An increasing number of organisations are realising that there are too many benefits to holding their events online, either in combination with an on-site conference or as a stand-alone virtual event.
Virtual meetings and hybrid conferences can be run back-to-back over one day (intense), or over multiple days (extended). If you’re looking at throwing your hat into the virtual and hybrid conference arena, here are 10 tips for choosing the best platform in the UK.
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Ease of use
If you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to making your virtual event a success, choose an online conference platform that is simple to use. If you’re not worried about bells and whistles, then just look for something standard with basic features that functions well.
It’s also important to consider your attendees – if they are newbies in the field of virtual events, will they be able to manage easily?
Easy-to-use platforms usually offer support via email ticketing so there is someone on hand 24/7 should participants need help along the way. There are also those with live chat support, which means you can get instant answers to your questions.
However, if it’s an experienced audience that prefers self-service, then this shouldn’t be too much of a worry.
While having a platform that is accessible via mobile or tablet might sound important, for most people it’s not the top of the list. If you’re looking at holding your event over multiple days, then multi-platform compatibility can be a great boon to participants.
Some event organisers prefer to use different platforms for days 1 and 2 (the first day may be done on an online conference platform, while day two would go into full webinar mode), but there are others who like to switch to different platforms depending on the occasion – which can work well if your attendees are spread out globally.
If you’re hosting an online conference, you’ll need to choose a virtual events company that offers high-quality content for sessions. The same goes if your event is more of a webinar format.
You should be able to check out existing content before making your decision about which platform to go with – you should also see the topics covered so far and have the option to view past presentations. This will give you an idea of what participants can expect from the event organiser in question.
Some of the best companies will even go ahead and provide you with a demo version of the platform itself – which is a great option to have.
Image resolution quality
If you want high-resolution images to show up clearly online, make sure you choose a virtual events company that offers high definition images.
The company you choose should also offer resolution compatibility across all platforms, so your images and content will look sharp and clear no matter whether participants are using a computer or mobile device.
This should be the same for those with low-quality network connections and for those who attend via a video link.
Video streaming and recording
While we’re on the subject of image resolution, make sure you choose an online conference platform that offers high-quality videos too. This is where looking at previous material from your event organiser can be helpful – if they produce great videos then you’ll know the virtual events company offers good quality video hosting.
After all, your content is arguably one of the most important things to get right. This is because you need to provide standard quality videos at the beginning and offer HD versions as downloads for those who want them, later on, should bandwidth allow it.
If you plan to include polls, quizzes or games in your virtual conference session, then choose an online event platform that offers such capabilities. Interactive sessions can help keep participants engaged throughout the whole duration of the online conference.
The virtual/hybrid events company you choose will have to offer a variety of different interactivity options in order for this to be possible. This way, you can choose the option that’s best suited to your event.
Data management & analytics
When it comes to organising your online conference, you’ll want to know which speakers and what content participants found the most interesting. After all, if certain parts of sessions seem more popular that won’t just help during live conferences but also when putting together recordings.
Also, event organisers will want to see the number of people who attended the event and from where in the world they hailed from. In addition, if the event is a webinar, then analytics for each session as well as statistics on viewers will be helpful – especially when trying to work out the best time to broadcast online.
In order to get this information, you need to choose a virtual events company that offers Google Analytics integration and generates an instant report.
You should also look at how successful past conferences were in terms of turnout and pick a platform that provides figures about these areas.
End-to-end event management
A virtual conference platform can’t just be a simple event registration and playback tool. It should offer the whole package from start to finish.
That means that when you sign up before you know it you’ll have access to an online scheduler and then once the virtual event’s date has arrived, you’ll see your schedule combined with everyone else’s so there are no clashes between sessions.
Not only will this save headaches but it will also mean participants won’t need to jot down what they want to attend – making things run more efficiently for all of those involved.
Ability to customise
You want to ensure that everything is customized for your particular virtual conference session. This may include the platform’s appearance, its content and how it functions in general.
Choose a company that allows you to customise things such as the design of the interface, the background colours and images, all the text within a presentation, a speaker’s profile, questions in a quiz or survey voting polls whether pre-recorded material is shown in full or parts.
In short, the more customisable the platform is, the better. There should be a variety of options from which to choose – and ultimately you want things to look just as you’d like them to at your event.
Time zone considerations
There are two time zones to consider – one for your event, which will depend on its location, and one for your virtual conference platform company, which should be located wherever is most suitable to your needs.
The former is something you can’t do much about, but the latter should be a major factor when choosing a virtual events company. That’s because some people simply can’t attend an event which means they would need to catch up later on the recorded version. Make sure your virtual conference platform of choice offers recordings and that it will work for your time zone.
Virtual events and hybrid conferences are taking off due to their advantages over the more traditional face-to-face conferences. For one thing, they can be held at any time of day or night, don’t have a geographical location and are far cheaper.
However, there are so many platforms available online that finding the best virtual event services in the UK can be quite difficult. If you’re organising your first virtual conference then the above are some of the most important aspects to look out for when choosing an online events platform.