The COVID Series: Top Ten Tips for Virtual Events

Top Tips for Virtual Events

If you are an organisation used to generating income or gaining customers, motivating your team or salesforce or just communicating in a live event and you’re not using virtual events then you are missing out.

That’s a confident statement but, for the moment, unrestricted live events are dead and buried and if you relied on these for any of the above you need a viable replacement and that is where virtual steps in.

Not another Zoom call, I hear you groan. No! The world has moved on from the limitations of Zoom or Teams. That is not to say they do not have their place; they are brilliant tools for the right purpose but in terms of supplying fresh and interesting engagement, monetising and communicating, virtual and hybrid are where you need to be.

The choice of platforms seems to be growing exponentially, each one offering a confusing range of benefits and features. To make the most of these platforms you need to know how to use them properly, we have been invited to so many poorly run virtual events which could have been so much better.

It is a lot to learn and that is where good, solid experience kicks in, so I have asked our lovely virtual events team to come up with their top ten thoughts on how not to qualify for the ‘poorly run’ title.

1. Preparation is key, and this is no different to a live event. Establish your key objectives and make sure all stakeholders are aligned to those objectives. Think about your audience; what do you want them to experience and what are they expecting to gain from experience.

2. Rehearsal time. Don’t underestimate the value of this, presenting virtually is not the same as presenting live. Rehearse the whole event, this approach will help identify the glitches in your planned event.

3. Keep messaging simple. Repeat one creative theme across all the communication mediums including registration pages, landing page, speaker backgrounds, presentations etc.Use a good facilitator.

4. Use a good facilitator. Using a facilitator will massively enable audience engagement, particularly if you are using a platform that enables members of the audience to be invited to speak and includes Q&A with the audience.

5. Live or not? For keynote speakers our advice is to pre-record taking the risk element out of the presentation but have the speaker available for answering questions during and after the presentation.

6. Define success metrics. Again, the same as for a live event, you still need to be able to measure whether the event was a success, whatever that looks like to you. It could be numbers attending, survey results, income generated or a host of other possible measurements.

7. Don’t over egg the pudding! We believe that audience engagement is not so resilient on a virtual platform, so try and keep presentations short. Aim for the 20-30 minute sweet spot, unless the presenter has a very compelling reason to extend this.

8. Entertainment. Our team is divided on this one. In essence though, it has to serve a definable objective. It may facilitate networking or encourage movement to a certain area of the platform or designate a coffee break (with a chat function running alongside for networking). Gamification can help to drive footfall to exhibitors and sponsors.

9. The technical side of things. The main thing, of course, is to choose an appropriate platform out of the hundreds available. Start with a list of your requirements; plenary for x hundreds, collaboration areas, round tables, exhibition spaces etc. This will help you to reduce the number of available platforms to a manageable level. Then you can look at the detail of their offering to ensure it meets your expectation.

10. Support. Here at Dynamic we partner with a range of suppliers enabling us to match your requirements with a tried and tested platform. We provide support from planning to fulfilment and technical support over the life of the event. For a lot of people virtual events are new and can be intimidating, like anything new it takes us out of our comfort zone. As a professional partner, we will make it comfortable for you.

That’s 10 tips offered by our virtual events team, however, they have plenty more and we would love to have an opportunity to share our knowledge. Email [email protected], or better still, connect with me on www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmkwallace and we can arrange a demo on a platform best suited to your needs.

Until next time,

Malcolm

Malcolm Wallace, Managing Director at Dynamic Conferences & Events Ltd

The COVID Series: What a difference a month makes!

Malcolm Wallace, COVID Series, Conference, Events, Management
COVID Series, Malcolm Wallace, Live Events

A growing number of companies and organisations are realising that, in the short term at least, they will have to bite the virtual bullet and so we are seeing a record number of enquiries for demos of virtual platforms.

Last week alone saw us signing 6 new clients for virtual events, as revenue managers try to stimulate income growth and comms managers stimulate their teams after weeks/months of furlough.

Despite this, the demand for live events is growing and we are signing contracts for events through 2021 and 2022, and of course, being event managers, we are planning how to keep our delegates safe just in case the promised vaccines don’t arrive or are not as efficacious as they should be!

So, what should you be considering and what is available to keep delegates safe enough to give you the confidence to hold your next live event:

  • A huge increase in cleaning and disinfection, probably the easiest item to implement. Most venues already have this in hand but as organisers we need to ensure that it is being carried out frequently and thoroughly enough.
  • Automated hand sanitising and disinfecting wipes at primary entrances and high traffic areas such as lifts
  • Thermal imaging cameras to measure temperature
  • Enabling social distancing by reducing capacities, managing queues, identifying potential bottle necks or congestion points, grab and go food etc
  • As much as possible go digital such as room keys, removing pens and paper, contactless check-in
  • Room seals so you know nobody has entered since cleaning
  • Innovative disinfection technologies:
    • Electrostatic sprayers, with electrostatically charged disinfecting mist
    • Ultraviolet light to sanitise surfaces and objects

There are many other options and considerations, each venue is different and will present different problems to be overcome, but hopefully these may form the basis to help instil some confidence in organising your next live event.

If you wish to learn more or need some assistance with your next live event contact my team on 01797 223626 or email me at [email protected]

Until next time,

Malcolm

Navigating the virtual highway

virtual event strategy
Virtual events, event strategy, Claire Wallace

Have a read of our latest article by Claire Bowley published on PA Life Magazine explaining the three pillars to have in mind when creating your virtual event strategy; Content, Connections and Community.

We are all too familiar with the buzzwords and phrases that have dominated communications in recent months – ‘unprecedented times’, ‘pivot to virtual’, ‘the new normal’ and ‘platform agnostic’.

Whilst we are starting to tire from the overuse of such language, the truth is these HAVE been extraordinary times and every single person has been on their own journey. In-person events will re-emerge, probably more compact and better focused – but in the meantime we will continue exploring the digital world.

To continue reading, click on the link below;

The COVID Series: How far outside our comfort zone are we?

Business Management Covid-19
Business Management Covid-19

As businesses, we are all adapting to the unpalatable truth that most of our industries have changed irrevocably for the short-to medium-term and quite possibly for the foreseeable future.

We have had to make changes to the way we market and communicate with customers, clients or employees. This has been a particularly massive sea-change for those of us in the communications industries usually accustomed to simply meeting to collaborate, connect and share whatever information or message we needed to get out.

Now, we need a new medium and, for a lot of people, the obvious choice of virtual events is proving to be a taxing one.

The obvious choice?

It is the obvious choice; however, it is not necessarily an easy choice. Virtual event platforms are springing up almost, it seems, on a daily basis. Essentially, they are all tools that enable people to communicate remotely. But how do you know which platform is right for your organisation? And what can different platforms offer?

The very basic virtual platform is simply a video call and the more complex ones can recreate a complete virtual conference environment. They can include an auditorium, collaboration spaces, exhibition halls, speed networking, networking lounges and any other space you would see at in in-person event.

What’s the challenge?

The challenge, in reality, is not dissimilar to delivering an in-person event.

  • Clear, focussed event objectives
  • Measurable goals of success
  • Adaptable environment to deliver objectives
  • Interesting, relevant and articulate speakers
  • Professional production
  • Branding to promote and reinforce  core messages
  • Accessibility for all visitors to the event
  • Staff available to solve problems for conference hosts, speakers, delegates, exhibitors and sponsors

But here is the crux of the challenge – there is an assumption that a virtual event is easier, simply because it is delivered digitally. No travelling, no lost luggage, no hotel bedroom mix ups.

However, to stage a successful virtual event requires just as much pre-planning as an in-person event. I recently attended a virtual event where the first speaker didn’t start on time, leading to many attendees thinking they had logged on incorrectly, with a substantial number leaving entirely.

The help desk wasn’t staffed meaning requests for help were not promptly addressed and there was no communication for the reason for the delay. The first speaker appeared unprepared, was incorrectly framed and lacked specific direction in his talk. Obviously, people who are sat at their laptops in their home office are not going to concentrate for that long with all the other distractions they have.

A well planned, virtual event will have the correct platform selected with the event running to time. If it can’t run to time then attendees need to be informed, attendees requesting assistance from the helpdesk must be responded to immediately.

Speakers often require guidance to transition to delivering a message to a virtual audience; to get orientated and understand the functionality of the platform; to juggle presenting with pushing out live polls, organising questions or using a white board.

In this new digital era, it is far better to use the ‘Ted’ talk model, keeping speakers to shorter, punchier presentations and then utilising collaborative spaces for interactive discussions to dive deeper into the subject. And it is so important for presentations to be delivered to a professional standard.

Thought should be given to interspersing the business content with ‘gamification’ or social activities, whether to introduce a fun element, encourage networking or foster team collaboration. Specific networking time can be included to encourage your audience to engage with content, sponsors and branding.

It is important to convey your branding and messaging throughout the virtual environment, to reinforce your professionalism and values. This is often underestimated for both in-person events and virtual events.

The solution

As with most aspects of business life, an industry professional can effectively tackle what seems an insurmountable situation. They can anticipate problems and remove the stress of the unknown.

Just as you would use a professional event management team, whether in-house, or outsourced it is important to do the same for a virtual event.

Your production partner will guide you through the vast range of available platforms from webinars to virtual reality, recommend the most suitable platform for your event and support you through the entire process., They will work with you to craft a compelling, diverse agenda to maximise delegate interaction and engagement. Assist with practical guidance for speakers, sponsors and exhibitors and help delegates navigate the platform and interactive functionality to ensure they receive a fulfilling an beneficial experience.

After all, the aim is to give everyone concerned the correct impression that you have a professional and inclusive organisation.

If you are ‘out of your comfort zone’ and need help in this new virtual world, get in touch and let’s discuss how we can create an amazing virtual experience.

Until next time,

Malcolm

Malcolm Wallace, Managing Director at Dynamic Conferences & Events Ltd

[email protected]

07515 664 368

www.dynamic-events.co.uk

Coronavirus – Reducing the Financial Risk

The UK events industry is worth £39.1bn per annum*

The Coronavirus has hit the event industry hard. Many events which were in planning for 2-3 years have been cancelled following the government’s decision to prohibit mass participation events from taking place to contain the outbreak. We are now on lockdown, meaning we have no real way of knowing when events can be postponed or which events in the future can still go ahead.

The larger the event, the bigger and wider the impact has on the whole global economy.

In the last few weeks our spring season of events have taken a huge hit; most have either been cancelled or postponed until 2021, Autumn events are being pushed back not specifically due to the virus itself, but it’s correlated financial impact on all industries and businesses.

As an event management company our goal is to be an extension of our clients. We become part of their team and our primary focus now is to reduce and mitigate the financial impact this will have on their bottom line.

Although we cannot stop the events from being postponed or even cancelled, we can reduce the impact to our clients financially and take away the stress involved in contacting delegates, venues and suppliers.

Here are some of the steps we have already taken as a team;

  • Communication – Over the past few months we have kept our client’s continuously and consistently updated on the current situation and the impact this has on their event.
  • Budget – Creating emergency budgets to show what the impact means financially if attendance was reduced by 20% or even 40%. Looking closely at the budget, analysing extras that would not affect the running of the main conference (decor, entertainment, venue and program changes) to cut costs without lowering value.
  • Contracts – Reviewing contracts with suppliers and venues, specifically cancellation and postponement policies, whilst working on instigating Force Majeure.
  • Inform – Communicating all information to our clients allowing allows them to make informed decisions about their event and the financial impact of any decision they make.
  • Innovation – Providing a solution for live events by presenting a virtual conference platform. We are calling this the “Dynamic virtual world”, an interactive, cost-effective, accessible and environmentally friendly alternative. See our Dynamic virtual world blog post here.

As a team, we collectively have over 100 years of experience in event management. With that comes a wealth of knowledge that puts Dynamic Events in a unique position. Our longstanding relationships, buying power, and mutual respect with suppliers, gives us an advantage to minimise the risk in a situation like this.

Therefore, we have limited and even escaped the financial implications to our clients by re-negotiations and postponement of events to 2021.

“Our long-term partnership with Dynamic Events team is based on mutual trust and a shared vision, and it is a collaboration that achieves excellence for our attendees. Postponing our conferences this year was not an easy decision since they create vital networking opportunities for our member firms. For obvious reasons, our two conferences scheduled to take place in Beijing had to be postponed to 2021. Thanks to the Dynamic Events team’s knowledge of worldwide destination and their contacts, they were not only able to postpone our conferences without any negative financial implications but were also immediately able to suggest alternative locations and programmes.” Paul Ginman, COO and Global Head of Quality – Nexia International, March 2020

The policies and procedures we have in place are purely to protect our clients. Through implementing rigorous contingency plans, this enables, and has enabled, us to react quickly to this current crisis. Whether the client wishes to go ahead with the event, cancel or postpone, we are well equipped to handle any decision they make.

We work with local and national public health authorities, as well as receiving regular updates by the World Health Organisation and continually updating risk assessments. This keeps our clients informed should the situation change, and the event is no longer safe to proceed.

During the event we have an emergency hotline available 24/7 for all delegates, identified isolation zones with venues and contingency plans to organise travel for delegates.

The key to our management is TRUST – our clients trust us as an agency and trust that we shall keep them informed and enable them to react to any situation. Often companies question the expense of having an event management company rather than employing a person inhouse, but our clients will be the first to tell you – we save them time and money. Not just from negotiating more favourable rates with suppliers but should things happen that are out of our human control, like covid-19, our contracts and terms with suppliers protect our clients. 

With our member firms located in more than 146 territories, our regional conferences provide a great platform to build relationships, learn about our strengthening network and portfolio of services and engage in collaborative conversations. When we had to take the decision to cancel this year’s regional conferences, the Dynamic Team kept calm and carried on doing what they do the best. They have managed to renegotiate all local supplier contracts to secure new dates in 2021 with the existing rates and have successfully negotiated for any deposits already paid to be credited against future events. Their quick action and the concise information they provided enabled us to make informed decisions which has been very much appreciated in these extraordinary and uncertain times.Adam Grainger, Chief Information Officer – Baker Tilly, March 2020

Solutions – Virtual conference platforms

We can offer our clients an alternative to having a physical event by creating a virtual conference platform.  The virtual conference will allow delegates to be actively involved in a secure online environment from anywhere in the world – 24/7.

Our platforms are totally accessible, fully interactive and customizable so that your brand is visual throughout the experience.  We can pre-record sessions, have live Q&A’s, hold group chats, share links, hold spaces for sponsors, and have virtual shops to promote merchandise.

Virtual conferences have huge benefits and are available at a fraction of the cost of a live conference

Our virtual conferences offer an enriching event experience with delegates, making them able to interact, debate and participate in online forums, chat rooms, as well as having on demand ‘pre-recorded’ seminars available.

Top benefits

  • AccessibilityMulti language, on demand, mobile platforms, available 24 hours.
  • InteractiveIndividual or group chats, voice, text, video links, search function.
  • SustainableReduced travel – CO2 consumption – reducing your companies carbon footprint; Paper, plastic and organic matter waste generated at real events will be removed.
  • CostThis platform is far more cost-effective than a live event and allows people to attend that may not ordinarily be able to.

If you wish to learn more about our virtual conference platforms or are planning an event in the future, contact my team on 01797223626 we would love to hear from you.

Welcome to a ‘Dynamic’ virtual world..

Virtual Networking Lounge, Group chat
Virtual Networking lounge, group chats

The current global situation that we all find ourselves immersed in doesn’t need explaining – these are truly exceptional times, and no-one can predict how this extraordinary time in history will continue.

However, at Dynamic Events, we believe that extraordinary times provide the opportunity and challenge to reflect on what is truly important and create positive solutions to enable our clients to continue their global conversations.

We all know that live events will return and can never be completely replaced, but until that time, we are looking to harness all the amazing technology that continues to connect us and allow enriching engagement, even when we can not be together.

The virtual event creates an environment that can bring teams and wider networks together – whether through delivering powerful presentations, facilitating group discussions, providing a platform for face-to-face interaction or engaging participants in an array of social, wellbeing or team building activities.

The team at Dynamic Events are spending time with each client to devise an immersive and experiential platform to provide real solutions to replace live events.

The possibilities to engage are only restricted by our creativity and imagination. At Dynamic we have been doing this in the live event space for 20 years – the Dynamic virtual world is an extension of our teams’ desire and passion to innovate and deliver.

We would love to talk to you about how we can support you.

Find out more out our virtual conference solutions here

Call our team now on +44 (0)1797 223 626 or email [email protected]