In the last few months, we’ve experienced a level of rapid change that no one could have foreseen. My event agency went from a schedule packed with exciting events, to having no live events scheduled till the end of the year. They’ve been either cancelled or postponed. Understandably, there is so much uncertainty about rescheduling anything in-person in 2020. However, virtual events are booming.
Isn’t a Virtual Live Event just Another Zoom Call?
I’m glad you asked! Zoom is amazing (and it’s my tool of choice), but I can assure you that an actual virtual live event experience isn’t the same as a conference call or a webinar!
In my event agency we’ve been using an event app for our events to distribute the conference handbook, sponsor and exhibitor details, speaker bios, and even participant profiles. The app also has cool features to offer speakers. For instance: audience polls, live Q&A, and session evaluations. A virtual live event prioritises interacting, networking, and engaging, just as a live in-person event does!
During a virtual live event, you might use Zoom as one of your delivery tools (like I said, it’s my tool of choice). The event won’t be just another meeting though! You’ll be able to share screens, attendees can interact in small groups, and experience a variety of interactive sessions and even networking events.
Do People Want to Attend a Virtual Conference?
I recently attended a virtual live event hosted in the United States, it was fantastic! The experience affirmed for me that virtual live events are worth pursuing. Ready or not, they are the wave of the future.
I believe that even when we move on from COVID-19 and we return to in-person events, I expect virtual live events to have garnered enough popularity to stay around for the long run!
An amazing thing about a virtual live event is that they open the doors for global registration. Case in point: I wouldn’t have been flying to the USA last week to attend that event! However, since I had the option to attend virtually from my home in New Zealand, I registered.
When an event doesn’t require transportation or overnight stays, it’s much easier for individual attendees to participate. There’s no travel time which means people have more time AND room in their budget to attend events.
And in addition to saving your attendees time and money, you’ll help yourself as well! You won’t need to hire a venue, caterer, or even print materials. Virtual live events do require some investment, but they also reduce or remove many of the traditional costs we associate with events. That’s a win-win for everyone!
From Facebook Groups to LinkedIn, boardrooms to home offices — people are talking about the need for more information, more connections, more community and more events. And it’s all happening digitally!
Going forward people are going to be looking for ways to travel less and generally reduce exposure for themselves and their families. And that will mean virtual conference attendance!
Entrepreneurs and business owners all over the world will have gotten a taste of being able to attend internationally based conferences from home, and they’ll want more. And that will mean virtual live event attendance!
Are you ready? How can your business explore the potential of a virtual live event? Right now, we know that events will be 100% online. However, even once these COVID-19 restrictions lift, a virtual live event component can help you “cancel-proof” your event. You’ll enhance live events by offering a hybrid, virtually friendly model, and if there is a compelling reason to eliminate the in-person component, you can still move forward.
When you know how to flip an event experience into a digital format, that means you never have to cancel an event! Instead, you easily adapt and move forward with an engaging, quality online LIVE event.
What Would a Digital LIVE Event Look Like?
First of all, virtual live events are still gatherings of professionals or like-minded individuals looking to learn and grow. Your virtual live event will have many of the same objectives as your in-person event; it’s just happening in a different space. Sharing industry knowledge, training attendees on business strategies, motivating attendees to tackle new challenges: whatever your in-person event was going to be doing, your virtual event will be capable of doing.
Depending on the technology being used, here’s a list of things you might expect to experience in an online live event:
- Breakout rooms to create more intimate small groups for peer shares, networking, or other collaborations.
- Enhanced networking opportunities; at virtual events, you often leave connected to more new people than at an in-person event.
- More opportunities for attendees to interact meaningfully with you and your speakers (if you choose to have others speak).
- An increase in global registrations.
- A wider range of people sharing information, asking questions, and contributing to the pool of shared knowledge.
- Individuals are more willing to pay for registration costs to events that appeal to them, as they won’t have travel and accommodation costs.
- Reduced environmental impact (from travel, printing, and consumption)
- Beyond that, here are a few other virtual event norms you might expect to see:
- Attendance flexibility, such as offering a variety of times in the schedule to accommodate different time zones.
- The ability to take the live event video and audio footage and offer it for sale post-event as a training tool.
Now, with those last two points, please note that they are secondary bonuses. Ideally the focus is on LIVE attendees who are networking, engaging, and interacting!
Wouldn’t A Virtual Conference Be Really Stressful to Create?
Like anything new, creating a virtual live event CAN feel stressful. However, in-person events can be stressful too. In fact, that’s why event planning organisations exist! Just like with an in-person event, it’s common to bring in event agency to help with the logistics.
Rest assured; just because an event is virtual doesn’t mean you have to do all the work or there is a reduced amount of work to be done!
Virtual live event experiences feel like a new frontier, and that’s exciting! Let’s explore the possibilities together. You can join my free community ‘BackStage Event Marketing’ where I’ll be able to answer your questions and support you to embrace the virtual live event experience in your business.
Let’s create powerful, virtual events that bring us together, keep us connected and are more than just another webinar. We need them now more than ever!