Today, we are luckier than ever to have a ton of different ways to connect with others virtually. With people asked to stay at home, organizations, schools, companies, and people all over the world are using online programs daily to connect with one another. To help you host your virtual event, read about some of these popular online chat programs:
For hosting a more intimate virtual event:
- Skype: One of the oldest video call platforms out there, Skype supports big groups with no real-time limit (four hours per call, 100 hours per month), for free. Learn more about how to set up a Skype meeting call here.
- Google Meet: Google meet is great for participants that have Google (Gmail accounts). Conferencing can be set up easily in the calendar, which makes joining calls super easy. Learn here how to set up a Google Meet call.
- Zoom: hands-down the most popular enterprise calling platform out there– Zoom is the best platform to host large scale community chats (so long as you know everyone in the call). The interface easily allows you to present to those calling in and host webinars. It also gives you many useful options and tools as the event host. However, we do not recommend using Zoom for calls in which sensitive information may be discussed as it has poorer security standards. Learn how to use Zoom here.
If you would like to host an event open to the public, we recommend streaming your video rather than inviting anyone to the call (there are plenty of examples as to why you shouldn’t hand out your meeting link to anyone).
To stream your virtual event, check out these great platforms.
- Youtube Live is a great streaming method as it offers a live chat feature where your attendees can ask questions and take part in discussions! This would be the best option for a large audience and for Q&A sessions. (Click here for a tutorial)
- Facebook Live can also be used and is a stream that you could directly implement into your Facebook event page making it great for smaller, invitation-only gatherings! (Click here for a tutorial.)
- Twitch TV is a live streaming platform that is specialised in hosting online streams. It would be most appropriate if you are planning on making your live stream a regular occurrence rather than a one-time event. (Click here for a tutorial)
How to Market Your Virtual Event
Here are some great ways to get the word out there that you’ll be hosting an online event:
- Facebook events – Creating a Facebook Event is an efficient way to make sure that the event is promoted to your community and to see who will attend. Check out how we marketed our Space Connects Us event on Facebook.
- Send a newsletter – a newsletter can be sent directly to guests, attached to your Facebook event page or even published on your website. It is a great way to summarize what your event will be about and can serve as a reference point when your event is split into multiple segments. See how we marketed our Space Connects Us event in our Asteroid Day newsletter.
- Email your friends & family – Consider inviting your friends and family for a more intimate event. Encourage them to invite their friends. You’ll have a group of people who probably don’t know too much about the subject matter, but will want to hear it from you!
- Share it with your local news outlet – working with a local media source ensures that the general public will get to know your event if it is open to the public.
Remember, when hosting a virtual event, it is very important to make sure people will be able to join easily. Be sure to test all the links to ensure everything works properly.
Virtual Event Ideas
You can still host many of your original event ideas online! Here are some suggestions with links to some helpful resources:
- Online short story contest. Host a two part virtual event! Consider the theme of Issac Asimov and encourage your audience to write their own science fiction story about asteroids. Explain the parameters of the stories and have them submit via Google forms (here is a tutorial on how to use Google forms) The contest can be divided into categories according to student levels. The chosen judges will be able to evaluate these tales online. Invite everyone back 2 weeks later to announce the contest winner and have them read their story out loud!
- Host a lecture on asteroids. Here’s some interesting subjects:
- Watch Space Connects Us. Recently, Asteroid Day and the European Space Agency teamed up to bring astronauts into the homes of people everywhere through a virtual conversation about living in isolation. Invite your community to watch one of the five programs in either German, French, Italian, Dutch or English, then host a virtual meeting to discuss some of the most helpful suggestions from the astronauts!