We know by now that virtual events are the way to go. And they are not particularly new either: we were experimenting with them long before the Covid-19 crisis. What has changed now, of course, is that we no longer have an alternative way to conduct events, so virtual it is, virtual all the way and with a higher level of commitment than ever before. The focus in the event industry is now undivided: we need to know everything that there is to know about virtual events. How to make them work, how to promote them, how to gauge their success, how to budget for them. If you are reading this, you are probably planning to organise or commission one yourself. If that’s the case, read on: our snap guide to virtual events might be just what you have been looking for!
Virtual events are taking over. Here’s what you need to know
Should you organise a virtual event?
Let’s make one thing very clear: not all virtual events are created equal. If you are thinking of translating your IRL activities into a live streaming, chances are you are going to be disappointed. And while we do believe all brands can market themselves through virtual events, we also know that not all events work equally well in a virtual setting. We all know, for instance, that seminars and panels can be seamlessly translated into online experiences – they don’t even need to be live, unless you are taking questions from the public – but not all event formats are ideally suited to be streamed. Entertainment, for instance, usually needs to be re-packaged. Streamed concerts need to be set up specifically and to take into account the variety of sound systems that will be used to reproduce them. Generally speaking, anything that relies heavily on very high sound or image quality might not work well as a virtual event, unless you are ready to invest a massive budget into it.
How long does it take to organise a virtual event?
The logistics of virtual events are very much unlike those of traditional, IRL events. Some aspects are simpler: you don’t need to get permits, to have furniture transported and arranged, hire a caterer or drive to the venue. On the other hand, depending on the number of accesses that you are planning for, you will need to contact a professional platform and make sure you have enough bandwidth to support all the required connections and guarantee an adequate level of service to all participants. Moreover, since you can’t wow your attendees with the decor and lighting, nor offer them amazing food, you will have to give them a stellar experience, content-wise. That means reaching out to speakers that your audience really wants to listen to, share tips they will find useful and interesting. This might take time: don’t think that, just because there is no heavy lifting, planning a virtual event might be a two-day affair.
Your “venue” still matters
Just because you are not going to hire a venue, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about the physical place where your event takes place. Now, if you are going full-VR (e.g. organising a virtual trade show) the whole question of rooms and environments will be managed by your chosen platform. But, if you are still planning on filming your guests, you should try and provide the best experience possible for your clients. If you have control over the actual space, make sure it is adequately lit and pleasant to look at. Avoid clutter in the background and make sure the subject is lit from the front. If you can, set up the space to give a clear idea of what is going on: some form of signage or branding should be in the frame. If you do not have control over the physical environment your guests will be in, make sure you reach out to each of them and ask them to provide adequate lighting while filming. Quality might be less than homogenous, but we have all got used to that during this crisis. Nevertheless, you should talk to your guests in advance about picking the right spot to film and lighting themselves and their surroundings properly.