With current travel restrictions and social distance measures in place, a shift to virtual and hybrid event solutions is on the rise.
Many companies have shifted to working remotely, and subsequently the need to network and share knowledge has become greater than ever. Giving organisations the platform, they need, to tell their story and connect with their audiences, requires event organisers and organisations to think outside the box and find innovative ways to maximise on the potential of virtual events and meetings.
With event software evolving continuously, numerous virtual conference platforms to choose from, and an overload of information, event organisers and organisations may feel somewhat overwhelmed at times. In the past months we have helped our clients shift their in-person exhibitions, conferences and events to virtual environments. Implementing these 9 key steps will help you get started, stay focused and successfully convert in-person events to virtual experiences.
1. Think of production
Virtual events and conferences simply do not unfold in the same way in-person events do. Where a live event may get away with a traditional PowerPoint backdrop and a speaker addressing an audience for a one-hour session, a virtual event requires highly interactive tools and great quality visuals to keep virtual attendees focused and engaged in front of their screen. Think of your virtual event more as a TV-production and make full use of the technology and features your virtual event platform offers. Incorporate high quality video and audio tools, use multiple and different size screens to capture various angles and allow multiple speakers to engage with your audience in shorter sessions. Consider the time and attention span of virtual attendees; break down your sessions into shorter segments, allow for virtual social breaks and give attendees time to interact and ask questions.
2. Evaluate your Content
To effectively set up your event goals and decide on how you will convey your content, think about what content you are supplying and why you are supplying it. Evaluate and adapt your content to meet the size of your event and the needs of your virtual attendees. Find interesting topics related to your event, make use of virtual round tables and smaller group break-out sessions to allow virtual attendees to become active, rather than passive participants. Give attendees the possibility to access event content at their own convenience, by allowing session downloads and on-demand video streaming.
3. One chance to get it right
Ensure your speakers are well prepared and help them feel comfortable in virtual set ups. Keep in mind that speaking on a stage with a live audience is very different to speaking in front of a camera. Just as with in-person events, rehearse the event from beginning to end; set up live testing sessions and ensure all tools you are using offer seamless viewer experiences.
4. Virtual networking
The human factor of meeting people at in-person events is hard to beat, but with match-making tools and highly interactive networking features, virtual platforms provide a space for people to interact with each other and make meaningful connections. No matter what type of event you are organising you want your attendees to get engaged in your content, share your content, network with like-minded people and create a space for live discussions. Communicate with your audience pre, post and during the event. Start a conversation with your audience, get them involved from the start and let them know what to expect from your virtual event. When distractions are just a click away, it can be challenging to keep participants engaged in virtual environments. Guide your audience on how to use the networking tools you are supplying and foster communities of active online participation.
5. Digital safety
When people come to together, feeling secure and safe is paramount to the successful outcome of any event, virtual or in-person. Ensure the virtual platform you are using offers adequate safety and security features for speakers, attendees and management. Establish an event plan that is designed to deal with disruptive behaviour and make sure your platform uses robust, secure technology. Decide on the security features needed and give your participants peace of mind that their personal information is dealt with securely.
6. Global reach
Hosting your event or meeting on a virtual platform eliminates venue capacities and geographical boundaries. Live streaming tools allow you to broadcast your event to an unlimited audience size, from anywhere to everywhere. Make your event user-friendly by using integrated translation tools, personalised agendas according to time-zones and make it convenient by giving access to streamed sessions on demand.
Although virtual conference platforms offer unlimited and global attendee reach it is important to consider the audience size. In many cases it has proven to be more successful to break up large scale meetings to smaller, more targeted audiences. If, for example, your in person annual kick-off meeting generally hosts 2,000 attendees, you may achieve more virtual attendee engagement if you group attendees into more targeted audiences of 200 per event. Depending on what type of virtual event or meeting you are planning, limiting your audience size, or making it accessible to large multilingual audiences depends entirely on your event strategy and goals.
7. Re-evaluate and measure your success
Access powerful insights with registration reporting, content analytics, live attendance tracking, lead collection, behavioural analytics, public chat transcripts and in-depth survey reporting. Measure the success of your virtual event, re-evaluate your strategy and goals, learn from your insights, implement changes where necessary and take your virtual events to the next level.
8. Get the support you need
Virtual events are no different from in-person events when it comes to customer support. Make sure you have the support you need before, during and after the event. Although virtual events do not involve all the logistics of an in-person event, they do require detailed planning and hands-on support to tackle any challenges along the way.
9. Think positive
As much as we wish to feel the energy of connecting in person, it is unlikely that large-scale events and conferences will be returning anytime soon. Modern technology allows us to connect virtually with everyone, from everywhere; let’s embrace the possibilities, grow together and continue to find creative ways to enhance the virtual experience for event organisers, organisations and attendees.
What do you want to evoke?
Let’s get started, connect with Evowk today and get the support you need. Our team will guide you through all the options of seamlessly shifting your events to virtual environments and is dedicated to supporting you from beginning to end.