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15 Creative Virtual Event Ideas You Can Use for Inspiration

Last updated July 28th, 2021

It is the most exciting and rewarding job on the planet. There is nothing quite like the buzz of delivering a live ‘show’ - often with no rehearsal - it's creative, energetic, intense & totally varied . No day is the same

Lorne Armstrong, Director, The Event Academy

There are two competing aspects you need to consider when devising your next virtual event. Coming up with innovative ideas that would work visually and making sure they overcome virtual exhaustion brought on by the pandemic.

That’s what this post is about. We asked the Event Academy team for some creative ideas that deliver an engaging virtual event. The challenge was to also make them interesting enough to entice attendees to participate at a time when we are increasingly screen-weary.

This is what they came up with.

Virtual concerts

While not exactly original, there are hundreds of ways to make a virtual concert unique. As one of the most successful virtual event types of the past couple of years, concerts are fertile ground for your imagination.

Concerts work well virtually as long as you have sound, the majority of the work is done by the event organization and there is very little requirement from the attendee.

All while delivering an interesting event.

Virtual means you can have multiple stages or sets and flip between them while acts are preparing. You can have comperes or warmups between sets virtually and offer other entertainments too.

It really is all down to your creativity!

 

Virtual health or wellbeing events

Virtual wellbeing is another big area of exploration for events. Whether it’s virtual classes, demonstrations, vegetarian cooking showcases or something else, there is huge scope for providing an engaging event that promotes wellness.

The pandemic has brought mental and physical wellbeing to the fore so people are much more receptive to this message than any time previous. That makes it fertile ground to use in an event.

Whether it’s a virtual workout, Yoga class, karate demonstration or something else, as long as it’s formatted correctly for virtual and takes into account the limitations of the screen, it could be an amazing event to organise!

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Q&A sessions

Virtual Q&A sessions are very straightforward events to organise. The main challenge is keeping it engaging enough for attendees and breaking up what could be intense sessions with more light hearted segments.

You could opt for short, 1 hour Q&As with business or thought-leaders, longer sessions with multiple speakers broken up with light entertainment, including round tables, campfires and informal chats between sessions or something else depending on the audience.

 

Virtual comedy

Virtual comedy is another online event idea that keeps on giving. It works on stage, it works on TV and it can work virtually too. The trick here is to pick talent that can work well without audience feedback.

We have attended a couple of less successful events featuring big name comedians that just didn’t work because they couldn’t play to an empty room.

We have also attended some with unknown comedians that worked exceptionally well as those comedians could work with an empty room.

A couple of those had a WhatsApp group where you could chat, feedback and virtually heckle too, which worked well.

Trivia games

We have to be careful with games as some people are all Zoom-gamed out, but do it right and it’s a relatively cheap and straightforward type of virtual social event to host.

The trick is to keep it engaging, utilise gamification and competitiveness wherever possible and offer prizes or rewards for winners.

Games can work with individual participants but also groups. It’s much easier to stoke competitiveness with a group dynamic than with individuals so that may work better depending on the audience.

 

Virtual movie night

Virtual movie night can be another simple but effective type of virtual event as long as you make it different enough from Netflix or Amazon Prime.

You could allow the audience to vote on what movie to watch, provide coupons for meal delivery, send popcorn and drink packages to attendees, send ‘tickets’ to them, have warm up shows and all kinds of fun stuff.

Done well, the technical requirement for the event is minimal, as is the cost.

 

Selectable events

Another effective online event idea is to have a choice of events with various tracks. For example, a dozen Q&As with people covering different topics. The attendee can select the track they want and watch and participate as normal.

If you record all tracks, attendees can then watch any they wanted to see without missing out on anything.

Scheduling is key here the same as with a series of live talks. Schedule the big hitters throughout the time with other speakers or events to complement them. Then ensure breaks in between and enough interaction to keep people occupied throughout the event.

Despite the complexity in juggling multiple channels at once, the technical overhead is modest. As long as you take the usual precautions, record every track and make them available to attendees, it’s all good!

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Virtual exhibitions

There has been huge growth in virtual exhibitions with technology leading the way in helping host them. From a full exhibition with multiple vendors to single-vendor exhibitions on a smaller scale, with the right design and technology to back it up, this is another powerful online event idea.

A web portal could showcase the exhibitors, attendees could click one to be taken to their exhibition page where they could watch videos, read content, chat with the exhibitor and make contacts.

Provide as many exhibitors and as many channels as possible, provide the means for exhibitors to design their own virtual booth and add their own content and you could have a successful virtual exhibition on your hands!

 

360 degree tours

360 degree tours are often used by estate agents and property developers but we attended a successful event run by a university. The event was small scale and designed for potential students to attend an online event to see the university and chat to students.

The event began with a virtual 360 tour of the campus with a narrator explaining everything as they would in real life. Attendees then had time to explore their faculty of choice and wander freely around the university before returning back to a presentation.

Attendees could ask questions during the session and students or staff would answer which kept everyone engaged.

While not an event, you can easily see how you could use this for an event!

Online showcase

Trying to come up with virtual social event ideas for a product release or showcase? You can use a similar 360 degree as above to show off a product, new building, new service or whatever you’re promoting.

Offer a web-based virtual model with all the product details, provide a video tour or demonstration, feature pre-recorded demo videos, have a Q&A session with the product designer or architect and have someone around constantly to answer questions via a web portal or app.

Even the most mundane product or everyday service could be made interesting with the right approach!

If things didn’t quite go to plan, what can you learn for future events? What needs to happen to prevent it happening again? Are there steps you can take for mitigation?

 

Murder mystery

While murder mystery weekends may be a thing of the past, we all like puzzles and the opportunity to show off in front of work colleagues or friends. That makes a virtual murder mystery an excellent virtual social event idea.

You will need to set up the scene and characters but attendees can dress up and get fully engaged. Use an Agatha Christie classic or design something around the employer or location to make it even more relevant.

Offer a prize or reward for the winner, use teams or individuals and watch the competition ramp up!

 

eSports events

eSports are huge and computer games are more popular now than at any time before. That makes this fertile ground for coming up with virtual social event ideas.

Hold team competitions, work as individuals, use well-known games, include charitable giving, tie it to a new game release or go another way, it’s up to you.

eSports are designed to be online so setting one up shouldn’t be too challenging.

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Virtual dating

The majority of people are familiar with dating apps and online dating, so why not turn it into an event?

You could use a version of speed dating, create a virtual bar with avatars, use a 3D nightclub or go a different way. As long as everyone has a profile and an accurate image and there is an opportunity to engage in public and chat in private, it could be amazingly successful!

Certainly a lot more entertaining than the current crop of dating apps that’s for sure!

 

Virtual event ideas

As you can see, there is huge scope for exploration in terms of virtual events. Ideas don’t just revolve around the event itself, you also have scope to involve sponsors and stakeholders, provide advertising, allow sponsored swag and still not overwhelm attendees.

As long as you have the technology to back up your event, the world really is your oyster.

While nothing will replace ‘real’ events, we think virtual events definitely have a place in our industry and even though we’re opening up again, we think they will remain part of our industry for a long time to come!

We run the only Event Management courses endorsed by The Chartered Institute of Marketing - an organisation recognised with a Royal Charter for excellence. Our range of event management courses provide you with the essential combination of knowledge, experience and industry-respected endorsement for every level.

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