Virtual Conferences: From Event to Experience

Traditional conferences and events are an excellent way to connect with your customers, share ideas, and showcase new products and features. However, many event organizations are taking their events virtual to expand their audience.

Virtual Conferences: From Event to Experience
What is a virtual conference?

What is a virtual conference?

A virtual conference is an event or conference that is held online with the use of virtual conference platforms and other technologies. An online conference is much the same idea as an in-person conference; your attendees can review the itinerary, register for the virtual event (and pay for their ticket), choose which sessions they’d like to attend, and network with other attendees and speakers before, during, and after the sessions.

Even virtual conference sponsorships work the same way, as chosen sponsors can set up sessions to educate customers, answer questions about their products, and distribute sales materials.

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How do virtual conference platforms work?

The execution of a virtual event is very similar to an in-person event. You still have to plan content, book panelists and speakers, register your attendees, and so forth. The main difference is that you’ll be using virtual event management software for the majority, if not all, of these tasks. This includes email registration, creating meeting spaces for broadcasting the event, providing technical support to your panelists, bringing your speakers and attendees together over video, and more.

You’ll also want to have an interactive lobby that closely resembles the lobby of an in-person event where event attendees can chat, network, visit vendor booths, and join sessions — the only difference is that you’ll leverage your event platform to create and manage it.

How do virtual conference platforms work?
What are the benefits of a virtual conference?

What are the benefits of a virtual conference?

A virtual conference provides a number of benefits, including:

  • Improved accessibility

    A virtual conference allows you to leverage other technology, such as live transcription and translation, to ensure everyone can enjoy your event.

  • A seamless attendee experience

    Rather than traveling to an event, getting accommodation, signing in, and finding the right sessions, conference attendees can simply sign into the event on their computer and enjoy the conference experience from anywhere.

  • Detailed metrics

    With virtual event platforms, event organizers can gain valuable insights from the metrics you collect, including how many attended your event, how they engaged with your sessions, and more.

  • Increased reach

    With a virtual conference, attendees aren’t required to travel to a physical location, allowing event organizers to capture a larger audience and increase their reach.

What do you need for a virtual conference?

While it may seem daunting to host a virtual conference, getting the necessary elements in order is easy! Here’s what you’ll need for a virtual conference:

  • Locations for hosting and/or filming

    For a virtual conference, you’ll need a space where you can film and produce your sessions. Luckily, you can outfit almost any space to fit your needs, including home offices, conference rooms, or even the outdoors! If you plan on hosting a hybrid event, you’ll need a location that can accommodate your anticipated on-site attendee count. Some events can be hosted right from your home, while others might require more sophisticated production elements where you would want to use a studio.

  • A platform to host virtual conferences

    To create an engaging, streamlined event, you’ll need a virtual event platform that enables that kind of experience. An event hosting platform gives you a one-stop shop for your event management needs, including event registration, ticketing, session and attendee management, and more.

  • The right virtual event technology

    Without the ability to hear and see panelists clearly, even the most interesting event won’t succeed. Make sure you have cameras, microphones, and lighting elements that fit your space and intended use case. For example, if your speakers plan to move around, be sure you have cameras that can track your movement so attendees can see all the action.

What do you need for a virtual conference?

The platform should include these capabilities:

  • One-to-many functionality
    One-to-many functionality

    Most virtual events consist of panelists speaking to a large audience, and a solution that allows one person to speak to a large audience helps to avoid disruptions.

  • Q&A options
    Q&A options

    A forum for Q&A is a hallmark of the virtual event experience, as it provides a place for attendees to get their pressing questions answered in real time by event support staff. You can also gather the most important or frequently asked questions and answer them live at the end of your session.

  • In-session chat
    In-session chat

    The in-session chat gives conference attendees a place where they can chat and engage with each other, including sharing their excitement or reactions to your session. The in-session chat also gives event support staff and admins a place to provide links or other resources for session attendees to enjoy.

  • Content sharing
    Content sharing

    The ability to share content is critical to the virtual event experience as it allows you to directly share content such as pictures, videos, PDFs, slide shows, music, and much more with your attendees.

  • Virtual backgrounds
    Virtual backgrounds

    A virtual background is a customizable background that can include images or video and gives presenters a range of options for creating a personalized experience for attendees. Panelists can customize their virtual backgrounds to include their organization’s and sponsor’s brands, as well as create backgrounds that match the context and feel of their presentation.

  • Admin portal
    Admin portal

    A streamlined admin portal gives your admins, event organizers, and event support staff a way to manage your entire virtual event, as well as create and edit events, and gain crucial insights such as attendee registration, event engagement, and more.

How do you organize a virtual conference?

How do you organize a virtual conference?

Once you’ve gathered everything you need to host a virtual conference, it’s time to organize it! Here are the key steps event organizers should follow when planning a virtual conference:

  • Event planning
    1. Event planning

    When planning your event, you should carefully consider who your target audience is, what kind of experience you want them to have, what value your event can offer them, what objectives you want to achieve, and how you will measure your success.

  • Content and speakers
    2. Content and speakers

    Once you’ve nailed down the objective of your event, you can generate ideas for sessions and content. You can then invite speakers and panelists based on who would be the best person to deliver the content. For example, having your chief technology officer present a session about cutting-edge technology would be more impactful than having an employee from marketing present the same session.

  • Event engagement
    3. Event engagement

    When building out your sessions, be sure to consider attendee engagement. By keeping session length under an hour, scheduling breaks between sessions, and including networking sessions can help keep things fresh. During sessions you can utilize polling, Q&A, and chat to keep the conversation interactive. You can also create a follow-the-sun agenda with region-specific sessions for your global attendees to ensure everyone can enjoy your event.

  • Preparation
    4. Preparation

    Hosting any event requires a good deal of teamwork, so you’ll need to coordinate closely with your teams. By designating producers in charge of production, creating a production schedule and event workflow, and creating a centralized communication hub for the event such as a chat channel, you can help ensure your team is ready for the event. You should also schedule an event dry run to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

  • Website creation
    5. Website creation

    An up-to-date website provides important resources, such as the event overview, the agenda, session information, speakers, frequently asked questions, and your registration page. Be sure to add compelling images and videos to your webpage to get your attendees excited about the event!

  • Event promotion
    6. Event promotion

    You’ll need to promote your event to spread the word and drive registration. Sending promotional emails to your subscribers, publishing blog articles about the event, posting reminders on social media, and coordinating marketing efforts with your partners, speakers, and sponsors will help to grow your virtual audience.

  • Hosting your event
    7. Hosting your event

    When it comes to hosting, you want to offer plenty of support and guidance to your attendees and speakers. Offering adequate troubleshooting and technical support helps to ensure everyone can enjoy your event, while providing basic information such as where to submit questions, how to join sessions, and view recordings helps attendees navigate the experience.

For more information on how to host an engaging virtual event, check out our virtual events guide.

A comprehensive event platform for virtual conferences

Zoom Events, our event hosting platform, provides all the features and functionalities you need to organize, manage, and host your virtual event.

Key elements of the Zoom Events platform:

A comprehensive event platform for virtual conferences
  • Manage event ticketing and registration
    Manage event ticketing and registration

    Easily customize the registration process and manage your ticketing, including the ability to create tickets for both attendees and panelists, set permissions, customize ticket price, and customize the sales window for tickets.

  • Create networking opportunities
    Create networking opportunities

    With the ability to engage with each other across in-lobby chat, in-session chat, Breakout Rooms, polls, host vendor booths, and more, attendees have plenty of opportunities to get to know each other and network with industry experts.

  • Track progress and results with detailed data
    Track progress and results with detailed data

    The Zoom Events portal provides you with a host of features and analytics to help you improve your event experience and track your progress, including the ability to view how many registered versus how many attended, engagement metrics, and how many people viewed your session recordings after the event is over.

  • Branded event hubs
    Branded event hubs

    The Zoom Events portal also enables you to create branded event hubs, giving you the ability to put your brand – and your sponsors and partners – front and center for your event attendees.

  • Professional support for online events
    Professional support for online events

    Zoom also provides professional support for online events, providing your team with all of the resources and guidance they need to host a seamless and engaging event. View support plans.

Get started with Zoom Events

To get started hosting your next virtual event, purchase your Zoom Events license, then visit to sign into your account. Once you’re logged in, you can begin setting up your hub under the Manage tab, and then get started building your first Event, Summit, or Conference using the Create tab.

Get started with Zoom Events