We had to suffer a pandemic to realize it, but virtual events are some of the most powerful marketing tools available to us. Brands are recording impressive results in terms of brand awareness, lead generation, and community building. In fact, 94% of event organizers already have virtual events in the pipeline for 2023, and 48% are planning to increase the number of virtual events they’ll host next year. Do these numbers stir up some good old-fashioned FOMO in you? They should. Let’s help you set up a waterproof marketing strategy for 2023 and decide what types of virtual events will elevate your business.
- What are Virtual Events?
- A Guide to 5 Major Types of Virtual Events
- Kaltura Virtual Events Solutions
What are Virtual Events?
Let’s quickly cover the ‘what,’ ‘why,’ and ‘how’ of virtual events.
What? A virtual event is an event that is held primarily online. Participants gather in a virtual environment through the web, to interact, discuss and learn about a common interest. It could be any size, but usually ranging from a large conference call up to a live broadcast with millions of viewers.
Why? The main draw for organizers is that virtual events are easy and cost-effective to set up at scale. They also offer loads of interesting digital tools for audience engagement, performance analytics, and data collection. The possibility to prerecord keynotes, repurpose content after the event, and deliver a hyper-personalized experience to participants also greatly benefit both the hosts and the participants. For the attendee, virtual events are a very convenient way to connect with peers and learn more about a shared topic of interest. They can join the event from the comfort of their home or anywhere in the world with a decent internet connection.
How? The best types of virtual events require neither special equipment nor expert knowledge. Participants simply need a computer or a mobile device equipped with a webcam and a fast connection to fully benefit from virtual event features such as chat tools and multimedia content playback.
5 Major Types of Virtual Events
Let’s take a closer look at the 5 main types of events, virtual conferences, webinars, hybrid events, town halls, and online training events. These are the most common types, and they also happen to be the kinds of events in which Kaltura is specialized. But there are many more types, such as virtual networking events, virtual weddings, online concerts and festivals, virtual tours, virtual coffee chats and happy hours.
The types of virtual events differ in audience size, event format (number of tracks and days), and objectives (brand awareness, education, networking, …).
1. Virtual Conferences
The quintessential “virtual event”. Virtual conferences (or virtual summits, online trade shows, virtual exhibitions, virtual fairs, virtual open days, …) were already taking off in popularity before the 2020 pandemic and demonstrate very significant benefits.
Virtual conferences present their attendees with opportunities for accessing events remotely. Most likely, keynotes, breakouts, panels, and networking events at a virtual conference all happen completely online, although in some cases there may be in-person attendance —the so-called “Hybrid Event” that has been gaining a lot of popularity, as detailed below.
Engagement with a virtual conference could be as passive as watching a live keynote with a chat window in the sidebar, or as active and intimate as a breakout video conference room where all participants can see each other and communicate 1:1. Generally speaking, a virtual conference will also incorporate more than one stream —the so-called multitrack event. Virtual events can also incorporate various event formats. For example, a technology conference might have a live-broadcast keynote address with limited audience interactivity, followed by coding workshops in breakout rooms, where participants can communicate with the workshop leader and other attendees.
Virtual conferences do require intensive coordination, just as an in-person event. This includes inviting speakers, scheduling, setting up sessions, and otherwise facilitating communication between participants.
Virtual conferences are perfect for large-scale annual events that attract a large audience in a multi-day, multi-track format with recorded or live presentations and networking opportunities. Virtual conferences work well for brand awareness, community building, and lead generation.
Webinars are the most common type of virtual event. You can catch a webinar on your topic of interest pretty much any day of the week. They will find their way to you via your email inbox, your social media feeds, or through banners on the side of a related article.
“Webinar” is a portmanteau of “web seminar,” meaning a particular topic being discussed by a host or instructor and attendees in (relatively) small groups. Webinars generally take the form of a video meeting that is happening in real-time. Interactivity is usually limited to participants submitting questions for a Q&A at the end of the webinar, chatting, and responding to polls. Additionally, the webinar leader is likely to incorporate presentations via PowerPoint (or similar), web pages, and other multimedia content.
Webinars can also be presented live or on-demand, although on-demand is a far more passive experience. Viewers don’t have options for participation, other than maybe a comment section.
Webinars are perfect for single-track streaming of educational content, with limited interaction between the participants and the host (as opposed to meetings or training sessions). Product presentations, tutorials, lectures, and panel discussions are all great reasons to put out a webinar.
3. Hybrid Events
Hybrid events are a combination of live in-person events with virtual components that are either live or recorded. This might be as simple as a live lecture or panel discussion that is being streamed to viewers online who can watch and comment. Or it can be as complex as a combined in-person and virtual event designed to have rich and interactive experiences for both live and remote participants.
Hybrid events leverage the advantages of both in-person events and virtual conferences. Event capacity is no longer limited to what’s possible with physical space and attendees no longer need to travel to the event in-person.
Hybrid events are perfect for events for which the physical experience is essential, but the organizers wish to offer the option to attend remotely, reach a wider audience, or an audience that isn’t able to attend the physical event. Hybrid events can also mean a virtual component in the form of an app, intended to enrich the experience of the in-person visitor.
4. Town Halls and Live Webcasts
Town halls and live webcasts are focused on nurturing company culture, aligning and updating staff about workflows or developments, building professional connections, or facilitating gatherings of people with common interests. They deliver live streaming or on-demand video in real-time to increase the sense of urgency and attendee belonging. Privacy is maintained by limiting access to the invited.
A webcast (of which town halls are a type) is a point-to-many live stream over the web that is mostly non-interactive and viewed simultaneously by the remote audience. That is why…
… Town Halls and live webcasts are perfect for department meetings, sales kick-offs, companywide events, international conferences, and customer or partner events. In the last two years, town halls and live webcasts have proven very effective in corporate communications to remote workforces or in maintaining relations with customers or stakeholders.
5. Online Training (including online classes, onboarding, and more)
Online training can cover a lot of ground—from traditional education or certificate training to one-off workshops, to onboarding a company’s new hires on interactive tools. The focus here is always learning. The most important aspects of these events are for the instructor to be able to present information clearly and thoroughly, students to be able to interact with the instructor and collaborate with other students, and the ability to evaluate the students’ understanding of the topic. Other typical features of online training are screen- and content-sharing for demonstration as well as access to group resources (such as content libraries, instructional videos, and exercises).
Online training is perfect for virtual classrooms, onboarding and continuous employee training, and popular corporate training methods like just-in-time learning and microlearning.
Kaltura Virtual Events Solutions
Kaltura aims to keep you on the cutting-edge of the virtual events space. Kaltura Virtual Events is our innovative platform for brand and community experiences. Whatever types of virtual events your business or organization wants to set up over the coming year, our platform is a contender.
- A robust and comprehensive solution for any type of event, at any scale
- A fully customizable and brandable platform
- Powerful tools and features from promotion and registration to agenda-building and VOD content repurposing
- Sponsor features and packages
- Interactivity, engagement, and social features
- Hyper-personalized experiences for your attendees
- High-quality streaming
- Fast-loading players based on ABR technology, 1080p video
- Outstanding design and user experience.
- Full suite of data and analytics tools
- … and much more!
Kaltura Virtual Events provides native support for any event, any size, both live and on-demand. We’re modular, customizable, and complement a high-end content management platform with a range of video technology available to individualize your experience.
Learn more about Kaltura Virtual Events and book a tour!
Curious about Kaltura’s Virtual Events solution? Book a tour!