2020 and 2021 saw a momentous shift toward virtual events, leaving many live events professionals scrambling to make the transition. Whether you’re feeling settled by now as a virtual event producer or your first one is still upcoming, these four crucial truths will help you succeed at your next virtual event.
Truth #1: Timelines Work Differently, and Communicating This Is Essential
Live events and virtual ones don’t typically operate on the same timelines. It can be challenging for teams (much less presenters) to feel the proper pressure about the event timeline for virtual events.
Experienced speakers may be accustomed to tweaking their notes and visuals right up until the day of the event. This wasn’t a good practice when the events were live and in person, but it’s a recipe for disaster in virtual or hybrid events.
Some virtual presentations are prerecorded entirely, and these should arrive plenty early – as soon as 30 days before the event for non-time-sensitive content. Even live virtual presentations should deliver all media assets to the events team well before the event. Think weeks rather than days.
There are many layers of tech involved in a virtual event. You want to give the tech team plenty of time to test assets in the various tools they need to use for the best results. The less time they have to prepare, the higher your chances for glitches or other embarrassing issues.
Specifics may vary depending on the complexity, scope, and timeliness of your virtual event. But as the event producer, be sure to create a workable timeline and communicate it widely. Don’t leave the team in a lurch, with untested assets rolling in just hours before showtime.
Truth #2: Your Presenters Need Coaching on Your Event Tech
We’ve all been in meetings where the presenter suffered some kind of tech glitch. Media disappeared from a PowerPoint show, the clicker or microphone isn’t working, and so on. Sometimes, though not always, these issues occur because the presenter doesn’t know how to use the room tech.
The same fundamental problem can happen in so many more ways when your presentation goes virtual. 2020 showed us, with lawyers turning into cats and bosses turning into potatoes, that many professionals couldn’t even handle Zoom, let alone more complex virtual events tools.
No matter how experienced your presenters are, don’t assume they all know how to use your chosen virtual events platform. Take the time needed to teach them the tools they’ll be using.
Truth #3: Don’t Assume Your Presenters Are Experienced with Virtual
Presenting before a large crowd can be intimidating, but your presenters have almost certainly conquered those fears already. Going digital, on the other hand, is new for just about everybody. And what works in a large auditorium doesn’t always work quite the same online.
Some of your speakers may be just as comfortable in front of the camera (or laptop screen) as they would be in a large auditorium, but others may struggle with the awkwardness of talking to no one.
As the event producer, you want the event to be as successful as possible. If this means offering some coaching on best practices for virtual speaking engagements, then do it.
Truth #4: You Can Do More and Reach More Virtually – But You Have to Plan
Virtual events give you options you can’t as readily have in-person, such as live chat, Q&A, and easier exchange of digital information. You can also reach more people with a virtual event than with a live one: you can reach people who couldn’t afford the time or money for travel, for one. Those who aren’t comfortable in large gatherings might also be more comfortable with a virtual option.
But to offer more or to reach more people with your virtual event, you have to plan. Tech-centric features like live chat and live Q&A don’t happen automatically, nor does outreach to potential attendees who wouldn’t have come in person.
With the proper planning – and the right tech solutions – you can accomplish things with virtual that you can’t replicate in person.
Virtual Events Are Easier with the Right Virtual Events Platform
At Bluewater, we saw the need for an intuitive virtual events platform built by and for event pros, so we built one. It’s Parallel Live, and it’s worth a look. It’s the first virtual events platform built by actual event pros. It’s perfect for extending or augmenting live events – or for use as a standalone virtual events hub.
Parallel Live is the ideal virtual and hybrid events platform for events of all types and sizes. If you want to see it in action, schedule a demo now.