Successful virtual conferences do not happen by accident. Real time live events in the business and association worlds have been happening for over 100 years. The conventions all have looked similar with ballrooms and breakout sessions, keynote speakers and workshops, buffet lines and open bars. Humans love live gatherings, and in 2019 the live meetings business set business records. Hotels and conference centers in convention cities are continuously being built and expanded. But now we are seeking virtual conference speakers and emcees… what happened?
Enter March 2020 and it all came to a stop because of the Coronavirus. Live meetings were shut down and virtual conferences suddenly became among the most searched words on Google.
What Is A Virtual Conference?
Immediately meeting planners and professional speakers had to become experts in how to create virtual events. These online events, as it turns out, are not the same as in-person events. There are many things to take into account, and everyone in the industry had to learn fast how to take live sessions and make them work on virtual conference platforms.
Six years ago I became obsessed with the idea of “Hybrid Events”, as the technology to live-stream a conference became common. I co-created a product or service called the “Conference Talk Show” where we would take on the duties of hosting a virtual conference to ensure that the at-home / remote audience would be engaged and entertained. These people watching the speaker sessions online were not the same as the in-person conference attendees, and had different needs to be met.
A virtual conference is NOT a webinar. It is NOT a social media stream (think Facebook Live). A virtual conference is NOT an online course. And it is NOT unedited pre-recorded talks embedded in landing pages.
A virtual conference is an experience. It needs to be curated and produced in a very different manner than the live event, and the needs of the audience are very different.
Who Makes A Great Virtual Conference Speaker?
The presentations at a virtual conference should be delivered differently than the same talk at a live conference. If it is a true “Hybrid Conference” (both live and broadcast) then the speaker has to be aware of both constituencies.
A pure virtual conference speech needs (in most cases) to be shorter. The attention of the at home audience may have any variety of different distractions. I suggest that the event be a mix of short presentations with follow up interviews of the speaker.
The format of the whole conference should include different lengths and formats. For 2020 and the unique state of the meetings industry we have taken the “Conference Talk Show” and created the “Webinar Talk Show”. It has become apparent that people are getting “webinar fatigue” and the hours spent watching talking head speakers blabber over PowerPoint slides are getting on the nerves of those who are spending days on end at their computer watching presentations.
The idea behind the Webinar Talk Show is that conversations and interviews are more interesting and engaging. This same theory lends itself to the virtual conference setting.
The Best Online Events Have A Virtual Event Host
A virtual conference host should be selected to lead the audience on an experience throughout the meeting. People at home need to have an advocate who is there to curate their experience and keep the meeting moving with positive energy and interesting conversations with the speakers and others.
But there are not a lot of experienced masters of ceremonies in the live meetings arena, much less in the world of virtual conferences. Finding someone who is ready to go who will show up and help produce you show is paramount to the success of your event.
If you are looking for a virtual conference host / EmCee, then visit The Conference Talk Show / Webinar Talk Show websites to learn more about how we can help you create and deliver the most amazing online events.
Online Meetings Are Here To Stay
The long-tail of the COVID-19 Crisis in the meetings industry will be the advancement of virtual conferences, Hybrid Events, and more online training. The best speakers, trainers, and masters of ceremonies are already investing in learning how to serve these new elements of the business. We are excited to see the virtual conference become more common, and look forward to seeing how some companies and associations get creative with the different ways they can offer content to engage and educate.