How to host an Online Virtual Conference

Image credit: Wikipedia

As fear over COVID-19 escalates and in-person gatherings are discouraged, many event organisers are facing a dilemma between postponing the physical conference VS hosting it digitally through live-streaming platforms.

Are you considering moving your conference online but are a bit daunted at the process?

Though we do not expect online conferences to displace all physical conferences, nor to replace networking of meeting in person, they are definitely a great alternative to be socially responsible and control the spread of global pandemic in 2020. Hosting an online conference can provide alternative benefits, starting with being a cost-effective alternative (cost savings from not having to rent event spaces, hiring staff, and costs associated to travel, food, hotels, and entertainment), increased efficiency (short break-out session instead of lasting an entire day or two), greater audience reach (distance no longer is an obstacle in connecting to more attendees across the globe). That being said, it is also important to recognise that virtual event, just like a physical event, require preparation, planning and preproduction.

In this article, we will take a closer look at how you can host a virtual conference – from the technology required to key steps in putting an actual conference together, as well as, other considerations to be made.

Online Infrastructure

Video Conferencing & Interactivity Tools

Procuring a reliable real-time technical support is essential to a successful online event. You will need to recruit a technical vendor to help you host your virtual event. Depending on whether you would like it to be live or pre-recorded, size of your audience and nature of your conference, your suitable choice of vendor will differ. 

Consider researching and reading up on different options from these providers:

I would recommend doing a features and cost comparison between different vendors. It’s important to look closely on features available, capability on simultaneously connecting all of your attendees, as well as, additional controls like muting. Cost is another factor that should be taken account so you can align your budget accordingly.

To encourage interaction in virtual environment, you might consider integrating interactive Live Q&A tools to your virtual conference – here are some options:

By asking relevant, provocative questions, these platforms help to spark really good exchanges with you audience and promote discussion among your audience.

Registration Site

A website is required for your attendees to register for the virtual conference. It acts as a central repository for all information related to your event. At Eventnook, we can help you build an online registration site, where you can post information on your event with your own branding, collect information from attendees using our forms, access to a secure payment platform (where payment is required), automate email communications with robust confirmation and reminder emails, as well as, secure storage and transmission of your data. Get in touch if we could be of help at hello@eventnook.com.

Physical infrastructure – Quality gear

You can buy or rent the A/V gear, or seek out an AV production company to assist you. Ensure you have the right hardware to give your virtual conference a professional feel. If you regularly host online events, the former may be cost-effective, otherwise, the latter would be the way to go.

Book a virtual studio or professional green screen studio to record or film the event. Here, you will be able to find sound, lighting, camera, video recording and experienced operators. In Singapore, studio space day rate usually range around SGD400. If you require video camera and operator, the price ranges from SGD300 to 650. Sound recording will set you back at least SGD300.

TEST, TEST & TEST…

I am certain all event organisers can agree that testing is a very important aspect of any event. This too applies for a virtual conference, to ensure that the event is not derailed by technical problems, as far as a controllable situation is concerned. Where possible, plan for a backup software, as well as, any crucial A/V components.

Testing checklist:

  1. Ensure that your event audience can easily log in, view and hear what is happening without lip sync, glitches or interruptions.
  2. Brief presenters or panel on the software and where possible, invite them to be physically present at the recording studio. If some of presenters are joining virtually, do remind them to do several tests on their end.
  3. Check quality of the video and sound and try out the set-up in detail

Challenges of a digital conference

With virtual events, some challenges exist in contrast to a physical event.

  1. Low Audience Retention

Unlike traditional physical events, there would be challenges to maintain engagement with your audience. You are likely to experience an audience with a shorter attention span and lower level of engagement. This makes it so important to plan in a way to stay connected and engaged. Closely planning the virtual event agenda and monitoring the flow of presentation, as well as, volume and tone of presentation would be crucial to retain your audience’s attention. With virtual events, your audience on the other end could be easily distracted, switch to another task, log-off or get away from their laptops.

2. Limited Target Audience

Your target audience outreach would be limited to tech-savvy individuals or people who have easy access to a laptop or internet.

3. Lack of control

With virtual events, you are operating or working with a video streaming platform, whom you are mainly relying on for seamless virtual event streaming with no interruptions or technical issues. There could also be connectivity issues in voice and video lag.

PROMOTION

After all the preparation and considerations, you now have your hardware, software, key speakers, a clear conference programme, and a website (or event page) to guide people to. From now on, your main focus is promoting the conference via all available channels.

For an online conference, you have numerous ways for promotion on a relatively small budget:

  • Social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – all depending on your audience)
  • Relevant forums where potential attendees might hang out (e.g. a community for tourism professionals where you can promote your tourism conference)
  • Email database, own blogs and press releases

For promotion on social channels, consider a catchy #hashtag you can use whenever you post about the upcoming conference. Word of mouth is a great promotional method so do encourage your speakers to promote the conference to their audience on their own channels. They have a vested interest to do so and able to garner more buzz and interest from their followers.

CONCLUSION

Based on our experience, virtual conferences are definitely less time-intensive and risky as compared to a physical event, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require planning and consume time. A tip from us would be to “Start well in advance!”

Stay safe and take care!

How To Legally Use Free Images From The Internet

You will come across many situations when you will need a beautiful and relevant picture but cannot find one. These are just a few of the many situations:

  • Marketing- When you are promoting a product, service or event
  • Design- Websites and apps
  • Social Media Sharing- When you just want your posts to look nice for your followers

Myth: If it’s on online, it’s free.

DEBUNKED! Many people think that anything that can be found on online is free for use. There are so many images available from a simple search on Google, however, many of them are actually protected by copyright. Infringement of copyright can have both civil or criminal penalties, therefore, it is important to know how to filter the images and look for images that are free to use commercially or non-commercially, so you do not face the risk of copyright infringement.

There are 2 main channels you can use to source for your images, legally:

  1. Google Advanced Search
  2. Licensed websites

google advanced search

Yes, this is the same old Google we all know. However, many do not know Google actually has a way to filter images by usage rights.

Now that you know Google has this function and how to filter your results, make sure you adjust the filter every time you search for an image!

licensed websites

For event planners and marketers, if you have an event and you do not have aesthetically appealing photos to promote your event, you may use these licensed websites to help you find the perfect image. To show you an example, the photos below are the results that turn up when I search for the keyword ‘Awards’ on each website.

Creative Commons (CC)

Result when I search ‘Awards’ on CC Search

“_TXT9911”by Official GDC is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Images from CC are freely available for legal use, sharing, repurposing, and remixing. You won’t have to worry about not being able to find a suitable photo on CC, as they have millions sharing their photos on the platform for all to use!

However, there is one condition of all CC licenses, which is source attribution. You may use the images freely, for any purpose, but do remember that you have to give credit to the people who provided you those pictures.

What is the best practice for source attribution? Here is an example given by CC of an ideal attribution.

Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco” by tvol is licensed under CC BY 2.0

  • Title? “Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco”
  • Author? “tvol” – add link to his profile page
  • Source? “Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco” – add to original page
  • License? “CC BY 2.0” – add link to license deed

You are able to copy a HTML to embed the attribution with license icons in your web page.

Unsplash

Result when I search ‘Awards’ on Unsplash

Unsplash is a a go-to website if you need artsy pictures to use for your blogs and digital projects. You can search the inventory on the website as well as subscribe to receive 10 new images every 10 days, delivered straight to your inbox. All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and noncommercial purposes without needing to provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible.

More precisely, Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. However, this license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.

Even though attribution isn’t required, it would be appreciated if you could credit the Unsplash photographers as it provides exposure to their work and encourages them to continue sharing.

Crediting the photographer can be as simple as this:

Photo by [Name with a profile link] on Unsplash

Pexel

Result when I search ‘Awards’ on Pexel

Pexel is very similar to Unsplash. All photos are free to use and modify without attribution. In fact, the Pexels team hand-picks all of the images from other free image sources, including previously mentioned Unsplash. 

However, there are some restrictions that is stated explicitly on the Pexel website:

✕ Identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or in a way that is offensive.

✕ Don’t sell unaltered copies of a photo, e.g. don’t sell it as a stock photo, poster, print or on a physical product without adding any value.

 Don’t imply endorsement of your product by people or brands on the image.

 Don’t redistribute or sell the photos on other stock photo or wallpaper platforms.

These restrictions are in place to ensure due respect is given to the hard work of their contributors.

You may have noticed that the websites have very different images that come up for the same keyword search. Thus, to find the perfect image for your next event, be it a conference, festival or seminar, you can consider using a combination of these websites to find the perfect image!

Check out the sites below to find free images which can be used for both commercial and non-commercial purposes and check out their licenses too.

ISCA SAAC Practitioners’ Conference

Yet again, our partnership with ISCA during their SAAC Practitioners’ Conference held on 29th October 2019 was a huge success!

The conference was joined by many industry leaders, experts and millennials as they define the role of the audit profession in current dynamic economic climate and create new possibilities.

In just under 30 minutes, we managed to check-in and print the name badges for more than 300 guests. Our onsite badge printing service provided high quality name badges and its fast-speed put smiles on our delegates’ faces.

In this event, the attendance of delegates also allows them earn CPE points which can be easily tracked using our comprehensive and flexible registration software.

If you have an event like this and would like us to help, drop us an email at hello@eventnook.com!

EventNook started with a humble beginning in 2012 to make organizing events easy and hassle-free for event organizers. Here, we are building the world class innovative event management platform by simplifying and redefining the old event management process with innovative solutions and leveraging on world class cloud and mobile based technologies. We have grown our business organically from serving a couple of events to thousands of events over 20 countries. We build our business from the ground up with one event at a time and we take pride in delivering great event experiences and make events inspiring.   

FUTR Asia Summit 2019

From 16-17 October 2019, FUTR held their inaugural FUTR Asia Summit in conjunction with the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) SG:D Industry Day and Singapore Business Federation’s (SBF) Future Economy Conference and Exhibition.

FUTR Asia Summit hosted a curated programme of insightful conference sessions, immersive showcases, deep drive round-tables and workshops and a curated exhibition of solution providers, to ensure businesses are prepared for the future of consumer-facing commerce.

The event received over 200 cross-industry speakers from a wide range of sectors sharing knowledge, experiences and insights, and housed highly-curated exhibitions and interactive showcases for delegates to immerse themselves in the future of retail, marketing and commerce.

There were many break-out sessions during the event. However, EventNook was able seamlessly to handle the large crowd with the multi-session check-in feature in our registration software.

Our EventNook Kiosk application was easy to use even for the part-time registration crew. The organisers did not worry about the registration and could focus on ensuring the success of their entire programme.

We would like to congratulate FUTR on their success and are honoured to have contributed to a digital and forward-thinking event.

If you have an event like this and would like us to help, drop us an email at hello@eventnook.com!

EventNook started with a humble beginning in 2012 to make organizing events easy and hassle-free for event organizers. Here, we are building the world class innovative event management platform by simplifying and redefining the old event management process with innovative solutions and leveraging on world class cloud and mobile based technologies. We have grown our business organically from serving a couple of events to thousands of events over 20 countries. We build our business from the ground up with one event at a time and we take pride in delivering great event experiences and make events inspiring.   

3 Simple And Versatile Ideas That Will Make Your Sustainable Event Memorable

If you want to promote a sustainability at your event but do not want it to seem boring (the topic can be a little dry), here are some fun ideas you can incorporate in your next event to educate your guests about the importance of sustainability, without losing their attention midway!

#1 “Bring Your Own”…

Prior to the event, you can promote a “Bring-Your-Own Mug” initiative, which would look something like this:

This will help you reduce plastic or paper cup usage at your events, which could significantly lower your carbon footprint.

You could reward those who bring their own mugs with free drinks or ticket discounts, to incentivise your guests to participate in this initiative. You could even switch it up, “Bring Your Own” Plate, Spoon, Napkin… Anything!

#2 Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Fringe Activities

Another activity that will definitely keep your guests interested during your event would be hands-on activities. Some sustainable ideas would be letting them design their own mugs, cup sleeves and creating their very own mason jar terrarium. The sky is limitless, explore your options!

These DIY activities will increase interaction and attention by getting their creative juices flowing. After the event, they are able to take their product home and will be able to use them, which would remind them of your event. The benefits do not just stop there. These activities would increase the chance of your guests publicising the event on social media with their finished products, which could be a form of promotion for your future events.

#3 Personalised, Eco-Friendly Gifts

At the beginning of the event, you could wow them with a seamless, tech-centred registration system. You could check-in your guests with a QR code and instantaneously print out personalised name badges that are made of eco-friendly, tear resistant material. This quick and efficient process is sure to capture your guests’ attention and establish that you are a digitally advanced and sustainable business. You could also gift them a set of eco-friendly cutlery or water bottle with your company logo on it, or add your guests’ name for a more personal touch!

Memorable events are retold, from your customer to your next potential customer. What kind of experiences are being told about your event? That is up to you.

Sustainable Events: Is It Really That Far Of A Goal?

From our previous post, event sustainability is the talk of the town. According to meetgreen.com the typical conference waste attendee produces 1.89KG of waste per day, 1.16KG of that will go directly to a landfill.  Undoubtedly, the inertia to switch away from your usual planning methods may be high, however, the result you get will be even higher.

Here are some tips to get you started on your sustainable event planning:

Go Paperless

This is pretty easy don’t you think? In the digital age, creating an event registration page or using online ticketing platforms is no stranger.

  • This not only reduces waste, it also allows you to communicate with your event guests in real-time. Change of time or meeting venue? No problem! You can simply edit your event details on an online event management software.
  • You will also notice cost savings in the long run because you will never need to reprint thousands of programs when you make a mistake or need to make a change to the schedule.
  • Your guests will never lose their ticket or your event information as they are all stored and easily accessible from their smartphones.
  • You will never need to fumble and flip through long lists of names if you use a QR code check-in registration system, where you can check-in instantaneously and track attendance with each guest’s unique QR code.
Image result for eventnook qr
EventNook’s Mobile QR Check-in kiosk

Reduce Use of Cars

Encourage your guests to take public transport or arrange shuttle or car-pooling services so that your attendees can come to and leave your event conveniently and at the same time, reduce your carbon footprint. You should make sure your location is easily accessible by choosing one that is close to public transport systems.

Food and Drink

Food wastage is rampant across events as we are always overestimating the attendance rate. While it is safer to have more food than less food during the event day, you should consider setting up or sourcing for a food salvation programme where you can donate excess food to those in need. At least this contributes to a good cause and food is not just thrown and wasted. You should also look into using bio-degradable cups or cutlery which are capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms and thereby avoiding pollution.

Save Energy

Using renewable energy sources with efficient system design such as LED lighting and the latest in technology can help cut power usage and minimize your footprint. Alternatively, you can consider hosting your events at green venues such as Concorde and Grand Hyatt Hotels or even outdoors depending on your event.

Getting Rid of Event Waste

It is definitely difficult to clean up after an event, but you can start by getting volunteers to clear the trash or collect and recycle if possible. Event attendees always leave their mess around which causes pollution to outdoor event spaces.

Image result for event waste mess
Mess left behind after Electric Picnic 2018

You can also take this chance to educate and remind your guests about the importance of protecting the environment. There is a much higher chance of guests cleaning up after themselves if you set up easily accessible bins. You can also encourage recycling by replacing the normal trash bins with recycling bins. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for your attendees to recycle and maintain the venue while still enjoying the event.

Related image
Recycling bins at an event

The sustainable event trend provides endless opportunities for event planners and businesses to change the way we operate which could help our environment. Whether it’s a music festival or a conference, implementing digital tools are easier than ever in the digital age.

Say you are planning an annual conference. You know that ticketing, registration and scheduling are areas you want to target to become sustainable, but how?

For starters, you can use an online event management platform such as EventNook to set-up your event. You can key in event details, collect payment, send e-mail notifications of enrollment, schedule reminders and create a unique QR code ticket for each guest. Registration can be streamlined through scanning of QR codes and at the same time, reduce paper usage.

Going from zero to hero may seem like a daunting task, but if you don’t try, you will never discover the benefits it will give you.

Sustainable Events: This Might Be Your Next Big Thing

Sustainability is not just a buzzword, but an ever-green topic that will be talked about for a long time. Recently, social media users took the Amazon Rainforest fires to the center stage, with millions of people showing their outrage on various platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. On 21st September 2019, more than 1,700 people gathered at Hong Lim Park for Singapore’s first-ever Climate Rally. It is without a doubt that people are more aware of the severity of our environmental situation and starting to feel a sense of urgency to protect the environment.

What does this mean for event planners? We have to ride the wave of change and make our events sustainable.

Sustainable events means that you are making changes to your event to avoid the depletion of natural resources. The goal is to help maintain the environmental or at minimum ecological balance.

Image result for sustainability event

You may ask: Why should I care about event sustainability? The answer is simple. It is likely that your audience cares, therefore, you should too because people are becoming more environmentally conscious and you would not want to be criticised for being an unethical organiser. This would damage your reputation and people may not return to your next event.

Although many people are picking up the importance of sustainability, many events are still not caught up. It is considered best business practice to make your events sustainable, at all stages of operations, and this could be a unique selling point over your competitors.

However, you should care for about sustainability not just because of your audience. Sure, a sustainable event may boost your reputation and attract more people. However, even if the people don’t give a dime about sustainability, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care too.

The “ great time we had today ” can leave an aftermath of problems for tomorrow. When people get together, particularly in large numbers, they can put a strain on local resources such as water and energy, and create significant waste, or tensions related to culture or sheer proximity with neighbouring communities.

ISO 20121

Your audience may be there to listen the conference or seminar but is not necessarily interested in sustainability. However, if you make a conscious effort to make each aspect of your event sustainable and communicating these efforts to your audience, you will also educate your audience by the end of your event. Events have the power to change the way people think and act. That’s the responsibility that event managers should all take.

Start integrating sustainable practices in your next event and you could become a front runner for sustainability, where you will set a benchmark for your competitors to follow.

Image result for qr code scan event

At EventNook, we provide sustainable and efficient solutions for your next event, such as our smart mobile QR check-in kiosk and instant onsite badge printing where we print eco-friendly and tear-resistant badges. Make the change for sustainability now!