6 Key Differences for Planning In-Person vs. Virtual Events

If you’re an event organizer, host, or manager looking to move your in-person event into the virtual world, there are a few key differences to keep in mind as you move forward with your planning process.

I’m a virtual event producer who moved from managing mascots, dance cams, and DJs at live sporting events to creating fun and engaging virtual events.

1. Your Attendees Location

At in-person events, you’re controlling the attendees’ location because they come to you but in the virtual event space, you can control what the attendees see on screen but not where they physically are. You’re now competing with attendees’ home lives, apartments, offices, etc. They’re surrounded by family, friends, roommates, partners, cats, dogs, you name it. So when you’re thinking about your content or your timing for your event, think about your audience’s time and at-home environment.

A positive about your attendees’ location with virtual events is that your attendees can be anywhere. Your local event no longer needs to just target local attendees. You’re able to expand your event reach nationally and even globally.

2. Event Ambiance

When you’re planning your virtual event, think about your event ambiance. This is an element that your in-person venue, music, or design usually builds but in the virtual world, your event experience is closer to television production. Think about what your attendees are seeing (which might be different than what you’re seeing as an event organizer) and more importantly, how do you want your attendees to feel?

Think about your event scene by scene, especially thinking about what the climax is of your virtual event. What part of your event do you want to be the most memorable?

3. Virtual event technology is the new venue

It seems like everyone has a virtual platform. It’s hard to tell the difference between them all because every platform is different and since the virtual event space is constantly evolving so are the different platforms’ offerings. There is no solution that is right for everyone. Think about what you want your attendees to be able to do, do you want them to watch a video and be able to comment? Do you want your attendees to be onscreen and able to see each other and unmute? Do you want them to be able to browse sponsor or partner booths?

Similar to in-person venues, there are certain constraints to different virtual event platforms. Some enable you to have a high level of customization and others are more limited and the pricing for the platform usually reflects that. Similar to how you’ll pay less for an open warehouse at in-person events but then need to bring in all your own equipment, rentals, etc., the same can be said for the virtual event space.

4. Event Date

Weekends have become even more precious. While Saturday and Sunday for in-person events were big event days, the virtual world is seeing more weekday events as attendees like to protect their weekends more. If your in-person event has been traditionally a weekend event, think about your event priorities and consider moving it to a weekday.

5. Event Marketing

The marketing window for virtual events is a lot shorter, meaning you don’t need as much lead time ahead of your event date to start promoting it. In-person events normally take months to promote so attendees know to put it on their calendar. For virtual events, more and more attendees are signing up last-minute, such as the week of or the day before your event. One great thing about the shorter promotional window is that you can decide to host a virtual event, promote it, and execute it on a much shorter timeline.

6. Rehearsals Matter

At in-person/live events you might have those rehearsals the same day as your in-person event, but with virtual events, prioritize scheduling those rehearsals the week before or the week-of your virtual event. Like my earlier point about every virtual event platform being different, you want to make sure 1) the technology works and 2) speakers are comfortable using it and understanding the flow of your event.

In addition to speaker rehearsals, schedule a tech rehearsal with your AV or tech team to make sure everything that you’re planning on happening actually will happen. For example, if you want to live stream your Zoom webinar to YouTube, set up a practice webinar and actually hit the live stream link to make sure everything is connected and you’re streaming to the place that you think that you’re paying.

Making the transition from in-person to virtual events can feel overwhelming but keeping these six key differences in mind will help you navigate that process a little bit better. It’s a great time to try something new, reach new people, and get your name out there.

For more information about virtual events best practices and more, visit my website: www.loganstrategygroup.com or drop a question in the comments. I love learning about virtual events and what kinds of events are making people happy.

Athlete and event producer with a love for sports, travel, and good food 🇺🇸➡️🇨🇳➡️ 🌏 Currently producing virtual events, founder of Logan Strategy Group

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