Introduction:

"The evolution of technology has provided virtual events the power to cut your costs dramatically, boost your reach globally and position your business innovatively" - 8 Steps to Host a Successful Virtual Event, Vfairs

Conferences are usually run on an annual basis for different purposes, such as generating more sales, increasing brand awareness, and boosting employee motivation.

Traditional conferences are incredibly costly, time-consuming to organize and run and, as a result, place immense pressure on the shoulders of conference planners to get it right. 

Virtual conferences cost less to run, can reach a wider global audience, and are better for the environment as no one needs to travel. But, they still require an enormous amount of planning and are still expected to generate results. 

This is why Process Street has created this planning a virtual conference checklist. This checklist covers all the tasks involved in planning and executing a virtual conference, from finding the right streaming platform to hiring the perfect host and speakers to engage your attendees. 

To make sure your conference generates results and meets expectations, we've also made sure that this planning a virtual conference checklist gives key conference stakeholders the chance to review and approve various tasks, such as the budget and the conference content. 

Who is Process Street? 

Process Street is super-powered checklists.

It’s the easiest way to manage your recurring tasks, procedures and, workflows. 

Create a template and run individual checklists for each member of your team.

Check tasks off as you work through them, set deadlines, add approvalsassign tasks, and track each team member's progress.

You can also connect to thousands of Apps through Zapier and automate your workflows even more.

Enter checklist details

Enter the checklist details by filling out the below fields.

This will allow the conference planning team, or internal stakeholders, to pick up this process and know who to contact if they have any questions. 

Conference Details:

Select the conference team

Select the members of the conference planning team, using the member's field below.

As well as your planning team, you may also need support from the following departments during the conference: 

 - IT technician/support
 - Customer service 
 - Marketing  

Therefore, it's a good idea to get their contact details and make sure they are on standby should you need them. 

Pick the conference theme

Chances are the theme of the conference has already been decided, but make sure it's will inform and motivate your potential attendees.

To help you check that the theme is right for your company and your potential attendees, answer these questions, and confirm the final conference theme in the field below. 

  • 1
    Why are you doing this conference?
  • 2
    Why is this an important theme to cover?
  • 3
    How would your attendees benefit from this conference?
  • 4
    How would the company benefit from this conference?

Set the conference goals

You need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with this conference and also what you want your attendees to experience. 

The below questions will help you think about what you are wanting to achieve, and why, with this conference

Make sure your goals are SMART goals.

  • 1
    What do you want your attendees to gain from attending the conference?
  • 2
    What do you want your brand to gain from hosting this conference?
  • 3
    Do you want to increase brand loyalty?
  • 4
    Do you want to introduce your audience to a new and exciting way of doing things?
  • 5
    Do you want to increase sales?

Share the conference goals with the team

It's important that all members of the conference planning team are aware of these goals so that everyone is working towards the same thing. 

So, share these goals with the rest of the team.

CONFERENCE GOALS
{{form.Conference_goals}}

Determine your target audience

The better you can identify the people that might want to attend your conference, the better you can shape the conference to meet their interests.

Establish your target audience's key characteristics and key expectations in the field below.

Before you do this, think about the following: 

  • 1
    Why are they likely to attend?
  • 2
    Where are they coming from?
  • 3
    What do they want to experience?
  • 4
    What conferences might they have attended previously? *

* if you think your target audience has attended similar events/conferences in the past, research these to get a better idea about what they might be expecting

Brainstorm conference format ideas

With the planning team, walk through your virtual conference and write down everything you picture having there eg. breakout sessions, speakers, music, virtual meet-ups, rooms for networking etc...

Answer these questions to help you come up with some ideas: 

  • 1
    Do you just want a speaker talking to the audience?
  • 2
    Do you want the audience to engage?
  • 3
    Do you want attendees to be able to go from a virtual room to another?
  • 4
    Will you run webinars?
  • 5
    How will the attendees communicate to each other and the presenters?
  • 6
    Will you include panels and forums?
  • 7
    How will attendees interact with panelists?
  • 8
    What do you expect to charge for the event?
  • 9
    How many days will your conference last?
  • 10
    Will each day be full, half, or quarter days?
  • 11
    How many guest speakers can you expect to participate in the event?
  • 12
    Is your conference going to be hosted by a single presenter?

Develop a detailed conference plan

Once you've brainstormed all potential ideas, write up a detailed conference plan and upload the document into the field below.

Once you've done this, it can be sent for stakeholder's approval in the next task. 

Summarize the key parts of the conference so you and the rest of the team can check back at the plan easily and quickly. 

Approval:

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Develop a detailed conference plan
    Will be submitted

Conference Budget:

List the expected income

Record all the anticipated income streams you plan to have coming in, in the fields below.

This information will be sent to the conference stakeholders for approval.

To add more revenue streams, follow these instructions on how to add additional fields to this task.

List the direct costs

Include a breakdown of all the costs that directly relate to the production of the virtual conference.

As with any conference, things are bound to change in the planning and execution process. These changes affect the budget, so make sure to update your budget as changes are made for an accurate picture

This information will be sent to the conference stakeholders for approval.

To add more direct costs, follow these instructions on how to add additional fields to this task.

Approval:

Will be submitted for approval:
  • List the expected income
    Will be submitted
  • List the direct costs
    Will be submitted

Conference Logistics:

Select a conference date & time

Choose a date and time for the virtual conference and enter this information into the fields below. 

Try and schedule your virtual conference for a time that works well for attendees in different time zones.

Although if you’re planning to record the webinar, don’t worry about this too much.

Create a timeline of activities

Using the date/s of the conference, create a timeline and plan in all the various activities that need to happen from now until that time.

Upload this timeline into the field below so all the team can access it. 

These are all the activities that you need to organize for your conference: 

{{form.Conference_plan_summary}}

The conference will run from: 

{{form.Conference_start_date}} to {{form.Conference_finish_date}}

Conference Technical Requirements:

Decide if you are live streaming or pre-recording

You need to decide if you are planning to run the conference as a live event or pre-record and upload it to Youtube for people to pick and choose what they want to watch and when. 

There are a number of pro's and con's to both approaches, but to summarize: 

Live streaming: Live streaming is often the backbone of virtual events, and it can be a very effective way to replace in-person presentations and sessions.

Pre-recording: What pre-recorded sessions may lack in real-time engagement they make up for in production value, as they benefit from the ability to be edited or enhanced.

If you're struggling to make a decision, these questions may help.

  • 1
    Are you broadcasting from a studio or at home?
  • 2
    Will each speaker come on live from home?
  • 3
    Are you accommodating lots of different time zones?
  • 4
    Are there likely to be connectivity issues?

Choose a streaming software platform

Choose a streaming software platform. If you're unsure where to start with this task, have a read of this article. 

The size of the conference you are planning and the number of attendees you anticipate will attend will dictate how robust your hosting solution needs to be, but something like Zoom works for most.

Zoom is one of the most-used virtual conference platforms around. It’s super intuitive and has a low learning curve. That means it’s more accessible to your audience, who may be less comfortable with technology. 

Make sure you set-up and test the audio & visuals now so you can catch and resolve any problems! 

Choose your screen casting software

Choose the screencasting software that you want to use to record the conference. If you're unsure where to start with this task, have a read of this article. 

Here are a couple of free options to get you started: 

Quicktime With Mac
Quicktime is one of the best free screencasting apps you could hope for in terms of ease of use and speed of recording and saving.

OBS With Windows 
OBS Studio is a tool primarily used to stream on sites like Twitch, which also has a “record” feature.

Choose your interaction software

Depending on what your conference plan involves, you can choose a comprehensive platform such as Whova, or a chat-only solution such as Slack to encourage interaction amongst attendees, hosts, and speakers during your conference. 

Here's a reminder about the interaction points you're planning to include at your conference:

{{form.Conference_plan_summary}} 

Enter your chosen interaction tool into the field below. 

Set up & test your interaction software

So you are prepared and fully understand how the software works, begin the set-up of this software now so you can catch and resolve any problems. 

Set up a room / group for attendees so they can network before, during, and after the conference 

Set up a speaker/host only area so you can chat with the speakers and host before, during, and after the conference about any changes or issues

Decide if you need a conference app

Conference apps like AppyPie are great for providing attendees with easy access to content, and for notifying you about things like attendee feedback and ROI.

But they can come at a cost and they aren’t needed for every conference.

Look at your conference plan and assess whether you feel the conference would benefit from an app. 

{{form.Conference_plan_summary}}

Select your conference app

Decide what you need the app to do before you choose the right app for your conference

  • 1
    Are you wanting it mainly for push notifications?
  • 2
    Are you looking for crowd-sourcing?
  • 3
    Do you want the ability to network?
  • 4
    Do you want to introduce things like live polling?

Here are some conference app options, provided by Pathable, to  get you started: 

  • Aloompa - Best Mobile Event App for Festivals
  • Teem - Best App Builder for Meeting Room Management
  • Eventmobi - Best Event App for Flexible Pricing
  • 10Times - Best Conference App for Global Event Discovery
  • BusyConf - Best Conference App for Simple Scheduling
  • Whova - Best Mobile Event App for Going Paperless
  • Grupio - Best App Creator for University Events
  • Eventdrive - Best App Builder for Outside-of-App Functionality

Once you've chosen your app, record it in the field below. 

Be sure to add any costs to the budget!

Conference Contributors:

Hire your host

You will need someone to start and close the event, introduce the speakers, and keep the attendees up to date with what's coming up next. 

You could either hire a professional host to do this or it can even be an in-house staff member. 

Either way, make sure the host has the following qualities:  

  • 1
    They speak clearly
  • 2
    They are personable and able to hold attention
  • 3
    They can respond to questions, fielded through social media
  • 4
    They can introduce speakers
  • 5
    They feel comfortable looking straight into the camera
  • 6
    They can respond at the spur of the moment to unexpected events

Once you've found the perfect host, add their name into the field below.

Research speakers

Next, you need to choose your guest speakers. 

It’s important that you choose the right people to speak at your conference as they need to attract attendees and keep them engaged. 

Research potential speakers to make sure they are: 

  • 1
    Aligned with the purpose and values of your event
  • 2
    Suitable for your target audience to ensure the attendees stay engaged
  • 3
    Have something valuable to offer your attendees
  • 4
    Know your topic inside out so they can answer on the spot questions
  • 5
    Have experience with virtual conferences
  • 6
    Comfortable talking on-camera

Create a short-list of potential speakers

Now you've done your research, compile a list of potential speakers to reach out to.

Contact speakers

Contact each of the below speakers that you have included in your shortlist:

{{form.Potential_speakers}}

Feel free to use the below email template as a guide on how to approach your speakers. 

Once you've contacted your spekers, list those that have agreed to speak at your conference in the field below.

Schedule rehearsals with each speaker & host

Once you have all your guest speakers and host confirmed, it's crucial that you rehearse with them, once they have organized their content.

Arrange rehearsals with: 
HOST
{{form.Host_name}}

SPEAKERS
{{form.Confirmed_speakers}}

This will prevent unforeseen snags on the day of the conference. 

Research sponsors

Research potential sponsors which might fit the purpose of your conference and would be good for your brand to associate with.

Make a list of companies that offer products or services related to the subject of the conference. Add government organizations, regulatory agencies, and nonprofits that deal with similar matters.

Research the listed organizations to determine whether they have sponsorship programs.

Check to see if they have sponsored similar conferences in the past. Make sure the organizations have a demonstrated interest in market segments represented by your conference attendees.

List potential sponsors

Once you've researched potential sponsors, list them in the field below so you can reach out to them. 

You may also want to revisit this list for future conferences. 

Create sponsorship packages

Using the following as a guide, create sponsorship packages, and reach out to each sponsor. 

1. Assemble material about the conference: Include the goals of the conference, how it will operate, and what speakers are participating. Prepare an attractive information package from the material.

2. Prepare a detailed analysis of the expected attendees. Write down the different groups of attendees you expect, such as speakers, organizations, and the general public. 

3. Detail the benefits that you can offer the sponsors. Evaluate how much each benefit is worth by referring to similar events with similar audience sizes. Look at how much it would cost a sponsor to reach the same number of people through other channels. Finalize the sponsorship package with detailed levels and pricing.

Once you have confirmed sponsors, list them in the field below. 

Conference Content:

Accumulate conference content

Start to pull together all the content for your conference. 

You might need to create welcome slides with an intro and a conference agenda to open the conference for example. You might want to create interactive content that will keep the audience engaged eg. polls, surveys, Q&A pods, games, questions for the speakers

Here are some of the types of content you might need to prepare or collate from your various speakers: 

  • Presentation slides 
  • Q&A's 
  • Video footage
  • Music
  • Images 
  • Sponsor material 
  • Company logos  

Create a queue of content

Using your conference plan, create a queue of content so that content is displayed at the right times during the event.

{{form.Conference_plan_summary}}

List out the order of content below. 

Check the content is what your target audience wants

This is what your target audience is expecting from the conference:

{{form.Summarize_the_key_characteristics_and_expectations_of_your_target_audience}}

Double-check that the content you have fits these expectations - make sure you haven't missed anything out.

{{form.Schedule/order_of_content}}

Create a conference schedule

Now you're happy with the content and the order it will run in, create a conference schedule complete with time slots for each speaker, piece of content, breakout session, Q&A session etc...

Write this schedule in the field below so the conference stakeholders can approve it in the next task. 

This is the order of content you are planning to run: 

{{form.Schedule/order_of_content}}

Approval:

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Create a conference schedule
    Will be submitted

Conference Promotion:

Create a registration page

Create a registration page with a form that allows attendees to sign up for the conference and put the URL of the page in the field below.

Having a registration form is crucial for letting your attendees sign up for your virtual conference in advance and also allows you to track the number of attendees.

Tip! On your registration page, ask attendees signing up for questions for the speakers 

Tip! Put speaker bios on your registration page to add credibility

Promote on social media channels

Promote your conference on social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram.  

Include key information such as the dates, times, prices, key speakers and sponsors in your messaging.

Make it fun and interactive!

Create a hashtag, run a competition, create a conference group, write blog posts and include information about your speakers, and sponsors in all your campaigns.

Convert website traffic

Anyone that visits your site should know about your virtual conference.

Here are some ways you can promote the conference on your site: 

  • Lightbox Popups
  • Floating Bars
  • Countdown Timers (both static and dynamic)
  • Inline Campaigns
  • Fullscreen Welcome Mats

Reach out to current email list

Since these people have voluntarily given you their email address, there’s a good chance that they’ll be interested in attending your virtual conference.

Capitalize on that and send them an email. 

Follow these guidelines for making sure your email is read:

  • 1
    Use a catchy subject line to get attention
  • 2
    Write in an engaging, conversational style
  • 3
    Include visual media like photos and pictures
  • 4
    Check your text for grammar and spelling mistakes

Ask speakers to promote

Your speakers are the stars of the show!

They might be the reason people want to sign up and attend your conference, so use that power and ask them to promote your conference to their followers and share the interesting topics they will be discussing.

Conference Final Checks:

Confirm timings & roles

Contact the following people to run through the approved schedule to make sure everyone knows what they're doing and when they're doing it. 

HOST

{{form.Host_name}}

SPEAKERS 

{{form.Confirmed_speakers}}

SPONSORS

{{form.Confirmed_sponsors}}

Conference schedule

{{form.Conference_schedule}}

Distribute information to your team

Run through the following with your team: 

The top-level conference plan
{{form.Conference_plan_summary}}

Who will be hosting the conference: 
{{form.Host_name}}

Who will be speaking at the conference
{{form.Confirmed_speakers}}

Who is sponsoring the conference
{{form.Confirmed_sponsors}}

The order of events
{{form.Conference_schedule}}

It's also important to make sure each person in the team knows what their responsibilities are during the conference.

Make sure everyone has access to things like social channels, communication tools, and chat rooms. 

Make sure everyone knows who to contact if they need support with IT, Marketing, or customer service: 

IT support
{{form.IT_support_name}}

Marketing support
{{form.Marketing_contact}}

Customer service support
{{form.Customer_service_representative}}

Make sure these contacts also have access to all communication channels!

Relax!

Now all you need to do is relax and wait for your conference day to arrive! 

Sources:

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