While some organizations had already been incorporating virtual components in their events, for most of us, this is new territory.
In an industry centered on face-to-face engagement and networking, this new digital landscape seems – on the surface – problematic. Especially when it comes to audience engagement and experience. However, virtual events can provide meeting professionals with opportunities to be innovative.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Consider where attendees are based. If many time zones are represented, cater to a broad audience by offering multiple schedules for the event.
ON DEMAND. Another option, when attendees are nationally or globally based, is recording for on-demand. Be sure to let the speaker/bureau know upfront whether you intend to record and how it will be used. Companies are now incorporating the recorded presentation in training packages for attendees and/or extending on-demand capabilities. Many speakers will allow broad usage such as recording even encourage it to extend the experience. However some speakers will not or they may require an additional fee.
MAINTAINING FULL ENGAGEMENT. If you are concerned that offering an on-demand version of the event will diminish participation of the live virtual experience, adding incentives for joining and/or remaining for the duration of the meeting have proven to be successful.
KEEP THE PERSONAL TOUCH. Some platforms (like Zoom) offer break-out session functionality that we’ve found especially popular with attendees seeking an interactive deeper dive into the content with a speaker and/or the opportunity to catch up with colleagues; the virtual equivalent of chatting in the buffet line or at the coffee cart!
We’ve received feedback from a few pioneering clients who have recently transformed their awards program to a completely virtual format. This allows well-deserving nominees and award recipients to not only enjoy their time in the limelight, but to allow friends and family to join regardless of where their location. Nominees and guests put on their best formal wear, and enjoyed festive themed snacks and drinks delivered to their homes before the event. Certificates and plaques, etc. are sent out after the event.
ATTENDEE JOURNEY. In his recent FastCompany article, Microsoft VP of Global Event Bob Bejan encourages planners to be mindful of the audience’s journey and consider the different methods of engagement before, during and after the event. “The virtual medium is fantastic for self-directed learning. Attendees might be encouraged to complete ‘homework’ before the event begins, with an opportunity for additional online learning or the ability to pursue a certification afterward.”
For more detailed tips from our experts on how to be successful in booking your virtual keynote speakers, download the SpeakInc virtual toolkit.