Shifting to a virtual event this year
2020 will be the year were big event organizers finds new ways of arranging big events without having participants on site. Facebook, Salesforce, Adobe, Google, Microsoft, and many more have already communicated that their annual conferences will take place virtually this year. There are a lot of new expressions used in the industry, and time will tell which ones will be used by many, and thus stay as norm setting. Online conferences, virtual meetings, and live streamed events are some of them. But they are not only new expressions, we will also see new ways of creating digital meetings to engage and interact more with participants. Google’s annual event ”Google Cloud Next” is free of charge, which is one of the advantages when you make use of a virtual space instead. You can more or less gather unlimited amounts of participants, event though there are of course technical challenges to make it successful.
“We are transforming the event into Google Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect, a free, global, digital-first, multi-day event connecting our attendees to Next ’20 content and each other through streamed keynotes, breakout sessions, interactive learning and digital “ask an expert” sessions with Google teams.”
A virtual event often follows the same processes that we are used to follow when we are arranging large conferences, however, there are a few bits that are different. Trippus has a vast experience in the event business, and now we are adding a new service that is called Virtual on Demand (VOD). This means that one of our project managers will aid you before, during and after the virtual event (or hybrid event where some participants are on site and some in the virtual sphere). Here are our best tips to create a successful virtual event!
Communicating a larger virtual meeting or event
The invitations are sent as usual to the participants. You can use the mailing lists that you would normally use, creating a smooth, friction free import of invited participants. The marketing channels are often the same and if they are well incorporated there is no reason the do it any other way. To increase the safety for the people participating in a virtual event, it is good if you are up front with what digital platform you will use and what it takes for the participants to get the best possible experience.
It is a good idea to communicate a specific support number in the invitation, on the ticket or in the confirmation. That way the participant knows which number to call once the event is up and running and they have questions.
If the image material that should attract participants only consists of pictures from earlier years events, it might be a good idea to create new material, illustrations, or use stock photos to represent this year’s event. Many of us have sat through meetings via Zoom, Teams, and Google Hangouts and have quickly gotten used to seeing people in a small square through their webcam or an anonymous picture of themselves. To make things more familiar, you can, for example, send out a specific background with the event logo that people can use during the virtual event. If everyone uses the same background, maybe of the premises you are normally at for the event, it creates a sense of unity and safety for the participants.
To deal with expectations are central to any big event. When we are planning a virtual event there are further tools we can use to manage this. There are several good plug-ins which you can use to create a count down timer on the event page. The Trippus’ team are happy to help you create a good looking, professional event page! However, if you prefer to handle it yourself, there are a number of good designers available at, for example, Dribbble. Here is an example of a count down timer made by designer Bill Weiler:
To prepare the participants that it will be an extraordinary event, you can also send a number of automated emails. For example, “It is now 7 days left to the event, here are a few things to think about…” Include links, resources and image material that may enhance the experience. Moreover, you also get a platform for the participant to try out the digital tools in advance.
If you are using a streaming– or an online conference platform, you might want to arrange a “pre–mingle” so that you can see that everyone can enter the main event without issues. Invite the participants and potential delegates to get a taste of the main programme and you will have less issues when doing “the real deal”.
If you are using presenters, make sure you give them a thorough walk through of the technical platform you are using, and allow them to test the functionalities that are going to be used during the event. Did you know that with Zoom you can “flag” with a coffee cup on your profile that you are away on a short break…
Ensure that everyone in your team has practiced using the necessary functionality in the technical platform you have chosen for your event. Trippus can be used with all technical platforms, however, due to popular demand we have chosen to integrate with the popular service Zoom. Zoom’s Enterprise+ meeting solution can broadcast to 1000 participants at the same time, and offers a safe solution with encrypted broadcasts and passwords. Their webinar platform let you invite up to 50 000 participants.
The major social networks are also offering live stream possibilities; Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitch and so on. These are often great to do live events with, but they are missing some of the key elements of professional event management.
Trippus can be an important tool in this and you can also use our new service Virtual on Demand (VOD), where you are accompanied by a person from Trippus to ensure that the whole event runs smoothly.
If you have any questions regarding which equipment and tools to use, please let us know and we can recommend solutions that we know works and that does not cost a fortune.Get free help to choose technology
Registration of participants to the virtual event is done more or less as if it was an on-site event. As a participant, you want to feel as welcomed when you enter a digital event as when you enter a hotel and gets ticked off a list. You also need increased clarity in you how get the most out of the event. One or more resources needs to check in new participants, but you will also need resources that help non-registered participants or people who have issues accessing the live streaming. A specific phone number that participants can call to get help is important to avoid irritation.
Entering the Virtual Venue
When there are a larger number of participants, most systems automatically mutes the people entering the virtual room. It decreases the occurrence of annoying background sounds, but also removes some of the familiarity of the “pre-event” mingle that occurs on-site. Make sure that you welcome participants that enter the virtual room and make it clear that you have seen them entering the event.
Zoom gives you the possibility to use “breakout-rooms”. See this video if you want to learn more about this. We have experimented with this functionality to split participants into smaller groups and see if we can create the illusion of “mingling” better. It is obvious that you need a responsible person in each breakout-room to ensure that everything works, but if you are successful it will be perceived as very modern and positive.
Another tip is to use your sponsors and partners. Give them the possibility to collect some interested participants in a breakout room during a break. Help them to create an inspiring interaction and get new customers. Another option would be to create a separate chatroom for exhibitors and sponsors regarding a certain topic.
Chat and messaging
We recommend that you use the chat or messaging functionality in the technical platform you are using. You can both inform and interact with your participants this way.
It is recommended that you have a dedicated person responsible to collect and communicate the interaction through these channels. All virtual meetings have higher demands on recreating the human contact during the event.
We at Trippus have a module called the “On Site Interaction”-tool – which many of our clients already use. Create a quiz or a competition to engage with your audience, and use it together with our event app. You can show voting and results on big screen, or communicate with participants directly from stage.
Prices can be sent to the winners digitally through the app and there are many gift card suppliers that can be used.
Read more about engaging with your participants here – On Site Interaction.
Presentations and lectures
Start the presentation and lectures at the appointed time and avoid to comment if the technique is working as it should. You can also direct questions of technical character to Trippus support person. Refer back to the agenda and ensure that the participants knows what is talked about and when. That way you can avoid people going to fetch coffee at an important point in the programme.
Good lighting and sound are crucial in a virtual event and can be accomplished quite easily. Work with external microphones and several light sources, maybe a few LED spotlights. The presenter might want to stand up to give a more powerful impression. The camera should be in face height and make sure to avoid shadows in the face.
Choose your presentation venue wisely
Think about where you are broadcasting the event from. Use a room with no background noises, preferably with a stage as this is very important for virtual events as well. If you are offering a hybrid event, with people on site and online, it is extra important that you use a suitable room for the event.
External use of sounds
It is a good idea to use some music during the event, but make sure you are using music that complements the theme of the event. Also, if you are using music – make sure that you are legally compliant. If there are a lot of multi–media material presented during the event, it is a good idea to verify that it works before the actual event.
A back-up plan is to send links to the media material through the chat so that they can look at it later. Make sure the presenter makes the participants knows when links are added as many may miss it otherwise.
Use two cameras for a professional touch
If you can use two cameras in different angles it can elevate the experience of the meeting. A dynamic usage of cameras and angles feels very professional. If you can show material on the big screen and the participants can mean a lot. Think like a TV-studio producer. If possible, acquire a green-screen that allows you to use fun backgrounds! You can also find video backgrounds at Shutterstock and others if you want.
Show the audience that you see them!
As a lecturer in the virtual sphere it is sometimes hard to present the content in an inspiring way, given that you do not see anyone in the audience. Offer the presenter two screens so that they can look both at their presentation material as well as the audience. Ask the participants to use the functionalities available, like “applause” or “raise hand” and instruct when the event starts how they work. Ask the presenter to prioritise the possibility for the audience to interact and ask questions.
The material shown needs to be visual, using as few words as possible in the slides. The presentation itself needs to be short and interactive. In other words, exactly like when holding a presentation on-site at a regular event. The advantage of a virtual meeting is that you as an event organiser gets better possibilities to communicate the material to the participants after the event. You can share the recorded material where questions have been asked and answered.
Engage by understanding the technical possibilities
The digital reality makes it harder to read what the participants think of the event. Body language is more or less removed as a tool, and participants might look at other things than the presenter on their screens. That is why it is so important to interact with the participants as often as possible. Try asking questions, ask for a “thumbs up/down”, unmute all or some participants etc. If you do not want to unmute all participants then you can use pre-recorded applause files, like this one:
More and more of the popular tools offer a series of playful ways of interacting with other participants. Try not to see this as an annoying interruption, but rather that the participants are engaging with each other as they would on site. For example, a popular functionality when using Facebook like are the “reactions” available. They become a stream of hearts and other emojis and they can be hidden if they become too annoying.
Most of the things that occur digitally can be used to increase the understanding of your particpants. Use that possibility. Trippus offers a report tool which can help you understand how you can develop future virtual events by looking at the interaction with the participants.
Are you ready to shift to a virtual event but need a bit of help along the way? Enter your contact details below!