What is a virtual event?
A virtual event is any event that brings people together at the same time digitally. A virtual event typically happens live over video on platforms such as Zoom, Facebook Live, or Crowdcast and ranges from a small group conversation to a panel, fireside chat, or direct video livestream lecture, demonstration, or class.
While many virtual events try to match the structure of an in-person conference, networking event, or meeting, increasingly, virtual events are finding their own unique structure––taking advantage of the live text chat for participants; question and answer sections offered by many virtual event platforms; and even bringing participants “on stage” with the leader, moderator, or panelists during the event.
Virtual events are not limited to video. There are also new audio only virtual event platforms––offering many of the same features as live video platforms, but with more location flexibility offered by audio.
Benefits of virtual events
There are many benefits of virtual events, the most important one being that they eliminate the logistics and limitations of in-person events. By hosting the event online, it’s possible for people around the world to attend, engage, and build relationships––expanding the geographic and cultural diversity of participants, quality of presenters, and reach of sponsors.
Virtual events are also not limited by time. Unlike an in-person event, a virtual event isn’t required to pack everything into one full day. It can create more value to attendees by staging out the information, networking, and other benefits of an event over multiple days or interactions.
While virtual events also eliminate the costs associated by in-person events for both attendees and conference organizers, they are not necessarily viewed as any less valuable by participants, sponsors, or speakers. In fact, because virtual events can pull from people all over the world and aren’t limited by time, they are increasingly becoming more valuable to those who sign up and participate.
Types of virtual events
The types of virtual events range from a single hour long interview or panel over Zoom or another video conferencing platform to a virtual conference, which offers multiple hour-long interviews or panels over the course of one or more days––typically taking advantage of multiple shorter blocks of time.
Virtual events are also used to bring people together live for the interview or panel that are then used for replay content or a podcast. It’s becoming popular to have multiple uses for a virtual event and the content produced from it.
Virtual event examples
Examples of virtual events range from everyday business meetings to annual keynote events. Even Apple has moved their annual product launches to a totally virtual experience.
Trade shows, seminars, and summits can all be livestreamed, hosted, or broadcast online. Virtual conferences tend to follow the format of on-the-ground conferences, with panel discussions, keynote speakers, and even online happy hours are offered via video conference. Not everything has to be a production, either: Even an office meeting hosted via video conference can count as a virtual event.