Great technology is the key to a successful virtual event, without a doubt. You could have the most prestigious speakers on the planet and the most fascinating content ever but if the technology fails you, that's all attendees will remember. That's why it's so important to make sure you've got the best tech tools for the job.
Every event is different and will require a different range of tools, so we've compiled a handy list of the technology you'll need for your virtual event to get you started. Next, read our piece on 10 simple steps to planning a virtual event and our Complete Guide To Virtual Events. to ensure you've got everything covered.
Table of Contents
1. Event registration
2. Event marketing software
3. Event platform
4. Streaming platform
5. Attendee engagement tools
5.1 Audience interaction
5.2 Event app
6. Virtual broadcast production software
Event registration is the first point of contact your delegates will have with your event, so it's crucial that it's an easy, seamless experience. Attendees will need to enter their details, choose their level of access if applicable and receive confirmation of their attendance. We recommend making sure you choose a registration provider which can integrate with your CRM system. This means you'll be able to automate processes such as confirmation emails, which will enhance the attendee experience and and make your job easier too.
Don't forget to collect information that will help you deliver the best, personalised experience for each attendee. Maybe you want to ask what kind of products or services the attendee is searching for to match them up with an exhibitor at the event. Or perhaps now's the time to collect their dietary preferences for any additional goodies or catering available.
If you wanted to, you could create a dedicated event website through which attendees register. Many registration platforms can integrate with a website in this way, so just ask! Having a website for your event will build a buzz around it and also offers a centralised platform useful for releasing speaker announcements, agenda sneak-peeks and any updates.
Event marketing software
There are many event marketing tools out there, which can be useful for promoting your event and spreading the word. For example, you could use a tool for scheduling, tracking and reporting on social media posts, a CRM for email tracking and keeping attendees all in one place and much more.
It's also important to keep in touch with your delegates once they've signed up and provide them with all they need to know before, during and after the event. Email comms are a great way to do this. Use an email marketing software tool to create aesthetically-pleasing emails, then set them up to send automatically through your marketing platform. Automating this process ensures all delegates receive the right information at the right time, saves you time and provides many additional promotional opportunities for your sponsors.
Email communications are an important part of an event to help you stay in touch with your attendees after the event too, with feedback surveys and post-event content. The event finish doesn't mean the end, content is key to extending the life of an event and continuing to provide value to your broader audience.
The next, and probably most important, type of technology you'll need is the event platform. There are so many out there that it can be hard to choose, so start first by defining your audience and objectives to work out what you need from your virtual event solution.
Some of the best virtual event platforms are those which allow you to do everything in one place, known as all-in-one platforms. Check out 9 of the best all-in-one virtual event platforms to get started, or explore our brand new virtual event solution, Arena. Alternatively, you could choose the 'stacked' option, which means using several different types of event technology simultaneously. This may be a good option if you can't quite find a platform that does everything you need it to. If you go for the stacked option, just make sure the platform you choose offers seamless integration with other technology tools so that there are no issues on the day.
Make sure the platform you choose is easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, can use your branding and offers detailed reporting. Being able to automatically record lead-generation and collect data is especially important at virtual trade shows and exhibitions, so that exhibitors can see things like traffic to their stands, which will be useful for demonstrating ROI. If you need guidance, one of our virtual event experts are always on hand to help with our free virtual event consultation service.
Most online events involve live-streaming, and there are loads of different streaming platforms you could use. Some platforms involve simple streaming capabilities, others offer more interactive services such as on-demand access, notifications, and audience interaction functions. Naturally, some online meeting solutions are better than others, and it really all depends on what your event is trying to achieve and which event format you've chosen.
The main two platforms used for virtual events are Vimeo & YouTube. Vimeo is the preferred solution for a more professional event as it has more flexible embed styling options than Youtube.
Attendee engagement tools
This will probably depend on the platform you choose, but there are some key things to look out for when thinking of ways to keep your attendees engaged.
Most platforms offer features like Q&A, live feeds and polls, which are great and can be easy ways to bring attendees into the conversation and get them interacting. However, we think a truly successful virtual event is one that stands out from the crowd and does things a little differently, so try and find tools that offer something a little bit more unique such as quizzes and games, real-time brainstorming, voting or even note-taking capabilities so attendees can enhance their learning.
Another good way of engaging your attendees is by using an event app to make the event more interactive and to offer attendees an extensive event guide they can easily refer to and don't have to go searching through their emails.
By using an event app to host the agenda, speaker info, additional content and other interaction tools such as surveys (as well as the all important feedback survey), the attendees will feel like their laptop screen is for the sessions, and their mobile app is for the other (more fun?!) parts of the event. Creating this divide imitates the flow of a physical event and will make it more exciting to explore.
We all know that networking is an extremely valuable element of a physical event. It's a place where sponsors can get their name in front of potential customers, attendees can foster relationships and everyone can just have a little fun after a full day's conferencing. At a virtual event, this looks a little different. Our advice? Don't try and replicate it! Nothing is going to replace in-person networking, so instead, find other ways to let your attendees network virtually and have a bit of fun.
Many platforms offer great virtual meeting tools, such as AI-powered networking. This is where attendees are matched together based on certain criteria, and can be really valuable for your attendees so they don't have to scroll through the entire attendee list to find who they want to talk to!
You could also host a networking event with activities such as a pub quiz, live entertainment or even a yoga class! The beauty of virtual is that the possibilities really are endless: if you want to give your attendees an hour with David Attenborough, you can make it happen! Check out our piece on fun virtual activities for inspiration.
Virtual broadcast production software
Blurry videos, sound issues and dodgy wifi will distract attendees and actively disengage them. So whether it's in-house or an external provider, professional-grade production is really important for virtual events and will make the whole event seem much more professional.
You could even use some virtual reality technology to really take it up a level. For this you'll need a virtual reality camera, tripod and VR editing tools. Each attendee will also need a VR headset, but to keep costs down you could use Google Cardboard, which attendees can use with their phones.
Finally, it's crucial to have a technician on hand to fix any issues if and when they arise. Like we said before, you could have the world's best lineup but if the whole thing crashes, it will all be for nothing. Be prepared!
Whilst some tech can seem expensive, it really is worth it in the long-run to invest in better-quality technology rather than go for the cheapest options. The better the tech, the more seamless your event will be and the more engagement you'll get long term!
If you need any help planning your virtual events, talk to our Virtual Event Experts who will be happy to help.