Successfully delivering virtual meetings and online events
Whilst nothing compares to face-to-face interaction, in a time when events can’t take place, online conferences and virtual meetings are a great solution to deliver your message whilst engaging and motivating your teams. In the last few weeks we have seen companies adapt quicker than ever to this rapidly moving environment; gyms are performing free workouts live on Instagram, restaurants are turning into grocery stores and museums are overcoming lockdown through interactive online tours. Whilst virtual events certainly aren’t a new concept, agencies are also having to adapt quickly to give their client’s audience as greater experience as a live event. The likes of Adobe Summit and IBM Think are examples of events that have had to change their approach fast, recently moving to digital only experiences where attendees will now be able to participate in the conferences through live streamed content and on-demand experiences.
So how can you move your physical event or meeting to a digital version? Below are our considerations for successfully transforming your live event into a virtual one.
Choose the right video conferencing tech for your requirements
There are now a wealth of platforms that can host virtual meetings, from Zoom which is being used both by enterprises and groups of friends and the long-standing solutions WebEx, GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts. Some platforms can support content such as videos better than others, so do your research carefully before deploying a platform that may not have the bells and whistles you require for your virtual meeting or online event.
Be decisive with your format
Making decisions early on about the format of your virtual meeting or event is key. Will it be delivered as an informal fireside chat, a panel session or (post COVID-19) a live streamed conference stage set-up? The format needs to be communicated prior, so the audience knows what to expect. The format may also determine how you engage your audience and how you treat the content, so being decisive early on means a more successful outcome.
Decide whether you will live-stream or create on-demand content
Live streamed or on-demand content create two entirely different experiences. On-demand allows for the audience to consume the content at a time that fits with their busy schedule but risks audiences not fully engaging. Live streaming, on the other hand, can create greater engagement with viewers not wanting to miss content, but doesn’t allow for post-production enhancements.
Map your attendees’ journey touchpoints
Your virtual attendees go through a completely different set of touchpoints versus attending a live event. Analyse what would have made them excited about attending the live event, and work out how this can be replicated virtually. What touchpoints do you need to ensure there is clear communication at? Is there clarity around the experience they will receive? What is their pre-event and post digital experience? By mapping out every touchpoint throughout, you’ll be able to give your attendees a far greater experience.
Understand online viewers consume content differently
to live audiences
From video content and interactive presentations to AV effects or Augmented Reality, there are numerous ways we can engage our online audiences as well as a Netflix documentary can. However, do we give as much thought to how these digital experiences are designed as we would do for the live event? Audiences consume content very differently when online versus live and have access to far greater distractions. Therefore, more efforts need to be placed on driving conversations with the audience.
Get creative with your content
Virtual meetings don’t have to mean death by PowerPoint – assess where you can be more creative with your content. From building in videos, through to impactful graphic design, there are various ways to make the online event more engaging. If there are multiple sessions, think how you will move from one session to the next. Can you cut in video trailers or graphics between each segment? Assess whether you need a breakout, and how you can creatively still engage your audience during it. With the human brain designed to tune out from anything that doesn’t intrigue us, it’s especially important to ensure you’re still telling a story with your content. Graphics need to be designed differently for a small screen versus a live event, so take into consideration when designing that they need to be adapted for this format.
Pre-empt tech glitches
I’m sure we’ve all sat on video conferences where there have been multiple tech glitches. Not only does it make for a less engaging experience, it can also unsettle and distract the presenters. Whilst some technical glitches can’t be overcome, by having multiple run-throughs prior to the meeting or event will help iron out any possible issues. Assess where tech issues may happen, e.g. videos not playing, participants not on mute, polls not functioning and build in back-up solutions for overcoming them.
Take your breakout sessions away from the screen
If your audience has sat through multiple online sessions then the last thing they want is to have a breakout that requires them to be stuck at their desk. Incorporate ways they can still be engaged with minimum screen time, such as a yoga or meditation session, or a game of pictionary or trivia.
Encourage audience engagement
To ensure your message is communicated effectively and to minimise audiences becoming distracted it is best practice to create opportunities for engagement. Encourage audiences to use the live chat function, submit emojis, take part in polls, integrate sli.do and add in elements of gamification where appropriate. By understanding your audience on the call, you will get a better idea of their distractions, allowing you to place a greater focus on pulling them away from these distractions.
How can Banks Sadler support your virtual meeting or event?
At Banks Sadler we have a creative production team including technical managers, graphic designers, creative producers and video producers who can support in developing content and making your virtual event seamless and engaging.
When It comes to delivering a virtual meeting or event with your business we understand that people will already feel comfortable on a platform they are used to, therefore our technical managers are also able to assist across any platform including Zoom, WebEx and GoToMeeting.
Your dedicated creative producer will work with you from beginning to end, crafting an experience that is right for your brand and your messaging. Not only can we support with your technical needs, our team of creative producers and graphic designers can support with event identities, template design and audience engagement techniques whilst our video editors can cut and animate footage to help bring your virtual event to life.
Services we can provide
Event identity – our Graphic Designers and Producers will work with you to create an impactful identity for your digital meeting/event that is in line with your business strategy. We can work with your brand guidelines or create an original theme, whilst producing a suite of supporting content
Registration and invitations – we have a team of Web Developers/Designers able to build innovative registration sites that give an excellent first impression of your upcoming virtual event
Video content – Our video producers can combine video production and animation to deliver excellent branded content. An excellent way to engage your audience beyond Keynote or PowerPoint
Speaker and content management – Our Technical Managers are here to make your event seamless. They will manage all the content, audio control and also provide speaker assistance
Pre-meeting support – A successful virtual meeting or online event requires practice. Our team will support you with any training or rehearsals to ensure a smooth-running event
Post-event data – We can supply analytics around registration, attendees and engagement plus run post-event surveys to understand your audiences feedback
Click here to download the American Express Meetings & Events VIRTUAL MEETINGS PLANNING GUIDE containing a full checklist for delivering a successful online experience.