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How We Did Zoomtopia 2020 — Our First Global Virtual Event

Learn more about how we hosted Zoomtopia 2020, Zoom's first global virtual event, and some helpful tips on how to run your own virtual event.
5 min read

Updated on March 27, 2023

Published on November 13, 2020

Eric at Zoomtopia

Anyone who’s been to Zoomtopia, our annual user conference, knows that we go all out in celebration of our customers with epic visual themes, star-studded entertainment, and amazing announcements and breakout sessions. We continued the tradition at Zoomtopia 2020, even though this year’s event looked a little different.

To ensure the health and safety of our customers and Zoomies during the pandemic, Zoomtopia was a 100% virtual experience. While we certainly missed seeing everyone in person, our first virtual Zoomtopia enabled us to showcase what’s possible with Zoom, and reach a global audience many times larger than years past.

Here are some of the things that made Zoomtopia 2020 so special, along with some tips to help you deliver the deliver a power virtual experience for your audiences.

Over 95% live

Unlike many other virtual conferences, which are pre-recorded and played back for an audience, we chose to make nearly all of Zoomtopia (95%!) live. Why? Because we wanted to bring that special live experience to our users with elements of interaction, spontaneity, and energy.

Zoom Team Green Screen

Planning and executing dozens of live sessions for our North America, EMEA, and APAC regions was a huge undertaking, requiring support from the broader Zoom team to manage countless simultaneous webinars and meetings around the world with live interpretation, and a full live production crew to support our keynotes. Plus, our creative teams and event management agency spent countless hours building our virtual world.

The results were well worth it: 

  • Tens of thousands of people joined from around the world for our opening keynote with Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan, highlighting the power of connection and Zoom’s ability to bring us all together, no matter where we are
  • The majority of our sessions had live Q&A, allowing panelists and speakers to answer questions from the audience in real time
  • Our follow-the-sun agenda enabled global attendees to join live sessions in their time zone

Pro tip: When planning a live event, practice makes perfect. Hold dry runs leading up to the event and select “Enable practice session” when scheduling your webinar so panelists can join early and check their lighting, video, and audio before you go live.

Powered by Zoom

Every single session was powered by Zoom. From using Zoom Webinars for our keynotes and main breakouts to Zoom Meetings for our invite-only roundtables with C-suite executives, we leveraged our platform’s extensive features to ensure a secure, high-quality attendee experience. 

Numerous Zoom Webinars features were a key part of our live event:

Pro tip: Many people default to using Zoom Meetings for their online events. However, if you’re hosting a meeting with a large audience — and especially if participants are unknown — there’s greater potential for disruptions. Our webinar platform gives hosts control over larger events, and we're constantly adding enhancements to help you interact with your audiences. Here’s a handy guide for deciding whether to use our meeting or webinar platform for your event. 

Custom-built with our customers in mind

Zoomtopia is more than an event — it’s a manifestation of our brand. We wanted to build an experience that reflected who we are and showed our customers how much we care about them. 

Zoom Hearts

We assembled a small army of partners — from our web developer for the Zoomtopia website, to our 3D design agency that built Zoomtopia Island, to our registration partner, video agencies, and of course, our live production company — to create a custom virtual experience unlike any other. We’re extremely thankful to all our partners and sponsors for bringing Zoomtopia to life!

Pro tip: When collaborating with multiple partners and platforms, test (and test again!) to make sure your tools work well together and that each system can communicate and transmit data seamlessly.

An immersive attendee experience

We didn’t want Zoomtopia to feel like sitting in front of your computer for yet another meeting. We wanted it to be an experience, with all the fun and discovery of attending an event in person. 

Our 3D Zoomtopia Island was designed to allow attendees to explore, just as you would wander through a conference visiting booths and interacting with displays. A gamification element incentivized people to click through each part of our virtual island to earn real-life rewards!

We also made sure to sprinkle lots of happy surprises throughout, like swag to commemorate the occasion, and our celebrity “Zoom In” moments to keep attendees engaged and ready to return for the next session. 

Transforming your workspace
Clea & Joanna from The Home Edit joined us for a "Zoom In" moment.

Lastly, we created tracks to help you find the most valuable, most informative sessions for how you use Zoom. Our sessions are all available to watch on-demand, organized by content track for easy viewing.

Pro tip: Focus on the viewer experience from beginning to end. Do attendees know how to watch the event? Will they have opportunities to interact with speakers and sponsors? Can you send a fun surprise in the mail to get them excited? Every detail matters.

Looking for more tips on how to take your event virtual? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Planning & Hosting Virtual Events.

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