Three Secrets to Successful Virtual Events

catherine uptonCatherine Upton is Group Publisher of eLearning Magazine, B2B Media Company. On Thursday, January 13, 2011, 3:15-4:00 pm, she will be presenting on “Successful Publishers Share What Works with Their Virtual Events and Why” at the Virtual Edge Summit 2011. As a sneak peek into her panel, Catherine shares her three tips for a successful virtual event in this guest blog post:

Elearning! Media Group is hosting our 7th and 8th virtual event in 2011. The virtual events learning curve is short, but has many twists and turns. As platforms evolve, attendees grow more sophisticated, event hosts need to create better, faster virtual experiences. Here are three secrets to successful virtual events:

1)      Know Your Audience

This sounds pretty standard for a publisher. But, your virtual audience may be a whole new animal. For example, we launched a government brand and learned the lesson of federal firewalls, plug in issues, and sound buffering at the government desktop. To learn these secrets before your big event, start with a small trial. Maybe a web seminar series using the webcast engine.

2)      Resource Your Virtual Event Like Traditional Events

Our first three events were jobs added to our existing staff- me included. We learned quickly, the event needed a project champion, a contact for sponsors as well as attendees. Expect this job to be 25% time up to 3 months before the event, and full time the month of the live event. (On a small scale one day event.)  You also need to think about conference content and marketing plans, just like you would a traditional event.

3)      Prepare for Slow Sponsorship Sales

Our attendees couldn’t get enough of the virtual event. They wanted more content, more booths and demos. But, sponsors drive revenue.  Given our e-learning market,  we thought “No worries, everyone will jump in. They sell this stuff.” Wrong. A new platform means a new business process and education of all stakeholders. Granted, we were helped by the “virtual” nature of our sponsors. We suggest starting with 2-3 vendors in the most related space, give them exclusive access to your attendees (i.e. by category) and get them signed up. The rest will follow (maybe slowly) but the support will build.


We just completed our 6th virtual event which is now available on-demand. Stop in and see what e-learning vendors are doing in the virtual event space. I look forward to sharing more secrets to successful virtual events at the Virtual Edge Summit on Jan 13th at 3:15 PM session. Visit our site for more e-learning news and research at:  I can be contacted at:

About Donna Sanford

Donna Sanford | Founder and former Publisher of EXPO Magazine and Program Consultant for the Virtual Edge Summit