How Arranging Online Events Differs from Arranging In-Person Events


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Online Events Differs from Arranging In-Person Events

If you’ve spent any amount of time arranging events over the last five years or so, the chances are you’ve worked on a combination of online and in-person events.

If that’s the case, you’ll also be familiar with how they differ. Sure, they have things in common too, but it’s their differences that interest us the most for the purposes of today’s article.

Let’s go ahead and take a closer look.

1.  You pick software instead of venues

When you’re arranging an in-person event, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is which venue to use. If you’re running an online event, the equivalent decision is which software to use. You’ll need to make that decision based on the costs and limitations of the software in question. For example, a Zoom webinar can work great, but the number of attendees will be limited based on the license you have.

2.  You can reach a global audience

When you host an in-person event, you’re limited to the number of people in the immediate area. There’s no such issue when you’re hosting an online event, which means that you can host an event that touches people from all over the world. This comes with its challenges, too. You may need to pay attention to your cultural references and provide live subtitles for those who don’t speak English as a first language.

3. Your approach to accessibility will be different

Speaking of providing subtitles, you’ll need a different approach to accessibility. For example, your slides should be easy to read when they’re viewed on smartphones and tablet computers. If you’re hosting Q&As as part of your event, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to run those in a virtual environment.

4. You don’t have to worry as much about travel and accommodation

This is one of my favorite things about online events, because arranging travel and accommodation for VIP guests and speakers is one of my least favorite things about hosting events. True, there are plenty of other things for you to worry about and so it’s not as though you’re getting a free pass, but at least you won’t have to deal with the logistical nightmare of booking taxis and hotel rooms for dozens of people.

5. It’s harder to find networking opportunities

Networking tends to happen naturally at in-person events. When there are a bunch of people in a physical place, there are serendipitous moments where they get chatting. For online events, it’s a little different. Even if you have online breakout rooms or allow participants to message one another, it can feel artificial and doesn’t always come naturally.

6. You need to figure out your onboarding process

For in-person events, the main challenge is getting people to buy their tickets. Once they’ve done that, they will attend because otherwise, they’ll have wasted their money. With online events, you need to have an entire onboarding process in place so people sign up to attend and dial into your event or access the recording. There are specialized tools out there that are designed for that and nothing else.

7. You may need to have more breaks

If you’re used to hosting in-person events, spend some time rethinking your approach to providing breaks to ensure that it’s in line with online best practices. As a general rule, people need more breaks for online events because it’s just them sitting at their desks. If they spend too long in front of the computer, their attention will start to wander. I like to have a 15-minute break every hour or so.

8. Your participants will need to test the technology

The last thing you want to happen is for you to plan out the perfect event and then for technical glitches to derail it before it can get started. This is bad enough for in-person events, but at least you can then take a hands-on approach to fixing it. When it’s an online event, the best you can do is try to talk someone through troubleshooting. That’s why it’s important to try things in advance and fix any bugs that crop up before it’s too late.

9. You can tap into a different range of speakers

For me, this is one of the biggest advantages of hosting an online event versus one that takes place in a physical location. Instead of being limited to only the people who can make it to your venue, you can take your pick out of any speakers with an internet connection. You’ll be able to bring people in that you might never have otherwise dreamed of.

10.  You can repurpose the content in different ways

Most online events are recorded by default, and that leaves you with heaps of video footage to work with. You can repurpose that into TikToks, Instagram reels, and YouTube videos, and you can also take transcriptions and use them to create blog posts. You can often do something similar with in-person events, but the assets you can expect and the ways you’ll reuse them will differ.


Now that we’ve talked a little more about how arranging online events differs from arranging in-person events, it’s time for you to take your turn.

We’d love to keep the discussion going, so be sure to let us know in the comments whether we’ve missed anything. You can also follow us on your favorite social networking sites for more. We’ll see you soon for another article!


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