The best way to become a Virtual event expert is to deeply understand the attendee experience. For you to be a great host, you yourself need to know your way around the platform and see things from your visitors’ perspective so that you know how to direct them.
Your virtual event
Every event begins in your Event branded Reception area. This is where you will see your welcome message, the schedule for the event, the speakers, and your sponsors. You can think of the Reception area as a venue’s lobby, it is the information hub. The other rooms in the venue are below on the left-hand side of the menu.
The left-hand menu lists the areas (also called “segments”) of the event that has been set up. These include Stage, Networking, Sessions, and the Expo. A virtual event can have just one segment or all four (in addition to the Reception page).
The five areas explained:
There are five areas in the virtual event. You can have all of them or one of them or two of them in your event — it is completely up to you and the experience you want to create for your attendees. Each area is flexible and provides live interaction for your attendees in different ways.
1. The Reception
The event branded Reception area is the welcome page or “lobby” of your event. Here you can quickly find out what is happening at the event currently, the welcome message, sponsors, the schedule, and speakers. The Reception area is often used for announcements, important links, information, sponsor messages, and event updates.
There is one main stage at the event, and it supports up to 100,000 concurrent viewers. The Stage is great for your keynote speakers, presentations, panels, performances, live music and virtual tours. You can broadcast live or display pre-recorded content from YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia on the Stage. You can also use the Stage with a third-party RTMP live-streaming software such as OBS, WireCast, ManyCam, Ecamm, Switcher Studio, and so on. These programs are used to “hybridize” a physical event — you can pipe in live video from your in-person event onto the Stage for your virtual attendees to view.
For online events, most organisers use the built-in live streaming studio called the backstage to broadcast to the main stage. The backstage is supported and managed by Sbarc Ltd.
Note: Up to five people can share video on stage at the same time.
The Sessions area for breaking into groups and rooms. In Sessions, you can provide virtual roundtables or “mini stages” for speakers and attendees to interact. Ten people can participate in a session on live camera, while 500 people can join the session but just watch off-camera. Everyone in a session can interact in the session chat. This is often where attendees ask questions to the speakers on camera.
Note: There is no limit to the number of concurrent sessions you can have in the Sessions area.
Sessions are great for multi-track conferences, training workshops, demonstrations, virtual tours, competitions, hackathons, breakout rooms, webinars, and teams. Optionally, you can also let your exhibitors create their own sessions during the live event.
The Networking area is the place where people meet one-on-one at your online event. This feature is designed to recreate the “coffee-in-the-lobby” conversations or watercooler chats that are important at an in-person event. The Networking area automates the discovery of new connections. When an attendee participates in the Networking, they are matched with another attendee and meet for a set time pre-set by the organiser.
These one-on-one meetings are like a FaceTime call. Attendees can leave at any time and have the option to click the Connect button during a call to exchange contact information.
Networking is often used for any sort of matchmaking experience, whether it’s everyone meets everyone in a general networking experience, or targeted, such as a buyer meets producer, recruiting and job fairs, interviews, teachers and students, coaching, dating, pitching, and so on. It is up to you!
The Expo area is the virtual exhibitor hall with trader booths in your event. It is great for featuring a wide array of brands, products, or services, just like a food festival, trade fair, job fair, or sponsor showcase. Every booth can have either a pre-recorded video in it such as a YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia clip, or a live video session with a vendor rep “manning” the booth. Every booth also has a customizable CTA button that can be linked to any hyperlink with custom text.
How do people get around the event?
Like a physical event, the event experience is self-directed but with wayfinding tools and signs to help people easily get around. Attendees ultimately choose where they want to go, — as by default all events are “open” — but you do have some signposting options to help direct the flow.
• Add a Schedule to your event. A Schedule shows your attendees what is happening, where they should be, when, and who is speaking. You can add as many segments to your Schedule as needed.
• The Live tag. When an area (e.g., Stage) is “live” according to the Schedule of your event, the red “LIVE” tag shows on it, indicating to attendees where the action is at that time.
• The “What’s happening now” button on the Reception. When attendees first land in the Reception area of your event, there’s a large clickable button that shows up with the words “What’s happening now” for your attendees to one-click navigate to where the action is, according to your schedule.
• Highlighted organizer messages in the chat. As the organiser, your chat messages are always highlighted in colour, so they are easily noticed. Use your messages to remind and direct people where they should go.
• Shortened URLs. If you copy the URL of any area of the event (i.e., a particular session, a trader booth, the Stage, etc.) and paste it in any chat, it automatically abbreviates the URL to a clickable hashtag — this is a powerful tool for giving attendees one-click entrance into any part of your event.
Which browsers are best?
For the best experience, we recommend Chrome or Firefox. Please avoid Brave, Safari, and Microsoft IE or Edge for now.
Chats for everyone
There are multiple chat channels at the event. Each one serves a different purpose.
• Event chat — this tab shows the global event chat where all participants can post messages.
• Session chat — each session in Sessions has its own chat room. Attendees who are off camera can chat in the session chat to interact with people on camera and vice-versa.
• Booth chat — like Sessions, each booth has its own chat for group discussions and interaction.
• Meeting chat — in Networking, a private 1:1 chat channel is available to the participants.
• Backstage chat — the Backstage has its own chat for speakers and staff to communicate privately. It is only accessible through the Backstage link.
• Direct messages — anyone can send messages to an individual at the event via DMs in the People tab. To send a DM, find the person you wish to chat with in the People tab, click their profile photo, and send a direct message to them.
Managing your event
To help orient newcomers at your event, here are five key pointers.
• Prepare your attendees before the event. Send over a personalized demo or use one of ours to acquaint them with the platform before your event. This is especially important for your speakers. It is generally a good idea to do a rehearsal before your event starts.
• Offer verbal instruction on Stage. In your welcome message, offer advice to your attendees on how to use it and get the most out of the event.
• Write an informative Reception page. This can be helpful to folks upon first entering the event.
• Direct the flow of your event in the Event chat. Use your Organizer messages to draw attention to what is happening around the event.
• Work as a team. The more organizers on your team, the more you can moderate and help attendees in different areas of the event.
This lesson is about preparation. The following tips are good steps to ensure everything goes smoothly on the day of your big event.
The maximum number of people who can join a Stage is five.
The maximum number of people who can join a Session is 10.
The maximum number of people who can watch a Session is 500.
The maximum number of people who can watch the Stage is 100,000.
The maximum number of trader booths you can have in the Expo Area is unlimited.
The maximum number of Sessions that can be created is unlimited.
Do a test event.
Sbarc can duplicate your main event by copying it and changing it to “Hidden” or “Private”. Your speakers will have to register separately for this event, but this will allow everyone to practice and become familiar with the venue.
Register yourself for your event.
Make sure you register yourself for your own event otherwise you will not be able to enter it.
Register your speakers.
Have your speakers register themselves? Use the Invite Users tab to send them an invitation by email. Once registered, enter their names and bios in the Speakers tab and add them to their talks on the Schedule.
Do a test run on the Backstage.
Test your speakers’ AV devices (and yours) in the Backstage before the event. You can share the backstage link and test it at any time before your event is live. Remember to turn off the broadcast!
Automated emails and what you can do about them
Automatic emails at key points in the user journey of attending your event are sent.
The emails sends are:
• You are in. Delivered when the user registers.
• One-hour reminder. Delivered one hour before the event starts.
• One day reminder. Delivered one day before the event starts.
• Start time changed. Delivered when the event gets rescheduled.