Meet-ups. Workshops. Webinars. Parties (yes, parties!). These are just some of the virtual event ideas your business can try. So if you haven’t jumped on the events train yet, you should! They can help you hit your goals—whether you’re looking to generate leads, expand your audience, build trust, or grow your revenue.
And now that Alignable has launched our new virtual events feature, it’s even easier to do everything in one place.
Now, if you’re overwhelmed or not sure where to start, don’t worry—we get it. It takes time to get to know and explore all the possibilities and learn how to make them work for you.
That’s why we’ve put together some fun virtual event ideas to get you inspired, get you excited, and get your creative juices flowing.
Let’s take a look.
9 Fun Virtual Event Ideas To Try Now
As we said above, there are many different reasons for hosting an online event. A recent report by AnyRoad on the state of virtual events in 2021 found that the most common reasons are to create engagement, improve brand awareness, and generate either direct or indirect revenue.
So what are the types of virtual events that could work for your business? Check out the ideas in the following list and keep your own business goals in mind. Doing so will guide your event brainstorming in the right direction.
1. Host a virtual tasting
If it seems like virtual tastings are all the rage right now, it’s with good reason: They’re a really fun way to bring people together and create a positive experience.
Our local dietetic association held a virtual wine and cheese tasting. It was nice to support a few small businesses and chat to each other while we sipped virtually.Lisa Andrews from Sound Bites Nutrition, LLC
Wine, cheese, coffee, chocolate—whatever you choose, you’re sure to find an audience hungry to join (pun intended).
So how to do it? You’re going to need some delicious treats packaged up into sample-sized tasting kits. Depending on your business, you can use your own products (great way to get them in front of a new audience) or partner with some local producers.
Get participants to supply their address when they register so you can ship them out a tasting kit ahead of time. Then, on the day, take them on a gustatory adventure they won’t forget.
2. Join together for a virtual local business fair
Next up on our list of virtual event ideas? A virtual business fair. These typically have “booths” participants can visit, but you can set one up any way you like. The idea is simply to give different businesses a platform for presenting their products and services to those who might be interested.
Running a virtual local business fair is a perfect way to join the #OneMainStreet movement and create a campaign to support your local business community.
As business coach Shoumo Ganguly points out, these types of events can also encourage local Main Street businesses to get online in some way.
“Going online need not be restricted to hosting a catalogue and offering an online shopping cart. It could also incorporate by-appointment or scheduled open time slots when prospects and patrons could drop in for a chat,” he says.
Don’t forget that the businesses involved can offer some unique deals or discounts to people as an incentive to attend. Everybody wins!
3. Launch a virtual problem-solving roundtable
If two heads are better than one, imagine what collective wisdom a whole group can bring.
With online events, there’s a real possibility to jointly solve problems, help each other, and give support to the community.
Here’s a stellar example from Dr. Pamela Reilly of Burst Through Ministries, Inc.
“I helped start a group that was solely based on helping the members meet needs,” says Pamela. “We met for dinner once a month and laughed and had a great time.”
After the dinner, each person present would share their need and the table would brainstorm to meet that need.
“There was no selling or pitching. It was true networking,” Pamela adds. “The needs varied widely, but the combined wisdom of the group always shared actions and referrals to help the person meet the need.”
There was no selling or pitching. It was true networking. The needs varied widely, but the combined wisdom of the group always shared actions and referrals to help the person meet the need.Pamela Reilly
It’s easy to take this idea online, and doing so means you can bring in people from all over. Simply choose a day for the event and enjoy a virtual meal. You can even have themes for the type of food you eat, so it feels like you’re all sharing the experience together.
Hosting a virtual roundtable may not be a direct revenue driver, but it’s an excellent way to form connections, build partnerships, and solve problems, ultimately leading to business growth (and yes, more revenue in the long run!).
Here’s how to host a virtual networking event so everyone gets the most out of it.
4. Support a cause
Virtual fundraisers are a great way to generate goodwill and bring people together in support of a common cause.
Here are a few online events ideas for fundraisers to get you started:
- A virtual fun run (or walk)
- A virtual gala
- An online concert with ticket proceeds going to charity
- An online auction – this is a great way to partner with various businesses to each offer a product or service
While virtual fundraisers are of course ideal for non-profit organizations and community groups looking to raise funds, they’re also a fantastic way for businesses to generate engagement and raise brand awareness by acting as champions for their own company values.
5. Spotlight your community
A little positivity always goes a long way, regardless of what business you’re in. Why not use online events to share talents, celebrate the achievements of staff members, or shine a spotlight on something positive happening in the community?
“The most creative online events have been our Zoom classes where we expose hidden talents in people with special needs,” says Billy Ayres of Lifeline Theatre Inc. “We are able to expose multiple intelligences in a creative-non judgmental environment. The results are life changing!”
6. Make use of breakout rooms
When we asked you about the best online networking events you’ve attended, many of you mentioned the value of breakout rooms.
“The one I was most impressed by had a general session and then used the breakout rooms. They provided a list of questions to have the room go around and answer to help drive connections,” says Amanda Goff from Silver Keys Media.
Claudeth Forbin agrees that the best breakout sessions start with conversation starters. “This is great for the more introverted person,” says the Flushing-based financial consultant.
Another way to use breakout rooms is to give each group a challenge or fun problem-solving task to work on together. Then sit back and watch the team spirit emerge.
Ann D Middleman describes one such event:
“There was a speaker on event planning; then the group (about 70 or 80 people) was broken up into several smaller groups and given a ‘situation’ for which to plan an event. This allowed us to meet other people in a setting in which we had to work together. It also allowed us to demonstrate our creativity and ability to work as a team,” she says.
7. Give value with virtual classes
Many businesses have had to embrace virtual classrooms as a way to continue running – gyms, yoga studios, pottery businesses, etc.
But even if hosting classes isn’t your primary source of income, there’s no reason to rule them out as a way to promote or add value to your business.
Think of it this way: By sharing your knowledge, you have the opportunity to build authority and grow your reputation as an expert in your field. If you choose to charge a fee, virtual classes can even become an additional revenue stream.
A few examples…
- A beauty salon might run a virtual makeup tutorial.
- An interior decorator might give a class on color theory.
- An accountant might run a Q&A session on personal finance.
- A bar might set up a virtual mixology class.
- A restaurant might offer online cooking classes
- And so on…
So, ask yourself, what expertise do I have and how could I share it in a way that gives value to my (existing or potential) client base?
8. Host live games and competitions
Without a doubt, some of the most fun virtual event activities are those that bring out the competitive spirit that lurks inside us all. So why not host a virtual trivia night, scavenger hunt, escape room, or game of charades?
Incorporate your business’ products or services by giving away prizes to the winners.
Alternatively, partner with other local businesses to widen the pool of prizes.
9. Try some speed networking
If you had just three minutes to get to know someone, what would you tell them? What would you ask?
Enter speed networking (yes, it’s like speed dating for making business contacts!), one of the best virtual event ideas out there, according to Alignable members.
“Speed networking is making valuable use of a short amount of time,” explains counsellor and life coach Pattie Ann Sadler. “It’s a great tool.”
Speed networking is making valuable use of a short amount of timePattie Ann Sadler
Speed networking is a really fun event to host or to partake in, and you’d be amazed at what connections you can make in a few short minutes.
The amount of time you allow each pairing for is up to you, as is whether you provide any set topics or ice-breaker questions. Be creative!
How Do You Make a Virtual Event Fun and Interesting?
So you’ve read through our list of ideas for virtual events and got something in mind… Your next question might be, how can you make it interesting?
It’s true, nothing quite compares to a three-dimensional world where we can engage all our senses. But virtual events bring plenty of benefits of their own, and there are things you can do to make sure your event is engaging.
Here are a few tips:
Even the best virtual event ideas need solid planning.to make them work. If you wing it and hope for the best, things might go brilliantly… or they might not. Your best bet is to put some time into planning the event and clearly communicating to any other hosts and speakers what their role will be and how much time they have – that way things will go smoothly on the day.
For in-depth ways to plan your best event, check out this expert-driven guide to hosting virtual events.
Name it & theme it
Reading this response from Pam Thompson of Thompson Wellness reminded us of the value of strong branding for online events:
“By far my favorite women’s networking event is Wine, Women & Wealth!” Pam shares. “I have met many ladies each month, created wonderful relationships which have led to clients eventually, been empowered by the content of the event, and overall have become a better person for having attended consistently.”
The name of the event – Wine, Women & Wealth – isn’t just catchy, it immediately tells you what you need to know. By setting a strong theme from the outset, you help to define your event – what it is, what it isn’t, and what people can expect from it.
Even the most basic video conferencing setup will allow screen sharing, meaning you can show images, videos, documents and anything else that supports your online content and keeps it interesting.
There are many virtual event platforms to choose from, so do your research and choose the one that best fits your needs, skills, and goals.
Add value and incentives
Competitions and giveaways, deals and discounts, free downloadable resources, access to expertise… these are just a few examples of how you can incentivize people to register for and participate in your virtual events, as well as keep them interesting.
Mix it up
If you’re conducting a longer event – like a multi-speaker conference or webinar – factor in the existence of what’s come to be known as “Zoom fatigue.” Keep presenters within time limits, schedule in regular breaks, and mix up the program to keep people engaged.
Read more about how to host a standout virtual event.
Ready to launch your own virtual event?
Hopefully these virtual events examples and ideas have given you plenty of food for thought. Have you tried running any online events yet? What virtual event ideas do you have and what ones have you tried? Join the conversation below and share your experiences.
And, if you’re not yet an Alignable member or part of a group, be sure to join now so you can host your own virtual event using our simple-to-use platform.