Hosting a Summit Online: 5 Things You Need to Know

Communication, Guestboard, Virtual Summits / Saturday, September 19th, 2020

Ever think about hosting a summit online, only to quickly find out how confusing the process is? If you’re silently nodding your head along right now, we get you, but we promise it no longer has to be that way. Great strides in virtual summit software have made planning online conferences easier than ever, and the benefits of hosting a summit online are practically innumerable. We’ll cover a few of the most important ones here, plus we’ll also show you how to get started in hosting your own. Ready to dive in?

First things first. If your feet have thus far been firmly planted in the in-person conference ground, you might be wondering what exactly do we mean by the term virtual summit?

What Is A Virtual Summit?

A virtual summit is a collaborative online even which brings together expert speakers in a particular field or niche.

It serves as an opportunity to establish yourself as a leader within your field, generate leads, and gain priceless professional growth. Sounds pretty good, huh?

So, why exactly should you host a summit online?

How holding a summit online vs. in-person is changing the conference game:

In comparison to in-person conferences, virtual summits are:

  • More affordable. By switching to online, you immediately nix the in-person conference costs of venues, event fees, food and beverage and any associated travel.
  • More accessible. With the office landscape continually evolving and businesses having teams located all over the world, getting everyone physically in one room is harder than ever. But a virtual summit? Strong wifi needed only.
  • More creative. No longer are your conferences limited by physical space or time constraints. Remember the strides in software we mentioned? Most virtual summit software can be personally adapted to your business’ specific needs and goals, many with 24/7 technical support available at your fingertips.
  • More measurable. Unless you’re saint-like, chances are, if you’ve ever attended an in-person conference, you’ve signed up for a discussion you didn’t actually attend, skewing the data. But virtual summits? Just the opposite. You can use analytics to track what events people attended, how much time was spent, what resounded most with the audience, the number of leads generated…the list goes on. You’ll gain invaluable, objective insight you can take back and apply to your business.

What Are the Benefits of Hosting a Virtual Summit?

While there’s a long list of benefits when it comes to hosting online, here are some of the most important ones:

With a virtual summit you can:

  • Grow your audience and expand your professional network
  • Establish yourself as a professional thought leader and expert within your field
  • Earn cash from a combination of valued speakers and solid marketing strategy
  • • Replay/reshare summits throughout the year for continued growth
  • Save on expensive in-person conference costs, and most importantly,
  • • Generate leads for future business revenue

Top Tips for Holding A Successful Summit Online

  • 1. Know your “why.”

    You need to clearly understand the purpose or the goal of your online summit. This might be things like generating new leads, expanding your network, reducing the business’ environmental impact, unveiling a new service or product, or simply, making money. Once you think you’ve narrowed down your ‘why,’ re-evaluate it again to really make sure a virtual summit is the answer.

  • 2. Create a timeline and stick to it religiously.

    A lot of planning and legwork goes into a virtual summit, and it’s crucial to stick to your timeline. Depending on the size of your business, it may be necessary to create a planning board. Make sure the stakeholders, speakers, and vendors are all on the same page throughout the process for the smoothest outcome. Letting tasks pile up week after week will result in last-minute stress and potentially poor outcomes. (Guestboard can create private threads for communicating with your speakers prior to the actual summit day!)

  • 3. Promote, promote, promote.

    You can have the best-laid plans, the most desired speakers, the most creative platform, and nobody will see it unless you properly promote it. Don’t scrimp on the promotion. Create a plan for this alongside the timeline to ensure that when the time comes, your desired audience will be ready and waiting for the moment you go live.

Necessary Planning Tools: Virtual Summit Software

The great thing about the kind of virtual summit software on the market now is that you don’t have to be super tech-savvy in order to host a summit online. Sure, you can build it yourself from the ground up, but who has the time to do that while also planning the entire summit? Nobody, that’s who.

Still, choosing the right software is crucial to the success of your virtual summit. For one, you want to ensure the software supports the size of your event. You also want to make sure the software does what you need it to do. No more, no less.

Here are three handy software options for hosting your summit:

  • virtual summit softwareVirtual Summits Software

    This company offers three packages ranging from $97 to $297 a month depending on your needs, whetheryou’re hosting a one-off summit or plan to do many throughout the year. What’s cool about their mid- and high-range options is that you can re-run your summits later down the road to new audiences. They promise you that you need absolutely no tech knowledge (zero, zilch) to host, and they even offer their own virtual summits on the topic of virtual summits so you can hop on one of theirs to learn how to host yours. So meta.

  • virtual summit software from GuestboardGuestboard

    Hey, that’s us! Guestboard is an online event platform that can be viewed on the web or on the go with its iOS and Android app.  It’s sleek and intuitive interface makes it easy for absolutely anyone to host an event ranging from 10 – 1000+ people.

    For virtual summits, its video chat capabilities allow events to be scheduled and hosted any time, banishing the idea that everything within the summit has to happen in one or two days. Events can also be scheduled concurrently, so attendees can go between ‘rooms’ when attending similar to a real conference, and a message board can be utilized to create threads around discussion topics. Planning a small summit? Guestboard is completely free up to 30 attendees, then credits can be purchased ($0.50/guest) to accommodate further attendees.  Why pay for people who may not attend?

  • virtual trade showVirtual Trade Show

    This is a virtual summit software platform manned by a provider known as Communique. Pricing is need-based, allowing you to scale up to 30,000+ attendees, and the platform works well on web and mobile with no software to download. This platform also supports 17 different languages, allowing you to communicate effectively to various audiences across the globe. Robust analytics are also included, which allow you to track the actions of each attendee. And last but not least, you’re assigned a full support team to ensure your event goes off without a hitch. Great for large groups, but expect to pay a premium for it.


In an increasingly digital world, it might just be time to swap out boring conference rooms for an upgraded virtual experience. Hosting an online summit is no longer as difficult or confusing as it used to be thanks to intuitive software, and this type of event is also proving to be an excellent way to grow your audience, generate new leads, and ultimately establish yourself as an expert within your field.

You’ve already taken the first step in familiarizing yourself with the benefits, tips, and software surrounding online summits. The next step is to get yours rolling.

Good luck, we’re rooting for you!

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