Taking on the world of Virtual Events
How do we create a virtual event that delivers the same audience satisfaction as a live event?
As a new concept landing on the scene, as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual events face a number of challenges whilst audiences adapt to an unfamiliar format of event delivery.
We’ve noted that audiences generally perceive virtual events as a substitute to live events, rather than looking at them as a format with its own merits. Virtual events are often seen as a temporary solution for the current parameters of event delivery, rather than a new alternative with long-term prospects.
Senior Project Manager
Perhaps the most frequent challenge we find, when delivering virtual events, is our audience having access to the right technology, and mixed abilities when it comes to using it. Low confidence levels from participants can put a virtual event on the back foot from the beginning, with a shy-away approach from key stakeholders, limiting the event’s success before it’s even begun.
Getting their attention
Another challenge is engaging the audience. This starts from the very beginning: attracting attendees. You can draw in the numbers to a live event with the marketing of a nice hotel, fancy dinner, top-class entertainment, and free drinks, but virtual events can struggle to compete in the perks stake.
Keeping their attention
Once you have your audience, the next challenge is capturing and keeping their attention. At a virtual event, you are potentially competing against a number of factors: home-schooling children, email or internal messaging notifications, noisy environments and poor internet connection.
So, how do we overcome these challenges?
Give them a glimpse
A strong pre-event engagement strategy is an absolute must for any virtual event. Whether it’s a 6-month multi-channel campaign, or a weekly feature on a client’s internal comms platform, marketing your event has never been more important. Give your audience a glimpse of what’s to come.
Content is the key
To engage an audience the content needs to be relevant. If it is not relevant, then it’s not going to be engaging to that particular attendee, no matter how interactive you make it! A participant’s user journey can be bespoke to their job role/country/user type, ensuring content is adapted to them and applicable to their needs.
Stats are everything!
As a company, we’ve now delivered many virtual events so we’re in the fortunate position of having lots of statistics. We can analyse past participant’s behaviours. On our first virtual event, the average session duration was 20 minutes but the average time at which participants dropped off was after 12 minutes. So, what did we learn from this? Keep it short and sweet.
I’m sure you’ll agree, there’s nothing more frustrating than listening to someone speak and their audio cutting out mid-sentence, or video pausing due to poor bandwidth. Professionally filmed content will enhance the delivery, whether pre-recorded or live. We can create content in an office, a professional studio or even at home with the support of a production team. Within our platform, we can bring in speakers via their own devices and vision mix the production to seamlessly switch between speakers and content segments.
We can switch between edited and live content, with the audience non the wiser too! Capturing content ahead of the day is a great option to take the stress away for your client on the live event, particularly if they’re not the most confident of speakers. Oh, and it means speakers can’t overrun..!
Adding live polls, Q&A session, group activities, energisers and fun sessions are a great way to keep your audience engaged and connected with each other. One thing we all miss at the moment is human interaction, so giving your audience as many opportunities as possible to interact with one another is a huge selling point.
Don’t forget the freebies!
Running your event virtually doesn’t mean there can’t be giveaways. Pre-event packages for attendees create a buzz, give a feeling of appreciation and can provide exposure opportunities for your sponsors or exhibitors. If budget allows, we always recommend reaching your audience with a pre-event package, which can serve as a takeaway and reminder of the event too.
Virtual events are a really great way to stay connected with your audience during these unprecedented times. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to engage just because you can’t see people face to face; there’s some great options available for delivering virtually and you don’t have to have a huge budget to make sessions impactful.
Think about your objectives, what you’re hoping the audience will take away, and tailor your event around delivering on this. Virtual offers much greater flexibility than a live event, so take advantage of it!
Professionally produced content will have longevity and can be shared post-event via internal platforms or be used for company marketing campaigns and social media. Think about the value a virtual event could add to other areas of your business, how easily you could integrate additional parties, and how you can generate revenue, and a virtual event will sell itself.