Virtual & Hybrid Event glossary

The basics, tips, and best practices you need to know for successful webinars, virtual events, and hybrid events.

What is a Virtual Event?

A virtual event or virtual conference enables an audience to interact through an online platform without gathering in person. Attendees from any location can join sessions, access content, and network via a virtual event platform rather than travel to a physical location.

Virtual events can range from small group sessions to large-scale events with thousands of attendees. The term virtual event describes various online interactions such as virtual trade shows, virtual conferences, virtual user conference, and virtual career conferences.

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How to Plan and Host a Virtual Event

A virtual event can be an online conference, virtual trade show, virtual career fair, customer/partner event, or any online interaction. Planning a virtual event is different from planning conventional physical events, and it requires a certain level of thought and execution to deliver positive results.

Proper preparation and planning are imperative to hosting a successful virtual event. It’s a common misconception that virtual events require minimal planning. In fact, virtual conferences require as much attention in planning as in-person conferences.. Sufficient planning for a virtual conference ensures conference success.  

Read more about How to Plan and Host a Virtual Event

What is a Virtual Conference?

A virtual conference is an interactive online event that replicates the aspects of a traditional in-person conference. It brings together an audience, speakers, and possibly sponsors in an interactive platform.

Virtual conferences depict similar aspects as conventional physical conferences. These include multiple speakers, keynote and breakout sessions, audience interaction, networking and more. Hosts can live-stream speaker sessions or record them in advance.

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How to Make Virtual Events More Engaging & Interactive?

Virtual events are becoming more and more popular, however, many attendees cite lack of engagement as the key concern they have when joining an event.

With the right virtual event platform features and tips and best practices from an expert, you can host amazing events that are highly engaging and interactive. Following has a quick list of virtual event engagement best practices from our 21 years experience hosting virtual events.

  • Adjust your agenda for a virtual format
  • Curate the entire virtual experience
  • Make your sessions more engaging
  • Include gamification to encourage behavior
  • Include entertainment surprises such as a virtual photo booth, social wall, trivia, scavenger hunt, etc.
  • Use an emcee
  • Host topical breakout rooms
  • Add a networking lounge
  • A.I. based attendee matchmaking suggestions

Read the full article with expert tips on How to Make Virtual Events More Engaging & Interactive

Virtual Event Theme Ideas

Need virtual event theme ideas? We've pulled together the best themes from our clients over the past 21 years to inspire your next virtual event.

At the beginning of the pandemic, organizations had to quickly, and unexpectedly, shift to virtual out of necessity. This was a totally new area for most organizers, so they didn’t have solid ideas about making their event stand out, they just needed a platform. Now, attendees have joined many virtual events and screen fatigue causing attendance rates to decline. Therefore, it is increasingly necessary to go beyond the basics to create memorable experiences.

This means your virtual event needs to be more engaging, experiential, and entertaining than the myriad of similar events put on by your competitors.

To help you, we’ve come up with awesome virtual event ideas that you can use to inspire your next event.

Read the full article on Virtual Event Theme Ideas with examples.

How Do I Choose The Best Virtual Event Platform?

Choosing the best virtual event platform can be daunting because, on the surface, the software all seems similar in terms of the high-level features. The best way to choose a virtual conference platform is to start with your event agenda, goals, and audience needs. Then make sure the provider meets your minimum requirements.

  • Budget: If you are working within a strict budget this is a great starting point to share with potential providers. If their base price is greater than your budget you can save a lot of time joining demo's and getting a quote.
  • Audience and agenda: How many attendees do you anticipate? If it is a larger size event make sure the platform hosting can scale without degradation in streaming quality or other technical issues.
    • Registration landing pages – Can these be customized with your branding, agenda, sessions, speakers, etc.?
    • Ability for attendees to create and save a personal agenda. In addition, the ability to save sessions to their Outlook or other calendar
    • Meeting scheduling – Attendee-to-attendee and booth rep-to-attendee
    • Role-based access to rooms or content – The ability to allow controlled access to sessions, rooms, or content for certain groups of attendees. For example, a VIP breakout room where certain attendees can join a special workshop with the CEO
    • Language localization – If your attendees are global consider if the event needs language translation for sessions and the virtual environment
    • Briefcase – Enables attendees to save content to a central area to access later
    • Continuing education (CE) credits – If this is part of your event you will need to make sure that the platform/provider supports tracking and automating issuing certificates.
    • ADA and section 508 requirements.
  • Event components: Decide which rooms, spaces and components to include in your virtual event. Click here for a visual guide.
  • Design: Choose between a 2D vs. 3D environment design. 2D design events can be set up faster (a few hours) and requires less budget. 3D designs offer a wow factor to set your event apart and drive more branding. If you are using a 3D virtual environment decide if you want to use a theme to make your event more fun, interesting, and relatable for your guests.
  • Rooms & spaces: Decide what rooms and spaces you want to include.
    • Welcome lobby to orient attendees, play a welcome video greeting, and help attendees navigate to other rooms and spaces
    • Theater for live or pre-recorded sessions
    • Help desk - Central place attendees can go to get help and ask general conference questions
    • Networking lounge - Typically a room with topic based areas where attendees can connect via text or video chat. Also, a forum where attendees can post comments.
    • Exhibit hall: Exhibit halls do not necessarily need to be used just for sponsor booths. For example, a corporate marketing thought leadership event for clients and prospects can include a “Solutions Hall” with booths for each product line. The booths can content helpful content (documents, videos, links to webpages) and/or offer live chat with representatives during advertised hours.
    • Resource center – A central depository for conference wide content
    • Other rooms – Depending on the type of event and use case, there are a variety of rooms that can be added to deliver and targeted experience.  For example, a corporate sales kick-off can include a separate “awards room” where photos of the winners appear on the walls. An event for clients and prospects can include a “swag room” where attendees can order merchandise. Or a wellness room for a virtual benefits fair.
  • Networking features:
    • Ability to search and connect with other attendees
    • Meeting scheduling (with other attendees and booth representatives)
    • A.I. driven matchmaking suggestions (like Netflix)
    • Networking lounge
  • Webinar sessions:
    • Live or simulive (pre-recorded with Q&A)
    • Engagement tools like Q&A, chat, emoji’s, polls, surveys
    • Speaker bio’s
    • Links to resources
    • Closed captioning
    • Language translation
    • Single or multiple tracks – If you have a lot of sessions organizing them into tracks will help keep your online event from being too long
    • Stream formats supported – Webcam or high-end RTMP production camera feed
    • Adaptive bit rate support
    • Engagement & Entertainment Features. Click here for virtual event engagement ideas.
  • Customer support:
    • Organizers: Support available to help with set-up and support during the live day(s)
    • Attendees: Technical support available during the live days
    • Speakers: Support available to help set up sessions, test connections, and conduct dry-runs with speakers. Also, support during the live day(s)
    • Sponsors or booth owners: Support to help with booth set up, chat training, and live day tech support

Read the full article including a checklist: How to Choose the Best Virtual Event Platform

Speaker fees for virtual events

Wondering how much a virtual event speaker costs?

Event organizers are working hard to make sure their virtual event programming is packed with premium educational content.

As with in-person events, quality sessions from expert panelists can help create memorable experiences for your guests. However, procuring presenters for an online event is somewhat different vs. in-person. 

Communique spoke with two speakers’ bureau executives to give us the scoop on what you need to know about working with speakers for virtual events.  

Read the full article Speaker Fees for Virtual Events

How Long Should a Virtual Event Be?

Wondering what is the ideal length of a virtual event?

Virtual events gained a lot of attention during the pandemic because they were new and interesting. Unfortunately, most guests left disappointed.

Between technical issues and Zoom-fatigue” virtual events went from a cool new medium to something many attendees dread or, at the very least, are skeptical of.

The overriding issue with most virtual events is that organizers use the same playbook as an in-person event or simply try to replicate an in-person event.

With a virtual event, you need to adjust your  programming and technical setup that caters to a remote audience.

Read the full article How Long Should a Virtual Event Be?

How Do You Measure Success and Effectiveness of Virtual Events?

What are the most important metrics and KPI's to measure virtual event success?

Determining your goals and objectives up front is critical to decide which metrics will determine whether your virtual event was a success or not.

The list below has a summary of the most common metrics used for virtual events.

  • The number of registrants and live day attendees
  • How attendees many viewed the event on-demand (replay)
  • Total number of content views
  • Total number of Webinar views
  • Webinar engagement (Q&A, polls, etc.)
  • Booth visits & engagement
  • Number of chat sessions
  • Breakout sessions
  • Average participation time
  • Social media engagement
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)

View our comprehensive article on How to Measure Success of Virtual Events

What is a Hybrid Event?

A hybrid event caters to both in-person and virtual attendees with each combining various elements to deliver optimal audience experiences. Attendees can choose to travel to the physical location or participate through a virtual event platform. 

Hybrid events provide the perfect balance between entirely virtual and in-person events. Instead of picking a virtual event and losing the benefits of an in-person event or vice versa, the hybrid event gives you both. With the right hybrid event platform, organizers can efficiently deliver value to both live and virtual attendees.

Read more about what is a hybrid event

What Equipment is Needed for a Hybrid Event?

Hybrid events combining the best of both worlds in-person and virtual attendees.

First and foremost, it is essential to determine what type of hybrid event you are looking to organize. Is it a synchronous hybrid, asynchronous hybrid, or combination. Based on your event type, you can start preparing a checklist of all the technical and equipment requirements.

What is a Virtual Job Fair?

A virtual job fair is an online recruitment event where recruiters and employers connect with potential employees and job seekers. It transforms the way potential employers and job seekers interact. Virtual job fairs can leverage features such as live chat, webinar presentations, webcasts, and more for seamless interactions.

Virtual job fairs help  recreate the traditional career fair  online . They combine features such as meeting rooms, booths, and guest speakers, allowing attendees to understand employers better.  This recruitment method enables employers to achieve a higher rate of success when hiring.

Read more about what is a virtual job or career fair

What is a Webinar?

Webinars are larger one-to-many events that are hosted online via the web. Webinars can have a single presenter or multiple speakers who share their knowledge on a particular topic. Webinars provide an opportunity for attendees to learn from experts in a convenient manner.

 

How Do You Plan, Build, Create, and Host a Webinar?
The steps to setting up a webinar are:
  1. Choose your webinar topic. Make sure the topic will attract attendees.
  2. Choose a Webinar speaker or speakers
  3. Decide a date and time to host your webinar
  4. Select a Webinar platform
  5. Build the Webinar registration page and content (slides, polls, surveys, etc.)
  6. Conduct a practice run with the speakers.
  7. Send reminder emails.
  8. Host your webinar and record it for replay.
  9. Plan follow up activities.

Related the full article: How to Plan and Host a Webinar: An Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

How to Promote a Webinar

If you build an irresistible webinar with a compelling topic and speaker(s), it does not necessarily mean attendees will come.

To meet your Webinar goals you will also  need a successful webinar promotion strategy. This includes a great title, social media promotion, and a compelling registration landing page.

Check out these proven tactics to drive more demand and registrations for your next webinar.

How Do You Conduct a Virtual Health Fair

 

Hosting a Virtual Health Fair is a great way to launch new employee wellness initiatives, raise awareness about health issues, and  show your employees you care about their well being!  A well produced virtual health fair provides a unique perk that benefits both the company and the employees.  Of course, not all virtual health fairs are created equally.

Want yours to really rock? Read the full article on How to Conduct a Virtual Health Fair