5 Ways That Virtual Summits Can Help Your Business The intimacy of being in the same room as your audience can't be matched online. However, virtual summits can replace and enhance certain types of gatherings.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Having felt strong-armed into doing business online in 2020, there was an inevitable resistance from the majority of people. No wonder! We were used to conducting meetings in person. Not only that, but whole industries and sub-industries had grown to support business travel.
Everything from the barista cart outside the corporate lobby, all the way up to frequent flyer cards and Hilton — they were all hanging their hats on the business traveler. The vested interest was huge! And that's not to decry it at all. These companies and individuals had, in good-faith, created services to support (what was) a burgeoning industry.
Then the pandemic hit
It was actually two years ago to the day that I'm writing this, that folks back home in my native country of Great Britain were told to stay home, under an unprecedented national lockdown. Quickly, businesses had to scramble to find alternative ways and means for communicating. The cruelty of it all was, of course, that these measures were touted as being temporary only!
"Three weeks to flatten the curve," they'd say. So, of course, the remedies that we all sought were similarly temporary. It took a long while for the realization to set in, that this was going to be something with legs.
Two years on from then, and the notion of virtual meetings and summits has very much taken hold. Zoom has joined those hallowed ranks as being both a company name, descriptor and verb, along with the likes of Hoover, Velcro and Google. In April of 2020, Zoom recorded a milestone 300-million daily meeting participants and today registers over 3.3-trillion annual meeting minutes!
Before long, new industries emerged in support of the new virtual business world. Many companies, like my pal Liam Austin's Entrepreneurs HQ, have come to our aid. They've done the leg work of proving the model. They're demonstrating the immense benefits of holding online events, for both your business and your clients.
Before we delve into my list of five ways that virtual summits can help your business, I should say that I am not throwing shade on in-person gatherings. I used to hold retreats myself and have every intention of going back to that, when it makes sense to do so. Virtual summits aren't a replacement for being together. The intimacy of being in the same room as your audience, even if it's a big one, can't be matched online. However, what virtual summits can do is replace certain types of gatherings, while enhancing your general offerings in the following ways:
1. Low cost to attend
This may seem like an obvious one, but opening your laptop and sitting down presents far less of a cost to your prospective clients than plane tickets, hotel stays and meals in a strange city. Because of this, you are far more likely to attract attendees in the first place.
The other benefit is, of course, that you can offer lower ticket prices while incurring less cost yourself. My advice, though, would be to not lower the prices by much. Remember: The value is in the content of your presentation, not a weekend away.
Related: Remote Work Is Here to Stay. It's Time to Update the Way You Lead.
2. Infinite scalability
When you invite people to your summit in the ballroom of a hotel, you invariably run into the fact that it comes with a maximum capacity. I know this sounds like a problem for the likes of Tony Robbins only, but even on a smaller scale, you'll have to place a limit on the number of tickets you sell.
With a virtual summit, everyone in the world with an internet connection can attend. Not only that, but if you record the event and repackage it — you'll be able to sell it after the event, for as long as you want, to anyone who wants it! More on that shortly.
3. More flexibility
I'm sure that you've either delivered at or attended a conference that was beset with technical problems. Radio mics have that unique ability to drop out, immediately after being fine during the tech rehearsals and just before you're about to go on. Crew can fall ill, presenters drop out, equipment doesn't arrive on time … and you're toast.
With virtual summits, firstly; there's less equipment to worry about. Even if you're getting fancy with a set, lighting and/or broadcasting software, it's far less to marshal than an entire room of people.
Should something go drastically wrong and you have to reschedule for 24 hours later, you can do so without incurring huge costs and (thanks to point 1) your attendees will be less likely to complain, because they haven't had to travel, pay for accommodation etc.
Related: The Future Of Events Is Bright And Big
4. It's evergreen
I touched on this earlier, but it deserves its own point. Virtual summits can be recorded very easily and repurposed as evergreen content. That's not to say that you can't do the same with in-person events, of course, but you'll probably need to hire a large crew with static and roaming cameras.
When holding a summit virtually, there's no need for all of that. You can, if you want to, set up two cameras on you to cut between, but one is fine. Your guest speakers will be calling in via Zoom/Skype/FaceTime anyway, so there's no expectation beyond their own webcam setup. And since you're piping it all through a computer anyway, you may as well hit record!
Evergreen content, if you plan your summit right, can literally generate revenue for you forever! Carefully plan your presentation in sections, and you'll be able to sell the full course — parts of it as a lower-ticket item and so on. You can utilize some of it as a lead magnet and even do non-skippable live replays. Those are just like attending live anyway!
5. It's also just plain "green"
Of course, by not encouraging loads of people to travel, you're reducing the environmental impact of your summit. That's not to say that it's completely without impact, you'll need electricity for one thing, but it's vastly reduced by everyone logging in from home.
Thanks to this, you can reduce your company's carbon footprint significantly, while still delivering the same message to more people.
Are virtual summits going to replace in-person events?
No, I don't think so, and nor should they. There are some events that you really do have to be in the room for. The collective energy, interactions and atmosphere can never be wholly replicated through your computer screen.
That said: There are plenty of types of coaching events that won't suffer from not being in-person and can easily be adapted to the online medium. And the added benefit of this is that there will be far more of them for us all to attend, enjoy and benefit from. Are you thinking about holding a virtual summit for your business? It's far less scary than you think.
Related: 5 Ways to Give a Virtual Presentation That Blows People Away