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How to organize a virtual event for college students

Virtual event or online talent shows are life-saving activities in these pandemic days for college students.

Being a college student is fun when you organize or participate in events but that is now shifted online.

Nowadays various offline classrooms and events are being held on virtual platforms due to pandemics.

But what if I say that you can also organize a virtual event or talent show for your college or maybe at inter-college level, Here is how to do it step by step.

Hi everyone, I’m Ankit Upadhyay. The author of this blog post, a medical student, programmer, designer and I doodle sometimes.

You will love my newsletter because it is filled with interesting links related to the stuff I do.

So let’s find out how to host a virtual event step by step

What type of virtual event will it be?

What type of virtual event will it be?
Photo by Nainoa Shizuru on Unsplash

When it comes to hosting an event, we should prepare for it earlier so that we can make sure if most people are enjoying it.

I am talking about an online event/ talent show where you will ask participants to send their entries and you will showcase them on the Instagram page of the event.

For instance, entries could be like photographs, artwork, or any activity that could be held online.

A team of jury members will decide winners on the basis of few judging criteria for each event category and we will give certificates or rewards for winners.

It is the most suitable way to hold a virtual event and talent show for college students.

This will engage most students and it will be easier to connect people (Who doesn’t use Instagram in college?)

So here is the basic format of the event 

This is how our virtual event will be held.
  • Take entries
  • Post at Instagram
  • Make judgements and decide winners
  • Give certificates and rewards.

Because this event is going to be held online, you need to make a team of organizers capable of doing some technical stuff.

Don’t be afraid if you can’t handle technical things easily.

Almost every process I have explained here involves automation and you don’t have to do much.

We have machines to do our work.

Here is how to organize a successful virtual event step by step

  1. Make a capable team of organizers
  2. Schedule meetings
  3. Decide event categories and rules for each catagory
  4. Design your event accessories & Instagram Handle
  5. Decide date and start promoting it.
  6. Take entries using google forms
  7. Handle participants using google sheets
  8. Make a definitive caption framework for Instagram post
  9. Make judgements and decide winner
  10. Send certificates to participants automatically

Let’s go through each point one by one

Make a capable team of organizers

Make a capable team of organizers
Photo by Leon on Unsplash

Teamwork is very crucial for such group activities and while you are conducting an inter-college level talent show or virtual event, you need to gather fine team members capable of doing a little technical work.

A good team will make the workload easier and enjoyable too.

But don’t worry if you can’t gather such tech-geeks. Most of the things that I am going to tell you are easy and almost everyone can learn and do it.

If you’re going to host a national-level inter-college virtual event show then you need to gather a team of 10-20 members.

If you want this to be a specific event show for only medical colleges or only for IIT students, then a fine team of 10 members would be enough to handle the show.

Let’s know what skills your team members should have to make a perfect team.

  1. Graphic Design for making brochure and logo. (At least a person that can use photoshop or Figma efficiently)
  2. A person who know to work on excel or google sheets to handling participants data. ( at least 2 members) 
  3. A person to post entries on Instagram with in specific manner.
  4. Social media geek to handle Gmail and Instagram DMs. ( at least 2 members)
  5. One with good connections. (For promotion of the event)
  6. Admins of the organizers team ( 2 members) for arranging chat groups and meetings.
  7. Video editing skills for making promo videos and edit entries for making them valid for Instagram post or IGTV or Reels.

If you already have members with the above skills, you do not have to worry much about the game. But If you are struggling to find such skills either hire a freelancer or ask a friend with the skills.

You can also handle it on your own with your friend circle. For that, read the whole blog article to learn how to do it.

How to schedule online meetings of organizers

Once you have a capable team of virtual event organizers, It becomes necessary to make the most out of it and that can be done easily through scheduling frequent meetings between team members.

There is plenty of software and apps that can assist in scheduling online video or audio meetings between team members.

Here are few best free video/audio conferencing & virtual meeting platforms

Here are few best free video/audio conferencing & virtual meeting platforms
Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

Here is the list of the software and apps with their limitations in the free plan.

1. Zoom

  • Host up to 100 participants
  • One meeting time limit is 40 minutes

2. Google meet

  • Host up to 100 participants
  • Time limit for free plan is 60 minutes per meeting

3. Cisco webex

  • 1 host maximum
  • Time limit per meeting is up 50 minutes
  • Participants limit per meeting is up to 100

4. Microsoft teams

  • Host up to 100 participants
  • Time limit of 60 minutes per meeting

5. Skype

  • limit of 4 hours per individual video call after that call will be switched to audio with almost no time limit
  • Add up to 50 participants at a time

6. Discord

  • Max up to 25 participants in video call (Audio call no limit)

7. Clubhouse

  • Exclusive audio chat only
  • Can join by invite only

I recommend choosing audio calls instead of video calls otherwise it could be distracting and meetings could go off-topic.

Decide your meeting goals before conducting a meeting and mention the meeting time on the organizer’s chat group.

Use WhatsApp for making a chat group for organizers.

Handling these meetings and chat groups is the responsibility of the Admins of the virtual event team.

You should use google meet, Zoom, or Cisco Webex for arranging frequent meetings for organizers

Decide event categories and rules

Decide event categories and rules
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

For virtual events and talent shows at the college level, you can decide interesting and enjoyable event categories that may be related to the talents of the participants

Here are few event categories you may choose from

  1. Photography
  2. Artwork (Drawing / Sketching / Painting / Collage )
  3. Dancing
  4. Singing
  5. Poetry
  6. Karaoke
  7. Memes
  8. StandUp Comedy / role play/ Vines
  9. Instrument Playing
  10. Quiz
  11. Creatrive writing
  12. Seminars
  13. Blog post writing
  14. Youtube video editing and much more you can create on your own.

If you want then you can set standard rules for each event category like mention the device name in the Photography category, Singing entries must be without any sound effects. Bring original ideas only.

You can set those rules for each event category and mention them in your Instagram handle using story Highlights or posts, in your brochure, and in the entry form also.

For live quizzes, you can use a platform called Quizalize. Make a Teacher account on it and explore it to hold a quiz event.

How to design brochure and logo for the virtual event

How to design brochure and logo for the virtual event
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

It’s time to bring your designer friend because he is the one that will make your event in tractor eye-catching If you don’t have such a personality then you can also do it easily

A person who is able to use Photoshop, Figma, Canva, Crello can make brochures and logos for the virtual event and talent show.

You can get inspiration for brochures and logos from the various websites on the Internet like Pinterest, Dribbble, Behance or there are lots of templates for event brochures on Canva and Crello.

Do not forget to specify each and every event category details, rules, and regulations in your event brochure including all judging criteria and the entry rules for participants.

Make a separate Gmail ( Must ) account for this event and use this Gmail to open an Instagram account separately. We will use the google suit for this event so it is better to have one.

Give proper hyperlinks to the Instagram handle and email in your event brochure.

Use Linktree in your Instagram bio to give links to the PDF of the event brochure and entry form also.

Make highlights of Instagram stories for Rules, Judging Criteria.

Decide dates and start promoting it

Decide dates and start promoting it
Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

Once you have prepared the brochure, logo, and Instagram handle for the virtual event or talent show, you should start arranging meetings for deciding dates and entry deadlines for participants.

Mention all the dates and deadlines to your Instagram story highlights.

Keep your participants engaged with the event using Instagram stories.

Start following your college mates from the Instagram handle of your event and ask your juniors and seniors to promote the page itself

How to take entries for virtual event using google forms

How to take entries for virtual event using google forms
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Now let’s start talking that how you will take entries for the event.

We will use google forms here to get participant’s details and entry files.

What you should ask your participants

  1. Email address (Mandatory)
  2. Full name
  3. College Name
  4. Batch Year
  5. Event catagory in which he/she want to participate
  6. Ask for File submisubmission

Here is how you make a google form asking for these entries.

1. Email address field

Google forms : making name field
Google forms: making name field

You must collect the email addresses of participants because later on, you are going to send certificates and rewards through it.

To do this click on the settings of the google form and check the ☑ collect email checkbox and make participants edit the form later.

Settings for collecting google form.
Check all these marked checkboxes.

Do not check the ‘Limit to one response’ button until you want to restrict participants to participate in only one event category.

If it is unchecked that means your participants can fill this form multiple times.

2. Full Name

Google form settings for Full Name
Google form settings for Full Name

You can make specific rules for filling in the full name of the participant but it’s not necessary.

3. College Name

Google form customization for college name field
Google form customization for the college name field

If you want to that your participant must be a college student, then you can make it a required field.

4. Batch year

Google form : Making a batch year field
Google form: Making a batch year field

You should make a dropdown list for participants to choose Batch year, this will prevent the filling of arbitrary years by participants

5. Choose event catagory

Setup your virtual event category field like this in google form
Setup your virtual event category field like this in the google form

If your participant wants to participate in multiple event categories then we will make sure that he/she can opt for only one event category at a time and that’s why we have used a multiple-choice option for this field, not checkboxes.

The participant will have to fill the form again to participate in another event category hence we have not checked the one response limit in the form settings.

This will help you in handling participant’s data in google sheets.

6. Ask for file submission

You need to specify the type, number, and size for the entry file submission.

Customize the file upload field like this
Customize the file upload field like this

Once you set the maximum file size limit, you will see an error text written in the red box in the above image.

The error will be like this

Error after checking maximum file size to 1GB
Error after checking maximum file size to 1GB

You can easily remove this error by clicking on the ‘change’ text given in the error and you will see the setting window.

Change the maximum size for all files to 10GB like this.

Set it to 10GB to remove the error
Set it to 10GB to remove the error

Now you will see there is no error and you can proceed forward.

After making all these customizations you can save your google form and now it’s ready to take entries.

I would suggest you test it multiple times to make sure that it’s final.

You can add the Rules and Regulations text field in your google form also.

Making a rules and regulations field in google form
Keep this field on the top of your google form

Copy your google form link and put it on Linktree or Instagram bio.

Copy your google form link
Copy and short the google form link and share it

You can ask for an Instagram account from participants so that you can DM them later for any kind of change in the entry.

You can make a field for asking Instagram account like the same as the Name field.

How to handle participants data using google sheets

How to handle participants data using google sheets
Photo by Myriam Jessier on Unsplash

After creating the Google form we will make a spreadsheet linked to it so that we can collect user data in an excel sheet dynamically.

To make this Excel sheet we will use Google sheets and we need to change a setting in our Google form this will create a Google sheet linked to the form.

Here is how to do it.

Click on the Google sheets icon in the responses tab of the Google form then click on create.

All the entries are coming from that Google form will be dynamically added to this Google sheet and you can access this sheet anytime through your Google Drive.

You can see all the data your participants filled in the google form with drive link of entry files.

This google sheet will be your garage or basement of files and you will post them to Instagram from here.

For easing this process I advise you to add few extra columns in your google sheets to keep the status of the entries which are already posted.

You can name the column ‘Status’ and write about the post status of that specific entry.

You will need to learn few basics of google sheets if you haven’t worked on a spreadsheet before. Few YouTube tutorials can help you in handling the participant’s data.

Make a specific posting format for Instagram post

Make a specific posting format for Instagram post
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Because we are hosting our virtual event on the Instagram page then you need to consider few size regulations and knowledge about Instagram.

Instagram post dimensions

  1. Square post : 1080 x 1080 px or 1:1 aspect ratio
  2. Vertical / Portrait Post : 1080 x 1350 px or 4:5 aspect ratio
  3. Horizontal / Landscape Post : 1080 x 566px or 1.91 : 1 aspect ratio

Instagram Video post dimensions

Videos less than 1 minute can be posted as normal Instagram posts

  1. IGTV
    • Video time length : 15 sec to 10 min.
    • Dimensions : 4:5 or 9:16 aspect ratio.
    • File size : Up to 650 MB
  2. Reels
    • Video time length : up to 30 sec.
    • Dimensions : 4:5 or 9:16 aspect ratio.

Now you need to make a specific format for each event category to keep things sorted and you can do the following things.

Give a codeword or ID for each entry that explains the event category and entry number.

For example, I specify a code #01 for photography and #02 for drawing entries

Then an Instagram post with ID #02017 will tell you that it’s a 17th drawing entry on our Instagram page.

You can mention these IDs in the caption of each post, and for IGTV videos you can make series that will help you in keeping things managed.

Suppose a person named Vikas Gupta sends you an entry in photography from the college IIT, Delhi of 2019 batch.

If it is the 14th entry of photography on your Instagram page, then the caption would be like this

#01014 Vikas Gupta (@HisInstagram)


IIT, Delhi – 2019


this will be the Instagram caption for his entry

You can attain this format for each post in your virtual event or make your own format to post them.

Make judgments and decide winners

Make judgements and decide winners
Photo by Joshua Golde on Unsplash

You should also define the judgment criteria for each event category to choose winners and mention them also in Instagram story highlights and brochures.

I have prepared a cheat sheet of judgment criteria for each event category with my friends so that you can easily judge entries and give points for each participant to choose winners.

You can grab the cheat sheet here.

You can also use Instagram likes as a judging criterion also but try to avoid making it the only criteria for judging.

Have at least two or more jury members for each event category, this will lead to a fair judgment.

You can choose winners on the basis of points that your jury members will give to each participant.

Send rewards and certificates for winners and participants

Send rewards and certificates for winners and participants
Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

Here comes the most technical and tricky part of this virtual event but don’t worry I’ve got you covered.

Giving digital certificates automatically

First of all, you need your excel sheet handler member for it because we are going to give certificates to participants via mail

but we have to remove the duplicate entries for the same event category because you don’t want to send him the same certificates multiple times.

Suppose a person has given multiple entries in photography.

Of course, you can’t post them all, and neither you want to send the same photography certificate multiple times for him.

So, how to remove duplicates in google sheets.

Here is a solution!

You need to install an add-on in your google sheets named ‘Power Tools’ and this will do the magic.

I will recommend you to make another sheet for sending certificates with only these three columns: email, name, event

Imagine if a person has participated in both photography and drawing and you don’t want to send two separate certificates to him then you need to combine his all data into a single row.

So make email address and event category a basis and start deleting duplicates.

Now for combining data, make the only email address a basis.

Here is the YouTube video on how to use power tools for removing duplicates and combining data.

If you face any kind of problem in this field, you can contact me, I would love to help you.

Now after doing all this, we will send certificates to our participants via mail and I’m not silly enough to send them manually.

Yeah, You can send it automatically by using an add-on ‘Autocrat’, and luckily I have a marvelous YouTube video suggestion for you on how to use it.

Watch this video on how to give certificates automatically to your participants

You can send up to 100 emails per day with this add-on and I hope you don’t want to send them manually.

Giving rewards for winners

You can give any type of reward to winners.

It could be

  1. Amazon or Flipkart gift cards
  2. Book of choice
  3. Reward related to the event category like Color box for painting.
  4. Netflix or Prime membership if you have few event categories

Explore what you can give, arrange meetings beforehand so that you can mention rewards before you even start the event.

Advices to make it a perfect virtual event

Advices to make it a perfect virtual event
Send rewards and certificates for winners and participants

Anybody with a proper team can host a virtual event but making it a perfect and successful one could be tricky.

Here are a few pieces of advice I would like to give you as I have been organized a virtual event like this.

  1. Consider your organizers team as priority and team decisions must be final
  2. Put your suggestions gently to other members and do not look down anyone else’s
  3. Choose your work and do it efficiently
  4. Talk with participants kindly and solve their query on Instagram DM
  5. Make sure that participants aren’t feeling any discomfort while giving entries, You can check this by doing trials of every technical work before you launch it.

I hope your event goes successfully and If you face any kind of problem in handling these events, you can contact me.

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Ok, enjoy organizing the virtual events or talent shows.