How to Manage a Virtual Conference

Managing a virtual conference can be daunting.

There are many choices and variables in how to manage a virtual conference event. It is a lot to plan and manage. We have all attended virtual events and some are way better quality than others.

This article will address the following:

  1. The Story of a Nightmare Virtual Event
  2. Common Problems in Virtual Events
  3. Key Steps to Effectively Manage a Virtual Event
  4. How to Handle Time Zones in a Virtual Event

The Story of a Nightmare Virtual Event

The following story is based on different events and experiences we have had during the past 20 years working with virtual and hybrid events. 

It’s difficult to say exactly what the worst virtual event ever would look like, as different people may have different criteria for what constitutes a “nightmare” event. However, here is a hypothetical example of a virtual event with many errors.

Audio Issues From the Start

The event took place on a popular video conferencing platform, but as soon as it started, the host’s audio wasn’t working. After a couple of trouble-shooting suggestions, the host found the correct mic settings. 

Unfortunately, the host was in a noisy setting and one of the moderators muted the microphone and then the host did not know how to unmute himself to help with the session. 

More Tech Issue Troubles 

Later, the support team discovered the cause of the issue: a known bug on the Mac client of the video conferencing platform used for the event.

To make matters worse, some of the attendees were unable to join the event due to technical issues with the platform. 

Those who joined had a difficult time seeing and hearing the speakers due to poor video and audio quality. 

Add in Some Human Error

For the live stream component, the publishing of the incorrect URL to social media and internal communication caused more problems.

The event was poorly organized, with no clear agenda or structure. The speakers went off on tangents and spent too much time on irrelevant topics, causing the event to run long and lose the interest of the attendees.

Several presenters were in one location and did not have good video conference etiquette and talked among themselves and shuffled papers around during the presentation which muffled the audio that was transmitted to other attendees and presenters. 

Time Zone Confusion Syndrome

Time zones were not clearly communicated, and presenters and attendees were late to sessions and missed several sessions. (This World Clock Meeting Planner is a go-to tool for our team!)

This was a combination of the web app and mobile app handling it differently. In addition, on the mobile app, there were differences between the Android and iOS versions. 

Overall, this hypothetical virtual event was a disaster due to a combination of technical issues, poor communication, and a lack of organization. It’s important to carefully plan and prepare for virtual events to avoid similar issues. 

Common Problems in Virtual Events 

There are a few common problems that can occur during a virtual conference, which can turn into a nightmare if not properly addressed: 

1. Technical issues

Virtual conferences rely heavily on technology, and it’s not uncommon for there to be technical issues such as connectivity problems, audio or video issues, or platform malfunctions. It’s important to have a plan in place for addressing these issues, and to be prepared to adapt if necessary. 

2. Poor communication

Clear communication is key to a successful virtual conference. Make sure to clearly communicate the details of the conference to all participants, and to set expectations for participation. You can make a short onboarding video to help your attendees.

3. Lack of engagement

It can be more challenging to engage and involve participants in a virtual conference compared to an in-person event. To keep participants engaged, try to use interactive features such as polls, Q&A sessions, and breakout rooms. 

4. Difficulties with time management

Virtual conferences can be more susceptible to time management issues, as it can be easy for participants to become distracted or lose track of time. To help keep the conference on track, it’s a good idea to have a clear agenda and to enforce time limits for presentations and discussions. 

To avoid virtual conference nightmares, it’s important to plan ahead and be prepared for potential challenges. By being proactive and staying calm, you can minimize any problems and ensure that your virtual conference is a success. 

Key Steps to Effectively Manage a Virtual Event 

Here are a few key steps you can take to effectively manage a virtual conference: 

Plan ahead

Make sure you have a clear plan for the conference, including the agenda, speakers, and any materials or resources that will be needed. It’s also important to consider the technical requirements for the conference, such as the platform or software that will be used, and to ensure that all participants have the necessary equipment and connectivity to join. 

Test the technology

Prior to the conference, it’s a good idea to test the platform or software that will be used to ensure that everything is working properly. This will help to minimize any technical issues during the conference. 

Follow up

After the conference, it’s a good idea to send out a follow-up email to all participants thanking them for their attendance and providing any materials or resources that were discussed during the conference. You may also want to ask for feedback on the conference to help you improve future events. 

How to Handle Time Zones in a Virtual Event 

When hosting a virtual event that involves participants from different time zones, it’s important to consider the following strategies to make sure that everyone can attend: 

1. Choose a convenient time 

Try to choose a time that is convenient for most participants. If necessary, you may need to hold the event at different times to accommodate different time zones. 

2. Communicate clearly

Make sure to clearly communicate the date, time, and time zone for the event to all participants. You may also want to include a time zone converter in your communication to help participants determine the equivalent time in their own time zone. 

3. Provide recordings

If some participants are unable to attend the live event due to time zone differences, consider providing recordings of the event so that they can watch it at a more convenient time. 

4. Encourage participation 

Encourage all participants to actively participate in the event, regardless of their time zone. This can help to create a sense of community and inclusivity. 

By taking the time to consider the time zones of all participants, you can ensure that everyone is able to attend and participate in your virtual event.

How We Help With Virtual Events

The i2i Technologies Team helps organizations navigate these nightmare-ish pitfalls surrounding virtual events. Learn how we helped a group transform from face-to-face to fully virtual in this blog post.