During these unprecedented times, our distinguished JeffreyM Events team is working diligently for and with our Clients to rethink how we can deliver the same stellar event experience – now within a virtual environment. Throughout the last month, our team of events experts have been updating playbooks and work streams to accommodate a 100% virtual event landscape, and have already executed several successful experiences for our Clients and event attendees.
Our Events team’s keen experience, coupled with our partnership and guidance from our key clients, have resulted in the below tips for flawlessly executing a 100% virtual event.
- You can’t replicate the live experience, nor should you necessarily try to. From a planner perspective, Client perspective and attendee perspective – set expectations of the new experience. Create a new roadmap and share how it will be different, so everyone understands what to expect. Communication and transparency are key.
- Keep in mind – no one has this all fully figured out yet. Therefore, there will be glitches. However, it is important to continue to apply those agile project management fundamentals – identify, improve processes, implement and evaluate. Our team has written several playbooks for taking live events and converting them into virtual events. We are tailoring deployment of each of our playbooks based on health climates, accessibility and subject matter for every demographic. It is important to adjust each event to meet the needs of the environment.
- There are enormous opportunities for creativity and innovation. We are now able to do more in the lead-up to events to drive momentum, deliver pre-content to prepare the audience, and set better expectations. Just thinking about how you can freshen up the event, instead of just the typical registration or other sessions – that we sometimes rinse and repeat for in-person events.
- Engage audiences in new and authentic ways. Utilize all platforms to engage audiences. For example, while using Microsoft Teams you can more actively moderate discussions with the ability to track questions and sentiment in real time. Monitor themes that are trending and address them during the presentation and adjust schedules accordingly – creating a real-time feedback loop. This is more than you can typically do during a 15 min Q&A time at the end of an in-person breakout session. Collaborate with Social Media experts to ensure you are listening and engaging via social media platforms.
- Opportunities to increase reach and participation. Virtual events provide even more opportunities for inclusion – as they are not held back by the rigidity that comes with in-person events. Factors that may have prohibited an attendee from attending a live in-person event are avoided, and attendees can carve out time to attend no matter where they are in the world.
- Evaluate the tools, platforms and production services that are used for your events. Doing things virtually has a whole set of new things to think about that are not applicable for in-person events. Evaluating and organizing factors such as audio, lighting, internet connection, green screens, and virtual tech support are all things you must prioritize.
- Test, test, test the technology used for digital delivery, regardless of platform. It is important to conduct multiple rounds of testing to ensure your attendees have an optimal experience. Don’t forget to schedule Speaker training on delivering sessions in a digital environment prior to the actual event. Coach speakers on how to engage with an audience when the audience isn’t right in front of them, and walk them through possible technical glitches so they are prepared for any factors that arise. This all ensures the attendees have the smoothest experience possible.
- Once we go back to live events, things will likely look a little different. It will be important to incorporate pieces of digital experiences to future live events to optimize the attendee experience. Ultimately, this will help events span to even more audiences, create more inclusive events, and provide a richer attendee experience. Start planning for this new world now – and you will be set up for success when things open back up!
All of us at JeffreyM, in partnership with our Clients, believe that these tips will not only help you rethink your event experience – but most importantly, that it is important for all of us to demonstrate empathy, flexibility (and perhaps a bit of humor as we can continue to learn) as a community as we tackle this together. If you would like to talk to one of our experts to help with your event, whether transitioning from live to virtual events, to building virtual events from scratch, or even tackling in-person events you have planned for the future, please reach out to us at email@example.com.