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The Million Dollar Question: How Long Should a Virtual Event Be?

The world of virtual events has provided so much opportunity for companies seeking ways to connect with their teams, partners, and customers over the past year. In fact, over 85% of companies think that virtual events are here to stay, and over half of companies increasing their virtual event budgets in 2021. While these numbers are promising, many companies are still in the trial-and-error phase of their virtual event ideation and planning. There’s still a steep learning curve! One of the biggest questions our Eventistry by Alecia team continues to get on the daily is, “How long should my virtual event be?”

Now, just like in-person events, not every virtual event is created equal. The length of your virtual event depends on factors like your goals, audience, budget, whether it’s hybrid or 100% virtual, etc. But what we can do is give you a few tried-and-true best practices for virtual event length!

Let’s dive in.

Short & Sweet: Virtual Event Session Length

Friends, how many of you have experienced a virtual event session that seems to drag over the past year? I think all of us are raising our hands. The ultimate goal while planning your virtual event agenda is to avoid virtual event fatigue! Let’s keep those attendees engaged.

For the average virtual event session, try to keep it to 20-30 minutes. Added bonus if you add in a quick stretch break in between sessions! If it’s a keynote or panel discussion, up to 60-minutes is fine. But if the session is longer, you want to make sure you have enough engaging content to really spark conversation, engagement, and not lose your audience.

A good best practice is to cut your virtual sessions down by 15-30 minutes from what you would typically offer during an in-person event.

One-Day Virtual Event Length

If you’re doing a single-day virtual event, try to limit it to a half-day, 3 to 4 hours maximum. Think about how busy your schedule is on a daily basis and realize that everyone else is that busy too! Especially with so many still working from home juggling kids, work, and trying to take a few minutes for themselves—it’s so hard for people to dedicate more than half their day to a virtual event.

One great consideration if you have a lot of content you want to cover is to consider a multi-day event… which leads us to the next tip!

Multi-Day Virtual Event Length

One practice we have seen a lot of success with for companies who have a ton of content they want to get out there but don’t want to bombard people with all the things all in one day, is a multi-day event. This could look different depending on your event goals, but one hour of sessions daily—whether that’s a couple of 20-minute sessions or one 60-minute Q&A session with a thought leader—is super effective for ROI and lead generation.

This way, people can really pick what they want to attend or if they want to attend every session, it’s easier to fit one hour into your schedule than a few!

These can also be pre-recorded but streamed with a live chat option to save some time and stress on the day of the event. Lots of options for how to manage this multi-day virtual event format!

Virtual Portion of a Hybrid Event Length

Many event industry resources are predicting that the latter half of 2021 will be filled with hybrid events as places start to open up again. But what does that look like? Again, it will differ from event to event, but our suggestion is do not stream the entire event virtually. First off, this will get wildly expensive. Second, think about time commitments! If they’re not on-site with you, they have other things going on. So don’t waste resources if sessions won’t be highly attended virtually. For example, the evening gala with a speaker may ultimately leave people feeling left out if they’re logging in from home while others are dressed up and enjoying a meal on-site. You could send a meal box so they can join in too, or just skip streaming that part.

Stick to streaming the major highlighted sessions like the keynote. This will keep budgets lower and engagement higher!

Planning a Virtual or Hybrid Event? Let the EBA Team Help!

Timing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning a virtual or hybrid event. If you’re feeling stuck and not sure how to reach your big event goals, our Eventistry by Alecia team is standing by ready to help. We’ve helped clients with virtual events hosting tens of thousands of attendees over the past year. From sponsorship to choosing the right platform to creative exclusive virtual event ideas—we can help with it all! Let’s chat to see how we can help ensure your next virtual event is a success.

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