How to Turn Planned Events into Virtual Experiences
March 25, 2020
As limits on public gatherings become increasingly stringent, companies are facing the difficult decision of postponing or canceling large-scale events. Fortunately, modern technology poses an attractive alternative: shifting the format to create a one-of-a-kind virtual event.
When executed properly, virtual experiences can deliver the same value attendees have come to expect – and, in many ways, create an unanticipated upside by serving up this value to a broader audience of attendees. As you transition your corporate events from in-person to online, consider these elements to set yourself and your participants up for success.
Venue: Establish a gated landing page in place of a physical venue. Make it exclusive to registrants, well-developed and highly intuitive. Like a good venue, it should also be visually pleasing and easy to navigate, streamlined enough that attendees know where to be and when, and varied enough to offer something for everyone.
Meeting format: Maintain the pomp and circumstance of a live event with purposeful timing for content release. Rather than dumping all the content at once for attendees to wade through at their discretion, keep the same cadence the live event would offer by sticking to a schedule. Whether you’re live-streaming keynote presentations or sharing pre-recorded virtual breakout sessions, build excitement – and keep attendees focused – by scheduling content just as you would throughout the live event.
Social interaction: While nothing can truly replace face-to-face connection, you can come close to recreating the social factor with video chat rooms for attendees to pop into between sessions, whether via Zoom, Google Hangouts or another proprietary platform. To keep it intimate, cap each room at 5 or 6 guests, but ensure that additional rooms are available. The topic of each of these chat rooms can be as focused as reacting to meeting presentations or as loose as general social discussion, but variety is critical in ensuring that everyone feels comfortable video chatting with fellow attendees. Additionally, chat feeds on all content pages provide the opportunity for attendees to interact with the content, with the option for private messaging so attendees can take their conversations offline, too.
Engagement: It’s easy for virtual event attendees to stream content in the background and lose focus while they go about their work or browse the internet in other windows. To combat multitasking and drive engagement, gamify the experience with engagement challenges. Software such as Movable Ink can integrate special badges and avatars for attendees with high rates of engagement – whether that’s participating in chat streams, reacting to content, submitting questions, or more – to promote high levels of engagement. Take it a step further by allowing attendees to see questions that have been submitted for Q&A sessions and up-vote their favorites to the top of the list.
Tech support: Keep in mind that the virtual format and its vast offerings might cause some anxiety for attendees who are not as comfortable with embracing new technology. Ease this anxiety by narrating and recording a PowerPoint course on the interface to send to attendees prior to the event. Be sure to include a tech support number or email address so they know who to reach if they experience any complications.
Unquestionably, being unable to host live events as planned is disappointing for both companies and their attendees, but virtual experiences – when executed purposefully – can offer the same stellar content, engaging interaction and exciting experiences in a different setting. Follow these tips to ensure that your events achieve the same success in your virtual environment.