Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Here are some tips for organizing your virtual or hybrid event

Virtual events raise a lot of questions. Here are some frequently asked questions that we receive and some possible solutions, which could help you.

How do I include sponsors and exhibitors in my virtual event?

First, we have seen some organizers not contacting their sponsors or exhibitors, believing that their contribution would not be required since the costs of virtual events are a little lower. Some just didn't know how to showcase them during the virtual/hybrid events.

Remember: you will need them when physical events return! It is therefore important to stay in touch, maintain the relationship and find ways to include them during your event as much as possible.

Here are some ideas:

  • Ask attendees during registration if they have any needs or interest in specific services that your sponsors can offer. Offer them response options based on the expertise of your sponsors using a multiple choice question. Ask for their permission to put them in touch with your sponsors also through the form.
  • Give sponsors the chance to present their services during a short 3-minute presentation, for example just before a keynote speaker when you have the attention of the crowd. Send participants a call to action such as booking a time slot to meet the sponsor or exhibitor (see below).
  • Organize a draw at the end of the event. Ask exhibitors to give the names of participants that came to talk to them and use these names for special prize.
  • Dedicate a page to them on the event website with more information on how to contact sponsors. Have a Calendly type link on your event website so that attendees can book a time slot to chat with them.
  • Use the virtual rooms on Fourwaves so that they can chat in real time with your participants. From there, they can share content to attendees before, during and after the event.

How do I plan the schedule for my virtual event?

A virtual event is very different. Even if the objective is the same, the means to achieve them must be adapted. For example:

  • Schedule a maximum of 2 hours of oral presentations without a break and reduce the length of each presentation.
  • Allow more time for the question period. If possible, have participants ask their question via the microphone (instead of just having the moderator read the questions in the chat). It also allows participants to ask sub-questions and have a discussion.
  • Consider the time zone of your attendees when planning the schedule. Ask the country of origin of your participants in the registration form, to give you a better idea. You can also share these numbers at the start of the event!
  • If you usually organize a poster session, keep it on the schedule and even give it a bigger time slot! It is often a moment where participants really appreciate, because they can relate to the other participants! See the section below on this.
  • If you record the oral presentations in advance, yes it can avoid technical issues on the day of the event, but can decrease the spontaneity of the event that some attendees like.

Should I consider organizing a hybrid event?

We all can't wait to meet in person.

Hybrid events have great potential, as they offer the best of both worlds, but bring a heavier logistical burden. They probably won't be common until 2022, because the restrictions on travel, the additional costs of a hybrid event, the fact that the prestigious speakers will probably be speaking at a distance (too bad for participants present on site) are just a few reasons to wait. Not to mention the tourist attractions or social activities are still quite limited.

Remember that a return to confinement could force you to cancel the physical portion at the last moment. Do not underestimate the difficulty of finding accommodation for your participants if they come from abroad.

That being said, for 2021 have a 100% virtual plan A and a hybrid plan B and not the other way around.

There may be a hybrid format where, while respecting public health rules, small groups of participants in different cities can come together for viewing after which a networking activity could be organized for participants. Make sure you have a moderator on-site to take questions from the audience.

How do I publish the content of my event online?

You may have experienced it as a participant, the content of events is consumed more and more ... outside of the event. This seems paradoxical, because an event is supposed to bring people together at the same time to create momentum.

This momentum is more difficult to create when all participants are at a distance. However, we noticed that the content of a virtual event is consumed much more before and after the event than before the pandemic. It is therefore a great way to showcase the content of your event, to give the chance to participants to find new collaborators with shared interests and extend the impact of your event.

On Fourwaves, for each presentation of your event, you can share:

  • The title, authors, their affiliations, the abstract and contact details of the presenter.
  • Figures each with a title and description.
  • A short PowerPoint, which can be viewed directly on the page.
  • A poster.
  • A video, which is hosted and viewed directly on Fourwaves. To record the video, use a free tool like Panopto. Zoom and PowerPoint also offer a recording option.

On Fourwaves, the participant can add his own content or it can be added by the organizers.

How to facilitate networking between participants?

This is probably one of the aspects that is most lacking in virtual events: random encounters, discussions with other participants or introductions by other colleagues!

We are working on the integration of new features on Fourwaves to increase human contact between participants during the event. Stay tuned!

Until then, there are some awesome platforms that can be integrated with Fourwaves likeĀ remo.co or wonder.me. You can also create rooms for instance on Zoom and insert their link in your event schedule to give a virtual space where participants can discuss by topic.

How to organize a virtual poster session?

This is an aspect forgotten by the new virtual platforms and whose importance is underestimated. Poster sessions combine information exchange and networking. It's also a great way for students to get feedback from their peers.

This is an aspect where Fourwaves offers a superb integrated solution where participants can:

  • Walk from one poster to another and view its content in addition to images, a PowerPoint or a pre-recorded video.
  • Start or join video chats of up to 8 people live with the presenter.
  • Share the screen to point out important things on the figures or on the poster.
  • See at which posters there are live discussions.

No need for Zoom or an external platform, everything is integrated in the same Fourwaves!

How not to panic at the idea of organizing a virtual event?

It's a little wink to conclude this article, but it's still a question that many organizers ask themselves!

Does the idea of something unexpected happening at the last minute keep you awake all night? Rest assured, we have worked with hundreds of organizers since the start of the pandemic and here is our conclusion: there is more fear than harm!

Here are some answers:

  • Do not organize the event alone, even if it is a small event! You can include students for example to give you a hand.
  • People are much more understanding of technical glitches during events. Take the situation with humor if it happens to lighten the mood!
  • Communicate with your participants in advance on how the event will unfold and how to access the different sessions.
  • Repeat the important information at the start of the event. People rarely read entire emails!
  • Finally, keep smiling and stay optimistic. Tell yourself that even for a physical event, countless unforeseen events can happen and you have always been through them!

Planning an event? We can help you!

Contact us at info@fourwaves.com and it will be our pleasure to help you!