How to Choose the Best Virtual Conferencing Platform

Last year radically pushed virtual conferencing into the forefront of how organizations meet. While “Zooming” may have become a verb, there are many more conferencing platforms than Zoom to choose from. At Precis, we supported dozens of conferences that need virtual conferencing integrations and found that choosing the right platform can be just as critical as collection documentation while planning for the event. 

Whether you are planning an academic symposium or a medical conference or even an international business joint meeting, identifying your optimal features is only the beginning of this process. 

What Are The Top 3 Features People Look for in a Virtual Conferencing Platform?

  1. Platform integration and implementation
  2. Platform UX for presententers and participants
  3. Platform scalability for sponsorships

Deciding on the Most Important Features on a Platform

Hosting an event on a platform is just the beginning–there needs to be a clear strategy in place for how that platform best serves your stakeholders. 

There are multiple things to consider when planning your virtual or hybrid virtual event. What’s most important to visualize the type of event you want to host before you choose a platform–otherwise, you may not be able to plan the event you were envisioning. 

Do you want participants to collaborate in break out rooms? Allow attendees to go through slides as a presenter delivers their work? Provide real-time viewing of research papers, charts, spreadsheets, and more technical documentation? The possibilities are endless, but not necessarily of every platform. 

After the event, what type of additional content do you want to make available? Recordings of the sessions or e-copies of materials? You want to enhance the experience of your participants without overwhelming them with flooded inboxes. 

Here are some of the top features that people look for when choosing the platform to host their event:

  • Live and pre-recorded video streaming
  • Mobile accessibility
  • Chat 
  • File sharing 
  • Virtual whiteboards
  • Screen sharing
  • Q&A tools
  • Engagement analysis on attendance and lead generation
  • Sponsorship support
  • In-app offers
  • Integration with live streaming social media platforms
  • Active speaker view
  • AI and gamification features
  • Backgrounds to create a branded virtual environment
  • Virtual waiting room
  • Breakout rooms
  • Pass presenter tool
  • Polling tools
  • App integration
  • Audio and video recording
  • In-app conference registration
  • Automated reminders

Potential Bottlenecks for Virtual Conferencing Platforms

There are potential bottlenecks with any virtual conferencing platforms. To start, there have been two major issues that speakers, attendees, and participants have reported in the past year. The first, is keeping the event attractive to sponsors and the second is keeping attendees engaged. Even if the event is a hybrid in-person and virtual event, these same pain points have proven to be the same.

How does this affect choosing your virtual conferencing platform? To start, reducing administrative tasks surrounding setup and implementation frees up even organizers to get more creative on the event delivery. 

In addition, platforms that require customization without integration create an enormous headache for users once the event is live because the platform’s performance is siloed from the other dependent technologies and platforms. 

The Top 6 Hosting Platforms

The top live event platforms and their key features are:

  • GoToWebinar
    • Offers GoToMeeting and GoToTraining, which allow participants to access events on a variety of devices. It is important to note that GoToMeeting does not offer breakout rooms but GoToTraining does
  • Cisco WebEx
    • Can host up to 3,000 people and 200 live streams. WebEx Teams and WebEx Training are better for smaller events.
  • Zoom
    • Can host up to 50,000 people with 100 live streams. The breakout rooms are ideal for collaborative events. 
  • WorkCast
    • Can host up to 5,000 people and is ideal for trade shows because of the sponsorship features. 
  • ClickMeeting
    • Hosting up to 1,000 people for an unlimited number of events every month. It is ideal for organizations that regularly host meetings throughout the year.
  • BigMarker
    • Offers hosting for up to 1,000 people on 9 different video streams. While BigMarker’s hosting capacity may be more limited than other platforms, it offers sophisticated customer and monetization solutions for events. 

No matter which platform you choose, it’s important to address your organizations immediate needs with its future conferencing goals. In addition, choosing a collection platform that can integrate with different hosting platforms as those needs evolve is critical to streamlining the process.