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In-Person vs Virtual Team Events: Know the Key Differences

February 25, 2021

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of virtual events has skyrocketed. One company has even reported a 1,000 percent increase in their virtual events! With in-person events non-existent, organizations will want to be well-equipped and informed when it comes to handling virtual events properly.

Just like live events, virtual team building events make it possible for employees to stay connected, gain new information, and have fun. Teamwork, innovation, and human connection can all benefit from well-planned live and virtual events.

There are key differences between live team events and virtual team events. This impacts how the events are set up, who is running them, and what the audience experience is like. There are also obvious cost differences which are key to understanding while weighing the pros and cons of both.

Keep reading to get more information about these differences and what they mean.

the host’s responsibilities

During a live event, the host usually has a team of people who can help provide the content and guide the event. Live events also have a live audience that allows attendees to entertain themselves, mingle, and network.

Virtual team events don’t have large audiences in one place to entertain themselves. Hosts working on virtual events need to entertain, guide, instruct, lecture, and provide content simultaneously.

Virtual event hosts also have to compete with audience distraction. Phone calls, text messages, family members, dogs barking, and ambient noise are just a few of the distractions that a host must overcome.

When choosing a virtual event vendor, you want someone who is able to entertain and artfully manage the attention of your audience at the same time. In-person events require much less of the latter, as those hosts usually have crowd management support from other event staff.

Virtual event hosts must manage distractions differently. Whether that’s through a facilitator or muting the audience’s microphones, virtual events require different crowd management tactics.

audience experience

Virtual events offer many benefits over in-person events in terms of how your team experiences the event. In-person event planning involves more logistics of planning where people sit, and even the best planning can’t guarantee that all attendees will have a good view of the event or host.

Virtual events and virtual event planning are a bit different. While the face-to-face discussions can’t occur as they would if your team was at a venue, at least everyone will get a front-row seat at what’s going on!

These front row seats mean that attendees won’t miss out on the event because of physical limitations like an in-person venue might. While the host is leading the virtual event, all employees can also interact with one another in a way that in-person events don’t allow.

For example, everyone attending a virtual event has access to the Q&A while it isn’t as accessible in person. Virtual events with facilitators or moderators to run these portions smoothly allow the host to focus entirely on the experience & answering questions, heightening the value of the event for your team.

A family-friendly virtual event allows attendees to invite their family to join in on the event as well. In a world where so many are working from home, virtual events are a great way for teams to engage with each other and their families in a fun, welcoming, and inclusive environment.

budget and value

In-person events require more overhead than virtual events, so virtual events present a level of scalability that in-person events cannot match. For in-person events, you’ll need to secure a venue, travel arrangements, catering options, and tech and logistical support to set up the event.

Virtual events work for audiences as small as five to as large as several thousand, allowing you to host them any time without having to consider physical requirements & limitations of a venue. You can put more funds into finding an experienced and qualified host, offering higher quality content and programming.

Because you’re investing in the quality of the event itself versus the overhead needed to put it on, your teams will benefit from a better experience. For more virtual event ideas and information, learn more here.

virtual event hurdles — and how to beat them

Certain events, like hands-on instructional lectures, can be difficult to replicate virtually. It’s not impossible when you have a great & experienced host. Keep in mind that instructors won’t be able to show individuals what they’re doing wrong or form one-on-one connections like they might be able to at a live group event.

The live, in-person interaction, walking through the audience, mingling with other audience members, and more won’t be the same. However, as we stated earlier, a great host will have the experience and the ability to keep the audience engaged and entertained.

In-person event planning usually provides any necessary materials to the audience on the day of the event. Virtual event planning, on the other hand, requires shipping any required physical materials to each attendee. Keep physical materials and shipping times in mind to ensure attendees receive their materials before the day of the event.

Virtual team events make it a bit more challenging for people to discuss with each other. There are functionalities that you can use to help facilitate small group discussions, like breakout rooms, for example. Taking full advantage of tech features virtual conference tools are offering can help replicate in-person interactions.

Discussions and Q&As can be tricky with virtual team events, especially ones with more than 10 attendees. During your virtual event planning, we’d recommend that you arrange to have a moderator to facilitate questions. This allows the host to focus completely on answering the question at hand instead of having to also identify questions from the audience.

in-person vs virtual team events: final thoughts

Remote work is not going away anytime soon, and as a result, neither are virtual team events. It’s critical to know the differences between in-person events versus virtual events as you look for ways to engage your team.

Virtual events can connect your employees without risking safety or health. At the same time, they can provide cost savings in a way that many live events cannot while still offering an entertaining and engaging experience for your teams.

Garden Streets offers a variety of virtual event options for teams small and large. Learn more about our nature-themed events here, or contact us to start planning your next virtual event.

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