Are you covering all your virtual event bases?

By redback

As 2020 draws to a close, if your virtual event strategy still consists of a weekly WIP with your team and a monthly webinar to warm up your leads or connect with members, you could be leaving the opportunity to connect with both internal and external stakeholders, and expand your own horizons despite the COVID-19 pandemic, largely untapped.

From corporate and marketing events to industry, education and social occasions, we’ve identified 7 main types of virtual business events that have taken off this year.

As you plan your virtual event strategy for 2021, are you covering all bases?

  • Marketing Events: Marketing events typically serve a marketing purpose, such as promoting your brand to new prospects, educating, nurturing and converting leads, and building an online audience for future outreach. Some of the most popular marketing event types this year have included:
    • Marketing webinars: Everything from keynote addresses to remote panel discussions and much more. Conducted using webinar technology with interactive Q&A and live polling.
    • Virtual product launches: While this concept is completely new to some brands, others, such as Apple, are old hands at the virtual product launch. Food and beverage companies in particular adopted the virtual format, accompanied by virtual tasting packs sent to key industry and media contacts.
    • Online conferences and summits: The year began with a swag of cancelled conferences, and quickly switched to the adoption of online summits and conferences that often attracted more attendees than their face-to-face counterparts.
  • Podcast or vodcast series: Studio event broadcasts and keynote presentations repurposed as podcasts or vodcasts found new audiences in a world in which more of us are exercising outside, and looking for something to listen to while we do it.
  • Corporate Events: Executive teams used to working in the office quickly switched to communication formats more suited to a largely remote-working world, supported by a range of tele, web and video conferencing platforms. Among them were:
    • Virtual AGMs: The writing was on the wall when ASIC and the federal Government opened the way for virtual-only AGMs. Companies from BHP to the ASX itself delivered their AGMs online with online Q&A and voting options.
    • Virtual corporate announcements: Rather than hiring a venue and hosting journalists and shareholders in-person, major corporate announcements moved online this year, supported by tele and video conferencing technology.
    • Investor roadshows: Web conferencing options featuring audio presentations and slides were a hit with investors and institutions that were reluctant to venture out in 2020.
  • Industry Events: While industry events took a bit of a hit in the first quarter of the year, they soon bounced back. Among the more popular online industry outings were:
    • Association conferences: Many enterprising industry peak bodies and associations took their annual conferences online, exploring the benefits of live-streaming and on-demand content.
    • Industry roundtables: Record attendances were achieved for a variety of industry roundtables exploring hot topics, in particular, how to combat the impact of the pandemic-induced recession.
    • Gala Award nights: Even black tie dinners shifted online with professional hosts and TV-style segments, remote interviews, award presentations and accompanying live streams over social.
    • Networking events: People continued to gather — albeit online — for coffee chats and networking occasions, with video conferencing and virtual chat the order of the day.
  • Not-for-profit Events: Consider cause-related events, public announcements and fundraisers covered under this umbrella. Whether brands drove these events, sponsored them, or just viewed them online like everyone else, some of the successful formats we saw included:
    • Virtual fundraisers: Think engaging online presenters, remote speakers and entertainment segments hosted via webinar, and a variety of crowdsourced or other online donation mechanisms incorporated.
    • Community Town Halls: It’s easier to attend the online event and ask your questions via virtual chat from home when the kids are in bed than get out to the actual Town Hall.
    • Online launches: From policy announcements to government initiatives and corporate projects, webinars were the word of the year when it came to launching things online.
  • Education + Training: Professional development was a major reason people attended virtual events in 2020 via webinar, video conference and online learning modules.
    • Online courses: You could learn just about anything remotely this year, whether via a single webinar, a series of online learning modules, and even via live online demonstrations.
    • Online continuing professional development: With industry associations largely working from home, and physical event programs disrupted, online CPD took on a new significance both for employers looking for their next role and for member-based associations.
    • Employee Training Courses: Organisations took their internal training programs online, often via video conference, as they adapted to an out-of-office workforce.
  • Internal Meetings: We’re probably all old hands by now at the remote video team meeting. But companies got way more creative than that as it became apparent that remote work was here to stay.
    • All-Hands meetings: CEOs, executive team members, project team leaders and others reported on progress in all-staff meetings that facilitated live Q&A with remote-working staff.
    • Virtual strategy workshop: Externally facilitated videoconferences using document-sharing, virtual breakout rooms, online chat and digital whiteboards worked wonders for workshopping.
    • Online mentoring sessions: Mentors didn’t abandon mentees to the trials of COVID-19, finding new virtual ways to mentor online, including via video conference and instant messaging platforms.
    • Employee Reviews: Online review platforms supported by video meetings were the order of the day for companies committed to conducting quarterly reviews.
  • Social Occasions: Last but not least, to really connect with remote workforces, emotionally aware managers included a social element to their interactions with team members, including (but not limited to):
    • Friday afternoon Happy Hours: BYO beverages were often the order of the day as staff exchanged banter or conducted online guessing competitions during TGIF meetings.
    • Trivia Nights: For a more structured social event, online trivia nights conducted over video conferencing tools or dedicated trivia platforms helped teams bond.
    • Online Movie Nights: Netflix Party, Kast and other video-sharing options made it easy to watch a movie online in sync with teammates, while chatting online.


This is just a taste of the many different virtual and hybrid events we’ve seen this year. Check out our eBook, 50 Fabulous Virtual Event Ideas for more options and tips for success. Or contact Redback if we can help you host your next virtual event.