How to Run Virtual Events Using Zoom

Kristin Celano

Kristin Celano | September 28, 2020

Although the COVID-19 state regulations preventing crowds and mass gatherings remains in effect in cities across the United States, it doesn’t mean that your event should suffer. You know the old saying: Even during a global pandemic, the show must go on! And by “show” of course I mean, events and conferences. 

Transitioning events into virtual-only is a popular alternative to cancelling events, and even in a pre-COVID-19 universe hosting virtual events had many benefits. In addition to being the choice that prioritizes the health and safety of your speakers and attendees, virtual events are also a more cost efficient and inclusive alternative to in-person gatherings. Due to their attend-from-anywhere nature, hosting events virtually lowers admission prices which in turn opens the door to individuals who otherwise would have been budgetarily barred from attending. This cost efficiency doesn’t just stop at admission either, virtual events also eliminate event space, staff, catering, and other on-site expenses for the hosts, enabling more organizations to share all of the wonderful knowledge they have. Additionally, when you choose to host a virtual event— whether it is composed of live-streamed speakers or pre-recorded webinars—  you are creating digital resources that you can repackage and reuse in the future. 

The future of events is virtual. When you utilize the right video conferencing software for your virtual event, you are choosing to be considerate of the safety of all parties involved, while creating repurposable digital content that will benefit your organization for years to come, all while offering networking and a space for individuals within your industry to connect. 

We’ll walk through how to host your next event on Zoom and open yourself up to the endless virtual possibilities.

Live Virtual Event Considerations

Before you begin promoting your virtual event, there are some things you should consider. The goal of any virtual event is to mimic the environment of in-person events as much as possible. In order to do so, consider the following factors:

1. Who is your virtual event for?

Before your event was transitioned to a digital platform, your guest list and targeted event promotion probably looked a little differently than it does now. Without the limitation of physical event space, take your virtual event as an opportunity to expand the reach of your organization. If your event was originally intended as an in-person networking opportunity for members of your organization or subscribers of your emailing list, take time to brainstorm what other demographics would benefit from attending your virtual event and who may want virtual networking opportunities

With the Large Meeting add-on, your Zoom event can host up to 1,000 live attendees at a time. When you open up your virtual event to new, previously untapped attendees, you will be exposing your organization to a more diverse body of experience and create a supremely inclusive event.

2. How much should you charge for virtual event tickets?

When choosing to attend an in-person event, attendees often justify a steep admission cost by the inclusion of food and drink, as well as the priceless experience of in-person networking and live Q&A sessions with notable speakers. With food, drink, and in-person interactions off the table, how much should you charge attendees to your virtual event?

When considering price, it is essential to first take into account how well you are recreating the in-person event experience. Through the use of Zoom Breakout Rooms you can recreate the atmosphere of casual networking opportunities and allotting extra time at the end of keynote speeches for live Q&A sessions is a part of virtual event best practices. Just because you are running your event virtually doesn’t mean it has to suffer in personality, or be priced far lower than if it were an in-person event.

Remember that through your virtual event you are still providing attendees with an experience and opportunity that they otherwise would not have been privy to. When done correctly, the time and energy you put in to hosting your virtual event will be comparable to how you would prepare and execute an in-person event— your admission cost should reflect that.

3. How do I use technology to optimize the virtual event experience?

It goes without saying that your virtual event will only be as successful as the technology you use to execute it. The reality is simple: if you utilize trusted and appropriate tech tools,  (and practice using them!) your virtual event will go off without a glitch.

When you choose to use a seasoned video conferencing platform like Zoom to host your virtual event, you will be setting yourself and your attendees up for virtual success. Zoom boasts an extensive range of tools and features, along with customer support,to help you get the most out of your virtual event. In addition to the Large Meeting and Breakout Rooms features mentioned above, here are a few more benefits to using Zoom to host your next virtual event.

Benefits of using Zoom for virtual events:

  • As a user-friendly platform, Zoom meets the tech level of any potential meeting attendee
  • Utilize Zoom Chat to stay connected with your team during the event planning stage
  • For prerecorded event moments, use Zoom Webinars can host up to 50,000 attendees at a time
  • Leverage Zoom Marketing Automation, an integration with HubSpot, to make sure your event promotion gets seen by the right eyes
  • Use Zoom Polls for non-verbal live attendee interactions
  • Pair Zoom with a smart camera like the Meeting Owl for keynote speeches to get your attendees as close to face-to-face with your featured speakers as possible

How do you run a live virtual event using Zoom? 

Now that you have decided to host your next virtual event on Zoom, it is time to break down the logistics.

Step 1: Meeting or Webinar?

The first step to using Zoom for your virtual event is to decide: is your event best suited as a meeting or as a webinar?

Zoom Meetings are best used for highly interactive events, when you plan to involve a lot of attendee participation and synchronous communication. With the Large Meeting feature mentioned above, when your virtual event is a Zoom meeting you can have up to 1,000 live attendees at a time.

Zoom Webinars more closely mimic a lecture hall atmosphere, where attendees roles are as audience members with little opportunity for interacting with one another. Zoom webinars are best suited for public events and can hold up to 10,000 live attendees at a time.

Step 2: Be the Virtual Host with the Most

Hosting virtual event best practices are not much different than for in-person events. The only real difference is that when you host a virtual event, you can do it from anywhere. 

 

Here are some quick tips on being a successful virtual event host:

  • Before your event, hardwire your internet connection to avoid any glitches or delays due to unstable WiFi
  • Run a tech test in the days before your event to give yourself ample time to troubleshoot any audio or visual speed bumps you may run into
  • Minimize external noises or distractions. To maintain your status as an engaging host you will want to be as present to your attendees and event as possible. This may entail donning a headset to reduce background noise and produce the highest-quality audio that your attendees deserve
  • Dress to impress! Just because you are hosting your event from home this year means your attendees should miss out on seeing the new blazer you bought for the occasion. The goal is to maintain the atmosphere of an in-person event, to keep up the energy it is wise to also keep up appearances.
  • Lead with appropriate expectations. In the event description and any promotional content, set clear expectations for the schedule and format of the event so there are no bad surprises for attendees.
  • Start on time! This is a no-brainer for good hosts, but looks a little differently for virtual events. For virtual events, on time means 5 minutes early to allow attendees to join before the event begins.
  • Keep your audience engaged. To make your live event as interactive and engaging as possible, combine your positive attitude with the Zoom tools and integrations mentioned above.

Step 3: Keep Zoom on Standby

Zoom offers expert guidance for standby assistance to ensure your event goes off without a hitch. From your first tech run-through rehearsals to the main live event, Zoom is available to help your team run virtual events in confidence.

Whether this is your first time transitioning a previously in-person event into a virtual event or you have been hosting virtual events since the dawn of modern video conferencing technology, when you choose to use Zoom for all your virtual event needs you are setting yourself and your attendees up for an eventful virtual experience.

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