At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic global lockdowns, virtual events were something of a novelty for many – the option to attend a trade show or conference without leaving your home, or changing out of your lounge wear? We’re in!
However, the growth of virtual events was already in motion before Covid-19, with the sector valued at almost $78 billion in 2019, and it is expected to have a CAGR of 23.2% between 2020 and 2027. 
A LinkedIn survey of 200 b2b event organisers in the UK and Ireland found that 72% of businesses will maintain virtual events in the long term and 77% are interested in organising hybrids. The findings suggest that businesses will opt for a mix of 32% physical, 45% virtual and 23% hybrid events. 
With a usually packed calendar of scientific trade shows and events across the year, taking you from Europe one week to North America the next, this shift could be the answer to many people within the scientific community’s time and budgetary constraints.
It seems like virtual events are here to stay so we’ve put together some of our top tips and things to consider when you’re organising your own. Don’t forget to download your free event checklist either!
Make use of the tools available to you
Organising a virtual event may seem like a great deal of effort but it doesn’t have to be – there are some good platforms and tools out there to help make things easier. If you’re looking for a slick, professional delivery then there are a number of webinar providers who offer single, one-off packages that give you flexibility over the subscription models, and pricing can be very reasonable. They can also facilitate both live and pre-recorded content and offer Q&A functionality.
Top tip: We’d recommend looking out for those platforms that provide some technical support.
Alternatively, you could use Zoom or Microsoft Teams, but beware that full functionality will come at a price and it’s only the basic video conferencing services that are free.
LinkedIn is also rolling out event support through its ‘LinkedIn Live’ function. It’s still in beta testing and you have to apply and be approved in order to access it at the moment, but it could be a real game changer once it is widely available.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Deciding what content to include in your event is very important but it needn’t be a large undertaking. Think about the resources at your fingertips – do you have customers who would be happy to deliver a short session about how they’re using your products or services? What about a Q&A with one of your applications scientists or R&D team to talk about product/service capabilities and development? Perhaps you have some research or a collaboration that you could present data on?
Remember to consider your audience and what they might like to hear about, rather than pushing your own agenda – it’s fine to include promotional or commercial content but make sure it’s relevant to your attendees.
Top tip: Scientific events can be data heavy. Beware of Zoom fatigue when prepping your content and try to make it as engaging as possible by including interactive elements like polls and Q&A sessions.
There’s no such thing as too much promotion
It would be a shame to go to so much effort to create a brilliant event that no one comes to. Make sure you plan in as much promotion as possible to encourage registrations – send out emails to your CRM and publish details of the event across your social media channels. You could add the registration link to your email signatures across the organisation and ensure all of your colleagues share the information with their networks, too. Following up is also really important to make sure people haven’t missed their invite or forgotten to action it.
Top tip: if your CRM isn’t looking too healthy or you’re keen to tap into a new pool of leads, consider partnering with a media publication to promote the event. The likes of Technology Networks and SelectScience have some reasonable packages that reach their vast databases.
So much to remember!
We know it can seem daunting to organise a virtual event. With so much to remember and key decisions to make, this blog could have been never-ending! That’s why we’ve put together a checklist of key actions to help. From several months ahead to the weeks and days before your event (and what to do afterwards), we’ve outlined every step along the journey, so you won’t forget a thing. Download it for free here.
We’d love to hear your views on virtual events and whether they’re here to stay. Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.