Rise of Virtual Events and the Importance of their Platforms
There’s no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated and ultimately pushed virtual (and now hybrid) events to the forefront of nearly every person’s life. Whether for business or recreational purposes, virtual events are here to stay and have made significant strides in how we interact with our coworkers, communities, and loved ones.
But with the boom of virtual events comes the ever-increasing demand from users for seamless interactions and glitch-less performances from these event platforms…and it can be challenging to keep up.
So it’s crucial to consider that all virtual meeting or event platforms vary widely with the services they offer and their price points. Therefore, it is imperative to determine beforehand what requirements the platform needs to create the best experience possible for your users.
What is a virtual event platform?
A virtual event platform should be a one-stop solution for online event management. It typically has capabilities such as event promotion, email reminders, a registration portal, and event ticketing. Advanced platforms may also provide tools such as event apps and gamification to create an even better experience for attendees.
Virtual event platforms should allow you, as the event host, to manage the complete event lifecycle from a CMS (Content Management System)—from planning to long-term follow-up.
It should also provide event analytics (and a way to export that data), the ability to moderate user content and manage event attendees, and integration to your company’s CRM technology (Customer Relationship Management) if applicable. Overall, a virtual event platform needs to ensure your data is in one place, is secure, and is easy to find.
Some of the main features the platform should have are:
- Access to the event website
- Ability to register for the event (or modify registration)
- The actual event application
- Event FAQ section (troubleshooting, event details, ability to contact help if needed)
- Ability to have interactive video conferencing (if necessary)
- Ability to live broadcast, one-way audio/video
- Audience and Speaker Q and A
- Access to recorded sessions
- Easy access to live presentation content
- Feedback surveys
- Virtual booths (if necessary)
- Video networking (if necessary)
- Gamification or Polls (if necessary)
- Analytics dashboard
So many of the problems people run into with event platforms can be eliminated with thorough planning beforehand:
- Figure out the event programming (speaker script, audience engagement activities, Q&A, etc.).
- Ensure the appropriate engagement features are included in the platform’s capabilities (if required).
- Make sure the platform can be adapted to match your and/or a sponsor’s brand (logos, colors, social links).
- Ensure that the platform can easily update the event registrants (via email or other preferred communications) if anything changes before the event.
- Make sure content displays correctly from slides, including slides with any videos.
- Try to resolve any connectivity or technical issues. We understand there are some things we can’t control, like, a storm causing a power outage—but other than that, troubleshoot, and then troubleshoot again.
- Don’t skimp on accessibility measures (having subtitles, a transcript, choosing easy-to-see colors, etc.). Websites have to have them, and so should event platforms.
- Don’t forget to do some form of usability testing of the platform to find any issues (broken links, navigation issues, etc.). It’s preferable to conduct this testing with someone outside the company or someone not directly involved with the event.
- Don’t forget to ask participants for feedback on the event and the platform you used. This can either be in the platform itself or in follow-up emails (which can be generated by the platform if that is a feature you’d like to have).
Virtual Events and their Platforms Are Here to Stay—So Let’s Make the Best of It
The rise of virtual events and their ever-improving platforms doesn’t seem to be falling anytime soon, so if you and your company haven’t already chosen and customized a platform tailored to your business and users’ needs, then now is the time.
We hope this guide has helped give a basic understanding of what to look for, include, and avoid for event platforms. Please let us know in the comments if you like to use any specific platform and why—we’re always looking for ways to improve experiences for users, whether it’s our users or our clients’ users!