Once a niche aspect of the event industry, virtual events have become an integral part of daily life in the time of COVID-19, and it looks like these events are here to stay! With the right virtual event ideas and a few virtual event best practices, you can tap into new markets and keep events going even as circumstances change.
Virtual events exploded in popularity during the pandemic, and they’re proving to be a high-value opportunity regardless of restrictions on live events. Not only can they be just as engaging and exciting as in-person events, but they can also let creators bring together a wider audience. Travel costs that could have prevented attendees (or talent) from being able to attend a live event are no longer an issue.
Going virtual means you’ll have lower overhead costs because you’re not budgeting for a venue, large event staff, or other in-person line items. You get to drastically reduce your expenses while focusing more on curating the best virtual event possible. Virtual events have the ability to reach a much larger audience, which can turn your local brand or organization into a global one.
And it’s much easier to track who’s watching what when everyone’s tuning in online. All that attendee data is music to sponsors’ ears, which can make securing the best partners for your online event a whole lot easier.
Need help coming up with fun online event ideas? Check out our curated list of engaging virtual events.
17 Unique Virtual Event Ideas
1. Educational workshop
Workshops that teach participants a skill become great interactive virtual events with a clear value proposition. Consider hosting a leadership seminar for a corporate event, or a virtual guided meditation for a wellness event. Workshops are particularly engaging virtual events because the audience is focused on learning something they’re interested in.
2. Q&A with an industry influencer
With so many people working in front of their screens all day, your event needs something that will drive sales and get attendees excited to show up. Consider inviting an expert in a related field, joining up with an influencer your guests would love, or even hosting a celebrity for a performance or Q&A. Booking big-name talent for online events is easier than ever, no matter where you’re located.
3. Virtual bake-along
Host a bake-along virtual cooking workshop, with specialty ingredients or tools included in the ticket price. You can send these items to your guests before the event or provide ticket buyers with a list of the ingredients and tools they need to have on hand. Cooking classes of any kind are fun virtual events for both adults and children.
4. Launch your new product
Even if an in-person event doesn’t work for you right now, you can still successfully launch a new product with an interactive virtual event. Consider offering a discount or special gift with purchase to guests, or set up a giveaway for customers to enter and potentially win the product. You can encourage your participants to post about the event on social media by having them use your event hashtag in order to enter the giveaway
5. Charity awareness webinar
Teach guests about your nonprofit organization and your cause with an informational webinar. You can tailor your content to educate attendees about what your organization does and how they can support you with their time or via donations. Consider including a post-event suggestion to donate to your cause that will help raise funds.
6. Cocktail-making class
A mixology or cocktail-making class is one of the most popular virtual social event ideas that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Send your participants the list of ingredients and equipment they will need prior to the event. Or consider offering a kit as an add-on when they purchase their tickets — it can be sent right to their home. Teach your participants to mix up a refreshing, fragrant, or classic cocktail, and then give them the opportunity to socialize while they sip.
7. Health and well-being classes
Many yoga studios, personal trainers, and other health and wellness professionals have successfully launched virtual classes and offerings. One sports-medicine practice brought all of its wellness classes online. Help participants stay fit or take care of their health in other ways, right in the comfort of their own homes.
8. Virtual conference
If you’re looking for virtual event ideas for companies, consider taking your upcoming conferences online. This will allow speakers, presenters, and guests to participate from all over the world, which will reduce costs for your organization and will expand your reach. Send swag to attendees beforehand, and consider making the recordings of all of your sessions available to participants once the event is over.
9. Virtual comedy night
Host an open-mic night or a curated comedy night online and introduce a roster of comedians to a broad audience. You can sell merch for your event as an add-on during the ticket-buying process, or offer it for purchase during the event itself. Consider utilizing a streaming platform that will allow the audience to show their amusement or appreciation via a chat function.
10. Digital crafts class
Engaging digital-event ideas for children — and adults — include crafting classes. You can provide an opportunity for parents and children to work on something together virtually. The presenter demonstrates how to make the craft and provides tips to the virtual crafters along the way.
11. Virtual gala
Raise funds for your charity or cause with a virtual gala that still allows your attendees to bid on auction items or shop. You may want to adjust your ticket prices to account for the fact that the event is not being held in person, but you can still organize an online auction for your donated products and experiences.
12. Wine-tasting workshop
Food and drink events can work well virtually too. Host a wine-tasting workshop that teaches your attendees about the wines while they sip at home. Attendees will need to purchase the wine for the tasting, so consider communicating a list of wines they can buy on their own or offering packages that are part of the ticket price. Have your tasters follow along and try wines at the same time, even though they’re not physically together.
13. Digital tour
Share historical sites, museums, or other attractions with a virtual audience through an online tour. You can put together a slideshow with high-quality photos of the attraction, stream a live video tour, or pre-record a tour video that you can reuse and repurpose. Give your attendees the option to donate to your organization if that’s applicable or give a tip to their virtual tour guide.
14. Fundraising event
Plan a fun virtual event that will also help you raise funds for your nonprofit organization. You can incorporate many different virtual event ideas into a fundraising event, whether you decide to host an entertainment event, an interactive event, or an informational event. If your organization isn’t a nonprofit, consider donating a portion of your profits to the cause of your choice, or giving your attendees the option to donate.
15. Panel discussion with industry experts
Bring together a group of influencers or experts in a particular field for a panel discussion where they’ll have a conversation about a contemporary topic and then answer questions from the audience. Make sure you come up with a discussion topic that will be engaging for your attendees and have a moderator who can keep the conversation flowing.
16. Virtual concert
Music brings people together, both in person and virtually. Organize a virtual concert that gives attendees the opportunity to be close to their favorite musical artists, no matter how many people are attending. Consider adding on behind the scenes or VIP options to create a truly memorable experience.
17. Virtual challenge or competition
Fun virtual events can occur over the course of several days or months, especially in the case of challenges or competitions! Organize a virtual race or exercise challenge where your participants log their activity for a certain number of days with particular goals in mind. Consider creating challenge merch, like T-shirts or exercise bands, that your guests can use during the challenge.
Virtual event best practices
No matter what kind of event you’re organizing, there are some virtual event best practices that are helpful to refer to during your planning process. These will help you whether you’re working on virtual event ideas for clients or companies or planning something more social.
Create a meaningful virtual event
To grab people’s attention, make sure the content you’re delivering is useful for your customers. What do participants want from a virtual event? What will they spend money on? And what will make them want to turn on their video app after a long day of remote work? When you start planning your online event, make sure it’ll be worthwhile for your audience.
Need to learn exactly what your audience wants out of your webinar or online workshop? We asked them for you. Our survey data provides you with valuable insights on what attendees are looking for in virtual events, so conducting your own research is optional.
Pick the perfect platform
The platform you use to stream your event will rely entirely on what you’re providing. If you’re hosting a webinar and want to moderate attendee participation, Zoom might be a good option. Looking to livestream a film? Vimeo offers password-protected streams, so you can ensure only ticket holders can attend.
Price it right
Online events often have fewer overhead costs than traditional events, but that doesn’t mean you should undervalue the experience you’re providing. Ticket prices for online events vary widely between categories, from $17 average for music events to $91 average for professional-development events. You can even offer donation-based or sliding scale pricing so more people can attend. Picking the right price is the first step to throwing an event that attendees are excited about. To help you decide, we spoke with some Eventbrite creators about how they priced their events.
Promote your virtual event
Marketing is different for an online event compared to an in-person event. Eventbrite data shows that stepping up your marketing efforts one week before an event sells 47% more paid tickets than starting marketing a month early.
From social media to our simplified marketing tools, it’s easier than ever to promote virtual happenings. Make sure you’re marketing the right way for your customer with our guide to marketing online events.
Making your event diverse and inclusive doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re hiring speakers, find experts of different genders, races, and backgrounds. Add subtitles to your film, or consider an ASL translator for a livestreamed concert. Consider offering scholarship tickets for professional-development classes or networking events.
No matter what you do to increase the inclusivity of your event, add all of this information to your event listing so your guests feel welcome from the start.
Keep your attendees safe
During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual events have tended to be a safer option than in-person events. But virtual safety is important, too. Using your platform’s highest security options will ensure your guests’ personal information isn’t at risk.
Guests expect their financial information to be safe when they purchase a ticket, and they expect to be safe socially as well. Make your event password protected, set participation guidelines for your attendees and personnel, and be sure to have staff on hand to moderate chats and attendee interaction during the event.
Ask for feedback
Getting feedback from attendees is like getting free business advice from the people who matter most: your customers. Take advantage of your guests’ fresh points of view and send out a survey shortly after your event ends. To make that easier, we’ve compiled 21 survey questions you should ask after an event. Your attendees’ genuine feedback will help you make your next event even better.
Make your events lively, varied, fun, and unexpected. Your participants will get more out of the experience and be more likely to come back for another.
Online events FAQs
How do you host a virtual event?
When you’re hosting a virtual event, engaging your audience and having the right technology are key factors. Think about your audience and what kind of event will appeal to them. Choose the right platform for hosting or streaming the event, and take technological limitations into account. Most importantly, make sure you are providing value to your attendees.
How do you make a virtual event interesting?
Don’t overcomplicate your virtual event for your attendees or yourself. If you try to cram too many topics or activities into one event, it can be difficult for you logistically, and it may be overwhelming for your participants. Be sure to offer an event that’s interactive for all guests. Rehearse for your presentations if possible, and test your technology so you can avoid glitches on the day of the event.
What is the best day to host a virtual event?
There’s no perfect date or time that will work for every virtual event. Consider your audience and demographics when planning, taking any major holidays or religious celebrations into account. Track your engagement and attendance across all of your events to get a sense of what days work best for your audience, or consider asking potential attendees what their preference is in a survey.
Ready to get started? Post your event on Eventbrite.