How to create a virtual event

You know you want to run a virtual event. Here's everything you'll need to actually build it.

Let’s say you’ve done the crucial conceptual work that makes for an awesome event. You’ve mastered the strategies for narrowing down your attendee persona. You’ve lined up the perfect speakers, who’ll energize your audience and deliver amazing content. Now, how do you actually build this thing?

Full disclosure: this is a tricky post for us to write! Normally, this is exactly where we come in 😎

We designed HeySummit with people of all tech capabilities in mind. Our goal? To make event organization sleek and easy, without the cost and labor of having a design team behind you. From landing pages, event communications, ticketing structures, payment, tool integrations, speaker cards - we automate all aspects of event management so that you can simply plug your info into our platform and go.

A DIY event is a lot of extra work 😩, but it is totally possible! Here’s what you’ll need to do if you're planning to go it alone.

And, if you read this and think ‘help!’, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered! We’ll also show you how we can take care of the behind-the-scenes stuff, so you can focus on the fun bits.

1. Choose an virtual event platform (unless you’re going it alone)

...Unless you’re planning to go it alone! But, before you decide, consider this: would you host an in-person event without a venue?

You’ll definitely have your work cut out for you if you choose to host your virtual event without an event management platform. The platform is your venue, where you’ll assemble your attendees, set up the stage for your speakers and carry out all of the logistics - from setting up signs so attendees know where to go, to distributing agendas so everyone knows which sessions are on.

HeySummit frees you up to focus on what counts - building relationships with your speakers, driving attendance, and hosting sponsors. Without a virtual event platform, you’d need to have access to multiple specialized software to weave together your virtual event.

The stats definitely favor using one:

Research shows that using an event management platform increases attendance by 20%, productivity by 27%, and decreases costs by 20-30% (Source).

And how do you choose one? If you want to check out some provider options, our Comparisons page will help you find the right combination of features and support for your event.

Our advice? First, think about the type of sessions you’re going to be running. A virtual event can feature lots of different formats, for example:

  • Live Q&A
  • Fireside chat
  • Panel discussion with moderator
  • Webinar
  • Presentation

For each format, you’ll have to determine the kinds of tools you’d need your platform to support - from features like enabling audience participation (chat, polls) to having multiple speakers present at once.

Top tip! If you want to learn more about the kinds of event sessions you might include, check out our sessions format video series.

Here are some other questions that will help you narrow your search:

  • Will I be collecting payments?
  • What is my strategy for marketing? How will I showcase the agenda, let attendees build their own schedule, and offer affiliate kickback and viral incentives to grow my reach?
  • What is my strategy for ticket sales? Will I offer early bird prices, VIP experiences and on-demand access?
  • How important is ease of use to my audience?
  • How will I showcase my brand’s look and feel?
  • How will I ensure my event benefits from good SEO?

2. Create an event landing page

This is where you really showcase your brand and your event!

What’s an event landing page?

A landing page is a standalone web page, created specifically to advertize your event - it will contain all the details of your event.

It's where someone ‘lands’ when they type in your event URL - or when they come to it via google, paid ads, or posts from your speakers and affiliates.

Build-it-yourself 🛠️

The most effective landing pages contain at least these components:

  • The what (title of your event),
  • the when (dates of your event),
  • and the who (your name/ your company’s name)

But, you might also want to include information or visuals that will grab attention and start to generate buzz, like:

  • speaker or session details
  • taster videos
  • customer testimonials

Or, Build with HeySummit ⛰️

HeySummit automatically generates a dynamic landing page for your event - all you’ll need to do is enter your event details. Check out our case studies to see some examples.

Remember, your landing page is the first interaction your attendees have with your event, so it’s important to make a splash! Ask yourself:

  • Does my landing page look good? HeySummit enables you to customize your page to best reflect your brand’s style and tone. No coding skills required here, either - just add your text/ images to our intuitive editor and voila - updates are implemented immediately.
  • Are my logo and banner images optimized? No guesswork needed if you’re using HeySummit - our platform comes with guidance for picking the image sizes that will work best.
  • Is the important information easy to find? Our dynamic editor ensures your landing page will adapt and change as more content gets added to your event. You can move content around your landing page to fit your specific needs and tailor your pages to your liking.
  • Is my site optimized for mobile users? With HeySummits' built-in rich SEO schema meta data set for the event, speakers, and tickets, Google will provide the best display of your content within its search results.

3. Set up ticket options

Build-it-yourself 🛠️

Will you have a free event, a fully paid one, or a mixture of both tiers?

You can impose limits on many aspects of your ticketing plan - for example, do you only want to offer free tickets for a limited time period, before converting them to paid tickets?

Whatever you decide, you’ll need to set up a ticketing and registration system, plus find a way of facilitating payment - tickets (unfortunately) can’t sell themselves!

One option is to use an external ticketing and payment platform. To choose one, we’d suggest weighing up platforms according to:

  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Ease of use
  • Currency conversion (if handling payments across currencies)
  • Ticket handling fees

Or, Build with HeySummit ⛰️

All this can be configured via the HeySummit platform, where you’ll also be able to manage coupon codes, offers, giveaways, affiliate payouts, and sponsors.

The best part? You’ll have a full record of all attendees and tickets purchased, which you can access from the platform as well.

Having all your information accessible in one place can be a real time-saver, especially if your attendees want to make changes to their ticket type, or if you want to monitor which ticket tier is most popular.

Top tip! There’s a lot to consider with ticket pricing, and having multiple options (even free ones!) can really pay. Sponsors often like free events as they attract higher attendance numbers, and free events are also great for lead generation. Your ticket strategy can help you reach more than just your revenue targets!

4. Set up sessions

How do you make your event more interactive? Here’s where it pays to think about building some variety into your sessions!

Build-it-yourself 🛠️

There are two basic session formats you can add to your virtual event: pre-recorded and live.

  • To set up a pre-recorded session, you’ll need to choose a video-hosting platform, such as Vimeo and YouTube.
  • To set up a live session, you’ll need to choose a live webinar (or live streaming) platform. This includes platforms like Zoom Webinar and BigMarker.

We’ve seen a rise in the use of both formats in a single event, which can be especially great if you want to incorporate a Q&A session right after a talk; or an info-heavy presentation to provide context before a panel discussion.

If you’re using a mixed format, you’d likely have to use multiple platforms to host your sessions, which can get confusing fast, especially if you’re running 10+ sessions a day.

You’ll need to design a system for moving between those platforms, and getting your attendees to the right spot, at the right time, with the right access.

You'll also need to find a way to provide your speakers behind-the-scenes access, so they can add more details about their sessions, as well as add giveaways and offers.

Of course, you can do this yourself, but if you’re managing 20+ speakers, this will take up valuable time you could be dedicating to other aspects of event management.

Or, Build with HeySummit ⛰

With HeySummit, you can add pre-recorded sessions long before your session is scheduled to be broadcast to your attendees, and live sessions will be streamed as they happen (of course!). You can also plug in all of your preferred platforms for one totally seamless experience. We think this makes things a whole lot easier when it comes to mixing formats - as an event organizer, you’ll be able to choose the best tool to deliver the best experience for your attendees.

Want to see what’s possible? Check out our fantastic video-hosting and live webinar platform integrations.

HeySummit also provides a streamlined user experience for your attendees and speakers. Speakers have a dedicated space, the Speaker Dashboard, where they can add their bios, headshots and social links. They’ll also be able to track how many attendees they’re expecting, and access any promotional material and swipe copy to share widely with their network.

Our Magic Link feature also prevents the inevitable headache that comes with having to manually send out unique links for every session to each attendee. With just one link, attendees can access their schedule and sessions. There’s no need for passwords either, so all they need to focus on is your great content 😊

Top tip! Experiencing your sessions from an attendee's POV = setting yourself up for success. If you’re not sure how to do this, we've assembled all our best tips and tricks to help you get started.

5. Configure your event emails

Build-it-yourself 🛠️

You’ve got the speakers on board, and you’ve got the attendees signed up. Finding a way to keep in touch with your audience will help you keep your momentum going, and build hype leading up to your event. This is a huge part of driving a highly engaged audience to your sessions!

You could opt for posts on your social media platforms, or adding attendees to your private community page and posting relevant info there, but most organizers go the email route. After all, email is a powerful tool, a direct line of communication between you and your attendee.

Hopefully you were able to collect and store your attendees’ email addresses when they purchased tickets back in Step #3. The next step would be to sign up to an email marketing service, import all the contacts and start building your various emails. You’ll likely need to automate it so the right emails go out at the right time, and add more attendee emails as registrations pick up.

Or, Build with HeySummit ⛰

With HeySummit, you can skip all these extra platforms. All accounts come with pre-written, customizable event emails for your attendees and speakers - the communications that help our event organizers run their most successful events. You’ll get copy for your:

  • Welcome message
  • Daily agenda
  • Event reminders, with session details and how to access them (with magic links)
  • Showcase of the most popular content throughout your event
  • Wrap up message

Top tip! People are way more likely to read your information if it’s sent to their email, rather than posted on a public page where it can be easily missed.

6. Advertizing your event

Build-it-yourself 🛠️

Now that you’ve got your virtual event basics all set up, it’s time to show it off! You’ve put in the work, let’s make sure people can see it! You might:

  • ask your speakers to promote your event on their social media accounts
  • take out paid ads or newsletter placements
  • tailor your strategy to your target audience. Are they reading certain newspapers? Do they follow certain influencers? Where’s the best place to reach them?

Or, Build with HeySummit ⛰️

All the marketing tools and features you need for your event are built-in to the HeySummit platform:

  • Affiliate Program: Incentivize influencers with larger audiences to actively promote your event.  
  • Swipe Copy: Make swipe copy easily accessible for your speakers - simply add copy and your speakers will be able to access it from their dashboard
  • Testimonials: Showcase how awesome your brand/business is with real life case studies from satisfied customers or previous attendees.

Top tip! Speakers, existing customers and affiliates are some of your best assets. Word-of-mouth marketing results in 5x more sales than paid media marketing, and people are 90% more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by someone they know.

7. Get top-notch support

If this is your first virtual event, having step-by-step guidance and support from a team that lives and breathes events can do wonders for you. Find a platform that eliminates the need for coding and design experience, and a huge event budget.

More than 40% of online content creators run into technical issues when setting up virtual events.

Instead of being part of this statistic, give yourself peace of mind and let us show you the ropes. At HeySummit, we tell you what info you need to plug in, and where it needs to go - so you can focus on the most important pieces: your brand, your content, your audience and ultimately, your growth.

If you’re still uncertain, why not give it a go - no obligations, no fees, just 14 days to try out our powerful suite of tools. Let us take the heavy lifting out of event management, and help you deliver an exceptional experience to remember.

Start my 14 day free trial today

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