Virtual events can be as challenging as conventional events, if not more. When an event takes place entirely online, fresh and new strategies are needed right from promotional activities to audience engagement. They have become the highly opt-in option post-pandemic, owing to the flexibility, reach, accommodation, and increased ROI.
According to the Global virtual events market, by 2028, the annual growth of virtual and hybrid events is estimated to be 23.7%, worth USD 504.76 billion. Thus, all sectors must accustom and be prepared to make the most of virtual events in the upcoming years.
What do Event Industry experts say?
Hear from Industry experts who have experience in conducting a variety of events for the past few decades. We are happy to present the expert opinions from the industry. Their unparalled experiences, setbacks and challenges faced, how they uncovered their path to host a successful virtual event is sure to give the upcoming event organizers a framework to handle unforeseen circumstances and host only the best. Are you ready to dive into the valuable insights from successful CEO’s, Founder’s, Event Producer’s? Here you go.
Bill Wassmer is an event and communications professional with more than thirty years of experience. In 2003, he founded NxtGen Events, an industry-leading AV production and event services provider. Bill and his team of experts have shepherded clients through the ever-changing terrain created by COVID-19 and understand the obstacles, needs and opportunities inherent in virtual events.
One of the most common misconceptions we hear about virtual events is that clients feel their timeline is shorter than or similar to an in-person event. Truthfully, planning a virtual or hybrid event takes more time – which we refer to as the pre-planning process. To ensure your presenters are prepared, content is loaded to your platform, technological needs are taken care of and more, you need to have the right resources on your side, and you need to build extra pre-planning time into your schedule. This keeps your virtual event from failing to deliver the expected ROI.
John Williams is a corporate multi-cam live stream producer, professional photographer and video producer with almost two decades of experience at HD Perfect Video & Photo – Nashville, As a TV and video producer, John Williams is called upon to produce and manage the technical aspects of audio, multi-camera video, lighting, streaming, and visual elements of live virtual events. Whether it is a cook-along demonstration live-streamed to a nationwide audience with celebrity Chef, Author, Judge – Food Network’s Chopped Maneet Chauhan, or the City of Nashville celebrating Greece’s bicentennial independence day from The Parthenon in Nashville, TN while streaming live to TV in Greece as well as a Facebook page hosted in a foreign country
Imagine that you have spent weeks if not months planning your virtual event. You are super excited that so many have responded, especially those few elusive ‘big fish.’ You are riding high, and you feel ready for your big day. But wait, there’s more. Knowing how to plan for the unforeseen is critical. Clients approach us with their vision, and together we determine the best scenario for a flawless event. Avoiding common pitfalls could save your reputation. Maneuver smartly, and you will be receiving accolades for your expertise.
- Always be audience-focused;
- Audio is king;
- Environment/background is important
- Additional lighting considerations;
- Internet Bandwidth – don’t use public wifi;
- Have a budget to match the impact you intend to make
What makes for an excellent virtual experience as a member of your ‘audience’
- Excellent content presented professionally;
- Crisp and clear and in focus video;
- Properly composed video;
- Subtle diffused lighting to dispel dark areas;
- Professional audio quality without buzz or hum, and no distortion.
- Test, test, and test again. Resist last-minute changes
Yinka Freeman is the founder of Triple Pocket Events. One of the biggest challenges event organizers face when organizing a virtual event is attendee engagement. With so many people experiencing screen fatigue it has become a challenge to keep attendees focused and engaged. However, by planning virtual events that have very immersive experiences can solve that challenge. Sessions can be made to be very interactive with the audience, by creating live Q&A, polls, surveys or quizzes and a live chat with a chat moderator. Picking a virtual event platform that focuses on attendee engagement is extremely important in the beginning stages of planning, a platform that offers gamification is a huge plus. Connection between attendees, sponsors and exhibitors also plays a huge role in engagement, you want to make sure that they can independently connect with each other during the event, whether that is dedicated networking times or free flowing networking throughout the event. Creating bitesize sessions is a great way to keep your attendee’s attention focused and keep them engaged. Shorter sessions combined with a short Q&A or a short quiz work well. My last note is to incorporate breaks into your event, those can be dance breaks, wellness breaks, or fun activities like trivia or a treasure hunt. These will keep your attendees logged on and engaged with each other throughout the entire event.
There are 3 ways I see people drop in ball or seriously succeed in running virtual events:
1. Consider all the touch points, clearly communicate internally and to all stakeholders (attendees, hosts, sponsors, vendors, etc.) what they can expect. Where to be and when, and don’t over do it, stay top of mind but don’t send so much information that it can be complicated to find it. Well established virtual event hosts (brands) have communities, like facebook groups, to keep consistent content and hype between their quarterly or bi-annual events
2. Engagement: Don’t underestimate the power of entertainment. Even the most serious of fundraisers have music, entertainment, or a bar. Virtual events do well with an event HOST, which can be the keynote, depending on their commitment to the event, but usually hiring a quality Emcee is crucial to moderate flow, possible technical issues, and audience retention. Hiring a mixologist or someone that can help activate the present moment for the networking or social hour is highly beneficial for building relationships or community.
3. Under-thinking hybrid. hybrid events are 2 simultaneous events. They are incredibly complicated and require 2 skilled teams in both in-person and virtual working alongside each other. Throwing in a virtual option to sell additional tickets likely won’t serve the virtual audience well and they may not return to the experience. It could be more beneficial to run an in-person, record the segments and then run a full production 2nd virtual event later, broadcasting the segments, while being able to focus on the virtual audience and their needs!
Alexander Abell is Founder, CEO & Lunch Break Enforcer at Lunchpool. Virtual events are so much easier than in-person meetings. You don’t have to worry about the time zone, you can work from anywhere and they only last an hour.”
This is how one of my clients put it when I was helping her plan a virtual event for her international team. She thought that arranging food delivery to the guests who were scattered all over the world would be impossible. Nope. We made it possible.
It may be surprising, but you can easily provide food and drink to event guests before your virtual events, giving them the opportunity to create a unique “hybrid event” that mixes the social aspect of dining with the convenient virtual format.
There are some great benefits to having “hybrid” events that don’t just hybridize the in-person and virtual attendance aspect of online events, but rather break down the wall between the two by having IRL experiences while connecting regardless of geography or distance.
A few of those benefits are:
- Guests don’t have to choose between virtual and IRL because they can do both. They get to fully immerse themselves in the virtual event experience while eating a meal together, a social behavior that, until now, has been hard to replicate virtually.
- Your guests will definitely remember your virtual event by having this food and drink delivery option. It makes them feel appreciated as well as entertained. It’s an added value for their participation!
- This “hybrid” approach builds momentum into your virtual events so that you’re not just standing alone on stage with passive observers, but rather giving opportunities for people who couldn’t attend the live virtual event another way of getting involved with your brand/business/message.
Want even more engagement? Build in networking with various platforms that allow for free-form movement to take your guests’ experience to the next level. In the events we produce, rich tech integrations allow attendees to hop from table to table or room to room. Guests not only eat get to eat together but they also get to choose who they network with.
In the virtual event space, virtual food and drink delivery is a natural extension of what’s already available. It brings excitement and engagement into a space that’s become dulling and exhaustive because of ill-planned and ill-timed events. People are more inclined to sit down for 30-60 minutes when they know there’s going to be something delivered at any moment between sessions!
Next time you are planning a virtual event, think about what kinds of interactions and experiences you can build in that will go the extra mile.
Sheri Bennefeld is Founder, Way Beyond Ordinary. specialize in learning events. Generally smaller events such as workshops, courses and retreats. The top challenges or myths that I see holding event facilitators back are:
1. Your audience will not tolerate more than 60 minutes on a virtual event. This is probably the most common myth I hear from event hosts. When audiences are engaged and gaining valuable knowledge, they will stay. They will stay all day. And come back the next day. I’ve attended 3 and 4 day programs that left me feeling energized. What your guests will not tolerate is a boring, uninspired and non-engaging program. Regardless of length. Apply good instructional design techniques to keep your participants active and involved in the learning process.
2. As the Facilitator, you should be doing most of the talking When I led a group of trainers and facilitators I would always joke with them and say, “If you’re sitting in the back of the room drinking coffee and the room is a buzz with talking and energy, you’re doing a great job.” The job of a great educator is to help students discover the answers they need. Discovery happens when they talk to others, share ideas, test theories and teach each other. We have the ability to make this interaction happen in the virtual classroom. It requires us to be willing to recognize that we are not the only experts in the room.
3. You can do it on your own Last week I hosted an event with over 200 participants. It was not a learning event, but it was very interactive. I do professional event production, so I figured I should have this down. Right? I learned a valuable lesson that day. I will never again host a virtual event with more than 50 people without having additional support. The same holds true for designing a learning event. If teaching or instructional design is not your business, get help making sure you’re creating a program that your participants will be willing to not only sit through, but gain the knowledge, skills and abilities you set out to teach them.
George Buzzeo is Owner, Operator GB Media Productions In. With the ongoing changing technology in our event business..the Pandemic has created challenges earlier on and solutions that are now implemented to become a standard in our business. Some platforms which include vMix, Wire-cast and OBS to name a few, have increased the workflow which has give clients a reliable slick technology to get there word out to their workforce and clients. In the coming year the challenge will be rolling into venues which Infrastructure that has not been updated and or built out to handle the need for high speed streaming, for Live Hybrid solutions. Right now with our country getting back to work in many states this will be the most important phase and challenge we have as event business technologist. Stay tuned!
Bre Podgorski Co-Founder of ShoCast. In the world of entertainment, capturing your live virtual shows on video to showcase to your wider audience on demand is huge. Not only does it show your online fanbase your capacity and performance techniques as a live performer, but it also shows the audience’s reaction to your show when you use platforms where you can see and hear your audience, like ShoCast. Being able to showcase your connection with the crowd is just as important as showcasing your act. Capturing that footage is incredibly important for future bookings as it can add favorably to your reel.
- Choose your platform wisely
- Beware of security breaches when it comes to anything virtual
- Focus on your lead generation and audience retention
- Prepare and plan well in advance for an engaging event
- Work well on your sponsors who are the backbone of the event
These events are best reached to the global audience regardless of their native language or hearing difficulties with captions. Running captions keep them well informed and engaged. Especially in a live event, Captions act as a survival guide for many audiences who might have difficulties following the speech. It helps non-native listeners to grasp and process the information. Captions bridge the gap between language and knowledge.
CaptioningStar encourages all kinds of events to reach better by providing captions and subtitles with over 99% accuracy, whether the event is live, recorded, virtual, or hybrid. We also put forward translation services, and these transcriptions and subtitles are written manually by experts and native speakers. Click here to check out captioning services and how it processes. Caption your videos in just three steps.
Virtual events play an inseparable role in the future of the education, marketing, and management sectors. The platform for such events acts as a hub for many managerial, networking, data documentation options, and benefits.
If we imbibe these invaluable suggestions from all our experts and have a plan in place, there are little chances of failure that can occur in organizing a virtual event. We are very grateful to each and every one who contributed their insights for this exclusive blog.
Make your events impactful for all your audiences and experience a good business ROI for all your Virtual events.