Simple Strategies to deliver Online Events
In our previous post we covered the 3 Building Blocks we feel are crucial in creating an online event. As Covid-19’s effect continues to be felt across the globe and with the increasing need for digital solutions in the eventing space we continue to look at key requirements for delivering a digital event. In this blog we discuss the strategy of delivering an online event, by use of four categories:
What are your current Priorities
When calculating priorities, using a design thinking exercise to frame the conversation will benefit everyone from an overview of the current situation. You need to ask yourself, what is our current event scope, what have we already designed, and what are our current limitations?
Discuss the scenario as if there are no limits.
In the current state of affairs, it’s very easy to make fear-based decisions and allow your conversations to be framed with constraints rather than possibilities.
Take the time to contemplate the “what if’s” with your team.
You need to find a balance between “the cool stuff” and “the must haves”, it’s really about finding the middle ground where your intended impact and resources at your disposal align with your partners’ and your technology capabilities.
Lastly make a list and categorise these priorities:
- What are the must haves,
- What would be nice to have,
- What isn’t a big deal,
- What can we look to implement next time?
The Planning Phase
When it comes to planning, there are some specific changes that you need to make for a virtual event. Like any event you’re used to building – the attendee experience from start to finish will always be the key. For Digital/Virtual events – even more so. It’s much tougher to repair a bad experience digitally than in person.
We like to look at it from the point of view of touchpoints – can we map every touchpoint for an attendee and then build around those.
If it was an existing physical event – have you thought through the cancellation communication?
It’s critical to control the narrative; calmness, confidence and a well-articulated transition to virtual will settle most attendees and help to manage their expectations.
Think through the experience, having a professional, dedicated MC/host who can moderate the event would be a requirement for us at any event because it makes attendees more comfortable and allows them to follow and enjoy the journey. Speaker transitions, content breaks and agenda updates always flow easier when you have a professional MC and people are used to having an MC for live events who guides them through the event.
It’s key to plan & build a variety of formats for your sessions:
- Round tables
All made better by loads of Q&A and attendee involvement.
Keep the sessions short (15-20min) and plan in breaks into the agenda that attendees can see coming. This should help to keep your audience engaged, knowing they have a break coming will help to keep their distractions to a minimum.
Don’t forget to use those transitions and breaks to give your sponsors some love and be sure to use your platforms to help them achieve their goals for the event too. Nobody likes being bombarded by sponsor messaging but at the same time, the event probably wouldn’t happen without their involvement.
Presenter coaching & dry runs are also critical elements in digital/virtual events. Presenting to a camera lens is much tougher than to a live audience. Take into account that not everyone will be comfortable presenting live, so sometimes it’s just better to pre-record. This allows you editing and production time to make sure your content is always excellent in both quality and delivery. Obviously from an engagement point of view, live is always best but it’s not always going to work out that way.
The right people for the job
Call sheets for digital/virtual events look very different to those from a live events perspective. You’re not going to be engaging catering companies, décor partners etc for a while. You need to think about who helps you deliver the best online experience.
We can tell you now, people with television, script writing, web design and digital marketing experience are going to be critical to your event online.
This is a new way of engagement for many attendees, so having a team who understands how to take them along the journey will be essential!
Which Platform do we broadcast on?
There are so many! It really just boils down to your priorities, what your company already has in place and what your stakeholders need to achieve their goals for the event.
There are a few non negotiables when it comes to platforms, it must support customisation, you want your brand CI to be reflected seamlessly on the platform, it must be widely used in your local market.
Consider internet bandwidth, you don’t want attendees staring at ‘Please wait’ while they’re trying to log in and join the session. This isn’t just a presentation bandwidth conversation, again think about your local audience, what is their signal strength likely to be?
Don’t forget to test your plan. Test it and then test it again, dry runs have never been more important!
Lastly, enjoy it, most of us love delivering live events for enthralled audiences and watching it all come to life. This is no different, Covid – 19 is a very real threat facing our world but our events offer your audience an opportunity to ‘escape’ some of that and embed themselves in your virtual world for a while. Make it worth it!