Key Advantages Of Hosting A Virtual Commencement Ceremony In 2023

In 2020, university students went through an unanticipated senior year—one without an in-person graduation ceremony. Eventually, as universities employed strategies to accommodate pandemic-imposed restrictions, virtual graduations became the standard to celebrate graduates.

But while virtual graduation ceremonies are much more accessible compared to in-person events, educational institutions are still on the fence about other ways such events can benefit students and teachers. 

Discover the key benefits of hosting virtual commencement ceremonies and see how 6Connex can help you create a memorable and engaging experience.

 

advantages of virtual graduation

Advantages of a Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Connect Globally

In-person events restrict the number of guests due to limited venue capacities. Graduation is a defining moment in every student’s life, and most graduates want all their loved ones to witness this major milestone. 

By conducting virtual commencement ceremonies, there are no capacity limits. Students can invite as many guests as they wish, including their distant relatives, friends, and even neighbors!

Additionally, moving commencement ceremonies to the virtual realm makes the events more accessible and enables you to reach a global audience. This benefits international students and their families, allowing them to participate regardless of their location. 

Invite High-Profile Speakers

At a traditional commencement, entertainers, politicians, entrepreneurs, and other notable A-listers are invited by the university or college to address the graduates. Be it Taylor Swift at New York University, Tom Cook at Gallaudet University, or Kamala Harris at Tennessee State University; all have spoken at graduation ceremonies.

In the case of in-person events, booking such speakers is often difficult due to scheduling conflicts and travel times, especially if the speaker is from a different country. A virtual ceremony makes the event accessible by eliminating the need for travel and thereby providing a better chance of securing the speaker of choice regardless of location.

Capture Priceless Moments 

Families often have to sit far away from the stage at physical venues and need help to spot graduates among the large crowd. Virtual event solutions like 6Connex facilitate high-quality, live video streaming, giving guests the best view of the event. Hosting commencement ceremonies on such platforms can allow attendees to capture priceless moments using unique features like photo booths, social walls, and 360-degree cameras. 

The platform also offers networking lounges that allow graduates to interact with speakers, special guests, and the alumni network. They can also enjoy live text and video chats to connect directly with attendees, listen to customized music, play games, take pictures in virtual photo booths, and so much more! 

Save Time and Cost

This is an obvious but critical benefit virtual graduation ceremonies offer. Organizing a physical commencement ceremony requires a lot of time due to all the administrative details involved, many of which are eliminated in a virtual event. 

You can host a virtual graduation at a fraction of the cost of an in-person event by saving on catering, seating, decorations, printed materials, rental gowns, etc. This can help you allocate your budget to other priorities. 

Graduates and their families, especially international ones, can also save on costs related to transport and accommodations. Reducing the financial burdens can be an incentive for students who otherwise might not have attended the commencement ceremony.

Personalize the Event with Customizations

With virtual event solutions like 6Connex, you have complete control over your virtual event. The platform offers many premade venue design templates and allows you to create customized ones as well. 

You can make your virtual environment look and feel like the very auditorium or stadium in which past commencement ceremonies were held. This can be done using high-quality pictures of the college campus as a backdrop in the virtual environment template to create an engaging atmosphere for the attendees. The virtual environment will feel like they are going to the actual venue for the ceremony rather than attending an ordinary virtual meeting and help them connect to the event as if it were a physical one.

Leverage On-Demand Resources

People like to relive and savor their fondest memories. Using virtual event platforms, you can provide high-quality recordings to the students and families on demand so they can enjoy the festivities multiple times. Keep the presentations, speeches, event entertainment, and other content on the site for a few weeks or months after the live proceedings have ended for people to revisit them.

This can benefit people unable to participate in the live ceremony and allow them to witness it regardless of their schedule, thus, making your event more inclusive. The content is also an excellent resource that can be leveraged for marketing and recruiting students.

Gain Detailed Insights

With elaborate virtual event solutions like 6Connex, you can leverage detailed, real-time reporting and analytics to capture event data and analyze every aspect of your commencement ceremony. For example, you can track the attendees’ journeys and determine which sessions they enjoyed the most, and where the most interactions happened. This will help you improve the graduates’ event experience in future virtual graduation ceremonies.

Contribute to Sustainability

One of the vital benefits of hosting virtual graduation ceremonies is their sustainability. Here at 6Connex, we are committed to identifying opportunities to lead us to a more sustainable future. That's why in 2020, we conducted a study and found that in-person events produced over 40 times more carbon emissions than their virtual counterparts. In-person events have a significant carbon footprint due to high electricity consumption, material and food waste, and travel to and from the event. By hosting a virtual commencement ceremony, you can dramatically reduce your event’s environmental impact by eliminating travel and saving on your resource and energy consumption. 

sustainability ebook

 

Disadvantages of Virtual Graduation Ceremonies

While virtual commencements are a reliable solution to overcome the limitations of in-person and hybrid events, they have a few disadvantages. Here is a comparison of how physical or hybrid commencement ceremonies compare to virtual ones.

virtual Commencement Infographic

To enhance your hybrid graduation, you can leverage 6Connex’s 360° camera support, which allows virtual attendees from across the globe to click on the camera and look around the venue, find their friends and professors, and zoom right in! This can help attendees feel like they are at the actual venue and increase engagement with the commencement ceremony.

QR codes are another valuable feature for you to leverage. Attendees in the physical venue can scan QR codes, which direct them to games in the virtual venue.

Virtual attendees can further leverage multi-screen engagement, wherein they can watch the webinar or live stream on their monitors, ask live questions to the speakers and/or interact with other attendees in real-time on their mobile phones through 6Connex’s mobile event apps.

 

virtual graduation steps

Steps To Plan and Execute a Successful Virtual Graduation

Now that you know the benefits of hosting virtual commencements, let’s look at the steps to create one. It can be challenging to connect the faculty, students, and their families in a virtual venue and enhance their event experience. Here are some key considerations when planning a virtual graduation ceremony:

1. Develop a Framework

Map the technical components of the program in detail and well in advance. These may include:

  • Planning the event timeline, agenda, and number of attendees
  • Considering the budget and feasibility of event content and technology
  • Deciding the nature of the event (virtual or hybrid)
  • Choosing a platform to meet your event needs 
  • Selecting platform features that adhere to your budget
  • Conducting rehearsals
  • Coaching speakers
  • Holding dry runs on the virtual event solution
  • Finalizing your pre-event marketing strategy

Accordingly, you must also send timely invites to speakers, graduates and their families, and any event sponsors.

2. Choose the Right Platform

There are numerous virtual event solutions from which to choose today. Ensure the platform you select is scalable, reliable, stable enough to handle large audiences, and compatible with most devices. 

It must also offer interactive capabilities for the audience, have a seamless interface, be easy to navigate, and facilitate high-quality video and audio playback or live streaming. 

Based on the platform's customer support and customization, you might have to enlist an in-house IT department for technical assistance. However, some solutions will  do everything for you, as is the case with 6Connex’s Auto-Pilot service, which provides white-glove project management.

3. Think About your Audience

It is always good to ask graduates for suggestions on how they would like to experience their virtual commencement ceremony. This allows them to participate in the planning process and makes them feel their opinions are valued. 

In addition, make sure you provide clear information about how to register and attend the event, a copy of the agenda, and instructions on how to best use the platform to enjoy the event entirely. This is a good opportunity to provide templates for virtual commencement ceremony graduation invitations to include all the information above.

With ADA compliance in mind, you can leverage 6Connex to provide audiences with real-time closed captioning and subtitles in 100+ languages. This service is especially beneficial if other languages are spoken in your institution. 

4. Conceive Ways to Personalize the Experience

Since virtual events lack physical touch, personalization becomes vital to create a sense of belonging and encourage attendee involvement. One way to do so is to create an online yearbook for your graduates, including their photographs, bios, and quotes. 

You could also create a highlight reel featuring the students’ key college experiences, such as their first day on campus, dorm move-ins, etc. Consider adding a social wall and crowdsourcing content from graduates’ friends and families to get more exciting pictures and footage.

If your budget allows, you can even partner with local businesses and send customized gift packages to the attendees along with the invitations. These can consist of: 

  • Gift cards or coupons to local restaurants, bakeries, movie theaters, clothing stores, concert venues, etc. 
  • Picture frames or diploma frames
  • College swag
  • Stationery
  • USB drives
  • Journals or notebooks
  • Snacks or energy drinks

This will add a tactile touch to the virtual event and can also help support local businesses.

5. Optimize the Program

One of the major challenges of hosting a big virtual event is to keep it compelling for the attendees. As attention spans shrink and almost every in-person activity pivots to online platforms, Zoom fatigue has become common for remote learners and workers alike.

Hence, you might want to shorten the duration of the speeches and other programs in the commencement ceremony. As per Ace the Presentation, an ideal commencement speech is five to 10 minutes long and never longer than 20 minutes. Also, pay special attention to optimizing the quality and tempo of your event presentations, ensuring the program flows smoothly and keeps the audience interested. 

Remember, the presentations should complement the speeches and have attractive graphics. Coach your presenters to refrain from stuffing all their content into slides because chances are, the attendees will read all of it before the speakers finish and consequently shift their attention elsewhere.

6. Promote the Event

Simply sending an invite via email will cause engagement to fall flat. Instead, create an event landing page or microsite to generate excitement and interest. 6Connex allows you to create a customized landing page, which offers access to the main virtual environment and comes with built-in ticketing and registration. 

A landing page is the attendees’ first glimpse of the ceremony. To make it captivating, you must include the following:

  • Images of the virtual environment
  • Event date, time, duration, agenda, and other relevant details
  • Featured commencement ceremony speaker line-up (faculty, students, and special guests)
  • Graduate photos and bios
  • Short and easy-to-complete registration form
  • Opt-in to a mailing list so graduates can receive current and future event updates

You can also offer an FAQ page with answers to commonly-asked questions and instructions to get technical help.

Encourage graduates to share their photos, videos, and other college memories on their social media profiles a few days before the event under a unique hashtag. You can then display the social wall in the virtual lobby through 6Connex’s event tech integrations.

Now it’s time to go live!

 

tips for virtual graduation

Tips To Enhance Your Virtual Graduation Ceremony

While it can be challenging to think of effective virtual alternatives to in-person graduation festivities and perks, here are some great ideas to help you maximize engagement at your virtual commencement ceremony:

  • Virtual photo booths: Use 6Connex’s virtual photo booth integration as a ‘Hall of Fame,’ where graduates can take high-quality photographs against a custom background or frame. You can send them these photographs in follow-up emails and share them on your website and social pages after the event. Consider asking the graduates and their families to share pictures of their in-home celebrations as well.
  • Personal schedules: Let attendees create custom schedules within the environment and consume the content in any desired order. This is particularly relevant when multiple graduation ceremonies are held concurrently.
  • Music integration: 6Connex integrates with various music applications like SoundCloud, Prime Music, Spotify, etc. You can use this feature to play different types of music throughout the ceremony to suit multiple activities and enhance the ambiance for the attendees.
  • Communication portal: Build a portal for the graduates' families and friends to share their messages of encouragement and create a sense of community. 
  • Countdown clock: Include a countdown clock on both the event’s landing page and your college’s social media handles. When the clock turns to zero, you can celebrate with music, a launch video, or similar. 
  • Meeting rooms: Use meeting rooms for post-event receptions, allowing continued dialogue after the event to keep the buzz going. You can also create separate rooms for different areas of interest, such as first-generation graduates, international students, graduates pursuing master's programs, etc.

Commence your Virtual Celebrations with 6Connex

Learn more about how you can seamlessly execute an engaging and memorable college virtual commencement ceremony with platforms like 6Connex, and request your free virtual event demo today!

6Connex request a demo

 

Webinar Alert: Raising the Bar for Sustainable Events with MUSE - Let's Go Green Together!

Join us on June 27th at 10 a.m. CST for our webinar "Raising the Bar: Achieving Sustainable Events through Innovative Technologies and Expert Insights." co-hosted with MUSE. Learn from event sustainability gurus as they share tips on reducing carbon footprints and creating events that make Mother Nature proud. Don't miss out on this industry leading, eco-friendly event! Register below.

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FAQs

Which platform should I choose to host my virtual commencement ceremony?

Opt for a platform that can handle a large number of attendees and also provide interactive features to enhance their experience. Virtual event solutions like 6Connex can host limitless participants and offer various networking and gamification opportunities to help you maximize your students’ engagement with the event, whether it's for college or high school virtual commencement ceremonies.

 

Do virtual commencements have any disadvantages?

Zoom fatigue is one of the major disadvantages of virtual commencement ceremonies. Also, the lack of human touch and in-person celebrations on such a special day can often discourage students from attending the event. Hence, it is essential to make your virtual graduation engaging for students by fostering interactions throughout the event with a high-quality virtual commencement ceremony solution, so you can integrate the right event tech to meet your attendee's needs.

 

How many people can attend a virtual graduation?

A virtual graduation has no limits to how many people can attend the event, unlike physical events, where attendance is limited to the venue’s capacity. Due to the global reach and accessibility of virtual events, graduates can invite whomever they want to the commencement ceremony, irrespective of their geographic location.

 

How can I make my virtual commencement engaging for students?

Use virtual event platforms like 6Connex for your virtual commencement ceremony software and leverage their gamification features. You can send digital, customizable invites, use virtual photo booths to arrange a cap decorating contest, build extra buzz with social media walls, and so much more. 



 




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