OPWD INSIDER

Virtual Events are Here to Stay

A flexible way to engage, virtual events offer a unique platform that brings people together from different areas of academia and industry without having to factor in travel and scheduling constraints. This type of event format has allowed a larger reach for event participation and new avenues for networking. After the pandemic, virtual events will be sustained. The UF Conference team can guide you to the right technology to meet your needs and ensure your attendees remain engaged. Not comfortable with tech? No problem! Their team specializes in creating a user-friendly virtual meeting space.

With in-person events, there is always the opportunity to connect with your client, speakers, and attendees at the event. But with virtual you are relying on strong communication via email or phone calls in order to fit all the components together correctly before, during, and after the event.

The UF Conference Department is certified by the Event Leadership Institute (EIC) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) in Virtual Event & Meeting Management. Their team of event managers can help you successfully plan and execute your virtual events, whether it be selecting the right virtual platform and streaming services, managing online speaker presentations, event rehearsals, technology support, sponsorship packages, coordinating virtual poster sessions, and creating communication strategies to help better engage your virtual audience. Connect with their team today to start planning your next virtual meeting!

A-la-carte services:


Site/Platform Selection

Fiscal Support

Custom Website

Sponsorship Packages

Posters Sessions

Food & Beverage

Audio Visual

Transportation

Event Facilitation

Auxiliary Events

CEU Certificates

Speaker Preparation

Participant Materials

Exhibitor Coordination

Evaluations & Reporting

Abstract Collection

Hear From the Conference Team!

Interview with Katie MacWilkinson, CMP

Q: How did you and the conference team navigate to help UF faculty and staff successfully host virtual events?

KM: After having to cancel, postpone, and reschedule many events scheduled for last year, the conference team shifted to a remote working structure and spent many hours researching virtual event programming, platforms, and resources.

The conference team also attended many trainings, webinars, and demos with different vendors to compile information and resources for hosting virtual events. In addition to the team research, each member of the team enrolled in the Virtual Event and Meeting Management Course hosted by the Event Leadership Institute and Meeting Professionals International to learn tools, techniques, and best practices for virtual events and all successfully passed the course exam to become professional certified.

From there, the conference team took their course knowledge, research, and insight to create a virtual event management business plan, resource guides, communication templates, and structure processes with event programming best practices to work with clients to successfully plan and execute virtual events. The conference team also continues to attend industry events and webinars to keep up to date with best practices for hosting virtual events.

Katie MacWilkinson, CMP
Event Manager | UF Conference Department

Q: Looking into the next couple years, what do you predict will happen when it comes to hosting an event?

KM: As we move past the pandemic, many new initiatives and practices will be here to stay for events. We will start to see in person events come back, but with new safety procedures and protocols to better serve attendees when it comes to communication, the venue, safety guidelines, and on-site management of events.

Although many are eager to meet in person, we will also see the virtual component for events continue on with this being a viable and cost effective option for many universities and organizations to still have employees participate in research and academic conferences. Some events will adopt a hybrid format where they will have both in person and virtual attendees, but the technology needed to accomplish this format may not be as budget friendly for some events. You will also see fully virtual events that continue to bring people together for different training and research purposes. All of this will also be heavily influenced by university and organization guidelines when it comes to travel and budgeting.

Q: How do you and your team make virtual events engaging?

KM: Our team works closely with our clients to help select the best virtual platform to host their events with. Every event is different and determining the event goals, objectives, and vision really helps us structure out a plan that will be successful for our clients, speakers, and attendees.

There are several platforms that provide engaging formats for networking, gamification, and components that help people still feel connected without being able to meet in person. We have also worked with event hosts/emcees that bring fun and creative ideas to the programming part of planning. Who would have thought DJ’s make the best event hosts?! Sometimes just adding in music, real-time conversation, and activities that bring everyone together can make your virtual event very memorable so that attendees leave with a positive experience.

No matter your event’s needs, the UF Conference Department is here to make the planning process as easy as possible so you can focus on content and developing your vision.

Learn more at conferences.aa.ufl.edu. | Click here to fill out an Event Application.

Written by:
Courtney Hancock

Published:
May 14, 2021

Keep up with all things OPWD by reading our bi-monthly office updates.

The Office of Professional and Workforce Development (OPWD) supports the Office of Teaching and Technology and the University of Florida in offering non-credit education for adult learners across multiple modalities, e.g. online, face-to-face, and conferences.

Is there a topic under our umbrella that you would like to learn or see more about? Email Courtney Hancock at cehancock@mail.ufl.edu with your ideas.