Budget: If you are a small enterprise with limited funds, virtual will give you the best value for your money. If you are a large organization with a large meeting budget, choosing virtual options can help you save money for a bigger, more inspiring once-a-year in-person event. Finally, when travel costs are rising and/or lodging costs get prohibitive, virtual is a good cost-saving answer.
Sales: If you are trying to sell something, whether it is a product or service, webinars are a great choice. With webinars, you can speak to a huge audience that is not limited by borders. You can do it multiple times to accommodate time zones and use the registration tools to help build your potential customer list. It is also a low-cost solution or, in some cases, requires no cost at all.
Last resort: There are many unknowns when it comes to planning events, and whether it is due to pandemic challenges, extreme weather, travel bans, or some natural calamity, and you must cancel your in-person event, virtual is a natural option.
So, instead of scoffing at virtual events as a kind of second-class citizen of the event world, look at them for the benefits they offer. When the content, budget needs, and audience mix fit, virtual can be your most effective and efficient event choice with the largest ROI.