Hosting a virtual event

Using online tools to allow you to continue to host events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With many of us stuck at home with (perhaps) more free time than usual, it’s important to consider if you could move a previously live event online, or if you could provide a different event experience using video conferencing. For some types of events, being there in person may not be necessary if you have a camera and microphone on your computer.

Deciding if you can host a virtual event

What kind of events could you carry out online?

  • Live music
  • Arts and crafts
  • Educational (lectures, workshops, seminars)
  • Meditation, healing events, cookery classes
  • Business networking
  • One-on-one events/tuition/classes

Choosing a conferencing platform

There are loads of options out there for VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and video streaming websites and apps. Where to start?
Zoom gives you a URL your guests can join a virtual meeting room with (perfect to restrict access for paid, ticketed events). The free version allows a 40 minute session for up to 100 guests, but you can pick a paid plan for more time/people if required. It does require you to download an app on your computer/mobile/tablet.

Owned by Microsoft, Skype has been around for a long time now in Internet terms. Free to use for the most popular features, but you can add credit to your account and even use it to make calls to regular telephone numbers. Up to 50 people on one call, no time limit. Download required.

Hangouts Meet
You’ll need to be signed in with a Google account to use Hangouts, but the premium version is free during the COVID-19 pandemic until 1st July. That allows you up to 100,000 viewers on a live stream or 250 people on a call (although you may wish to ask some of them to mute their microphones!). You can also call into a meeting for audio from a regular phone, which may make it more inclusive. We’ll keep an eye on if this is still as useful a service after 1st July.

Facebook Live
This is more of a social broadcasting tool, but it could allow you to reach a bigger audience or drive more traffic to your Facebook Page if that’s of interest to you.

YouTube Live Stream
Useful if you plan on offering more video content, live streaming on YouTube will help build your audience. The docs here looks a little technical, but there’s probably a big red button somewhere to turn on live streaming from your YouTube channel.

Whatever you decide to use, have a practice first and start with a small audience to see how everything works! 

Let us know if you have a preferred site or app not mentioned and we’ll add it here.

Ticketlab has no affiliation with any of these services, and can’t vouch for their effectiveness or appropriateness for your events.

Tweaking the format

With a webinar or livestream event, you may need to change how you’d do things normally. 

  • Rather than a projector, a lot of the above services allow you to share your screen where you could show a Powerpoint/slide presentation, or you could do a live demo of using some software, or just doodling in Paint to illustrate your point. 
  • If you have a camera built into your machine, that is perfect. If not, they’re very inexpensive these days to buy and will mostly likely have a built-in mic (get home delivery so you don’t need to venture out!) – you don’t need a posh, specialist camera or microphone to get started.
  • Try and face the window if it’s day time to make sure your guests can see your face, or turn on a light!
  • Ensure you have a good internet connection before you start – mobile reception may not be enough for a good quality video stream.

Selling tickets to your livestream through Ticketlab

Ticketlab allows you to set up your event even if it doesn’t have a physical location, just make sure you let your guests know what to expect!

  1. Set up your venue as an “online event”

    Create an Online event venueN.B. The Post code field has a minimum of 6 characters, for which you can enter anything (we went with ‘——‘). The Private venue checkbox stops this event page from showing a map, which should prevent some confusion .

  2. Being sure to select your new Online event venue from the list, complete the rest of the details (event name, date/time, price and ticket quantity are the only required fields) and save your event.
  3. In the description, let your guests know that you’ll contact them prior to the event with details on how to participate.
  4. Before the event, contact your guests and give them the URL to the event if you have it, or ensure you have their details (by adding a custom field, or downloading their data) to invite them via whichever app you’re using.
  5. Log into your webinar app at the right time and date (maybe a few minutes early to be sure!) and enjoy presenting your event.

Despite a tough situation for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s still possible to let your regular customers know you care by engaging with them via online events. Let us know if you’re hosting any great livestream events by tagging us on social (@TicketlabUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).

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