“Pivot to virtual,” they said. So we did, and oh my, what an Everest-sized learning curve it has been. Let me premise this piece by saying virtual and hybrid events have without doubt been an effective solution in bringing people together to meet, collaborate and do business over the past 12 months. I would even go as far to say this new era of events and event tech has the potential to transform the industry, and elevate the role of the professional event planner. However, as with the diffusion of any new technology, online events come with their own unique challenges. This blog series will share our learnings, insights and musings from 12 months of delivering virtual events.
Cross fingers and deliver
The first ‘episode’ in our series (because don’t we all feel like we’re TV producers now?) will discuss the learnings on the actual delivery of virtual and hybrid events.
It takes even more event expertise to run a virtual event
Depending on the complexity of your program, the tech savviness of your attendees and to-camera experience of your speakers, the number of people required to successfully run a virtual event can be on par with an in-person event. These people must all be well-versed in the event platform, be familiar with event production, and it’s helpful if multiple people have technical direction expertise. This ultimately impacts on costs as a highly-skilled (and these days, often in high demand) team is required to successfully plan and run a virtual event.
With audiences still wrapping their heads around the virtual experience, other event planning elements become more important, meaning more resources and budget must be allocated. Marketing and communication (clear pre-event communication with all stakeholders is vital), event strategy, programming and content (more on that later), supplier, sponsor and exhibitor management, rehearsals and post production must be carefully planned and considered to ensure a seamless, inclusive and successful event.
No more “It’ll be right on the night” delivery strategy
Any experienced event planner will always say, you can plan and prepare for almost every eventuality but there will always be hiccups on the day (and how boring would it be without them right?). At in-person events, these unforeseen hitches can usually be quickly solved with those turn on a dime, deft of hand tactics us events people are born with. Gaffer tape, a quick ‘tap dance’, dim of the lights or sub-on can usually fix just about anything, not to mention that face-to-face reassuring “we’ve got this” conversation you can have with stakeholders. When something goes wrong with a virtual event we are all, quite literally, on our own. Trying to problem solve remotely is much trickier and the virtual audience far less forgiving without the face-to-face connection. We found scenario planning, clear definition of responsibilities and establishing a WhatsApp channel for the production team to be a good way of preparing for and dealing with a multitude of eventualities.
Invest in a good MC – they will be worth every, single cent
One who knows how to speak to the camera and manage a number of devices at the same time, one who will work with you when the tech doesn’t cooperate and one who preferably has a few virtual events under their belt. For hybrid events you may even need two MCs – one who speaks to the in-person audience and another who is like the footy sideline commentator who pops up on screen to inform and entertain the virtual audience.
Stay tuned for our next installment…..
Thinking of going virtual or hybrid? Don’t fall into the trap of being led by technology. Nectar Creative Communications are digital event strategy experts, who can deliver seamlessly on our virtual event delivery platform. Contact us and let’s talk about how we can help you with your virtual, hybrid or in-person conference or event.