2020 was a year of unpredicted turmoil. Our need for authentic connections has never been more acutely felt and brands and companies have turned to virtual events to connect with their audience. History demonstrates that a crisis is the ultimate innovation accelerator and there has never been a better time to apply this digitally.
We have an internal motto that sums up why we do what we do: ‘For the Love of The Show’. In the virtual world, the ‘show’ still very much exists, and it’s essential that online events are approached with the same focus on creating an engaging and meaningful experience as their physical counterparts.
Whether you need to gather 5000 attendees for a conference, launch a new product to an intimate group of press and influencers, or communicate internally to your team; virtual and hybrid options deliver increased reach, coupled with in-depth data and reporting.
If you’re planning a virtual event, it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve been delivering engaging digital solutions for years and have compiled our top five tips to consider:
1. LOCATION - YOUR OPTIONS ARE LIMITLESS WITH DIGITAL
Virtual events have opened up options when it comes to picking a venue to broadcast your event from. Without having to consider factors such as room capacities and attendee travel, you can present your virtual event from almost anywhere.
Applying creative thinking to your broadcast venue can create a hook which draws people in, and we’ve had the pleasure to live stream from prestigious museums and stunning locations throughout the UK. This is a great time to think outside the box, launching a product with a live stream from a pod on the London Eye is suddenly an option!
Closer to home, we’ve delivered successful virtual events which have been broadcast from company premises, we’ve set up temporary broadcast studios and streamed important updates and AGMs live to employees and shareholders from the familiarity and comfort of a well-known (and possibly missed!) environment.
So, while your guests might not be able to experience a venue in the traditional way, the allure and interest of an unusual or unique venue helps to build excitement and aligns your overall message.
The allure and interest of an unusual or unique venue helps to build excitement and aligns your overall message.
2. GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY
Content has become a regular part of our everyday lives whether we realise it or not. Video calls, social platforms and endless notifications engineered to hold our attention and draw us in to ‘follow’, ‘subscribe’, ‘sign up’ and ‘buy’. With competition for focus greater than ever, and human tolerance for spending more time in front of a screen waning, it has never been more important to craft content that resonates with your audience and lands messaging in fun and engaging ways.
When planning the content for your virtual event, it’s tempting to lean into the safety of a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation. We challenge our clients to opt for more creative and interesting options as we believe the way you present your content is linked to the overall success of delivering your message.
Our creative team love picking apart a brief and apply their extensive knowledge to develop imaginative, innovative, and engaging ways to translate your message. We’ve filmed footage which has been edited into Netflix worthy films, used motion graphics and animation to bring data to life and even built physical environments which have been scanned to create interactive and immersive virtual worlds for users to explore.
In summary, content is king, and you should think outside of traditional methods to take your virtual event up a level.
3. ASSIGN THE RIGHT TEAM
When it comes to building the team, delivering a virtual show is no different to a physical one; it requires a specialist mix of experts. We’ve always invested in our people and the result is a diverse team of industry leaders. A virtual event calls for digital producers, creative strategists, show callers, stage managers and technical experts. Attempting to do this without the right support can lead to costly and embarrassing mistakes.
The right team can take an initial idea and transform it into a digital event that hits the mark with your audience. Creative ideation, detailed project management, skilled show delivery and industry leading technical abilities all come together to create a high performing team, capable of negotiating complex and often last-minute curveballs, to deliver a seamless show.
Understanding how the technology works and how a successful virtual event comes together requires expertise. Anyone can create a zoom call and share a screen but if you want to immerse your guests into something that they’ll talk about to others, a safe and experienced pair of hands is the way forward.
The right team can take an initial idea and transform it into a digital event that hits the mark with your audience.
4. REHEARSE, REHEARSE, THEN REHEARSE AGAIN
A smooth, well-rehearsed show is a happy place for our producers. We benchmark our virtual delivery against industry standards in live TV broadcast. Our project plans always include plenty of rehearsal time, ensuring all presenters and remote speakers know exactly what to expect and at what point during the show. This process builds confidence and ensures that any issues are ironed out well ahead of going live.
Project Director Kate Connell comments: ‘You'd never dream of doing a physical event without a rehearsal and it’s important you have the same mindset for doing one in a virtual environment, it’s a must for ensuring the production of a show that’s not only engaging but runs seamlessly.’
If time and budget allow, you’ll find us in our studio the day before a live show rehearsing with the presenters, allowing them to get acquainted and comfortable with the space. In collaboration with our clients, we also use this to review the run of show and suggest segments that could be shortened or removed to ensure all attendees stay attentive and interested throughout the live event.
Finally, we always carry out technical checks with remote speakers in advance. This includes checking them into our virtual green room where they’ll be met by one of our friendly show producers. In the test call we run them through the process for the live event and take time to check their set up for camera angles, lighting and audio. Even the most seasoned presenters get nervous, a careful process ensures they’re comfortable and ready to ‘go live’ when cued by one of our producers at the main event.
You'd never dream of doing a physical event without a rehearsal and it’s important you have the same mindset for doing one in a virtual environment,
5. GREAT DESIGN AND AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT
Picking the right platform might seem like a tick box and isn’t always the most exciting part of the process but it is a vital element of delivering a successful virtual show. The options are vast, and advances in technology mean that they’re continually evolving. To the inexperienced user, it can be hard to know where to start. Luckily, we are blessed with a team of self-confessed tech-geeks who are constantly scanning the market for new innovations and are at their happiest when playing, testing and pushing platforms to their limits. We are well versed in most of the available platforms and have also created our own inhouse platform, EC Extend.
Along with ensuring your platform delivers on the key requirements of your event; we recommend looking at extending brand awareness through the interface. Customisation of layout and navigation, white labelling and using your brand assets to create something that has your ‘look and feel’ helps generate a unique experience for your guest.
Finally, all events are different and the same goes for virtual. Levels of required engagement vary. Moderated live chat, live Q&A, polling, gamification, networking rooms, sponsor areas and one-to-one video meetings can all be implemented and are essential to increase engagement with your audience.
Virtual events have become an essential part of marketing and communication strategies and whilst we believe that live events will return, we are expanding our virtual offering as it’s definitely here to stay.
The options are endless, and technology continues to evolve into exciting new areas.
Want to learn more about how we can help you deliver virtual events this year?
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Want to learn more about how we can help you deliver virtual events this year? Give us a call on 020 7740 3988 or send us a message.