Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, many companies were forced to organize virtual events and the event managers had to adapt to a new reality. Here are some useful tips.
A few years ago, organizing a virtual event was almost unthinkable for event professionals. First of all, we are leaving the “high mobility age”, where freedom of movement has always been taken for granted. Secondly, as we have seen in other articles, human relationships make the difference for a successful events.
The rise of COVID – 19 led to a reversal of the perspective with the closure of regional, national, and international borders. With no possibilities of movement, the events sector had to face to a new situation.
The challenge was to regroup. Technology and tools for remote connection of hundreds and thousands of people all over the world have played an essential role in this reorganization.
How to transform a physical event in a virtual one?
It is impossible to transfer a physical event into something virtual. Simply re-proposing virtually the face-to-face event can be dangerous and ineffective.
A new way of interacting requires a rethinking of the entire communication strategy. For successful virtual events, it is necessary to establish a communication strategy and then choose the technical support that best suits your needs.
As we will see, there are many tools available to whom want to organize a virtual event, some even free or almost free. But not all of them can be used in the same way and for the same purposes.
Also, it is necessary to adapt the contents of the event to virtual reality. Keeping the attention of the participants high when they are sitting in front of their computer is much more complicated than in a meeting room, especially considering the limited interaction offered by virtual events on a large scale.
Streaming interventions must be more synthetic and last no more than 2/3 hours. They also need to integrate tools to involve participants and keep the audience’s attention high.
Besides, a face-to-face relationship is essential for creating trust and interpersonal connections, but it lacks in virtual events. For this reason, it is better to invest in creating socializing spaces. For example, sub-sessions, addressing smaller groups, giving higher opportunities for interaction and socialization.
Which tools can be used to organize a virtual event?
As already mentioned, there is a big offer of tools for organizing virtual events, responding to all possible requests and needs of organizers and customers. Without the presumption of being exhaustive, we will provide a picture of the main possibilities offered in the panorama of online meetings.
For informative events on a large scale, it is possible to use massive streaming platforms for broadcasting the interventions to a high number of people (up to tens of thousands of participants) all over the world. However, massive streaming offers a limited spectator-speaker interaction. On the contrary, for events based on direct intervention and involvement of participants, there are several tools for video conferencing that guarantee a maximum level of interaction. There are also different tools, integrating the massive streaming with videoconferences, through the creation of parallel virtual rooms for multiple sessions, sponsor showcases, virtual tours, record, and on-demand access to the recordings and contributions involved in the event.
You can organize the most sophisticated events within professional studios with the speakers in attendance. The support of highly qualified equipment and technicians gives the participants the impression of being present and keeps the attention of the spectators high.
Using the green screen, you can create dedicated backgrounds even if you are in the company offices. Just be careful not to wear green ties or clothes so to avoid a ridiculous transparent effect.
Shortly, technology allows you to imagine and choose scenarios that would be unattainable or too expensive for onsite events.
Streaming and video conferences, whether they are from home or studios, can be integrated with other attractive tools such as platforms and management systems for events. These tools help you in structuring and organizing meetings, conferences, and fairs improving their efficiency. Also, these technologies create new ways of communicating and involving participants, an essential factor, especially in virtual events.
The platforms are very flexible and offer a wide choose of secretarial services that enhance the optimal and digitalized management of:
• check-in procedures
• registration for the sessions
• pre- and post-event communications (as well as in real-time during the event itself)
Linked to the platforms, you can create dedicated sites and apps for iOS and Android that allow the participants to access the information and the streaming contents from every device. The web sites and apps are fully customizable in graphics and content and give all the necessary information such as program, intervention times, speaker card, sponsor showcase, as well as links for access to streaming sessions.
Availability of more other features for higher usability and interaction by the participants even during streaming, such as:
• the surveys (multiple choice questions)
• instant polls (instant polls with an immediate calculation of response rates)
• Q&A section allows you to ask questions to the speakers in real-time
• the social wall, integrating social networks, allow participants sharing their content related to the event (photos, videos, comments).
How to highly involve participants?
For technology addicted, it is possible to implement web sites and apps through gamification services that contribute to keep the audience’s attention alive with fun.
For instance, you can insert quizzes dedicated to the event or ask participants to create a cloud of words as a summary of their own experience. Even more, your guests can be involved uploading their own selection of most beautiful photo or video of the event on the social wall of the app.
As well, you can create a bonus system and extra services for the most active members in the sessions.
Another unusual offer in the panorama of virtual events to overcome the lack of physical presence is the use of 3D technologies.
For virtual fairs and multi-session events, it is possible to create 3D maps of the exhibition space. Participants can move with the cursor from one stand to another and click on the different icon to receive information about the sponsor/exhibitor, the products on display, and the planned streaming presentations. Furthermore, for a younger audience used to video game consoles, it is possible to organize events in virtual spaces fully detailed, where participants move with their avatars and interact with avatars of the other people.
Last but not least we are able to offer you a rich range of virtual team building activities (follow us, we will discuss in detail soon by a dedicated article) which allows you to insert playful moments in virtual rooms, promoting meeting, involvement and socialization.
The importance of relying on an expert
As we have seen, organizing a virtual event is not easy. The new technologies for remote events offer many resources that can meet every different need. This diversified offer complicates the choice, especially if it is the first experience with this new way of interacting.
What could be the best tools for the virtual event that I have to organize? There is no clear answer because it depends on a series of factors that you must carefully evaluate. Even if the costs of a virtual event are usually lower than those of a traditional live event, it is better to avoid mistakes.
That is why it is essential to rely on event managers who can help your company to define the new communication strategy to choose the online tool which best suits your needs.