Trying to figure out how to host a virtual event on WordPress?
Physical events have benefits, but a virtual event offers the opportunity to bring together people from all over the world for a fraction of the cost.
If you’ve been pushed into an online event situation as a fallback, or you love the idea of hosting an event online in general, keep reading to learn how to set everything up using Zoom and WordPress.
- Benefits of learning how to host a virtual event
- Challenges of hosting a virtual event
- How to host a virtual event on WordPress
- Any questions on how to host a virtual event on WordPress?
Benefits of learning how to host a virtual event
It’s common to complain about the downsides of virtual events compared to physical, in-person events, but sometimes a virtual event is required. Other times you’re simply better off handling a conference or training online.
Therefore, keep your mind on the many benefits of virtual events to get yourself, and attendees, excited about the experience:
- Minimal stress – From not having to worry as much about the right clothing to cutting back on travel expenses, people embrace online events because they don’t feel as intense.
- Data collection – As the event organizer, it’s usually easier to collect data about your guests since they already have to type in information and register for the event. This is wonderful for making changes for future events and for collecting feedback.
- Repeated access to the event and materials – When you go to a physical event, much of the information you learn is forgotten. When an event is online, there are often online portals with recorded speeches, reading materials, and notes.
- Cost-effectiveness – This goes for event organizers and attendees. There are no plane tickets, food expenses, or venue payments. And that’s only a short list of expenses you cut when holding an event online.
- Unlimited attendance and presentation potential – Physical venues have capacity restrictions. The internet does not. Your event can grow exponentially and you don’t have to worry about overflowing the room. Not to mention, virtual events allow for all sorts of presentation options.
Challenges of hosting a virtual event
As with all online activities, challenges tend to present themselves. Think about selling products online. You’re at a disadvantage compared to retail stores since you have to ship the products and customers can’t hold the items first.
With all challenges, there are workarounds and solutions. So, it’s important to understand those challenges in order to prepare.
Check out the challenges of hosting a virtual event below:
- Technical difficulties – It’s possible your internet fails right before you start a virtual event. You may find that your camera doesn’t work or the platform has a glitch.
- Platform limitations – Does your scheduling module allow for ticket sales and video conference links? Make sure your platform’s feature list is right for your event.
- User error – At some point, an event attendee might say they can’t get logged in or they can’t see you on their screen. Have a plan for resolving these issues without interrupting the experience for others.
- Security problems – Various online event and video conferencing platforms have seen their share of hacked streams and security breaches. The solution to this is usually creating a strong password and using a system with elements of encryption.
- Lack of physicality – Part of building relationships and trust involves being able to shake hands and read emotions. In-person events provide physical and emotional contact that’s tricky to duplicate online.
- Commitment difficulties – It’s much easier to say no to an event that people attend on their computers. You should expect this, but also offer incentives for people to register and show up.
- Time zone differences – Does half of your audience wake up and go to bed five hours after you? That’s worth factoring into how you schedule your online event.
How to host a virtual event on WordPress
The first step in learning how to host a virtual event is to acquire the right tools. After that, take a look at our guide for setting up and running a virtual event.
What you need to host a virtual event
- A computer
- A quality webcam (sometimes built into your computer).
- External headphones and a microphone (not your computer’s audio system).
- Event/webinar/streaming software or plugin.
- A WordPress site to present your event forms and pages.
The first matter of business is to generate a link for video conferencing.
The goal is to schedule a video conferencing call with a link to share with attendees. The following services offer free plans of some sort, but you may have to pay at some point:
- Google Meet.
- Jitsu Meet.
- Facebook Live.
- YouTube Live.
For this tutorial, we’ll use Zoom. Keep reading to learn how to set it up…
Create a free account with Zoom and click on the Schedule a Meeting button.
Fill in information like the topic, date, and time zone.
Make sure you select the Generate Automatically option for Meeting ID.
Create a passcode if you’d like more security and set other features like having video for all participants.
Click on the Save button.
After you create the meeting, locate the Invite Link and copy that or save it for later.
2. Set up an events calendar plugin
The Events Calendar Plugin activates an online calendar for you to schedule events and post information about those events on your WordPress site. It also includes the necessary items for publishing links to your virtual event video conferences.
Install The Events Calendar plugin – it’s available for free at WordPress.org.
In your WordPress dashboard, go to Events → Add New.
Make a title for the event page and feel free to include any other information and media items.
The event page already has event-specific fields for you to fill in.
Begin by choosing the event start date and time.
You can also fill in information about the group hosting the event, with contact information and the group’s website.
The plugin offers a Venue field, but you can leave this blank since it’s a virtual event. Just make sure to identify it as an online event somewhere in your description.
Finally, adjust the text on the website URL button and paste in the Zoom invitation link:
Click the Publish button.
Now, if you go to the published version of that event page you should see all of the details for your event.
An event page is not much different than a regular WordPress page. So, it allows you to place other modules and media items on the page to complement the event information. You can also add more event blocks.
3. Add an RSVP/ticket option to join the event
Although it’s not required, many virtual event moderators like to see how many people are coming before the event begins. You also may need to sell tickets.
For both of these, install the free Event Tickets plugin from the same developer as The Events Calendar.
Go back to your event page and search for the new RSVP and Tickets blocks. These are also available as shortcodes if you’re not using the new block editor.
Let’s use the RSVP block for this example:
Once you add the RSVP block, fill out fields for the RSVP capacity and more.
Once you save the page, go to the frontend to view the RSVP button on the event page.
When someone clicks the button, your site displays a form that visitors can use to add their information and RSVP for the online event:
4. Start your event
A few minutes before the meeting start time, go back to Zoom to click the Start This Meeting button.
As long as your event attendees have clicked the Zoom link on the event page, they should automatically join your online event! You can even configure The Events Calendar to send them a notification email before your event starts.
Any questions on how to host a virtual event on WordPress?
To learn more about some of the other tools that you can use for online events beyond Zoom, check out our collection of the best web conferencing software. Any tool will work in this tutorial – as long as it lets you generate an invite link for your event.
If you have any questions about how to host a virtual event on WordPress, let us know in the comments below!