With in-person events being canceled, we have put together a list of virtual meeting platforms that can be used for various types of events. Many of the platforms mentioned can be used for both small and large events, however they are classified under the type of event where their features are best suited.
Tips for Hosting a Virtual Event
- Assign a virtual host to introduce speakers, and facilitate transitioning between speakers (if there are multiple).
- To make your event more accessible, record and post sessions online following the event.
- Provide training on the platform to presenters and hosts beforehand.
- Consider the timing of your virtual events to accommodate participants in different time zones. Early afternoons work well for many time zones in Canada, US, and Europe.
For more ideas, read Tips on how to Plan a Virtual Meeting.
Small Scale: Workshops, Meetings, and Webinars
Meeting Capacity: Up to 250
With the ability to participate in multiple chat groups at once, Teams is a great platform for workshops and meetings. It makes collaborating with colleagues very easy. Access to Teams is provided by York University (details here).
Restrictions are revealed when external participants join a meeting (ie: do not have a Teams account), as they will not be able to access the ‘chat’ feature, often used for questions.
Meeting Capacity: Up to 250
With a focus on video chatting, Google Meet is a great platform for virtual meetings. It also comes with the entire G-Suite (eg. Google Sheets/Docs/etc) so collaborating on documents is very easy.
Restrictions include joining an event via the web, which is only accessible through Google Chrome.
Other similar platforms
Large Scale: Conferences, Symposiums, Panel Discussions, and Lectures
Meeting Capacity: Up to 300 (using York account)
York University provides Faculty and Staff access to Zoom. This platform works great for hosting large events such as conferences. Hosts, Speakers, and Participants can access a ‘chat’ feature to discuss and ask questions. Participants can also be pulled into the presentation to ask questions over audio by using the ‘raise your hand’ feature. This allows for interactive presentations.
A restrictions is that ‘Zoom Webinar’ add-on is not included in all accounts, which includes additional features like ‘Q&A’ and ‘polls’. Without this add-on, questions and discussion can only go through the ‘chat’, which can make it hard to find all questions being asked.
Meeting Capacity: Up to 500
A platform which includes features such as ‘live chat’, ‘whiteboard’, ‘Q&A’, and ‘polls’ is BigMarker. With many features to encourage discussion, this is a great platform for facilitating audience engagement.
The restrictions to BigMarker are the cost, which can be hundreds of dollars a month depending on the type of license purchased.