Office of Strategic Communications
Brand Guide



There are many things to consider when planning an event, and once the event is planned, you’ll need to promote it. We’ve compiled a lot of best practices for setting up virtual events in Zoom and promoting your in-person, hybrid, and virtual events through a variety of channels.

Virtual Event Planning

As you begin to plan your event, work your way through the following considerations. You can also watch the recording of our Virtual Event Best Practices workshop from 2020.

Creating an Event in Zoom

Creating an Event for Myself or Someone Else
  • If for me, it is always good to have a second co-host in the event you are unable to attend at the last minute.
  • If for someone else, add the other person as a co-host.
Meetings are best for small audiences.
  • Prospective students (one-on-one meetings)
  • Current undergraduate students (career workshops, poster sessions)
  • Current grad students (cohort meetings)
  • Faculty and Staff (small and large group meetings)
  • Alumni and donors (board meetings)
Webinars are best for larger audiences.
  • Prospective students (information sessions, panels with current students or alumni)
  • Current undergraduate students (special topics events, lectures, guest speakers, alumni panels)
  • Current grad students (lectures, research presentations)
  • Faculty and Staff (town halls)
  • Alumni and donors (lunch and learns, town halls)
  • Events that have people from outside Penn State.
Number of Attendees
Zoom only allows up to 500 participants. If you have more, you may want to think about sharing on Facebook live or another streaming option. You can also share the recording following the event.
Type of Attendees
  • If only those with Penn State credentials are attending ,you should do nothing. Leave your default setting to Penn State access. This is more secure.
  • If alumni or others such as prospective students or those from other universities are attending, you should disable the Penn State authentication. This is less secure but may be needed.
  • If allowing those without Penn State access, you might want to choose webinar over meeting, which makes it more secure and could prevent “zoombombing.”
  • If only those with Penn State credentials are attending, you should do nothing. Leave your default setting to Penn State access. This is more secure. If alumni or others such as prospective students or those from other universities are attending, you should disable the Penn State authentication. This is less secure but may be needed.
Time of Day
  • If your event is for students, look up the class schedule to see when breaks occur.
  • Lunch and Learns (noon–1:00 p.m.) are good for audiences who are working (alumni, faculty, and staff). Late afternoon (3:00–5:00 p.m.) can work well.
  • 4:00–6:00 p.m. can work well for grad students.
  • Unless you’re providing food, 5:00–7:00 p.m. can be bad because it’s dinnertime.
  • Zoom meeting is best when you want an open dialogue between all attendees.
  • Meeting is generally considered more informal.
  • Zoom webinar is best when you only want to see the speaker or speakers (lecture style)
  • You can unmute a participant if they raise their hand, though you will not see them. Webinar is generally considered more formal
  • In a meeting, questions can be shared verbally if participants are unmuted or typed in the meeting’s chat.
  • Chat is seen by all participants by default. You can choose to limit it to hosts, panelists, participants, or private message.
  • Zoom webinar is best when you only want to see the speaker or speakers (lecture style).
  • You can unmute a participant if they raise their hand, though you will not see them.
  • Webinar is generally considered more formal.
Waiting Room/Practice Session
Use a waiting room to keep participants out of the meeting until you are ready to admit them. This allows you to make sure audio, video, and screensharing is there for everyone. It also gives a chance to look at lighting and framing for yourself or your co-hosts.
Select “enable practice session” when creating the webinar. This allows you to make sure audio, video, and screen sharing is there for everyone. It also gives a chance to look at lighting and framing for the panelists.
A password is not needed if you have Penn State authentication turned on. If Penn State authentication is off, it is highly recommended you do registration and set up a password.
  • If you enable registration, attendees will need to enter their name and email on a form to receive login information from Zoom.
  • Registration is not required for a meeting or webinar, but it is highly recommended and has several benefits.
    • It allows you to keep track of how many people plan to attend.
    • You can see who you may need to send reminder emails to if they haven’t yet registered.
    • Zoom will handle emailing participants the login information.
    • It’s the safer and securer option. We discourage units from sharing Zoom meeting or webinar links on social media, through email, on flyers, etc. These channels can be viewed by anyone, and sharing a meeting or webinar link there opens you up to potential Zoombombers.
Breakout Rooms
  • Only in meetings can you have breakout rooms.
  • You might want breakout rooms if you want participants to get to know each other or brainstorm/tackle a question in smaller groups and report back to the larger group.
  • Breakout rooms can be difficult and take time to accomplish. You can randomize breakout rooms, or you can select who you want to be in the breakout rooms. You should also build time into your event program/agenda to allow for movement to the breakout rooms.
  • You should mark the setting to have participants automatically breakout or some will remain in the large meeting.
You cannot do breakout rooms in a webinar.
Additional Notes
To use these functions you must turn them on before the meeting starts in your global settings: Waiting room, Chat, Polling, Screen Share, Annotation, Whiteboard, Non-verbal feedback and reactions, Breakout rooms, Closed Captioning, Virtual Background, Live Streaming.
Get Help
This is dependent on the scale and formality of the event. You may want to think about using a moderator because it can be difficult to speak at an event and handle the incoming questions.

Submit a ticket to Liberal Arts IT.

Event Promotion

If you create a flyer or poster for your event, it will need to be approved by the Office of Strategic Communications through the University Brand Review (UBR) process. You don’t need to wait until your flyer is approved through the UBR system to start promoting your event. In fact, you should consider whether you actually need a flyer at all. You should only create a flyer if you’re planning to print physical copies to display or distribute digitally via email. Flyers should not be shared on social media or in the college events calendar. More information about what you should do instead can be found in the sections below.

Make sure you add the event to the college events calendar. Adding events to the calendar will make more people aware of your event and will make the event easier to share. Since social media posts can only include so many words, it’s helpful to have a place to link to so that people can learn more about your event.

The Office of Strategic Communications sends an Undergraduate Newswire email to all Liberal Arts undergraduate students (University Park and World Campus) every Monday afternoon (bi-weekly during the summer). College and Penn State units, as well as student organizations, are welcome to submit promotions for the newswire. For content to appear in the next newswire, it must be submitted by noon on the previous Friday. Please note that because the newswire is sent to all undergraduates, you should only submit content that applies to this wide audience. If you’re hosting an event that is just for students in a specific major/department, the newswire is not the best place for it. Instead, we’d recommend sharing it through your department’s email listserv and/or social media accounts.

Send the event details to faculty and staff in your unit and other units. Include an overview of the event with sample text that faculty and staff could use in their newswires and on social media. It’s also helpful to provide a link to a folder that contains social media graphics of varying sizes. You should not add the event flyer to the body of the email. The graphic is not accessible and might not download depending on the recipient’s email server. Sending large graphics in emails can also cause your email to go to someone’s spam folder.

Send the event details to students in your unit. We recommend emailing students through a service like Mailchimp so that you can create a visually appealing email and can track open rates and click rates.

Please complete the Digital Sign Request Form for all digital sign requests you would like added to the rotation of images displayed on the monitors in the hallways of Liberal Arts buildings on campus. The preferable format for all digital signs is JPG, JPEG, or PNG files with a resolution of 1920×1080px. Like social media graphics, digital signs should not be image versions of UBR-approved promotional materials. They should contain the event title, date, time, location, and a QR code or shortened link for students to learn more/register. The College of the Liberal Arts mark appears in a swoosh overlay in the bottom right corner of all monitor displays, so please leave that area blank and omit the college’s mark elsewhere in your digital sign. Don’t forget to specify a start and end date for your digital signs.

Share the event on your unit’s social media accounts. You can also email Kirsten Smith to ask if your event can be added to the college’s social media schedule.

Please do NOT post entire UBR-approved flyers and posters on social media. Instead, create a graphic that includes only the event title and a few important details. Add a few more details to the caption of your social media post, and then share the customized event calendar link (where people who are interested in attending can view the full details and learn more information).

Canva is a great online tool you can use to create social media graphics for free. If you need access to the shared Canva account, please email Shree Chauhan.

QR codes should not be used on social media graphics. Instead, include the URL in the caption of the post. That way, people can just click on the URL directly.

Day of Reminders

  • You should record the event if you want others to see it outside the designated time.
  • You should let all those in attendance know that it is being recorded.
  • You may want to end recording after the lecture or event speaker is done and not record the Q&A session.
  • You should disallow participants from recording. You can do this in settings.
  • It is a good idea to review your recording settings. You should turn on audio transcript. You should also save chat. You may want to have the recording start automatically as to not forget to start it. If not, you can start it manually. This is usually cleaner and does not require editing.

Any event that is more than an hour long should have a 3–5 minute break built into the schedule. This gives attendees time to get up from their computers and take a brief physical and mental break.

Make sure you have a stable internet connection. In case you have technical difficulties, there are a few techniques to employ to make sure you and your participants can continue to be a part of a live or recorded presentation.

  • Phones: You can use your phone as a hotspot for a laptop if you have that technology available. It’s a quick adjustment on your machine’s network settings and you can have a phone set up to remember log-in details.
  • Slow connection speed/video freezing: Try turning off your camera. Consider suggesting turning off the video and participating by audio to save bandwidth if they’re having a problem with connection speed.
  • Zoom app: Tell your guest speakers to download the Zoom app and have the log-in details ready. They can always jump to the Zoom app and switch locations in the house to be closer to their router or to use data.
  • Internet connection: It’s best to make sure all your panelists have stopped all downloads throughout the house, turned off all notifications on devices, and everyone is running as few applications as possible on their laptops. Additionally, try to ensure anyone in your house and the panelists’ houses are not downloading or uploading content, or streaming.
  • You can either share the recording on Kaltura or download it and upload it to SharePoint or YouTube.
  • Reach out to Strategic Communications to see if they want to add it to the college’s YouTube channel.
  • Share the video on your unit’s social media channels if appropriate.