The benefits of running your event online go way beyond social distancing. Even if you've already returned to in-person events, here are five reasons to go "hybrid" by including an online component:
The overheads of running an online event are much lower than for a physical event, as there are no venue, travel, food or accommodation costs to worry about. Even if you're already running a physical event, adding an online element is a small outlay that can easily be covered by selling access to a larger audience than you might otherwise have had access to.
Speaking of wider reach, online events may be more accessible and appealing for many, including:
Parents or carers who can't easily take time away from their dependents
Neurodivergent people who may find in-person events overwhelming
Folks with physical disabilities or mobility concerns
Folks who can't afford to travel or live too far away to attend
There are lots of ways to make your online events even more inclusive, such as live-captioning, scheduling regular breaks, providing guidance for how to use the technology, and more.
🔗 Read this article for tons of practical tips for improving the event experience for marginalized people. It was written with in-person tech conferences in mind, but many of the suggestions are transferrable.
In-person events often inevitably involve printing of single-use signage, elective travel, food waste, branded swag that ends up in landfill, and so on. Eco-conscious event organizers will likely have spent a lot of time researching methods to address these issues, but an even simpler solution is to host your event online, instantly eliminating a whole slew of concerns that can end up costing the earth.
While an online event can't replicate all the qualities of an in-person event (nor should it attempt to), it's not subject to the same constraints as an in-person event either. You can showcase conference presentations that feel more like a sketch show or a film production. Broadcast a speaker's pre-recorded talk during a livestream while they answer audience questions in the chat at the same time 🤯. Spread your event over several days in shorter sessions, rather than having to cram it all into one day to save on venue costs. What would you do if you didn't have to play by the established rules anymore?
Most conferences last a single day — several at most — and the experience tends to be limited to that specific time period. But when you open up your event hub ahead of time and leave it open indefinitely afterwards, you're gaining the ability to nurture an enduring community. You can build anticipation by dropping teaser content and keep people coming back with follow-up content (more on that later). Folks can connect over their common interests, not only around the content of your event but also around each other's contributions to the discussion over time.
For good measure, here are a few quick-fire reasons online events rule:
The lead-in times are way shorter
They're easier for solo organizers or small teams to run
Unlike in-person events, your costs don't tend to scale with the size of your audience
Your pool of possible speakers becomes anyone, anywhere
You don't have to worry about crowd control or long lines at the buffet
No need to pay attention to the weather report or public transport closures
Convinced? Read on to learn how to execute an unforgettable online event.