Virtual Events 101: What Is A Virtual Event?

May 12, 2010

Definitions, definitions.  Terms can be best explained by breaking them down into their component parts.

“Virtual event” – let’s cover the second part first, the “event”.  An “event” can mean many things to many people; however, I like the following definition from


An event is “something that occurs in a certain place during a particular interval of time”.  With a virtual event, the same definition applies – however, the “certain place” happens to be “online” or “on the web”.  For “virtual event”, the definition could be re-worded to:

something that occurs in a certain web destination during a particular interval of time

Of course, like any loosely worded definition, many “things” fit this description, which you and I typically would not consider a virtual event (e.g. a multi-party instant messenger chat qualifies, but isn’t typically considered a virtual event).  In my mind, a virtual event is

a web and occasion-based gathering that facilitates information sharing, collaboration and interaction.

To date, the look and feel of virtual events have been modeled after a physical counterpart (e.g. a trade show, user conference, sales meeting or job fair).  As the industry evolves, the experience will evolve as well – and unique, web-based experiences will emerge.  For instance, expect to see virtual trade shows that look and feel nothing like their physical counterpart (hence the power of the web).

There are no “bare minimum requirements” for a virtual event (e.g. Auditorium, Exhibit Hall, Networking Lounge, Booth) – an experience with no Auditorium and no booths can still qualify.  Virtual events come in many flavors – with many more on the way.  There are a variety of use cases and objectives that can be achieved virtually.

Virtual events are known for the following benefits:

  1. Green technology that minimizes carbon emissions
  2. Supports a global audience
  3. Convenience – participate from your home, office, beach
  4. Ongoing showcase – the event is not required to be “torn down” at the conclusion of the live date(s)
  5. Granular engagement tracking – activity is recorded an deep engagement profiles generated


While virtual events occur on the web without a physical (face-to-face) component, some event planners are creating hybrid event experiences, whereby a face-to-face event is combined with a virtual component.  The virtual component can occur before, during or after the face-to-face event – when done concurrent to the physical event, interesting opportunities arise for blending the physical and virtual experiences.

While events occur “during a particular interval of time”, some virtual event planners are creating 365 day/year virtual communities, which have a focus around periodic “events”.  So rather than create a virtual event that’s live for a single day, event planners create an evergreen (and virtual) business community that sees consistent activity throughout the year, with spikes of activity during scheduled days of “live event activity”.


Virtual events are here to stay – the broad definition of a virtual event will hold – however, more specific definitions will morph over time, as the industry and experience grow and evolve.  Tomorrow’s virtual events may look (and feel) nothing like today’s.

Related Links

  1. Browse the Virtual Events 101 Index Page
  2. Download the eBook, “Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

Call for Virtual World Executive Summaries

March 23, 2009

FountainBlue produces “monthly events for clean energy, high tech, and life science entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley (US / California)”. Earlier this month, FountainBlue held its first Virtual Worlds event, ” Virtual Worlds: The Hype, The Reality, The In-Between”. I attended the event and provided a summary of the virtual worlds panelists’ discussions. FountainBlue now plans to produce an annual virtual worlds event, with the first one on September 25, 2009.  According to FountainBlue:

This annual conference will showcase where we’ve been and where we’re going in virtual worlds, featuring key stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and investors in this space. There will be two morning panels: one on Virtual Worlds – What is it, Where Has it Been? And the second one is on: Where Will Virtual Worlds Take Us. As part of this event, we will also feature Corporate Exhibits on Virtual World and profile Six Virtual World Entrepreneurs, the winners of this business plan competition.

Here’s a draft agenda of the September event:

8:00    Networking and Registration
8:30    Welcomes and Thank Yous, Audience Input On What They Would Like Covered
8:40    Presentation on Virtual Worlds – What is it, Where Has it Been?
9:00    Questions from the Audience
9:10    Panel Discussion: Where Will Virtual Worlds Take Us?
9:40    Questions from the Audience
9:50    Morning Break, Corporate Virtual World Tables on Display
10:20  Six Virtual World Fast Pitches, 15 minute rounds each
11:45  Awards, Closure and Networking
12:00  Adjourn

FountainBlue notes the following criteria for submitting an executive summary:

Early stage, funding-bound entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are invited to submit their executive summaries by visiting, completing the questions on the registration page (following the format available at and paying the $20-$30 registration fee by noon on August 14.

Process for Submitting Plans

March 20    First Call for Exec Summaries
August 1    Last Call for Exec Summaries
August 14  Deadline for Exec Summaries Submissions (@ noon)
Sept 15      Announcing Six Finalists (by noon)
9/15-22      Informal Meetings with Finalists
Sept 25      Annual Virtual Worlds Event, with Presentation by Finalists

Process for Pitching During the Annual Event
The Six Virtual World Entrepreneurs will be conducting fast pitches, 15 minute rounds each, broken down as follows:

  1. 3-minute pitches
  2. 3-minutes Q&A with judging panel
  3. 2-minute feedback from judges
  4. 1-minute additional feedback from the audience

For more information on this event, contact:

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