Running an online conference

The following is a summary of advice taken from a number of sources (links below) on how to run an online conference.

It’s worth noting this key thought from “Learning Revolution”:

You can’t just string together a bunch of Webinars and expect to have a successful virtual conference.

Learning Revolution

Planning

Key questions

Many of these questions will be identical to those asked for an in-person conference.

  1. Who is the conference for? Where are they based? Which time zone? How will they access it? How much bandwidth do they have?
  2. What are the objectives of the conference? What is in it for the conference participants?
  3. What format will work best to support those objectives within the technological and capability constraints of the participants?
  4. What is the over-arching theme that will connect together each of the separate components?

Possible formats

  1. Live presentations and/or workshops from one or more experts
  2. Pre-recorded presentations and/or pre-reading from one or more experts, with asynchronous, text-based discussion
Format Pros Cons
Live - single day Simplest to organise The technology could go wrong on the day. Less time for people to reflect and mingle. High workload on the day.
Live - spread over several days Can mix live presentation with pre-built materials and asynchronous discussion. Works well for multiple timezones Takes more time to organise.
Pre-recorded or pre-reading with live interaction The focus becomes on interaction and workshops Requires work to bring all the pre-built elements together

Credit: Based on Sproutlabs: How to run a virtual conference

Tips

Preparation

You won’t need to book a venue, organise food and help people with travel arrangements. But you will need to sort out a booking process, tee up your speakers, get a schedule ready and prepare the software platform.

Tips

Marketing

Marketing in the 21st Century is about having a conversation. Hopefully that conversation will lead people back to you, wanting to know more, and wanting to become involved.

Tips

Delivery

Delivering an online event is a lot simpler if you’ve planned and prepared for each eventuality. If you have a schedule, a running list and a risk management plan then you’ll know how to deal with things on the day.

Tips

Follow-up

While people are still buzzing from the conference, get them ready for the next event, and help them see the benefit that they gained from taking part in this one.

Tips

Sources

Sproutlabs: How to run a virtual conference

Learning Revolution: How to Host a Virtual Conference – 10 Tips for Success

Kaltura: 10 tips on how to run a virtual event or virtual conference


Posted: 17 May 2021

Tags: Coaching Learning design

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