The events industry are coming to terms with virtual meetings being more than just a pandemic stop-gap, they are the ‘new normal’ as we plan and design our upcoming events. So, as you begin to plan for your new calendar of virtual or hybrid events – reconsider how you build your agendas – and how you can make them more audience-friendly in this new world.
Shorten your sessions and manage your Q&A
Condensing your sessions can keep your audience engaged. You simply don’t have the same incidental visual context on a virtual event as you have at a live event. Think about how much time is taken up with applause, walk-on-off stage, physical interaction, network time between sessions, banter, hands up for questions, and the time that takes to run a mic around the room for Q&A. Now, take all of that time out and think about how to keep the content and presentation tight (think: edited video), you can then easily incorporate a Q&A session and maybe polling or quiz questions for the speaker to engage with the audience and vice-versa. You also don’t have all of that ‘dead air’ time, where seconds can feel like minutes.
It is important that your audience feels connected to your event, so providing a well-run Q&A session will make all the difference. Consider how you can monitor incoming questions and how to feed those questions through to the presenter.
Run your event like a series
For an event or conference that would normally run across a full day or two, why not run it over a week or so using shorter sessions – like a streaming series? You might find that this is more feasible for the audience who are likely attending other virtual meetings and phone conferences throughout their workday. Let’s face it, it can be tiring so this way you are more likely to keep them engaged and potentially they will feel they get more from this shorter format.
Providing your audience with content in concise, easily absorbable packages will work for a number of different types of meetings and conferences. The potential to have more sponsor activity and higher attendance rates is also on the table.
Revamp how you do content
Another consideration is how to provide the content to your audience. Ensure you incorporate speaker notes or slides for reference. You may even incorporate videos as part of your content. Rethink how to brief your presenters beforehand to enable them to present their best within the virtual environment and in-line with your event plan to ensure their success. Having them arrive with a 100-slide presentation probably isn’t going to work. As a rule of thumb, get them online early to run tests for clear vision and audio.
You might also want to consider planning to capture the sessions content so you can provide it on-demand later.
A new world
For the event planners of our industry, it’s a new way of thinking that can take your event from being just another webinar to a livestreamed session or series that provides staggering results.
Along with live event and media production, CMS has been helping customers reframe and adapt their events to virtual and hybrid for some time. If you would like to talk through how we can assist your business to adapt give us a call.