Some believe that people are tired of virtual events. They think it's a fad that will soon pass. They are wrong. People still watch TV and use streaming platforms on a daily basis. They are not tired of virtual, they are tired of low quality events and productions!
The place of the virtual communications is more important than ever. At work, at school, at home and in our entertainment, digital is present. The event industry cannot pretend to be above this trend; it must see it as an opportunity to innovate and evolve.
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Why opt for a virtual or hybrid event
1. Overcome the limits of traditional events
Nowadays, organizing an event only in person is still possible, but will be limited and restrictive. These limits are, among others, physical, social, temporal, logistical, health and human. To overcome them and ensure the success of an event in the digital age, we must turn, at least in part, to the virtual.
2. Be flexible
Offering a virtual or hybrid option to attendees becomes essential in many cases. Whether it's to accommodate a parent who has to stay home with a sick child; a speaker who missed his or her flight; or an attendee who can't travel, the virtual or hybrid event option often allows more flexibility.
3. Offer an experience accessible to all
Digital allows you to speak to people you wouldn't otherwise be able to speak to. With virtual, you can communicate your messages to people with disabilities, hearing loss, illness, at risk, etc. Since the virtual world makes your content accessible in many ways, you simplify the experience of many people who are too often overlooked.
4. Respect all participants
The pandemic of the last 2+years has already left its mark on people's memories and changed their habits. Today's events must respect everyone's choices and preferences. Some participants who are more vulnerable or fearful of COVID-19 and the spread of other viruses wish to keep their social distance and avoid gatherings. Hybrid or virtual events are therefore an ideal solution to reach these individuals while providing an engaging experience for all participants.
5. Adapt to a new reality
Digital technology has become an integral part of our business and our daily lives. Hybrid or remote work has become the norm. The event industry is no exception! Don't fall behind by clinging to the old ways of doing things. It's better to look to the future.
Who are virtual events for?
All companies and organizations can benefit from virtual and hybrid events. There are many benefits for all industries and all types of organizations. The first thing to do is to determine your needs and objectives for the event to be organized. A thorough understanding of your needs is the first step to a successful event.
If content is the focus of your event, you will want to prioritize virtual or hybrid content. This is the case for an internal conference, an investor day or an annual general meeting (AGM). If your event is more about networking, face-to-face contact is more appropriate. However, virtual platforms are developing very quickly and we are seeing more and more virtual networking solutions available. Think of a team building activity or a Christmas party as examples for networking live and virtually.
Differentiate between virtual meetings and virtual events
It is important to distinguish between an event and a meeting. Both styles of gatherings can be virtual, but their needs and levels of complexity vary greatly. While they may look similar at first glance, they are actually very different.
Planning a meeting as if it were an event will waste a lot of time and resources. On the other hand, organizing an event as you would a meeting will unfortunately fail. Attendees will be dissatisfied, organizers will be overwhelmed and your message will be lost among the logistical and technical problems.
Types of events that lend themselves well to a virtual or hybrid mode
- Trade show
- Investor Day
- Awards ceremony
- Word from the president
- Quarterly meeting
- Virtual exhibition
- Annual General Meeting
- Executive Committee
- Union meeting
- Symposium and seminar
- Product launch
- Product Demo
- Virtual tour
How to organize a virtual event
As with many innovations and technological advances, virtual events appear more complex than they really are. While virtual events have their challenges and requirements, the most common problems can be easily corrected. It's much simpler than you think!
The first and most important step is to choose the right broadcast solution. With an effective tool tailored to your event's needs, everything becomes easy for you, your team and your speakers. To make an informed choice, several factors should be discussed with the various service providers available.
- What kind of event are you organizing?
- Who is your audience?
- How large is your potential audience?
- Where is your audience?
- Do you want a turnkey service?
- Do you prefer to be self-sufficient?
- What level of security do you need?
- What features do you need?
Features for everything
There are several tools available today for webcasts and virtual events. Each one offers its own set of features. All facets of virtual events are covered, from cybersecurity to user experience to advanced features for interactions with your audience.
Examples of features useful for virtual events
- Authentication by authorized email list
- Authentication by IP address
- Authentication by authentication system (SSO)
- Timed Questionnaire
- Viewing the results live
- Live speaking
- Virtual table
- Removable question box
- Moderated question thread
- Synchronized presentation
- Simultaneous translation
- Customized playlists
- Automated subtitling
Experience as an organizer
- Live Statistics
- Exportable statistics
- Advance voting
- Weighted voting
- Take the floor" button
- I move" button
- I second" button
As with all things IT, data security must be a top priority. Virtual events often require the collection of sensitive data, such as names, email addresses, votes, etc. Therefore, it is crucial to have adequate security measures in place to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of this data. Organizers should choose secure platforms and tools. To be sure that the chosen tool manages and uses the data in a sound and secure manner, opt for an ISO 27001 certified company.
ISO/IEC 27001:2022 is the international standard that describes the best practices to follow when creating an information security management system. It covers four areas of intervention in data management: availability of information and services; integrity of critical data; confidentiality of sensitive data and customer data; and availability and compliance of legal evidence. So don't hesitate to ask your vendor what certification(s) they have.
Capturing the attention of participants
Capturing the attention of your audience is critical to the success of any event, whether virtual, hybrid or in-person. Without it, your key messages may be lost or misunderstood. When you capture the attention of your audience, you create an environment that is conducive to message reception, learning, active participation and interaction.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not a real issue with virtual events. Facilitators can use a variety of strategies, such as opening videos, interactive quizzes, live polls and small group discussions, to capture the audience's attention and keep them engaged throughout the event. Get inspired by industry trends and don't be afraid to get creative!
Advantages for virtual event organizers
No physical constraints
Distance and audience size no longer matter with virtual events. You don't have to limit yourself to a certain number of seats or the size of a room.
Participant and host experience
Virtual and hybrid events are less restrictive for the audience, for the speakers and for the organizers. You avoid travel and wasted time. In many cases, the number of suppliers and partners required is greatly reduced. This often means simplicity and even cost savings.
Speed and flexibility
Virtual events can be organized in less time than their face-to-face counterparts. The shorter time frame is due to the small number of suppliers and partners involved and the fact that no travel is required for participants and speakers. This type of event also allows for more flexibility in case something goes wrong. It will be easy to change the schedule if someone is sick or has to be away from home.
Control of the message
Given the importance of brand image and reputation, every company wants to offer a credible, positive image that is in line with its values and mission. A virtual event allows you to convey your messages in an efficient and controlled manner in order to reach your objectives and demonstrate your professionalism.
Key performance indicators (KPI) are essential in event management, both for the current event and for your future gatherings. They allow you to measure your success, to evaluate areas for improvement and to help you improve from one event to the next. To answer any questions you may have, the virtual system tracks a wide range of data:
- Number of attendees logged in
- Number of participants connected at a specific time during the webcast
- Time logged in
- Type of devices used to attend the webcast
- Duration of participation per participant
- Geolocation of participants
- Languages chosen by participants
- Number of questions asked
- Number of messages exchanged
- Exact content of questions and comments received;
- Participation in proposed interactivities (e.g. polls, voting, ...)
- and much more.
Your business communications are valuable. By opting for hybrid or virtual events, it is easy to archive this content and make it available on demand. This way, you optimize your investment.
As previously mentioned, with virtual events, the number of suppliers and partners required to hold an event is reduced. This reduces the amount of resources and effort required for all aspects of organization and logistics. This is an opportunity to save time and money without compromising the quality of the event or the satisfaction of the participants.
Stand out with virtual events
Nowadays, with digital technology, everything is possible! The impressive variety of features, software and applications that exist is proof of this.
Over the last few years, many trends have emerged in the event industry. Companies are now offering real experiences through virtual events; it goes far beyond the simple PowerPoint presentation and screen sharing. Music, videos, animation, activities, interactions... Several platforms are at your disposal to make your virtual (or hybrid) events attractive and memorable.
The future of virtual and hybrid events is assured! The benefits for participants and organizers are so numerous that it would be foolish not to take advantage of them. Contrary to some people's belief, people are not tired of the virtual; they are tired of the poor quality of many events and productions. That's why more and more companies and organizations are turning to television-quality webcasts and professional virtual events. The move can be scary, but it's worth it. By working with the right partner, your fears will quickly be put to rest.