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Virtual Event Best Practice Ideas

Hosting a virtual event requires much of the same planning as an in-person event. The big difference is you may need to think a little differently about how you can best engage your attendees, create connections for them and offer learning and development opportunities.

During the CUPA-HR Leader Experience region breakout sessions in September 2020, chapter leaders who have hosted a virtual event shared suggestions and best practices for ensuring a successful event.

Selecting a Virtual Meeting Platform

  • Identify your goals and objectives first. Determining what your board hopes to accomplish with your event will help you select the best meeting platform.
  • Determine if you will record your event. Keep in mind that if your event is focused on open conversations, people may not feel comfortable speaking freely knowing their comments will be recorded and shared.
  • The CUPA-HR National Office can host your event using the Zoom meeting platform if you so choose. You can find details in the Volunteer Leader Toolkit.


  • Rethink programming and your agenda. It is important to recognize that workloads have increased and many people cannot commit to stepping away from their work demands for more than a couple of hours. Keeping someone’s attention in a virtual setting can also be challenging. Consider keeping your programming to no more than a couple of hours.
  • Make sure programming is beneficial to all and not to a specific specialty area. Having a topic that appeals to all higher ed HR professionals will help broaden your audience.
  • Provide time and opportunities for attendees to comment and ask questions, just like you would for an in-person event.

Before the Event

  • Assign roles to board members, such as facilitating live conversation, monitoring the chat box or keeping an eye on the waiting room. This is a good way to ensure all board leaders and other volunteers stay engaged throughout the event and feel like they’re part of the team leading your chapter. Other roles could include asking leaders to live tweet about your event using a specific hashtag, jot down highlights of the event to share with attendees and others afterwards, or lead conversations in breakout discussions.
  • Create a script with details such as who’s doing what and when. Practice with anyone involved in producing your event (leaders, speakers, etc.) to make sure everyone is comfortable with their assigned roles and the meeting platform features.
  • Use the waiting room feature in Zoom or other “green room” capabilities in other platforms to allow presenters and volunteers time to prepare before attendees join the event. This feature in Zoom also allows attendees to join the event at the same time. It is best to not use the chime feature to alert you to people in the waiting room. The chime can be distracting once your meeting has started.
  • Double check role assignments in your chosen platform to ensure that presenters, volunteers and others have access to the tools they need during the event.
  • Review your platform’s security settings and features to prevent unwanted guests or malicious interference during your event.

During the Event

  • Share some “housekeeping” notes at the start of your event. Inform attendees how to mute and unmute themselves (if applicable), where the chat box is located and how to ask a question or make a comment.
  • Encourage attendees to share their video screen, if appropriate for your event. It is more welcoming to see a person instead of a blank screen and will also encourage your attendees to be more engaged and focused during the event.
  • Use a breakout room feature to provide attendees an opportunity to connect with one another. Be sure to give your attendees a question or two to discuss in their breakout rooms and plenty of time to discuss the question(s) with their group. It is helpful to have a designated facilitator in each breakout room to guide the conversations.

These are just a few of the suggestions shared during the region breakouts. If you were not able to attend your region breakout or would like to review what was shared, the recordings of the Ignite Sessions are available in the Chapter Management Community Library.