Virtual Events vs. in person events.  The pros & cons.

Virtual Events vs. in person events. The pros & cons.

What are the pros and cons of Virtual Events?

Sharing experiences and interacting with others with the same interests are two of the most exceptional and natural ways to make and create long-lasting relationships.  Both in business and personally.  It will come as no surprise, therefore, that this is why events are crucial activity for most businesses.  From marketing to sales to internal communications and training, human interactions at ‘events’ (in whatever form that may be) are vital in supporting business growth, performance improvement as well as staff wellbeing and development.  Events are powerful and important; it’s as simple as that.

Today there is an excellent range of technology available to facilitate events online and in person.  There are, however, pros and cons of both so it’s worth considering all of the options before planning starts.  Here’s our low down of the pros and cons of Virtual Events and some key pointers to bear in mind…

Virtual Events environment

Pros of Virtual Events

  • Flexibility.  Virtual events are totally flexible.  If you can host an event in person, there is almost always a way to replicate that format, in some sense, online.  The Covid pandemic has shown us that after all and Virtual Events have increased by over 1000% in 2020!  Unsurprising really.  The options and scope to create bespoke and immersive environments are unlimited.  In a virtual space if you can imagine it, you can create it.
  • On demand content.  According to Intrado 20% of Virtual Events attendees view the content on demand.  That’s a staggering figure.  On demand content is very useful as it means people who cannot attend live for a variety of reasons can still access and engage with that content later on.  Sometimes even those who do attend live sessions also want to re-watch sessions or look through content for a second or third time.
  • Inclusivity.  In person events have the potential to leave people out; whether this is a result of geography, time, cost or a number of other potential factors.  Hosting an event online, however, means that there is no reason that everyone can’t be involved.  This is a real plus for company culture and team morale, especially if the event in question aims to include large numbers or people from different locations or job functions.
  • Speakers. The difference between a Virtual Event and live event on the speaker and presenter front is that Virtual Events open up many new possibilities often made impossible at a live event.  There may be a speaker or presenter that would never have presented in person, but who can present virtually, from the comfort of their own home.  While attendees won’t get that in the room buzz in the same way, high calibre often heavily booked speakers can be live streamed from anywhere in the world right to the audience, virtually.
  • The environment. According to, in 2018 38% of US business travel was for meetings and events.  In person events will always be important, but even if you shave a portion of those types of events from the calendar and replace with virtual, the reduction in carbon emissions for travel (and hotel stays) is huge and the impact on the planet, positive.  Businesses have a duty to reduce their unnecessary environmental impact and switching to virtual events is a phenomenal way of making a big difference, quickly.
  • Cost efficiencies and increased ROI.  Costs for Virtual Events can often be much lower than in person meetings and gatherings (although they still require a lot of thought, expertise and careful planning to do well.)  Overheads such as accommodation, food and beverages, venue hire, insurance and security – to name a few – are not required when you’re delivering your conference virtually.  This often-reduced cost of virtual events can contribute to a better ROI for the company picking up the bill.
  • Reporting and data. A Virtual Event provides a LOT of data that is really useful for the host, exhibitors, trainers and many other stakeholders. Data collated from an online event environment can be used in so many ways and can provide real insight into attendees’ interest and interaction with content, networking, exhibitors’ products and much more.  Live events certainly provide that in person experience and all-important body language, but that’s much harder to measure.
  • Scalability. Virtual Events are not limited to a venue with a specific number of breakout rooms or specific number of seats in an auditorium.  They can be scaled up and down and cater for any number of attendees. On one of our recent Virtual Events we had 100 breakout rooms running concurrently! The option to add new tracks to an agenda exists always and can generally be implemented quickly compared to a live event. Another upside to this is ticket sales – the sky’s your limit with a Virtual Event! 
  • Reduced barriers to networking. Tools that Virtual Events offer such as regular polls, live chat and Q&A’s can remove barriers that may exist at in person events and help calm nerves.  While it’s an important part of many events, most humans feel ‘a bit icky’ about networking.  According to Markeltic, 81.8% of virtual event organisers use event polling to improve interaction and engagement with content and for networking.  For online networking, it actually might be a lot easier through a screen than in person.
  • Reliability. Even if there’s extreme weather, an ash cloud (or a global pandemic?), a Virtual Event should still be able to take place. Attendees can view the content from their own homes and as long as there is a good team delivering the event, there’s really very little that would cause it to be cancelled.
Virtual Event custom branding

Cons of Virtual Events

  • Limiting audiences.  The polar opposite to the positive argument for scalable flexible Virtual Events, is that of exclusive, sometimes small, in person events.  Being invited to a VIP must attend event with its exclusive panel and audience is something very special indeed.   Sometimes, smaller, highly targeted event audiences create a huge buzz in a room that’s very hard to replicate elsewhere. 
  • Change of scene. ‘Business holidays’ and business travel can be an upside for many.  There’s a big world out there and being able to visit new places first-hand and experience new cuisines, culture, music, sites and scenery of a destination can be an absolute joy.  This type of destination business travel can create a huge sense of enthusiasm and job satisfaction that isn’t quite the same online.
  • Disruptions.  If you’re attending an event in person, your priority is that event.  You’re in it, you’re there, and it’s all consuming.  If you’re attending an event online, as enthusiastic and engaged as you may be in the content, you’ll still probably nip off to change the dishwasher over or feed the cat (we’ve all been there.)  The sense of true escapism and focus of a live experience is difficult to match.
  • Informal interactions. While Virtual Events provide lots of opportunities for networking and engagement with speakers, opportunities to engage with other attendees can sometimes be fewer at virtual events.  While you can structure a virtual agenda to include a lot of ‘stuff’, sometimes memorable moments at live events are spontaneous, unplanned and unstructured.

In conclusion

In conclusion… there will always be the need for in person events to happen, and there’ll always be the need for Virtual Events too.  The important thing?  When planning an event, consider the event’s objectives and look at the options.  Virtual, live, hybrid, there’s so much that can be done to make the experience memorable and positive for all involved.

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What is a Virtual Event and how does it work?

What is a Virtual Event and how does it work?

What is a Virtual Meeting?

A Virtual Meeting is an event on the internet that guests can register for and attend in real-time.  Participants can watch presentations and participate in Q&A.  Here we answer the most common questions about Virtual Events; what is a Virtual Event and how does it work?  What does a Virtual Event entail?  Find out more below…

Where can a Virtual meeting be staged?

A Virtual Meeting can be staged in a hotel conference room, client office or from our studio. We have easily transportable equipment which we travel with anywhere in the world, at simultaneous venues as required.

Do I need to film my presenters?

No, all presenters can video call into to our studio where we broadcast the Virtual Meeting from, ensure ever presentation and all slides are in the correct order, just as with a F2F real live event.

Can we have panel discussions with questions and answers?

Yes, absolutely.  That is one of the key advantages of staging a Virtual Meeting over a regular one way Webcast or live stream.  Guests can comment from their smart phone or laptop and the presenters can appear in the meeting together to answer and discuss questions just as if it were a face to face live event.

Virtual Event panel discussion

Do I need a fast internet connection?

We recommend at least 2Mb up and down as a minimum, and good WiFi helps have the best experience.

Will the stream fail if there are internet connection problems?

No, every live Virtual Meeting is streamed across multiple connections so if one fails the other will continue which provides us with 99.9% uptime across all our events. Of course we cannot guarantee your internet connection but most standard broadband services are pretty reliable today.

Virtual Events internet connectivity

How much does it cost?

We have a selection of packages specially built to provide the best value for your requirements. Due to the nature of each event requiring its own unique support please get in touch so we can provide you with the best solution for your business.

Can it be custom branded?

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Virtual Event custom branding

Is it interactive?

Every Virtual Event is highly interactive with questions, polling, whiteboards, role play, recording, 1:1 video chat so everyone can participate anywhere in the world using a mobile phone, iPad or computer.

Does it have to be live?

A Virtual Meeting is usually scheduled to happen live at a certain time like a regular live event, but often it will include prerecorded videos and presentations.

What do I need to do to record my presentation before the meeting?

We provide support and guidance on how best to prepare your live presentation or record your presentation.  Find out more here.

Can presenters stream slides and video simultaneously?

Yes!  Absolutely.  We provide live streaming services to all of our clients who need this.

Can people present from different locations around the world?

Yes, most of our events are truly global with contributions from EMEA, the US and APAC.  Anyone can present using their laptop live or a prereorded presentation can be played.  In some instances we send out camera equipment and crews dependent on the requirements of your event.

Virtual Events environment

Can I attend a Virtual Meeting on my mobile?

Yes, you can join and take part in a Virtual Meeting on mobile or an iPad although for the best experience we recommend using a laptop or desktop computer.

How do I join a Virtual Meeting?

You will be sent an invite link to log in via a browser.  No software or downloads are required to join our Virtual Events.  We operate Virtual Events on a number of platforms, depending on the client’s requirements (including our very own Cloudpresenter platform.)

How long will it last?

An event can be as long or as short as is required, running to a live agenda just as a regular face to face event would do.  We have run events for 24hrs straight across all time zones and other events can last less than an hour!

Can you scale up or down to fit budgets?

Yes we always provide the best solution to fit our client’s requirements being aware of available budget.

Is a Virtual Event secure?

We provide the highest level of security across all our events.  Most of our clients are healthcare and financial organisations, so security and data privacy are a key of our entire approach to each event.

What happens to the presentations after the event?

We can record and provide these files after the event, or more commonly we host them on demand on the Virtual Meeting site for anyone to watch at their liesure.

Want to know more about why Virtual Meetings can help your business grow?  Get in touch with Procreation today.

Book a time with one of our team to discuss your next project

More insights from the Procreation blog