The value of face-to-face interaction will never go away, but there are times when going virtual is a necessary part of your event program. But how do you turn a multi-day conference, filled with networking opportunities, educational sessions, and the attendee insights they generate into virtual events?
And once you do, how do you ensure attendees are engaged throughout the event?
Hosting a virtual event requires the same care and attention as an in-person event. In both cases, you need to craft an event strategy to effectively promote the event, engage your attendees, create memorable moments for attendees, and prove event success.
Here are 3 positive ways live events have evolved as a result of one turbulent year.
3 Ways Live Events Have Evolved
When an in-person event moves online, geographical limitations are instantly erased with the help of webinars. Anyone with an internet connection and the ability to click on a link is a potential attendee, and even more, exposure is possible if a digital recording of the event is made viewable afterward. Not only does this widen the reach of an event’s audience, but it also creates added value for potential sponsors as well.
Companies can charge attendees to join webinars using online payment services or can be offered for free. Webinars typically use video conferencing tools that allow Q&A, the ability to present live or a pre-recorded video, and be offered as on-demand after the fact. Due to their one-off educational nature, webinars have thrived with 100% virtual attendance. These can also include internal and external training.
In addition to drawing attendees from far and wide, virtual events can also present speakers or talent from any corner of the globe. This opens up possibilities that may have been previously unimaginable or financially unfeasible given the additional costs of bringing, for example, a keynote speaker from city to city.
A live business event will often feature live speakers supplemented by projected slides or short video clips. If it’s a larger conference there may be live music or other entertainment as well. Going digital means keeping these elements, but using av technology to take it up a notch. Expertly edited video packages that transition seamlessly between speaker segments; interactive digital components like polls or chats; live production teams using multiple camera angles to keep visuals interesting. Any and all are possible in a virtual or hybrid environment.
Even if attendees can’t be onsite for an event, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to bring the event to the attendee. With some forethought and planning, event organizers can send promotional packages out to virtual ticket holders that are personalized around the event theme. Taking the place of a conference swag bag, packages can incorporate sponsor items and activities like a bottle of wine for a virtual tasting, or game element for a virtual giveaway. To increase promotional value, recipients can be encouraged to record their package “unboxing” to share on social media along with event-specific hashtags.
A/V Needs For Hybrid or Virtual Events
Digital Video Equipment
Whether your virtual event is fully live-streamed, or a mix of live and recorded video, you’ll need digital video equipment to capture the focus of the event. This could be capturing a panel discussion in a studio, a remote performance on a stage, or a keynote talk in the speaker’s living room. Whether you’re hiring event videographers or going as low-tech as possible, here are the tools you’ll need to capture the moments:
- Digital video camera (a professional digital camera or a smartphone)
- Lighting equipment
Every source point for video and live streaming must have powerful WiFi to ensure it reaches your audience. Check and triple-check that the WiFi is strong at the event command center, whether that is a studio or a corporate office. And if the keynote speaker is streaming their talk from home — their WiFi must be strong too.
Some video streaming platforms are better-suited to interactive virtual events, such as business meetings, training sessions, and small networking events. Rather than viewing a stream, these platforms allow virtual event attendees to interact with each other. Top software options for this type of interactive online event:
These platforms enable the host to share screens dynamically and hold back-and-forth conversations with attendees.
This technology also allows you to track all your virtual training engagement and give you a complete view of your attendees’ event activity history. Plus, you can report all that back to other key systems, which is particularly helpful if your company requires hours of training for accreditation or certification.