Large scale conferences can be one of the top ways to grow your business and engage your organization’s audience, and the best online conference technology can really help.
Bringing together your staff and your customers for a few days lights both a fire in your employees and inspires your customers to strengthen your partnership. In fact, trade shows and conference are in the top three ways that buyers evaluate a vendor’s product or service. That means a conference is the time for your company to shine!
That being said, hosting an impactful conference for your business or organization does not necessarily mean your attendees need to pack their bags and head to a hotel. Your online conference can have as large of an impact, be equally as engaging, and give you just as many attendee insights as a live event. In this post, we’ll show you some of the best tools to put together the best online conference.
Discover what makes the best online conference platforms
The best virtual conference technology should make you feel like you’re still planning a live event. The best platforms for virtual events will have these features:
1. Fast online registration.
A registration website to promote your virtual event, and allow attendees to get excited for what they are registering for.
2. Clear video.
An easy-to-navigate broadcasting solution to make your attendees feel like they’re right there in the room.
3. Interactive polling.
Polls and Q&A features to keep your audience engaged, and also give your speaker live feedback.
4. Data collecting.
Survey functionality so that you, as the planner, can peak into the mind of the attendee to see what they are thinking about the event.
5. Attendance tracking.
A way to track attendance at each breakout session, so that you can have more insight into your attendees’ virtual journeys.
6. Integration with your tools.
Integration with your existing tools will save your employees time from learning totally new tools, and can ensure valuable data such as attendee responses filter back through.
7. Easy to learn.
Your employees are stressed enough trying to make the pivot to an online conference. The last thing you want to do is add to their workload. Look for a platform that is intuitive to use and comes with instructional videos and a robust community for support.
8. Great customer support.
When you have questions, you’re going to want them answered fast. Ensure your platform has a team ready to help you with any last minute glitches so your conference attendees never even know.
9. Ability to scale.
Hopefully your conference goes well and you plan to do more in the future. By picking a solution that can support tens of thousands of attendees, you’ll be setting your team up for long-term growth.
10. Affordable price.
Prices of conference technology tend to be based on users or usage. Some packages offer a one-month at a time subscription, while others are annual commitments. If it’s your first time holding an event, the one-month trial could help you determine if it’s a good fit before you commit. Pick a rate that best fits your goals.
A simple checklist for picking an online conference platform
1. Decide on your event goals.
Is your event all about education? Do you want your attendees to network with each other? Are you launching a new product that will have tons of content being distributed with it?
2. Evaluate your attendees and their demographics.
Are they comfortable using a complex software with all the bells and whistles? Would a simple broadcasting solution be more appropriate?
3. Pick the timing of your event.
Will this be a recurring broadcasted conference for multiple audiences? Is this an all-day event? Do you have breaks or variations in the content to keep things interesting?
4. Think about your event security.
Can anyone sign up and tune in to your conference sessions? Should specific groups only be allowed to register for particular sessions?
5. Consider your overall event program.
Can you use this software for both your flagship conference, and the other small, more frequent events you’re hosting?
6. Try it!
Be sure you get to experience the software before you purchase it. Ask for a trial account or detailed walk through where you can take control.
Explore the best virtual conference software
There are a lot of tools you can use for your virtual conference. This list outlines the staples, as well as a few that you might not think of:
1. Virtual conference website tools
Create a virtual conference website to promote your event and allow attendees to sign up for any and all virtual sessions for your conference.
2. Video conference technology
Use a broadcasting software like On24, Zoom, or GoToWebinar to facilitate your sessions and give your speakers their time to shine.
3. Appointment setting software
Networking and the power of human connection are some of the most influential parts of a conference. Ensure your attendees still get the chance to have intimate conversations, even though they’re in their own homes. Use appointment tools to have attendees set up meetings with each other. They can exchange information and set them up on their own time, but you’ll still have insight into this data. Additionally, you can set people up for appointments as well.
4. Visual white boarding software
Visuals show what words can fail to convey. Ensure you’re using aids such as photographs and interactive drawing to keep your audience engaged. Use an online whiteboarding technology for brainstorming sessions, such as Miro or Stormboard. This also gives speakers the ability to adapt to questions on the fly!
5. Giveaway technology for your virtual conference
There’s no reason the fun has to stop for a remote conference. Keep your giveaways alive to drive interest and more registrants. Use an online raffle service for your fundraising raffles, like RallyUp or Rafflecopter.
6. Design software
Use a tool such as Canva to have your sponsors create a graphic for a clickable banner on your website or mobile app for your event. They will be getting their name out there just like if they were distributing swag at your registration desk.
Now that you know the best tools, let’s talk about how to put them to use for the biggest impact.
Discover the best virtual conference ideas
While it’s hard to replicate the feeling of being with hundreds or thousands of coworkers and customers, a virtual conference in some ways can be even better. Here are a few ideas:
1. Encourage BYO…Friend.
If you are looking for a huge turnout, suggest that your attendees invite a “buddy” virtually! Whether they bring more people from their own organization, or connections from other companies, it is significantly easier to pass along a registration link to a friend than have them book a flight.
2. Pre-announce breaks.
Build in breaks to the agenda and draw attention to them. If your attendee knows that at 12 they’ll have a spare 45 minutes, they are less likely to dip out early from your keynote speaker to go prepare lunch.
3. Survey or respond to an incoming comment at least every 15 minutes.
Use more polls and surveys than you would at a live event. With a virtual conference platform, you can pepper in more engagement polls, questions, and surveys than you would at a live event. To take the place of an audience cheering, use that time to gather more data from your attendees. Attendees will feel more engaged, and you’ll get more data on the back end.
4. Provide a one-page summary with actionable next steps.
Have the presentation material available for the attendees immediately, or even before the presentation. Attendees will download the information and have it with them for the rest of the conference, which will make life a lot easier on them.
5. Use breakout rooms to go in-depth, after creating a list of topics together.
Host different types of sessions. Do not limit your broadcasted sessions to exclusively keynote speakers. Use your virtual tools to divide the attendees in to groups for more engaging conversations, and let them network with each other.
Get the most from the best online conference technology
Virtual conferences should not feel like a massive jump from your live conferences. With all of the tools available, you can mix and match tools to create an attendee experience that is just as engaging, and potentially more insightful, than if you were all together in a conference center. Using a virtual platform will be the scaffolding to support the planning and preparing that you have already been working on.