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What Types Of Sessions Can Be In A Virtual Summit

plan virtual summit 101 Jun 20, 2022
virtual summit session types

Many people think that a virtual summit is just a series of pre-recorded interviews. And while many virtual summits use this easy-to-do method of compiling speaker sessions and getting the content they need to run a successful virtual summit, it's definitely not the only way.

Your virtual summit can offer more than the typical one-on-one recorded interview format. This can mean including both pre-recorded options as well as live segments to create a more lively event vibe as well as adding variety to the types of sessions to keep attendees entertained.

For my events, I usually use a combination of HeySummit & either Zoom or Live Webinar. Hey Summit makes it easy to not only host virtual summits without unnecessary tech stress but also organize the content easily for your team, your speakers, and your attendees!

In this blog, I'm going to cover my favorite types of virtual summit sessions that I use in my events: welcome calls, live interviews, pre-recorded interviews, live seminars, pre-recorded seminars, live panels, and daily wrap up calls.

This isn’t a fully inclusive list by any means, but I find these work best for my virtual events.

Virtual Summit Session Types

Welcome Calls

Each day of my events I open the stage with either a live or pre-recorded welcome call. This is the first session of the day and really gives the host a chance to set the stage, make important announcements, go over the schedule for the day, as well as handle sponsor shoutouts.

When I do recorded versions, I usually end up doing a screen share so I can visually go over the day's schedule piece by piece! This gives me a chance to highlight each speaker, make a note of each of the session topics, and let attendees know if the speaker will be available for questions in our event chat box.

When I do live welcome calls, I don't always go over the schedule in so much depth (although I probably still should) but I do end up giving more attention to the speakers and obviously the attendees who are tuning in live and chatting in the chat box. These live calls seem to really pump up the events and while you may not want to commit to doing them every day, I would recommend doing live welcome calls on the 1st and the last day of your virtual summit.

Live Interviews

Anything you can do live will add more energy to your virtual summit. Live interviews are a great way to do this and are easy to facilitate. All you really need is a good starter list of questions to ask your speaker, depending on their level of knowledge and the topic you've confirmed for them to speak about.

Other questions can be sourced from a live chat box where attendees can submit their own questions for the speaker which is great for engagement. Attendees love to contribute to the conversation and you'll usually get a bunch of great questions other than the ones you've already prepared.

For these sessions, I would ask the speaker to send over questions and talking points in advance so they have a say in how the conversation is steered. Add their questions to your list and then send them a final list for them to review and prepare answers to.

Pre-Recorded Interviews

The same really goes for pre-recorded interviews with the exception of having the higher energy from the crowd to fuel additional questions. For pre-recorded interviews you can still have the speaker send over questions and talking points, then add to your list and send a final list to them for review and to prepare for, but this list will need to be more thorough as there won't be any fillers coming in form the audience.

I love to just have conversations with my speakers during our interviews. I always have a list of questions I'm feeding off of, but never just go down the list and ask them one after the other.

I listen to the speaker's responses and feed off of what they're saying to get more details and link in the next question when it's the appropriate time. Timing is everything in an interview.

Personally, I think the only bad interviews are ones where the interviewer isn't engaged and simply just asked one question after the next without real conversation, feedback and responses. Do your best to relax and work in conversations.

Live Seminars

Again, anything you can do live is only going to add to your event! So having live seminars that you present or that are presented by your virtual summit speakers is a great idea.

Live seminars can be accomplished using a screen share in a webinar platform. I suggest a webinar style for these sessions, as people do not need the ability to unmute themselves or turn on their video cameras. These sessions should be tightly focused on your speaker delivering information on the session topic.

Attendees can add to the conversation as well as get clarification on key points and ask questions in the chat box. You'll need to moderate the chat box and make sure there is time at the end for your speakers to answer questions.

Pre-Recorded Seminars

I love pre-recorded seminars! They are not only the least amount of work for the summit host, but they also are the best opportunity for the speaker to take the stage and own their topic.

They can share their screen or talk directly to the camera (although I love a screen share) and they can do it when the timing is right. Without the need to schedule a time on your calendar or block off time to deliver live during the actual event, speakers can record these sessions months ahead of time, edit as needed and make sure they hit all the important points they intended to provide training on.

Live Panels

Your attendees will love panels for so many reasons, including the opportunity to hear multiple speakers weigh in on the same topics, chat with speakers in the live chat box, ask their questions live and get immediate answers, in addition to the high-energy these types of sessions create for the attendee community.

Live panels create your community of attendees- regardless of if you've chosen to host a Facebook group, forum, or official attendee community elsewhere. They allow attendees who want that extra level of engagement to connect with each other, and give each other feedback and great insight aside from the benefits of the actual topics being discussed!

If I had to suggest you do anything live during your event, it would be to host a live panel at least once! Personally, I like to host a minimum of 3 live panels during each of my virtual summits, but sometimes I'll host daily panels or even morning and afternoon panels when on some events.

Daily Wrap Up

At the end of each day of my events, I like to do a daily wrap-up. These sessions have been a mix of things in the past, but in their simplest form, I've gone over the events of the day, announced giveaway winners, provided another sponsor shoutout, and set the stage for the next day.

While I don't go through the next day's schedule piece by piece, I usually point out a few highlighted sessions and topics of high-profile speakers that attendees would want to make sure they don't miss.

This is a great chance to connect with your attendees after a day full of information and inspiration. It's also an opportunity to plug your tickets (free and paid) and explain what access people in each ticket will have with the content that's already been covered.

These can be done live or pre-recorded, but most of the time, if I'm not also doing a game, networking activity, or other attendee engagement session- I just pre-record them. They usually end up being 20 minutes or less, so for a few events- I've actually recorded them 'day of' so I could include some key pieces of information from live sessions, panels, and shout-out exceptional attendee engagement.

But if I'm not doing other live engagement sessions- then I would do these live and have a guest speaker join me to add a little extra content o the summit and give attendees motivation to attend live and ask any lingering questions!

My Favorite Virtual Summit Sessions

Those are my favorite virtual summit session types that I use for all my events! And as you can see, there are many more than just pre-recorded interviews.

When you're planning your virtual summit, make sure you put some extra effort into switching things up and offering a variety of session types so attendees stay engaged and enjoy the virtual event experience!

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