Is it time to plan a virtual conference or a hybrid event? There is more virtual events than streaming live video. Many people make the mistake of thinking that simply broadcasting your speakers to a remote audience is going to be as engaging as their face to face events. Not true. There is a different set of planning skills needed if you want a successful online event.
In the wake of the Coronavirus, everyone has been saying they will do a virtual conference. They want their speakers to do live sessions or pre-recorded talks, but a live event has many different nuances that will not translate when you host an online conference. The Corona virus hit the meetings and events industry fast and hard, and that is impacting millions of people who earn their living from events. But to host a virtual conference without thinking it through with a very different view point will mean you will lose your online event audience faster than you can say “video conferencing”.
A real time event is not going to hold participants for the day (or mutliple days) unless you have explored the realities of the business model of a virtual conference. Check with a company like Digitell who has many case studies about how to structure the meeting. Digitell has several products or services they can sell to help you create a real experience for the people at hom.
If you do a hybrid model (live and virtual audiences), then you have to be committed to making the experience for the at home viewers really good. Too often organizations just broadcast the conference including all the boring onsite housekeeping (like where are the bathrooms). The at home audience knows how to find the restroom in their home.
Too often during coffee breaks and meals at a hybrid event the organizers put up a slide that says “Back in 30 Minutes”. This is the kiss of death to a virtual conference as people have lots of distractions at home that are not part of their experience when onsite at a live event. The best thing you can do if you are hosting a virtual conference is to have a host or hosts who can be they eyes and ears of the audience. They can monitor the chat rooms and the social media posts to ensure the participants feel heard.
Need Hosts For a Virtual Conference?
Thom Singer and Eiz Greene are experienced hosts for virtual conferences . They are high-energy and fun speakers who take their live stage personalities and add in morning talk show banter for the purpose of getting your audience to lean in. During those breaks and meals Thom and Eliz host in-depth interviews with the speakers, association or company board members (and other VIPs), and report to the viewers at home anything interesting they are observing on-site. Also, if a hybrid event they will interview live participants to help those at home feel the vibe of the live conference.
To learn more about Thom and Eliz’s hosting services for a virtual conference, visit The Conference Talk Show.
A virtual conference might have a very large audience. You need to treat them with the same grace and respect you treat an in-person audience. Schedule time for your speakers to engage with the remote viewers. If it is a hybrid – be sure you are not just making the virtual conference participants and afterthought.
Coronavirus and the event goes forward? Check out my blog post on Coronavirus Tips for Conferences.