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Coaching Corner - Virtual Events 101


By: Disa-marie Cameron (She/Her) | Apr 30, 2020

Virtual Events (VE) are not necessarily a new technology as we have been using the technology, in some capacity, for decades (since 1993). At a high level, VE can be defined as “an online event that involves people interacting in a virtual environment on the web, rather than meeting in a physical location.”


That said, concerns are rising fast and furious in our current landscape as the meetings & events industry has been thrust into a global pandemic. Meeting professionals everywhere are in an unforeseeable situation of either needing to integrate a hybrid virtual element into their upcoming live events, or needing to completely navigate over and recreate their event in the virtual realm. 

This can be both overwhelming and nerve-racking under normal circumstances… never mind a stressful situation with short, rushed timelines … and maybe some homeschooling for the kids thrown into the mix.


At its core, a virtual event can be broken down into 4 main categories.

  1. Webcasting – A secure video feed of pre-selected content or a live event broadcasted over the internet. Webcasting allows for multiple content windows that may include a layout such as a presentation slide window (PowerPoint) and camera or live event feed streaming the presenter.
  2. Webinars – Typically used for educational content and knowledge sharing that can include polling with digital question and answer. A webinar platform provides the ability to host and distribute live content internally or externally.
  3. Video Conferencing – Similar to a teleconference with video and webcam integration. Allowing for collaboration in meetings and group discussions, video conferencing allows you to host multiple remote participants coming together in a virtual environment.
  4. Custom or Social Streaming – Can include integration to a pre-existing platform such as Facebook Live, YouTube, or Instagram Live with social streaming, or custom streaming as an embedded video directly on a company’s website.

Regardless of which platform you chose, there are security concerns, content concerns, and many more parameters to account for when you wish to host a VE in a public forum.

Still with me? Great.  Let’s move on.


There are many items to address when deciding to move your live event to a virtual event. Here are some of the biggest concerns buzzing around right now (which could easily be its own separate article):

  • Arrival/Registration Experience
  • Swag Bags
  • Attendee Networking
  • Audience Engagement
  • Sponsorship Activation
  • Gamification
  • Surprise and Delight Moments
  • Tradeshow Components.

Annual General Meetings and Townhall style events with specifics such as enhanced security, polling requirements with real time results, or special accommodations like Simultaneous Interpretation raise even more complex concerns.

Unlike when you design your live event where attendee experience (location, decor, meals, and the like) is one of many equally important components, you will want to design your virtual event to address the attendee experience first and foremost. While at the same time, addressing the need to measure return on investment and show your events’ investors that this is still a worthwhile event.

Colour Psychology

Some simple tips to keep in mind:

  • Let go of what you’ve always done. "Same as last year” does not apply any longer. It is simply not relevant or possible in the virtual world. You need to be ready, and prepare your team to be ready, for this fact.
  • Make a list of what you want for your virtual or hybrid event. There is no point creating extra work for the team members involved in your project (and yourself) by searching for the answers and testing a ton of platforms or virtual product solutions. Look at your current landscape, are there products already available and familiar to your organization that will be easily adopted to?
  • Attend a webinar on a topic that is an area of concern for you. There is a global audio visual provider that is currently running a complimentary Professional Edge series that takes place over a quick lunch hour (Eastern Timezone) targeted for the meetings and events industry audience. Each weekly topic is specific and presented by a reputable industry professional, giving you some great advice.
  • Start making plans now for the future. Don’t wait for the government to announce that there are still going to be restrictions on travel and mass gatherings. Embrace the fact that virtual events are here to stay. It’s best to welcome the change and start to adapt now, then have our hands forced with the added pressure of tighter timelines.
  • Engage with a trusted advisor that has a good reputation and is experienced with virtual events. MPI Ottawa can help recommend contacts and industry connections. As I like to say, “Everyone needs a techie friend.”
  • Time is less important. When it comes to virtual events or integrating into a hybrid event you are not creating a multi-hour or multi-day in person conference anymore. You are creating an online attendee experience and controlling an environment that can only be limited by your imagination. Think more along the lines of pre-recorded and professional content, shorter chunks of time spread over multiple weeks, with lots of online resources and follow up available post-broadcast.


User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI) is the current industry terminology being used to create comparables. There are countless design tools available to assist meeting professionals with planning, from comparing the importance of what elements to keep to determining what elements are less important when making decisions or moving over to virtual. As noted above — it’s best to engage with a trusted advisor that has the industry experience already.

There is no denying it. Navigating through these unprecedented times is going to be tricky. It’s not going to be easy from many points of view, but it doesn’t have to be any harder than it needs to be. A positive mindset, strong sense of community, and a bit of help from a trusted technology guru can go a long way as we move towards industry recovery — something that cannot come soon enough.

If you have any questions about this article, student membership or have topics you would like to see in future “Coaching Corner” articles, please don’t hesitate to send a message to

disa marie cameron headshot cropped Article written by: Disa-marie Cameron, Account Manager at FMAV and Director of Marketing for MPI Ottawa Chapter

Article edited by Cynthia Beaudin, Canada Foundation for Innovation



Disa Headshot 2023 - WEC23
Disa-marie Cameron (She/Her)
Account Manager at Encore Canada

Hybrid Events Professional, Account Manager, & Tech Goddess!


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