Virtual Event Ideas: Ranking Our Top Favorites for 2022

There’s a good chance you haven’t attended many face-to-face meetings or in-person events in the past couple of years. We all know the reasons for that, and as we and our regular routines adjust to the way things are now, we’re more likely to attend a virtual meeting or distanced event than ever before. 

Online events are replacing in-person conferences and increasing accessibility worldwide. Here’s what you need to get the most out of your virtual gatherings. 

Webinars vs. Virtual Events

In the past, we may have only attended a virtual conference once or twice a year, but they’ve become much more familiar in the last few years. With many employees now working entirely remotely, the way we communicate has changed. But that doesn’t mean we can’t leverage these changes to our advantage.

Most of us are probably more familiar with webinars, but online events can still feel a little unfamiliar. They’re pretty different — webinars are, for the most part, passive affairs with a single speaker addressing attendees using heavily scripted presentations. In many cases, real-time attendance at webinars may be optional, as recordings are typically shared online after the event.

Virtual corporate events are typically more dynamic. Elements like online A/V presentations, conversations via text chat or video conferencing, and other real-time means of communication allow for much more engagement and effective communication.

Virtual Event Ideas for Corporate Settings

Businessman running virtual meeting from his home office

Taking advantage of these new capabilities involves solving some of the unique challenges the virtual space brings. Whether you’re meeting with your remote team to discuss current projects or are talking with new clients, you’ll want to put a lot of thought into your virtual engagement strategies.

These strategies involve more than ensuring you’re using the right virtual event platform and creating the right kind of content for your needs. When envisioning your event idea, consider ways you can structure your event in terms of schedule and pacing, methods to ensure the involvement of everyone on your team, and other ways you can make your event as entertaining and engaging as possible. 

Spending time developing virtual event ideas that take these things into account can significantly affect the end result.

Virtual Engagement Ideas 

Think about incorporating the following ideas into your online event planning. Not all of the ideas might apply to your specific needs, but you can likely integrate something here to keep your event participants involved and entertained. First on our list: the power of the Q&A.

1. Lively Q&A

Even if attendees understand your presentation perfectly, they’ll have questions or points of their own they’ll want to make. Ensuring they have many opportunities to be heard and understood will draw them in and keep them listening.  Audiences — even members who don’t speak up — respond well if they feel included in a process that gives them a real opportunity to participate.

2. Breakout Benefits

Depending on your virtual event platform solution, you may be able to group attendees into smaller discussion groups for breakout sessions at different points in your event. Breakout sessions allow individuals to discuss the information you’ve provided them, and the exchange of differing views leads to greater understanding. Make sure your event leaves some time for Q&A when the breakout session time expires.

3. Short Sessions, Varied Structure

Keep your audience sharp by limiting the amount or type of information they need to absorb in one sitting. Even breaking up segments with a brief (but relaxed) review of the material presented will help. If audience members are given time to sort through their experiences, they’ll be more receptive to the message you may have for them.

4. Publish Material — Especially Video — Online After the Event

Your guests will appreciate a link to a recorded video of the event, especially if it took place over multiple sessions. An online video is also a great option if you hire a graphic recorder and present real-time graphic notes during presentations, and many virtual event ideas include this sort of content. Making the video available to them after the event allows them to review the information more meaningfully.

Virtual Event Ideas for Personal Gatherings

Virtual Event happy hour and wine tasting

Virtual social events are an excellent way to celebrate milestones and special occasions, or just enjoy the company of friends and family from afar.

A virtual party is the strictly social variation of the virtual events discussed above, and there are plenty of virtual event ideas that aren’t work-related. It’s surprisingly simple to host a virtual event and can be quite cheap (or even free), depending on your chosen options.

Here are several online event ideas to make your virtual party an enjoyable and relaxing way to socialize — without breaking social distance.

1. Theme It Up

You don’t strictly need a theme to host a virtual event, but it can be a fun way to give a virtual party some structure that attendees will enjoy no matter where they are. You can choose virtual event themes based on a popular fantasy book or movie series, or a ’50s cocktail party. Check out this list of virtual event themes for more innovative ideas. If you opt for a virtual movie night, several streaming video platforms offer ways for people in different places to watch the same movie together

If you don’t want to go all-in on a heavily themed party, you could always host a virtual game night or dinner party. You could host a virtual concert. Several streaming music platforms have features that allow a group of people to listen to the same music simultaneously, no matter where they are. There’s really no end to themed online event ideas.

2. Time, Place, People

Determine the ideal day and time for your virtual get-together, bearing in mind any guests you might be inviting who are in different time zones. Some virtual event ideas lend themselves to unique opportunities to set the tone even before the event. You can forgo a formal email meeting request and instead find a fun and creative way to get the word out to your guest list. You could post clues on social media to a virtual scavenger hunt or a series of image posts that have to be combined in a specific way to decode the date and time.

3. Pick Your Platform

While you don’t need to decorate your home or rent a venue to host an online event, you will need to decide what meeting platform you choose for your virtual get-together. There are many great options, including Zoom, Facetime, Skype, and Google Meet. You’ll want to choose one that’s convenient for everyone and has all the features you might need.

The video chat and event platforms operate similarly, and most are pretty self-explanatory. If you have any guests who aren’t familiar with the software, you might want to give them a call ahead of time to work out any details with them.

4. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Just because you’re hosting a virtual party doesn’t mean you have to skip the food and drink, and you can easily come up with virtual event ideas that incorporate refreshments. If you want to spoil your guests, surprise them by ordering food to arrive at their locations when the party starts. DoorDash or Postmates will be able to help you bring the party to your guests, even if they’re halfway across the country. 

If you’d rather let your guests pick what they’d like to eat, you could provide them with a virtual credit card through a service like Hoppier. You fund the cards for each guest, and they’ll receive the information they’ll need to purchase the food and drinks they prefer. Hoppier works in over 60 countries and will allow your virtual guests to buy from millions of vendors at regular prices.

Add Graphic Recording Services for Your Best Virtual Events Yet

Digital graphic recorder sketching on a tablet during a virtual meeting

The virtual medium is not without its challenges. Keeping a remote audience tuned in and engaged with any virtual event can be difficult if for no reason other than they are viewing it remotely. The inherent — and unknown — distractions of each individual’s viewing environment can offer stiff competition to any virtual event, and a loss of focus is just a text message, phone call, or spilled drink away. 

Capturing their attention with live, evolving graphical content is a commanding way to keep them watching and involved. As the graphic recording changes and grows with the development of essential ideas and key concepts, your remote audience will stay with you and your presentation — and open to your message.

Graphic recording by The Sketch Effect titled "Virtual Event Trends: Increasing Audience Engagement"

What Is Virtual Graphic Recording, and How Does It Work?

Graphic recording is a process that involves a highly trained and experienced sketch artist capturing verbal communication and emphasizing critical concepts in real-time through the use of text and imagery. 

Graphic recorders from The Sketch Effect will familiarize themselves with your material before your event and may even be able to contribute some details to your online event ideas. They’ll work with you during your presentation to match your pace and energy with illustrations that perfectly complement your message.

Infographic about the science of visual communication

The Benefits of Adding Graphic Recording Services to Live and Virtual Events

A graphic recording artist is trained to translate and express your thoughts and messages as you communicate them during your event or presentation. The graphic recorder converts the ongoing verbal content of your event into tableaux of hand-drawn images and text. This highlights the central points of your message in a way that resonates with your audience. 

Working together, you and your graphic facilitator create a digital graphic recording that provides your event participants with a visual document that grants remarkable insight and clarity into your message.

Why Virtual Graphic Recording Is the Perfect Antidote to Zoom Fatigue

Virtual events present specific challenges in keeping your remote employees or participants dialed in and actively participating with your message, and it’s good to consider this in your online event ideas. The medium of long-distance communication over the internet has inherent obstacles to immersion and involvement. 

A graphic recorder can work with your specific needs to capture your message and present it to participants near or far in real-time. A developing visual component is a fun, dynamic way to ensure consistent engagement. You can show the graphics live at your event and make them available as a recording that everyone can review at their leisure.

CTA Graphic with images of virtual graphic recordings

Work With the Sketch Effect for Your Next Online Event

We would love to help you reach your communication goals at your next event. One of our sketch artists will illuminate and emphasize your best efforts, enabling you to keep your audience captivated — and keyed into your message. Make your presentation more compelling and convincing with a real-time video depicting a living illustration drawn by one of our graphic recorders.

Let us help you capture your communication — and your audience’s imagination — in vibrant, moving color. Schedule a consultation to discuss online event ideas and your specific event needs — and learn how we can help!