Address the “Why”

The first tactic to planning your virtual event (VE) is to ask yourself why. Why do they want to attend? Why do vendors show up? Why do attendees show up?

Normally, in a live event, the why could be getting buyers in front of sellers. Instead of an exhibit hall setup, you could set up one-on-one virtual meetings ahead of time.

When it comes to VEs, think about why something is driving your strategy and not how it’s going to drive it.

Then, take the following into account: 

  • Audience engagement
  • Learning and setting up the necessary AV technology
  • Budgeting
  • Customizing/branding the event
To get the most engagement, you need to think more critically about your event.

How do you know exactly what your attendees want? Do they want one-on-one engagement or to watch a video? Determine the persona of your average attendee.

To design your VE, consider the following elements:

  • Content: Think critically about this – presentations, PP, live virtual band, whatever the content is. It can be anything. Less might be more. Before, we used to do a 3-day conference for 8 hours, breakout, back-to-back. You can’t do that for a VA. It would bore people and you will lose their attention. Maybe your presenters have great content to share instead of doing it live. You could pre-record the content and put it in the video library, or host remote keynote speakers.
  • Scheduling: Instead of having 3 days at 10 hours each day for 30 hours total, try a 30-day program with one hour per day, or a 3 hour program per weekday for a few weeks. That could be great for learning. Trickle it a slower way – it will allow them to observe it better and engage with it better.
  • Output: Video is crucial. It helps to see the presenter. Audio quality needs to be good. Bad audio will cause people to tune out. Video content should be recorded in 720p. Most internet connections can handle it.
  • Platform: Zcuts out all the low end of the audio that comes in. Zoom downgrades the quality of audio to save on bandwidth. Try to have Netflix-style upgraded quality. Zoom will make the video look choppy to save bandwidth. If you are showing video, you need a platform that will give you good quality like Netflix. 
Platforms & Tech

There is not a simple answer on which is the perfect tool for the VA. There are multiple tools. Zoom is okay as long as it fits your strategy. There is so much more than Zoom, however. Adobe Connect and GoToMeeting are some other options.

Here are some features to consider:

  • Registration: How are they attending? You may have a registration platform. We can think of a way to incorporate that into the platform. We love personalized live registration – it starts the attendee engagement early on and makes the attendees feel welcome.
  • Attendee Profiles: Let your attendees fill out profiles with a lot of information about them. In person, you have a badge with the ability to look at people to recognize who they are. The equivalent of that is the attendee profile so everyone can see who is attending and who they should be engaging with. 
  • Q&A polling: Offer the ability for people to ask questions or upload the questions, as well as cast votes.
  • Chat: Select the ability for the community to engage and learn from each other. Look at a way to moderate the chat, like Slack or through an app like Telegram. Telegram is free and it’s a great way to communicate with your attendees before, during and after your VE..
How can you create the 1-1 networking experience? There are platforms out there that allow you to have the attendee’s profiles set up and interests filled out. People submit topics they want to talk about. Breakout sessions are important for this process.

Craft one-on-one conversations using:

  • A virtual whiteboard: There are platforms where you can draw on the screen.
  • Exhibit halls: Instead of walkthroughs, allow vendors to submit topics to connect with people.
You need to know the difference between an all-in-one platform and an integrated platform. An all-in-one is self-explanatory, but an integrated platform takes the best tools and integrates them together. It’s hyper specific to help you accomplish your goals.

In live events, all the rooms have to be right next to each other. In VE, the equivalent of right next to each other is a hyperlink.

Secure platforms are also mission critical. Cyber attacks are important to consider just like live security at events is important.

Another important thing to consider is your server. Can your server accommodate your VE? You don’t want your server to crash in the middle of your event.

Finally, decide whether you want an asynchronous or synchronous event.

  • Synchronous: You have to be attending the webinar and be live.
  • Asynchronous: We pre-record, then post at a place where there is a live chat, we play the video and can talk to each other at different times. This could be an experience that lasts for an entire year beyond one single day of a live event. You could record all the content which gives you a massive opportunity for marketing and future sales. Turn your contact into dozens of one-minute long clips to post on social media.
Literal Design

Web design matters. You may have to bring in a web designer on your team or get one from your VE production company. Talk to them about branding, integrating video, and the various mediums you want them to offer. 

You need a team to build out your virtual event. Just like a live event, there are many moving parts for the VE.

  • Producer: For strategy content calls, schedule, show flows, major decision-making, logistics leading up to the VE, personalized registration, post-production and much more.
  • AV Crew:  Bring remote speakers together, troubleshoot the mics to make sure the sound is right.
  • Web Developer: To design and troubleshoot the website.
  • Tech Support: Engaging with your audience and the AV crew.
  • Back-End Tech Management: Working in the background; sometimes communicating instantly to the AV team.
  • Content Creators: To build video.
  • Marketing: To publicize the event and uphold its image.
  • Engagement: We can provide various audience engagement tools, such as virtual team-building activities. Through the utilization of user-friendly programs, you can bring small teams together. 
Budget

We are finding that clients are shocked at the costs for a VE. They think that because they don’t have costs for a hotel, food and beverages, travel, etc., that the VE should be less expensive. There is a lot of labor and equipment that goes into producing a successful, engaging, fun VE. Just like with live events, not all VEs are treated equally. We have to discuss what you want to accomplish with your VE and then we price it from there and offer different options. Here are some examples of what AV pricing could be www.helloendless.com/pricing. Additionally, basic live stream (single day) could start at $25,000 while standard virtual (multi day) could start at $100,000.

For a full VE checklist, click here. Also, make sure to understand technology-specific terms.

In the end, you should not go it alone – Naif Productions and our trusted AV team at Endless Events can help. Contact us at events@naifproductions.com for a FREE consultation.

 

WE’D LOVE FOR YOU TO SHARE THIS IN YOUR NEWSLETTER OR WEBSITE BUT PLEASE INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING COMPLETE INFORMATION: Event Producer Strategist, Entrepreneur, Speaker, and Coach, Annette Naif, CEO & Creative Director of Naif Productions.

This article was written in collaboration with Megan Glenn from MeganWrites.Co.

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About Naif Productions:

Naif Productions is a strategic event planning, design and production firm specializing in corporate, live coaching sales events, social, non-profit, and weddings. Based in New York City, we produce events worldwide from Fortune 500 clients and coaches to families and charities. Naif Productions specializes in helping clients attain their goals, realize return on investment, and achieve the most unique, creative experiences.

About Annette Naif:

Since 1986 Annette Naif has been designing and producing custom events, helping clients create their unique style that translates into a memorable and profitable experience. Annette spent 17 years producing events in the motion picture industry where she helped coordinate numerous productions for film and episodic television programs. Since then Annette’s been running her own event production company, coaching other event planners, teaching an event operations and production course at NYU, and now is the CEO & Creative Director of Naif Productions.

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