As the event industry continues to remain primarily online for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, it’s important to continue to talk about how we as event organizers can most effectively and efficiently produce a live streamed virtual event. In this post, we’ll provide 5 things you should consider and why they’re so emblematic of virtual event planning.
We hear event organizers asking “what virtual event platform is best,” and, naturally, the answer is “it depends.” Meaning, it depends on your goals and who your event is designed to reach. Today we want to help you identify the right questions to ask yourself, which will in turn, set you up for success to be able to answer this most popular question for yourself. If you walk through these primary considerations before jumping right in to choosing a platform, you will set sail safely with all the tools you need to enjoy the view along the way.
More than half (60%) of event professionals pivoted an event to virtual due to the impact of COVID-19 and the majority (93%) of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events moving forward. (Bizzabo, 2020)
Knowing this, it is quite problematic that 58% of planners are still uncomfortable with virtual event tech (EventMB report). Our hope is that after reading this blog, the gap between what event organizers know and what they need to know to become more comfortable with event tech is significantly smaller.
5 Things to Consider When Planning a Virtual Event
Before diving into any technical details of what to do, set yourself up by thoroughly answering these three questions. These characteristics will highly influence what solutions you implement for the experience. A virtual event platform does not create the experience itself. A platform is simply a tool or a framework for housing content, the primary aspect of the experience.
What are we setting out to achieve through this experience?
How many people will be viewing this experience?
Will the experience be live, pre-recorded, or partially live and partially pre-recorded?
Identify who your audience is. Then after defining who you want to reach, spell out exactly what it is you want them to do, when you want them to take this action, and how and where they will do it. Understanding your audience is a primary step in determining how you will execute your virtual event. The method you would use to deliver content, and the style of communication you use with a group of doctors would be very different from that of a group of students.
Determine if you will need a web browser based experience, an app based experience, or both options. These offerings can vary by platform, so it’s important to know your needs before evaluating and comparing platforms.
Evaluate how immersive and interactive the experience should be based on the audience, event goals, and the nature of the content being presented. Then, start to identify opportunities that promote engagement for this experience. You may not have all of this spelled out completely before moving on to the next step, and that is understandable. It is still helpful to establish a baseline understanding of how interactive the experience should be before you embark on choosing a platform, since some platforms offer more user engagement interactions than others.
Once you understand the why behind your event, your event goals, and your audience, you can then choose the appropriate platform for your audience. If you are producing a public product launch you may stick with using Facebook and Instagram Live, but if you’re producing a private medical conference, using SRT and Microsoft Azure solutions may prove to be a more appropriate solution, for security purposes. Knowing what your priorities or your stakeholders’ priorities are is key. In many cases, solving for one problem may take you down a path that eliminates the ability to solve for another problem the way you would like to, so it is important to understand where each requirement stands in relation to the others.
The cost of putting the cart before the horse is too high. We’ve seen time and time again, when we jump the gun to the usual event to-do’s checklist, the result is almost always low impact, low engagement, low efficiency, and low ROI. On the contrary, when you begin by slowing down and diving deep into your audience and your goals for the virtual event, the results so often surpass the metrics you've identified for impact, engagement, efficiency, and ROI.