Guide to Producing a Virtual Event
For all Budgets
Welcome to our guide to producing a virtual event. Here you will learn about planning and executing a successful virtual event. We’ll talk you through what you should consider, when and why.
Who are TPP and Why are We Offering This Guide to Producing a Virtual Event?
For the last 20 years we’ve been delivering virtual event production for conferences worldwide. Before Covid, video and live streaming was simply a bolt on option for our in-person events. It was a means of reaching the audience that couldn’t attend the event in person, but still needed to participate.
When Covid-19 hit on a global scale, producing a virtual event was the only option for most organisations. Businesses still needed to provide training and communications to their audience, so virtual events were the only solution.
Almost two years on and the momentum behind virtual events continues. However, the production has become more refined and accessible to everyone. Therefore, we are providing this no-nonsense guide to producing a virtual event.
Who is This Guide for?
This guide includes the fundamental requirements of planning a virtual event. So, whether you are an experienced event planner, embarking on your first live streamed event, or someone who has been tasked with producing a virtual event on top of their day job, this guide is for you.
What is a Virtual Event?
Before we start, let’s go back to basics; what is a virtual event?
The sole intention of a virtual event is to provide an immersive and informative experience to an online audience.
A virtual event is filmed and broadcast over a live streaming platform to an audience of your choosing. As the host, you can broadcast to the public, or to a select audience via a secure streaming platform.
Virtual Events are More Than Just a Zoom Call
Let’s be clear, a virtual event is not a standard Zoom or Teams call. The production level is much more sophisticated. It is professionally filmed for optimum audience engagement and streamed online using a secure and reliable platform.
Depending on the virtual event platform, participants can get involved as they would in a traditional conference by asking questions to the speaker and attending breakout sessions.
Who Hosts Virtual Events?
Virtual events are used by businesses, charities, entertainers, educators, influencers and all types of organisations that have a message or information that needs to be explained, questioned and answered to be fully understood.
In the past – in a pre-pandemic world – most of these organisations hosted in-person events at a dedicated venue, where delegates travelled to attend. Since international travel has been restricted, the only option has been to go online.
Who Produces Virtual Events?
They will manage all of the technical elements, including:
- Filming and streaming the event
- Generic, stage and broadcast lighting
- Power management
- Presentation support
- Laptops and screens
- Digital networks
As well as technical expertise, a team of professionals will also provide:
- Staging and set design and build
- Help selecting a suitable venue
- Valuable insight on engaging an online audience
Choosing a Venue to Host a Virtual Event
- Does it have facilities already in place, such as a set, stage, lighting rig, screen, power, AV equipment and internet connection?
- The internet connection is critical for a virtual event. So, if you have any concerns over the venue’s internet speed and consistency this will need to be addressed during the early stages with your technical event production company.
- If the venue is a blank canvas, then you need to ensure there is sufficient access for installing staging, set, flight cases, truss, and other large equipment. Access doesn’t just involve checking to see if the stairs or lift are big enough, you also need to check when you can access the venue to set-up, so its important to look at the delivery and parking access outside the venue.
- Does the venue offer enough floor space and ceiling height? There needs to be sufficient ceiling height for an overhead lighting rig and the camera crew will need floor space to capture the event in its entirety.
Streaming a Virtual Event
To stream a virtual event online, you need a platform. This can be a social media channel for an informal broadcast, or a secure platform that is geared towards online conferences and meetings.
There are an increasing number of virtual event platforms, each promising the next level in audience engagement. However, let’s face it, they come at a cost, and unless you intend to utilise the functionality of these platforms to the max, we suggest you keep it basic – to start with at least.
Affordable Virtual Event Platforms
Virtual event platforms often operate on a subscription basis, so we recommend, that if you are planning to host several virtual events, that you manage the subscription/license to your preferred platform. This saves on production costs and ensures the platform you use is right for your specific needs.
There are several affordable virtual event platforms on the market. Here are a few we’ve selected on your behalf.
Zoom Webinar is for a single session virtual event platform that offers up to 50,000 registrations. The onscreen view is not dissimilar from a Zoom meeting; the person speaking appears in the main window, with the virtual panel on view in smaller windows. The difference is there is a Q&A box for the panel and a chat box for participants to share conversations.
Using API, SDK and third-party app integration, you can format your event in Zoom Webinar to suit your brand.
Zoom Webinar is suited to single session conferences, training events, panel discussion and lectures.
For a mere £552 per year per licence (500 attendees), you get all of this:
- Interactive polling
- Q&A using comments and upvote questions
- Touch up appearance, filters and studio effects
- Attendees can be promoted to ‘panelist‘ to speak or share videos while in session
- Record your webinars for sharing later
- CRM captures leads
- Analytics of event performance
- Zoom Events
- Use presentation slides as virtual background
- Broadcast live on social media
- File, link and video sharing
- API, SDK and third party app integration
Zoom Events is a step up from Zoom Webinar and is marketed as an all-in-one event management solution. You can host multiple sessions over multiple days, plus you can implement other Zoom products, including Zoom Webinar and Zoom Meetings.
This multi-session virtual event tool is ideal for conferences, sales meetings, internal events, entertainment and training.
When an attendee logs in, they enter the virtual lobby, where they can see:
- The itinerary and schedule
- The sessions that they can join throughout the event as and when they start.
- A chat function to network with fellow attendees.
The costs for Zoom Events starts at £712 per year per licence for up to 500 attendees. The custom-options can host up to 50,000 attendees. Note, the cost goes up depending on the number of participants.
Zoom Events offer all of the this:
- Live streaming the main stage to the event lobby
- Up to 13 simultaneous sessions (private or public)
- Sponsorship integration
- Interpreters can join and provide live translation to specific sessions
- Q&A options
- Chat boxes for networking
- Customizable ticketing and registration
- Co-editing options for contribute content (only the license holder can publish or begin the event)
- Analytics for event reporting
- Fundraiser options
Hopin is one of the most affordable and customisable platforms, offering great value. There are packages to meet varying budgets and requirements.
For example, the free package allows you 100 registrations for a 2- hour live streamed event, with unlimited number of events and customisable event emails. For this, you also get concurrent live video sessions, messaging (event-wide and private), text translation in 10 languages and basic analytics.
Going up the scale Hopin’s starter package begins at $99 per month, which is around £73 per month for UK users. For this, the production is more impressive but it doesn’t necessarily offer as good value as Zoom Events. That’s because the registrations are limited to 100 per month, where as Zoom Events offers 500 for their basic package.
Hopin also take 7% on commission on ticket sales with the starter package (15% on the free package), so that’s definitely something to watch out for.
Although we have highlighted some minor cons to the starter package, there are still so many pros that make this a good value virtual event platform. Here are the pros:
- Up to 72 hour of event run time
- Ticket sales in any currency
- Event referral tracking
- SEO options for registration page
- Virtual event lobby for joining sessions
- Chat boxes for public and private messaging
- Unlimited concurrent sessions
- Unlimited virtual expo hosting
- Text translation in 10 languages
- Social media live stream
- Attendee mobile app
- Customisable registration form
- Canvas website builder
- Third party app integration for gamification (Slido, Kahoot, Miro, and more)
- Basic analytics
Stream Yard is a platform that facilitates live streaming on social media channels.
It is a tool that is implemented by Hopin for their free package. If you are looking to stream live on social media, this is a great option for you. With Stream Yard, you can have multiple participants and welcome on-screen questions/comments from your audience.
LinkedIn Virtual Events Coming Soon…
Here’s one to watch. LinkedIn is developing its virtual events platform to provide a more engaging experience. The package details have not be shared yet, but there is no doubt it will be an excellent contender as an affordable virtual event platform.
Virtual Event Platforms for Bigger Budgets
If you’re producing a virtual event that requires a more bespoke approach, or additional interaction features, all the products we have mentioned and others offer full customisation. Essentially, with enough budget you can have the cake and eat it. Here are just some of the features you can specify:
- Networking sessions
- Training on the use of the platform
- Speaker Rehearsals
- Ticketing and sales integration with third party ticketing and communications platforms (Cvent, Salesforce, Hubspot, Mailchimp etc.)
- Email and text reminders
- Two-way video engagement with delegates
- Sponsorship opportunities and heightened visibility
- Social media registration and logins
- Enhanced welcome experiences in each breakout room
- Pre-book meetings and personal schedules
- Gamification experiences to enhance participant’s engagement
- Photo booths
- File sharing during live broadcast
- Q&A enhanced features
- Chats (public and private)
- Video on demand
- Custom layouts for speakers on stage
- Single Sign On (SSO) allowing access to all areas
Need Some Help?
If the prospect of planning a virtual event is overwhelming, then it might help to know all the above is included in our technical event production packages for virtual events.
TPP can guide you through the process of producing a virtual event and offer sound advise on engaging your audience using the right platform for you. Our transparent approach ensures that you get the best service for the best value.
For our virtual event packages and prices, please contact our team at email@example.com or call us on 01264 889 934