Part of the global pandemic reality is that virtual conferences are now the new norm. While in-person events offer benefits, like “free” food and face-to-face interaction, digital conferences have several advantages as well.
In addition to a wider global reach,
- 84% of organizations that have run a virtual event in 2020 reported that they spent less money on virtual events than on in-person eventsᶦ
- 86% of people who attend virtual events report equal or higher levels of engagement than in-person eventsᶦᶦ
- in-person events tend to cause stress for participants that can lead to burnout. Jet lag, overscheduling, tight travel deadlines and alcohol consumption can all contribute to a feeling of “conference overwhelm”ᶦᶦᶦ
With the cost savings and other benefits to participants, 51% of marketing professionals think that virtual conferences will continue to be a chosen path forward for many organizations post-pandemic – at least as an addition to in-person events.ᶦᵛ
Much of the participants’ experience comes down to which platform the organizers choose. You want something secure, safe and familiar. For meetings, many turn to Microsoft Teams. But why limit its use to meetings and small gatherings?
Microsoft Teams is an ideal platform for hosting large virtual conferences. Here’s what you need to know to host a large conference successfully (and securely) on Teams.
What You Need to Know About Hosting a Microsoft Teams-Driven Conference
It takes an army of people to pull off a digital event. You want your army to move with purpose and strategy, or it will dissolve into mismanaged chaos. An effective and cohesive “people strategy” means a smooth participant experience whichand builds interest and brand loyalty for your company.
Consider all the players: producers, organizers, presenters, small group leaders, sponsors, and of course, attendees, each with different roles and interfaces. There are a lot of moving pieces to the live event as people transition between keynotes, sessions, breakouts and networking opportunities. Some of the larger digital conferences also offer live entertainment including musicians and entertainers. Teams offers the capabilities to manage all of it – once you figure it all out.
The guest licensing list
We’ll leave the names on the guest list up to you, but you need to consider licensing. You’ll need to use the guest licensing in Teams and Microsoft 365, so that you aren’t forced to purchase licences for the thousands of expected attendees. The good news is that Azure AD B2B gives free licences to external users accessing Microsoft Teams.
Play it safe
If you want your attendees to join your Team to participate in chat and channel conversations, then you need to make them a member. As soon as an attendee joins a Team as a member, their contact information becomes part of their contact record. Which, in a normal situation, is exactly what you want Teams to do.
But if you're doing it in a public conference, there are privacy concerns to consider. In an in-person event, users have a name tag that would show everyone their name and organization which most attendees are comfortable with. The concern in a virtual conference is a malicious user has the ability to might scrape everyone’s email address and start spamming them. That's a big no-no, from a privacy point of view.
Keep it simple for participants (or a tale of two tenants)
You could set up two tenants: a conference-specific dummy tenant and your legitimate tenant. If people scrape for your contact information, all they're going to see is the dummy account; they won't see who you really are. But that’s confusing.
What’s easier? Either setting up a public registration site with a single sign-on account for registration and event (using Azure App Services and Logic Apps for the registration workflows) that lets people participate while also protecting their privacy, or let people choose how much to share for themselves. If participants decide that they want to join the Team to participate in chats and conversations, then they need to accept that their contact information is going to be shared.
If someone doesn’t like that, they can create their own Teams account and use that to join the conference. Just make it very apparent for participants what the consequences of their choices could be. If they're okay with that, proceed.
Think Big with Microsoft Teams
There’s a great deal to consider on the backend when putting together a live digital conference. The considerations listed above are just a start. You’ll need some technical specifics to put these ideas into action. Luckily, we have a webinar that goes into more technical detail about this topic and much more. You can watch the presentation on-demand. Teams can be the ultimate virtual conference destination – we’ll show you how to make it happen.
Check out the webinar here.