The pandemic caused a seismic shift in the world of live events. Advances in technology allowed the show to go on. Still, there have been some unwelcomed glitches for those working behind the scenes- drastically changing roles for some, eliminating jobs for others, and creating anxiety for most.
Despite the allure of cutting-edge technology, it’s critical for businesses to remember, human talent will always be their most powerful resource for growth and success.
Here is how you can optimize your virtual event strategy, integrating the latest technology has to offer with the best and brightest from your team.
Plan Your Event Strategy
While similar in some ways, virtual and in-person events need to be approached differently when it comes to strategy. When deciding if and how you should take your event virtual, you need to think strategically about your event’s purpose and goals. Start with your “why” as you assess your current goals to ensure your event has a clear purpose.
You also need to understand the difference between video streaming, video conferencing, webinars, and virtual conferencing and what type of event technology you will need to host your virtual genre, which means doing your research on what’s available to fit your needs.
Like any event plan, you need to have a budget in mind with a realistic grasp of your situation. Although you will cut costs in some areas with a virtual event, you will still need the right tech to pull off a high-quality experience for your participants.
Bring In a Consultant
If you are new to virtual events, it’s advisable to bring in a consultant to make sure your event is hit without all the painful “lessons learned.”
Virtual event consultants have quickly learned the lay of the digital landscape and can help you manage your online event from start to finish. And, they have become indispensable for providing information about the latest trends of the event industry as well as the best virtual event platforms to meet your requirements and deliver a memorable experience for your attendees. They also know how to work with tight budgets- where to save and spend money, so you can ultimately make more of it.
Event consultants can offer expertise from an outside perspective that can be helpful, but it’s essential to include your internal team in the process. Your staff knows your brand culture and audience best and can make sure the consultant’s strategy aligns.
Design Event from the Outside
Regardless of whether you choose to hire a professional consultant or go it alone, your event should be centered around providing the ultimate guest experience. Every area and detail of your event needs to be inspired by maximizing the benefits for your attendees- from the theme to the speakers to the event software you select. Again, your event consultant can offer insights based on their experience, but ultimately, you know your audience best.
When you are in doubt, getting opinions from your audience pre-event is an excellent opportunity to engage with your customers while simultaneously promoting your event. You can send surveys about preferred dates to your listserv, for example, or use polls in your social posts to see what entertainment your following likes.
During the event, you can use virtual chat and gaming features to gather feedback and make any adjustments needed to optimize your participants’ experience.
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Recognize Your Employees’ Fears
Taking your events virtual can simplify production in various ways, eliminating many of the roles and staff previously needed for live events. This can be a positive in terms of cost and resources, but your staff might not agree, especially if they feel like their paycheck is on the line.
It’s vital for leaders to realize, this unprecedented technology boom is unfolding in tandem with a very uncertain and tenuous economic situation, making many workers paranoid about their job security.
Even if the fear is unwarranted or the impact is minor, you want to address any concerns around leaning more on technology.
Broaching the subject will not only demonstrate your concern and transparency, but it will also open up the opportunity to explore ideas on how certain members of your team can broaden or advance their skill set. Investing in your team in strategic and collaborative ways will have a positive and lasting result- increasing motivation, performance, and production.
Improve Your Company’s Talent
Emerging technologies like virtual event software can replace a host of human activities, but the value of your human talent can never be replaced. And while seeking external consultants is wise as you transition to virtual events, you ultimately want to invest in training your current staff to master the skills needed for your new digital strategy.
Many business leaders mistakenly view training as an expense, not as an investment. But companies that invest in learning and development opportunities for their employees experience increased loyalty and productivity.
A study by IBM revealed that employees were 12 times more likely to leave a company where they didn’t feel they could advance or achieve their career goals.
Bring All the Pieces Together for Your Event
Bringing together all the logistical and technical components of your virtual event requires an inter-disciplinary approach to which you might not be accustomed.
Attendees consume content differently online, so you need to create a fresh look that generates the same dynamic energy a live audience would experience.
Your technology, marketing, and strategic teams all need to come together to create a broad, integrated view, thinking “inside the box” (or device). Each team has important insights that will play a part in marketing the event, aligning new technology with event goals, capturing attendee engagement, and thinking through any problems that could arise during the event.
Plus, by leveraging the expertise of your consultants and internal insights from your team, you will be able to create customized programming using proven tactics that will elevate the participants’ experience to a whole level.
Companies might have little choice but to replace their live events with the virtual equivalent. But leaning on technology doesn’t mean you can neglect the human element. Utilizing and strengthening your team’s diverse skills and talent is essential for engaging and connecting with your virtual audience. And when you see what happens when creative minds get a hold of the latest technology, you just might wish you had made the virtual leap sooner.
Is your company planning a hybrid event? Our customized virtual web environment will support your brand, event theme, and host all the activities you need. Visit Van Wagner today!