Virtual events gained in popularity with the pandemic and they are here to stay. According to MarketingTech, they are expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 23.2% from 2020 to 2027. Because hosting a virtual event can be a bit stressful for first timers, I prepared this guide to help you plan your next online event on Lounjee.
Hosting a virtual event on Lounjee: required equipment
First and foremost, make sure you have a computer with internet access to create your virtual event. You may also need a webcam so that attendees can see you if you’re hosting a webinar during your event.
You need a Zoom or WebEx account if you want to have embedded live sessions. Otherwise, we can redirect to any platform link but note that your attendees will be taken outside of Lounjee in order to join your stream. The Zoom or WebEx plan you need will depend on the length of your sessions and the number of participants.
Regarding Lounjee, you need an admin account to create and manage an event. Regular users cannot create events.
Admin accounts are created upon creating your online community on Lounjee. If you don’t have one yet, you should create yours!
You also need to create a member account to access the event, moderate polls, connect with other members, etc.
Before the event, you will mostly use the admin dashboard. This is where everything can be set up.Additionally, you can also use your member account while creating your event to see how everything looks from an attendee’s perspective.
Think about event access first
The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you will sell tickets to your event or if people can register for free. The reason behind that is that you need to select an RSVP option when creating your event.
If you decide to sell tickets, you can either do it via an external website or directly in Lounjee. Using Lounjee ticketing will simplify the process and allow you to configure session access per ticket type.
I highly recommend creating your tickets before adding your sessions in the agenda since it will be a lot easier later on to restrict session access.
Enter all event details in the admin dashboard
You can now enter event information. Take good care of the event’s about page – called “General Info” in the admin dashboard. The information you enter on that page is very important because it’s the landing page of your event. Make sure to tell your attendees how to contact you in case they need support before, during or after the event.
Open the People section to add your speakers. You can enter them manually or upload them using our Excel template. I recommend you add a picture and a contact (LinkedIn or Twitter profile) for each speaker so that their profile looks nice, whether they create an account on Lounjee or not. Indeed, sometimes speakers only join the video call outside of Lounjee to give their talk but don’t bother to create an account on Lounjee. When that happens, attendees can only see the info you entered as admin. Therefore, it’s better to add a few basic info for each speaker so that their profile doesn’t look empty.
Go to the Company tab to add sponsors and exhibitors. Don’t forget to enable them as sponsor and/or exhibitor otherwise they won’t show in your event. You can create sponsor and exhibitor levels in the event settings and then assign a level to each sponsor to sort them out.
Enable the sponsor header option to showcase a sponsor logo on every page of the event. For each sponsor, you can also list the names of the sessions they are sponsoring. Finally, if you want to save some time, you can give your sponsors access to the sponsor portal so that they can edit their own booth themselves!
Set up the agenda
The next step is to set up your event agenda. Before adding sessions to the agenda, go to the event settings to make sure the right time zone is selected.
When setting up the agenda, keep in mind that online events are different from physical events: virtual conferences can create Zoom fatigue. Slice up your event into small sessions and don’t forget to include breaks so that your attendees can grab a coffee or have a bathroom break in between sessions. You can enter a session type and assign them a track (which is kind of a major topic) so that it’s easier for your attendees to identify the right session. If you have parallel sessions, you can also assign them a place. It would be the equivalent of a room in a physical event.
Note that you can also create custom pages in the event settings. Custom pages are a smaller version of the agenda that filters and only displays a certain type of session. It’s often used by admins who organize events for scientists presenting their posters.
Once your sessions are added to the agenda, you should schedule your video conferences. We integrate Zoom and WebEx, which means that you can have your meeting embedded in Lounjee if you use one of these video conference tools. We also embed YouTube if you want to use a YouTube live or pre-recorded video. Read our Zoom and WebEx manuals to learn how to create your stream links and add them to the content tab of your session.
One useful tip is to record your sessions to make them available after the event. That way, your attendees can come back and watch the session again or catch-up on the ones they missed!
I recommend that you reserve a time slot for networking. Add a session called networking to the agenda to let attendees know that they can book meetings with other participants during that time. You can allow networking video calls in the Meetings section of your event.
Work on pre-recorded content and additional documents
Having pre-recorded sessions is a good way to have a stress-free event. I recommend posting your videos on YouTube and to have them unlisted. You can then embed them into a session. Having pre-recorded sessions doesn’t mean there won’t be any interaction. You can create a follow-up Q&A session that will be live. That way your speakers can prepare their presentation ahead and join the stream on the day of the event to answer attendees’ questions.
If you want to add extra information about a session, you can go to the content tab of that session and add documents and/or links. We accept most doc types. Upon clicking on a document, it will download on the attendee’s computer.
Set event visibility
You’ve gone a long way already. It’s now time to publish your event and make sure everything looks nice. Open event settings and go to the publication tab. You can restrict event access to your group members or a selection of invited members. The agenda and about tab can be public or private.
If you restrict access to your event, make sure you added yourself to the People list before opening the event as a member. I recommend you check that images are displayed correctly and no information is missing from the event.
Give roles and accesses
As an admin, you can give roles to some users. There are 3 different roles in a Lounjee event:
- Speaker role: can be added from the People section. Click on a profile and open the settings tab to enable the speaker role. Speakers have the ability to create polls in their sessions. They can also moderate questions in the Q&A tab of their sessions.
- Event Admin role: can be added in event settings. Event Admin have the same rights as speakers but this applies to all sessions. They can also create and manage breakout sessions.
- Company Admin role: can be added in the Company section, under the People tab. Company admins can edit their company virtual booth. This can save you some time while planning the event: instead of entering every sponsor/exhibitor info yourself, you can designate company admins and invite them to edit their own booth.
On our Enterprise package, we provide leads and metrics for Sponsor booths. When enabled, that option allows company admin to see who visited their booth and clicked on videos, downloaded documents, etc.
Invite attendees and speakers
I recommend inviting your speakers to join their live session by email. Send them the direct link to their Zoom or WebEx conference. Give them clear instructions:
- Tell them to join the stream directly in Zoom or WebEx
- They can open Lounjee – without joining the Stream there! – if they want to keep an eye on the chat and Q&A. This is optional if you have a moderator who is in charge of reading the questions and chat messages.
If they don’t have a Lounjee account yet, attendees have to be invited via email. Send them the direct link to your event if it’s public and tell them to register. If the event is private, send them clear instructions:
1. Tell them to create their Lounjee account first and send them the link to your group sign-up page.
2. Send them the direct link to your event and tell them that they can also see it in their events list upon signing up.
If your attendees already have a Lounjee account, you can invite them directly from the admin dashboard. Click on the invite button next to your event in the event list.
Rehearse with your team
You should do a test event with your team at least once before your event. One person is the host, and others join through Lounjee. Create a dedicated test event and assign different roles to test things out.
If you plan a rehearsal with your speakers, send them the direct link to Zoom or WebEx and help them connect to Lounjee if they want to see the chat and Q&A.
I hope you have a better idea of how to host a virtual event on Lounjee. Don’t hesitate to dig into our knowledge base to learn more about a specific topic. If you wanna know more about the live event itself and what to do after the event is over, I invite you to read part 2.