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Connecting Virtually: OEC Sheffield’s Guide to Hosting Engaging Virtual Events

Virtual events have long been on the scene, but since 2020 – when the world was confined to their homes – online events have been on the rise and proving prominent, especially in the corporate and educational spheres. 

Though face-to-face events will always remain vital, there are times when virtual events are essential for connecting with people around the globe. Interestingly, in a recent survey, 95.5% of event hosts emphasised that virtual events will be a part of their strategies going forward!

Continue reading to explore the ins and outs of online events, from the significance to the art of hosting a virtual event that engages your audience.

Connecting Virtually: OEC Sheffield's Guide to Hosting Engaging Virtual Events - OEC Sheffield

What are Virtual Events?

Put plainly, virtual events are gatherings that take place online rather than in a physical location. The formats of these meetings can be everything from virtual conferences and webinars to exhibitions and workshops.

The events rely on cutting-edge technology, leveraging video platforms, streaming tools, VR environments, and interactivity to provide an engaging experience for attendees. The beauty of virtual events is their accessibility, as long as your audience has an internet connection, they can join you from anywhere – even in the remotest areas!

The Importance of Virtual Events

Surprisingly, a survey revealed that 77.2% of respondents prefer virtual events to in-person because of how easy they are to attend. More reasons for online events’ importance include:

  • Virtual events offer a unique opportunity to connect with a broader audience, breaking free from the constraints of a physical location and accommodating an ‘unlimited’ number of potential participants.
  • Their accessibility makes them an invaluable tool for inclusivity, allowing individuals who may face barriers from travel – whether it’s due to geographical distance, travel bans, mobility restrictions, or other factors.
  • Financially, virtual events present a compelling advantage, as they eliminate many of the costs associated with traditional in-person gatherings, such as travel expenses and accommodation fees, resulting in significant savings for organisers and participants alike.
  • The flexibility in virtual events provides a safety net, in the event of unforeseen circumstances necessitating cancellation or rescheduling, meaning the virtual attendees won’t lose out on time and money spent.
  • Virtual events allow hosts to allocate resources more efficiently, which means more investment can be given to enhancing the event experience, whether through innovative technology, engaging content, or value-added services.
Connecting Virtually: OEC Sheffield's Guide to Hosting Engaging Virtual Events - OEC Sheffield

How to Host Virtual Events

We’ve compiled quick and simple steps for planning your event:

  1. Define your event goals and objectives.
  2. Decide on your target audience/attendees.
  3. Contact us at OEC Sheffield to book your preferred date and time.
  4. Plan your live virtual conference or event’s content.
  5. Consider interactivity like giveaways and polls.
  6. Promote your event through marketing.
  7. Set up registration and instructions for attendees.
  8. Prepare for Q&A.
  9. Visit OEC Sheffield to test how your event can work on our advanced technology.
  10. Prepare post-event follow-up and feedback surveys.

Interactivity 101

Did you know, that nearly 73% of people asked felt more connected to an event through a virtual platform rather than in person?

Here are some tips and tricks to give you a helping hand in immersing your virtual attendees…

  • Live polls that relate to your topic
  • Chat boxes and discussion rooms 
  • Giveaways
  • Icebreakers
  • Use of the ‘raise hand’ tool
  • Live performances
  • Gamification – like badges and rewards
  • Make sure the content is high
  • Keep the time length around 1 hour or less
  • Give attendees short breaks
  • Set activities to complete before the virtual event starts
Connecting Virtually: OEC Sheffield's Guide to Hosting Engaging Virtual Events - OEC Sheffield

The OEC Sheffield Advantage

OEC Sheffield provides a comprehensive range of services tailored to elevate your event experience. With full 4K and HD video broadcast and capture capabilities, facilitated by hyper-fast internet and cutting-edge streaming technology, we ensure the transmission of incredible live footage.

Our advanced audio-visual equipment guarantees seamless communication throughout your event. Our on-site dedicated technicians ensure that virtual guests can actively participate and engage with virtual conferences and events.

We offer simple interfacing and flexible solution integration, collaborating with leading Microsoft suites and Restream to facilitate off-site interaction. Additionally, our venue provides Ethernet/hardwire internet connections for stable connectivity.

What’s more, to enhance your experience further, we boast food and beverage options for hosts physically present at OEC Sheffield.

The Future of Virtual Events

With the quick progression of technology, such as AR and VR, we expect virtual events to keep growing in importance; particularly with B2B audiences.

As more businesses and people aim to be sustainably friendly and remove unnecessary travel, the online world’s prominence is rising – and at OEC we’re all for that!

A LinkedIn survey of 200 companies in Britain found that 72% of participants said that they would keep holding virtual events for the long term. Plus, a recent poll found 63% of business professionals now prefer attending hybrid or virtual events over face-to-face.

What do you think about virtual and hybrid events?

Further reading?

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