Hosting a big virtual event allows you to attract a global audience. If they’re not bound by location or travel availability, attendees will be able to stream your event from anywhere. As a result, you’ll be able to welcome participants from many countries, which helps you create a more diverse audience.
With the whole world as your market, your ticket sales and brand-building options are limitless. Interactive virtual sessions help you to broaden your event’s impact and allow attendees to bring their own unique perspectives to the event. If you need some virtual event inspiration, check out these virtual event best practices.
Read on for our ultimate guide to hosting a global online event.
How to plan large virtual events
To plan a successful large virtual event, you must consider a number of key factors, which can help you determine the goal of your event, its timing, and how you deliver it to your attendees. Read on to learn about how to evaluate these factors, which can help you when planning a big event.
Think about your main goal
Identifying your large-scale event’s main goal is the first step in the planning process. Your goals will dictate the other decisions you make, ensuring that everything from timing to streaming options helps you achieve the primary goals of the event. Large-scale event management requires thoughtful consideration of not just how to execute the event but also of how to make it a meaningful event for attendees.
Consider these questions to help you identify your large virtual event’s main goals:
- How interactive do you want your event to be? If your goal is to inform and educate, you might rely on expert speakers to deliver your content. Or, you might prefer offering a more interactive experience where guests can ask questions, participate in workshop classes, and get to know each other in a virtual space.
- Where will your audience come from? You can host a global online event that draws attendees from different countries. Or, you might focus your event marketing efforts on attendees from a specific region. Determine your target audience now so that you can tailor your marketing efforts to that group. Even more, this consideration will help you design a budget and determine the most effective way to deliver the event to a virtual audience.
The perfect date
Finding the perfect date for your event is also important. After all, a poorly chosen date can limit your attendance – and the success of your big virtual event. Once you’ve identified your audience and where they’re coming from, check the calendar to look for holidays and traditions that could conflict with your event. Avoid not only the holiday itself but the week surrounding the holiday, which might be filled with holiday prep and travel.
By evaluating your audience’s availability, you’ll quickly be able to identify blocks of time that simply won’t work. Even more, you’ll be able to focus your virtual event planning on a time frame that will work for your audience. The result? A well-attended virtual event that fits within your audience’s schedules.
When identifying how to plan and organise a big event that reaches a cross-country or even international audience, it’s important to consider the timing of the event, too. A virtual conference that’s hosted during business hours on the East Coast might not work for West Coast attendees or participants from other countries. So, understanding time zones and identifying strategies for overcoming timing challenges is important.
If you anticipate attracting an audience from different time zones, consider offering your virtual event in multiple sessions. First, you can offer sessions at different times with different speakers who are located in the same time zone for convenience. You can also try delivering on-demand content that becomes available at different times, depending on your audience’s availability. Mix and match strategies to ensure your virtual event is delivered at a time that suits your diverse audience.
Pick your platform
Hosting big events online requires a reliable platform that can reach a broad audience base spread throughout the country or even the world. Choosing a platform is an important decision for your virtual event because you want seamless, trouble-free delivery of your event for attendees.
Focus your search on event platforms that can cope with a large audience logging in from different locations. If you’re selling tickets to your event and want to limit access, you want to be able to secure the video of your event with password protection.
Depending on your event needs, you might require a platform that allows attendees to interact with each other and with you. If you plan on hosting an interactive virtual event, look for a platform with features like video sharing and live chat. Eventbrite, for example, offers integrations with Zoom and Vimeo, allowing a smooth delivery of your big virtual event.
Choose speakers and featured guests
When determining how to plan a large event, consider your audience base when choosing speakers and featured guests. Since your virtual event will likely attract participants from different regions, you want to offer an equally diverse selection of speakers and guests. When choosing your speakers, make sure you’re selecting people with different backgrounds and various viewpoints, which can help you deliver diverse and engaging content to your audience. No one wants to sit through multiple speakers delivering the same message, after all.
Try to appeal to an international market by choosing speakers, from different countries and cultures, who can each offer unique insights. Thanks to the virtual nature of your event, your speakers don’t have to be physically in the same place as the central livestream. They’ll just need reliable equipment, including a camera, microphone, and proper lighting, along with a good Internet speed to stream their presentation from their location.
If you’re livestreaming your virtual event, then Internet speed and signal are incredibly important. Without a reliable signal, you might face unexpected hiccups and delays in the delivery of your videos and sound, which can be frustrating for participants and event organisers alike. Once you choose a venue, it’s important to make sure the space is well equipped for livestreaming. Follow these tips to assess your venue’s Internet capabilities:
- Visit your venue and test the bandwidth using a web-based speed test, which can help you identify Internet speed and tackle any challenges before your event.
- Consider using a LAN connection, one where you directly connect the computer to the router using an ethernet cable, to avoid any WiFi issues during the livestream.
- Bring a WiFi booster or ask if the venue has one. A booster can strengthen the WiFi signal in your venue to ensure you can livestream the event without interruption.
- Check out our Virtual Event Production Checklist to make sure everything is covered before you go live.
The language barrier
When you’re delivering a virtual event to an international audience, language barriers can be an issue – but they’re solvable. When determining how to plan a big event, consider any interpretation needs for your audience. If you want a truly global event, you want people to get the same experience of the content no matter what language they speak, and interpretation allows you to do that. Be sure to hire translation pros – Google Translate just doesn’t cut it when you want to engage attendees in their preferred language.
Here are a few ways to overcome any language barriers:
- Consider asking registrants to specify their preferred language as they sign up for your event. Monitor the responses to better assess the need for translation.
- Offer interpretation into common languages for pre-recorded sessions. Hire a translator in any required language and add captions to the video so that your content is available for a diverse audience.
- Offer your marketing materials, including your event page, in different languages to extend your event’s reach. English-only marketing materials won’t reach an international audience.
- During small group networking sessions, consider language barriers. You can make different rooms for participants based on language so that they can find fellow attendees they can easily communicate with, or offer interpreters who will enable interaction between different groups.
Planning a large-scale virtual event calls for bigger sponsors. Design sponsorship tiers and packages so that you can attract a variety of sponsors. Consider offering perks like:
- Sponsor-led live sessions that allow them to feature their product or service in a way that’s relevant to attendees.
- Banners displayed – as onscreen graphics or on a stage/virtual background – during virtual presentations that showcase the sponsor’s logo to build interest.
- A virtual exhibit hall, using a landing page or interactive map, to give sponsors an opportunity to showcase their business to attendees.
- Sponsor mentions in marketing materials like newsletters and flyers.
Check out this blog post – How to Wow Potential Online Event Sponsors – to get started.
Global event marketing for an online audience
Successfully hosting a large virtual event calls for a large and diverse audience. Securing that audience relies on you, which means marketing is the next important step in attracting attendees from a wide variety of cultures. According to Gareth Hornberger, Senior Director of Global Marketing at Eventbrite, “The beauty of hosting virtual events is that you can tap into a global audience. Anyone can attend – literally from anywhere in the world. So your marketing should leverage all of your distribution channels – email, social media, paid ads – to touch as many potential attendees as possible.”
Check out our Event Marketing Guide to learn how to market your online event, and then read up on these tips to design an effective marketing plan for a big virtual event.
- Use social media to your advantage. Social media marketing is easy and, in many cases, free. While you might be familiar with popular platforms in the US, think globally and explore platforms in other countries as well to attract an international crowd. Use targeted social media ads, engaging graphics, event hashtags, and snippet videos to build interest in your event.
- Find partners. Connect with in-market businesses and media to promote your event. Whether this relationship is a sponsorship or simply an advertisement, these partners can help you get the word out about your event.
- Sell your content. Not everyone can attend your event live, so offer different options to expand your audience base. You can record your content and give attendees access for a set amount of time, or you can sell the recording separately after the livestream.
- Set up an FAQ page. Make sure potential participants understand how the event will run and how you’ll address language barriers and time zone differences. An FAQ page on your event page or website can answer these questions.
- Promote special giveaways or prizes. Attract attendance by giving away promotional items or raffling off a VIP experience for registered attendees. These incentives can help drive attendance and ticket sales.
- Design a branded landing page. Make your Eventbrite page, the same as your branded landing page, as engaging and informative as possible. You can add brand-specific information to showcase important information and images from your event.
- Market through email. Design effective email marketing campaigns through Eventbrite. Send out email updates to your distribution list to share registration information, preview event speakers, or even showcase sponsors.
- Get event speakers or influencers involved with promotion. Gain some marketing help with speakers and influencers skilled in this area. Encourage your speakers to promote your event on their social media platforms. You might even consider booking a celebrity or famous person in your field as a featured speaker at your event.
- Promote discounts. If you notice a lull in ticket sales, offer some incentives. Promote a discount code that offers reduced ticket prices for a limited time. If you’re unsure how to price your big virtual event, learn how event creators are pricing their online events.
- Use Eventbrite Boost. Eventbrite Boost is your all-in-one platform for events. Use this platform to send customised emails, design branded pages, streamline social media marketing, and target the right audience.
Big virtual event examples to inspire you
Find inspiration from these virtual events that have effectively brought together attendees from various locations in an engaging virtual space. If you’re wondering “what is a large scale event?” these are some excellent examples.
- Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo transitioned to virtual events when in-person events couldn’t happen. Attendees from across the globe could log on and explore different animal habitats – no crowds required. These livestreamed events had no capacity restrictions, allowing the zoo to welcome as many visitors as they wanted to this virtual space. Events like this allow you to open an event that was previously constrained by capacity limitations to a vast online audience.
- Renegade Craft runs art- and design-focused events across the country and now delivers similar events in a virtual environment. Virtual craft fairs allow a broad audience to log on and engage with more than 100 makers, where they can watch demonstrations from their studios and homes. This virtual craft fair allowed attendees to select engaging demonstrations that truly interested them and created a more intimate experience for attendees who could connect with makers in a unique way.
- Virtual conferences can be just as effective and educational as in-person events. For example, the Tech Up Women conference was streamed virtually and featured virtual keynotes, tech talk presentations, and even networking opportunities in a virtual space. This conference shows that offering engaging content is just as achievable online as it is in person. Plus, it can welcome a diverse audience not bound by location.
Plan your big virtual event like a pro
Hosting big virtual events successfully is achievable with proper planning. Thoughtful consideration of important planning elements, from the venue’s connectivity to your audience’s availability, ensures that your event will be a success. Designing an expansive global event marketing plan helps you reach a broad audience and drive attendance. Finally, using recent online events as your inspiration, you can design an event that engages attendees in a virtual space. Don’t forget to consider safety issues for online events as well.
Plan, produce, and market your next virtual event with the help of Eventbrite’s virtual events p\latform.