Tips and tricks for hosting a conference on Altar Live

Altar Live is a great platform for hosting online conferences that feel like they’re in person.  From weekend retreats to networking events, here are some tips and tricks to guide you through the process of hosting a conference on Altar Live.

With an in-person event, you’d probably take the time to figure out where each activity should take place, what tools would be needed for each activity, etc.  The same is true for virtual events.  Here are a couple exercises you can use to plan out your virtual conference space - so grab your pencil, conference agenda, a cup of tea (optional) and let's get planning!

Setting Up Your Virtual Conference Space

Map it out

Imagine your virtual event space as a physical location in your mind (or draw it out) - it could be your church, a conference building, or an entirely fictional ideal event hall.  Now, imagine the day of your conference - where would each item on your agenda take place? Here are some prompt questions to get you started:

  • How many people do I see attending this agenda item?
  • How are these people interacting (if at all)?
  • Is there seating?  What does it look like?
  • Is there a main speaker/stage/etc?
  • How are leaders communicating with attendees?
  • Are attendees grouped in any particular way?
  • How are attendees leaving/entering the space?
  • Bonus: What are potential pain points for each item on the agenda?  What would make them smoother?

Now, map out each agenda item to a virtual space.  On Altar there are 3 main spaces - the Auditorium, Rooms, and the Lobby - each with their own customizable features.  The Auditorium is a large event space that can have seating in rows, tables, or neither.  The Lobby is a space intended for discussion with the option of tables for seating and/or multiple open rooms. For example:

  • If your space looks like a main speaker on a stage, an Auditorium might be the best space for that agenda item.
  • If your space looks like people networking, a Lobby with tables (or even rooms for larger group discussions) might be the best space.
  • If your space looks like a round-table discussion, a meeting room might be the best space for that agenda item.

Timing is everything

Once you’ve figured out which virtual space you’d like for each agenda item, you can start to build your conference on Altar Live.  You’ll want to consider not only the space but the timing of each agenda item, and how each item interacts with each other.  For example:

If you have only one agenda item in a virtual auditorium space…

  • You may want to consider having only one Altar Live event, and move attendees between the Auditorium and Lobby as needed.  Note, however, that attendees cannot be in both the Auditorium and Lobby at the same time in the same event.

If you want to have multiple agenda items going on at the same time…

  • You can create multiple simultaneous events/meetings (with Altar, you can have as many events or meetings going on at the same time as you’d like).

If you have multiple auditorium speakers, each with their own livestream broadcast…

  • You’ll need to set up multiple events.  Each event can only have one stream source.
    Bonus - You can automatically re-direct attendees to the next event or meeting using custom event endings.

If you want attendees to be able to switch between discussions easily…

  • You may want to use a lobby space with multiple rooms.  This way, attendees won’t have to leave the event to find the discussion room they’re looking for.  Plus, you can name the rooms to make them easy to find.  
  • You can even have an open event going on all day that’s just a Lobby for people to network (check out how Ecamm set up their networking).

Congratulations, you’ve set up your space! Now let's get your team ready to go.

Getting Your Hospitality Team Ready

Every good conference needs a team to keep things running. Whether the team consists of yourself, or yourself and several others, Altar Live has tools to help you keep things moving smoothly.

Your hospitality team is a great asset when it comes to welcoming attendees and running events. 

  • Altar has two types of team members - hosts and greeters. Hosts can start/end events, move attendees around, access host notes, plus all the functions of a greeter. Greeters can chat with all users (even those who aren't signed in), publish interactions, and moderate chat. You can also customize the titles of your hosts and greeters to make it clear to attendees who to ask questions to.
  • In addition to your main host team that keeps the event running, you may want to add a greeter team responsible for answering attendee questions and making them feel welcome.
  • Bonus:  Altar allows you to create a custom greeter message that will automatically send to every attendee.  It’s a great way to simulate that welcome-table feel.

Set your team up for success

Conferences can be fast-paced and it’s easy for things to get lost in the details.  Let’s look at setting up some of those details for your team ahead of time and adding them to your agenda. Imagine (or draw) your space like you did before, but this time, take note of what tools are being used, what team members are there, and what information is being shared.

Now, let's map those items to virtual tools and tasks- for example:

  • Handouts - When physical copies of information are given out, note on your agenda that a PDF handout should be sent in general chat.
  • Surveys - At times when a speaker would ask for a raise of hands or paper surveys would be handed out, create polls right within Altar Live. You can even create them ahead of time using templates and note on your agenda when they should be sent.
  • Announcements - if you’re planning on telling attendees that they have x amount of time to wrap up their discussions, or reminding them about the next activity on the schedule, consider creating an announcement template and note on your agenda when it should be sent.
  • Bonus - if you know what time a poll or announcement should be sent out, you can schedule it ahead of time during event creation/editing. To learn more, check out this article about scheduling interactions.
  • Transitions - If you’re in an event space with an Auditorium for a speaker and the Lobby for post-event discussion, a host will have to manually move everyone into the lobby.  Make sure you have a host assigned to do this! When creating an event, you can customize event ending so that users will be automatically prompted to move to the next event. However, you may still want a host to announce the transition to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Bonus - if your team is large you may also want to delegate team members to specific types of tasks.

Once you’ve added all the details, you can send this agenda to your team via email, or use Altar’s own host notes feature (unlike emails, host notes can be edited during the event)!

Take it for a test drive

One of the best ways to make sure everything goes smoothly on the big day is to try it ahead of time.  Consider running a “dress rehearsal” with your team so that hosts have a chance to get used to the platform and any unforeseen issues can be resolved early.  

Bonus:  Depending on your conference setup, you may want to ask your speakers to attend your test, or set up a separate time to test with them individually.  Not only can you work out any technical bugs with them, but they’ll have the opportunity to check out the platform and become comfortable with the space.

If you have a lot of time:

  • Connect your livestream source(s) and test their scheduling and connection
  • Go through each item on your agenda, including transitions
  • Consider having a few friends or family pretend to be attendees so you can get feedback on a non-host perspective

If you don’t have a lot of time:

  • Connect your livestream source(s) and test their connection
  • Go through each type of item on your agenda (ie. discussion, speaker session, etc.)
  • Review your agenda with your team
  • Point out locations, roles etc.
  • Be sure to listen for questions and feedback!

Bonus: Looking for even more host training?  Check out Altar Academy’s Host and Greeter course - it’s free and can be completed at you or your team’s pace.

Create a Welcoming Environment

In a traditional conference space, you might have a welcome table with schedules, maps, and greeters - along with signs and ushers throughout the event.  Even though a virtual event welcome might look a little different, it still serves the same function.

Set Up Your Home Base

Altar Live allows you to create a landing page that serves as both a schedule and a map in one! Although any type of conference can benefit from a well designed landing page, conferences with multiple event spaces will find them a great home base.

A landing page allows your attendees to…

  • View all events set to public. You can even set your events as “featured” to display them at the top of the page.
  • Check the time and lineup of events (even simultaneous ones).
  • Join events just by clicking on them.

You can set up your landing page with your own logo, colors, navigation links, and even favicon (you can find out how here).  Customizing your landing page is like adding banners and other branding to your conference space - while it might not affect the logistics of your event, it solidifies brand identity and makes your Attendees feel welcome.

Invite Your Attendees

Depending on the style of your conference, you may want to send out an email so that attendees can become members of your Altar community ahead of time.
Note:  Be sure your community looks the way you want it before sending invites, as it will be visible to anyone who joins.

Here’s a template email about creating an account:

  • Hello [Name]!

    We’re so excited for [Conference Title], and we hope you are too.  This year, we’ll be using Altar Live - an online event platform - to virtually host the conference (If you’d like to learn more about Altar Live, you can check out this short video). To use all of Altar’s engagement features, you’ll need to create an account - don’t worry, it’s free, and will only take a few minutes.  To sign-in ahead of time, use this invite link [Invite Link], or you can sign-in on the day of the conference.

    See you there!

And here’s a template email inviting users to the Landing Page:

  • Hello [Name]! 

    We’re so excited for [Conference Title] - we can’t believe it’s only [Number] days away! This year, we’ll be using Altar Live - an online event platform - to virtually host the conference (If you’d like to learn more about Altar Live, you can check out this short video).  You can find the event schedule here: [Landing Page Link].  On the day of the conference, all you have to do to join a session is click on it.

    See you soon!

More Resources for Hosting a Virtual Conference

We hope these tips and tricks help you confidently set up your conference on Altar Live.  If you’re looking for more ideas (and even real-life examples), check out these resources:

Hosts and Greeters

How to Share Your Screen

Learn about running events, interactions, and other host & greeter functions.

Learn More
Hosts and Greeters

Email Templates: Introducing your Community to Altar Live

Learn about running events, interactions, and other host & greeter functions.

Learn More
Hosts and Greeters

How to Host a Conference on Altar Live

Learn about running events, interactions, and other host & greeter functions.

Learn More