Elevating Innovation: 5 Strategies for Successful Virtual Conferences – Digital Promise

Elevating Innovation: 5 Strategies for Successful Virtual Conferences

Male teacher attending virtual professional learning

December 7, 2023 | By and

The world has seen a significant change in how we communicate and share our ideas in recent years. This has led to an increase in virtual conferences, which offer people a way to connect, share knowledge, and work together, no matter where they are in the world.

While in-person conferences have benefits, they can be difficult to attend and costly to organize. Virtual conferences offer many advantages and a solution to these problems by allowing people to connect and share their ideas without having to be in the same place physically.

The Advantages of Virtual Conferences

  • Cost-Effective: Traditional in-person conferences can be costly due to travel, accommodations, and catering expenses. Because virtual conferences don’t have these costs, they are significantly less expensive to plan and attend, meaning more people can participate, and organizers can use their resources to ensure high-quality, engaging speakers and programming.
  • Inclusive: Virtual conferences allow people worldwide to participate, regardless of where they live. This inclusivity ensures a diverse and rich pool of perspectives, encouraging innovation by exchanging ideas of attendees from different backgrounds.
  • Accessible: Virtual conferences are easy to access with a stable internet connection. Attendees can participate from the comfort of their homes or offices, meaning valuable insights and knowledge can reach a wider audience and empower people who might not be able to attend traditional conferences. Moreover, the recordings of virtual conferences can often be viewed online after the event, allowing those who were unable to attend the opportunity to experience the sessions on their own time.
  • Personalized: Virtual conferences can be customized to suit the needs and interests of each attendee through personalized schedules.

The Elevating Innovation Virtual Conference: Key Elements of Success

The second annual Elevating Innovation Virtual Conference, co-hosted by Digital Promise and Verizon Innovative Learning, took place in November. This event demonstrated the power of virtual conferences, attracting more than 3,000 unique visitors from 66 countries and 49 states.

Recent studies show that many teachers are not prepared to use digital tools effectively in their classrooms. Building the digital competency of educators is a crucial step toward achieving digital equity. Elevating Innovation was free and open to all educators who wanted to explore ways to leverage technology meaningfully to engage students in powerful learning experiences.

When planning Elevating Innovation, we focused on five key elements, which created a well-rounded and impactful experience for presenters and attendees and maximized event engagement, reach, and overall success.

High-Quality, Engaging Speakers with a Social Media Presence

We prioritized engaging featured speakers with a robust social media presence, which greatly enhanced the event’s reach and appeal. Their expertise, combined with an existing audience, bolstered the number of attendees, boosted social media engagement, and increased the event’s credibility.

Actionable Strategies
  • Conduct thorough research to identify speakers who align with the event’s theme and target audience.
  • Prioritize speakers with a proven track record of engaging presentations and a solid social media presence.
  • Collaborate with speakers to create engaging and interactive presentations that cater to the virtual format.

Variety of Session Speakers, Topics, and Formats

Ensuring engagement and catering to diverse learning preferences is pivotal to crafting impactful events. When planning Elevating Innovation, which included 21 sessions over five hours, our commitment to inclusivity drove the careful content curation. The event offered sessions on topics such as artificial intelligence in education, universal design for learning, student-led classrooms, and more in a variety of formats, including interactive sessions, in-depth workshops, and keynote presentations.

Actionable Strategies
  • Engage a diverse range of speakers with unique perspectives and expertise to appeal to a broad audience.
  • Incorporate multiple session formats, such as workshops, interactive sessions, and panel discussions, to accommodate different learning preferences.
  • Explore a variety of topics, ranging from cutting-edge advancements to practical insights, to maintain audience interest and engagement.

Elevating Innovation graphic

Marketing

A multi-faceted marketing strategy with clear and compelling branding is crucial to generate interest and ensure high event attendance. For instance, when we promoted Elevating Innovation, we utilized a unique graphic that was consistent across all platforms and communications. We also employed a dedicated hashtag, social media kits for attendees and presenters, and a uniform message throughout various channels, such as social media, email marketing, and advertising. This helped our target audience understand and recognize the event.

Actionable Strategies
  • Develop a comprehensive marketing plan that outlines strategies for reaching the target audience.
  • Create a unique and consistent brand identity for the event, including a logo, color scheme, and dedicated hashtag and/or tagline.
  • Utilize social media platforms to engage with potential attendees, share event updates, and promote speakers and sessions.
  • Employ email marketing campaigns to reach a wider audience and provide event reminders.
  • Consider using targeted advertising to reach specific demographics and interests.

Clear, Consistent Communication

Effective communication ensures a smooth experience for presenters, participants, and moderators before, during, and after an event. To achieve this for Elevating Innovation, we created and provided guides, tutorials, and FAQs to help presenters, moderators, and attendees navigate virtual platforms, access and share content, and make the most of their event experience. By enhancing clarity, we minimized technical difficulties that could hinder session facilitation and reduce confusion, ultimately leading to higher satisfaction and increased attendee engagement.

Actionable Strategies
  • Develop and distribute clear and concise communication materials for all presenters, moderators, and attendees, including guides, tutorials, webinars, and FAQs.
  • Establish a dedicated communication channel for real-time support and troubleshooting.
  • Provide regular reminders and updates to participants throughout the event.
  • Create an event landing page or information hub where all participants can easily access resources and information needed to engage with the event fully.
  • Ensure a seamless user journey from event registration to session participation, enhancing the overall user experience.

Dedicated Moderation Support

A dedicated moderation team is essential to ensure a seamless virtual conference. For Elevating Innovation, we had multiple moderators in each “room” to monitor the chat, manage participant interactions and share resources during the session, onboard and support session presenters leading up to the event, and promptly address any attendee issues. This support is crucial for handling technical glitches, ensuring presenters’ comfort, facilitating the sharing of resources, and moderating discussions, all while maintaining a positive and respectful environment.

Actionable Strategies
  • Assemble a team of experienced and knowledgeable moderators.
  • Provide moderators with clear guidelines and expectations for their role.
  • Equip moderators with the tools and resources to manage sessions and support presenters and attendees effectively.
  • Establish a communication channel for moderators to collaborate and seek assistance.

Virtual Conferences: A Powerful Platform for Innovation and Knowledge Sharing

Virtual conferences offer a powerful platform for connecting, sharing knowledge, and driving innovation across industries and geographies. Embracing these practical strategies and incorporating these essential elements can significantly enhance their impact and elevate your virtual conferences to new heights of engagement and success.

We encourage you to watch the recordings of Elevating Innovation on Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, sign up for next year’s conference (information coming in 2024!), and explore other virtual learning opportunities at Digital Promise. Embrace the power of virtual conferences to elevate innovation and make knowledge sharing accessible to all!

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