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 Wallace, Managing Director at Dynamic Conferences & Events Ltd