Virtual events are still going strong in our industry. Some are great. Some are bland. And the difference between the two is almost always about content.
At the start of the pandemic, many people put up with content that didn’t quite cut it. And they did so because they could see that organisations were trying their best to keep close to their customers. But those days are long gone now, and delegates are increasingly expecting more from their virtual experiences.
Any virtual event must stand out and a big factor that helps in that is the content offering. But the issue of content is a tricky one. To help, here are seven key steps you can follow when producing content for your virtual event.
1) Understand Your Objectives
The first step is to understand your event objectives. It is critical that you understand why you are producing the virtual event. Have Simon Sinek and his questioning of ‘why’ in the back of your mind. If you don’t understand your objectives, you will not deliver content that works. It is that simple.
Do you want to reach a new audience, do you want to keep close to your existing customers or do you want to produce a virtual awards gig for the first time? There are any number of objectives you may have. Be clear and then decide on the analytics you will use to assess how well you did.
2) Identify Your Audience
The next step is to understand your audience. Who is likely to attend your virtual event? What is the demographic? Is it a younger or an older one? Is it people that are junior or mid-level managers or is it for senior directors? Or is it a combination of people of all ages and all job roles?
Be clear on who will be your audience. Which are the main languages they speak? Where in the world are they located? This could impact on timing for showing content. And if you have a global audience, consider whether you need live translation or subtitling services?
The answers to these questions will enable you to make specific informed decisions when creating your content. The better you understand your audience and what you are seeking as outcomes the better will be your ROI.
3) Use a Storyboard
To help create your programme you could use the storyboard technique. Essentially, you use visual images to show how your event will come to life and how the attendee is likely to be impacted. In film productions, storyboards are invaluable. They enable a director to explain to the actors what the scene is all about and it enables everyone to understand what is intended from the action. This is very useful and overcomes any language or other communication barriers.
You can follow the same process for your virtual event. For example, you could have an image of high energy delegates following a really inspiring opening keynote speaker. The next image may be delegates working together in groups and this could illustrate them doing a task together. And so on. If you do this for all your sessions, you will have a clear understanding of the ‘delegate journey’ and what they will experience. The visual storyboard will enable you to make necessary adjustments to your content. Delegates need variety, too much drama and they will be unable to cope for long, equally too little energy and delegates will drift away.
4) Brief Your Speakers
For any event you need to thoroughly brief your speakers, but this is even more important when it comes to the virtual world. This cannot be over emphasised. You need to make sure that speakers understand how their content will translate, not only in terms of language, but also in terms of activities.
Virtual events are very different to in-person events and a good speaker at an in-person event doesn’t necessarily translate to being a good speaker at a virtual event. Therefore, you have to go through everything in detail, from how the tech will work to what happens if they become disconnected. Plus, you then need to get into what you want from their session and how they will interact with the delegates.
The good news is that well briefed and well-prepared speakers will add to the overall event experience for everyone and let’s face it, no speaker wants to look as though they don’t know what they are doing.
5) Be Ruthless on Intros
Time goes very fast with virtual event productions and it is imperative that you make the most of every single minute. Therefore, it’s good to eliminate anything that is not strictly necessary.
Whilst speaker, host and sponsor introductions are all needed, the extent to how long they are allowed to go for should be looked at. Do your delegates really need a 3-page CV of your speaker? Unlikely. They would be much better off with an introduction that is tailored specifically explaining why this speaker is the best choice for the session. Carefully curated introductions are always best.
In addition to being ruthless with introductions, make sure you edit out any unnecessary waffle. For example, a sponsor states that they are a global organisation that is great. But do the audience then need to know where each of their offices are? Again, it’s unlikely. The point has been made with the opening comment and it’s now time for the speaker to move on. Less waffle will always be a good thing. It leaves more time to add to the great content which is what your delegates want.
6) Incorporate Breaks and Reflection Time
Virtual delegates cannot and should not feel that they need to be chained to their laptop or PC for the duration of the event.
Make sure that you allow time for comfort breaks, fresh air breaks and breaks for food and drink. These are all important and they form part of your content decision making.
As well as building in breaks, when producing your content allow time for delegates to reflect on what they are absorbing. Virtual events are usually stacked with lots of information and it needs to be processed. Reflection time allows for that.
7) Ask Your Audience on Social
Our final key step in producing your content is to make use of the social media channels. Social media is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to building community and developing event pre-engagement, but it can also be a great source of generating content that you can use in your event.
Social media is constantly on. Even if your event is some months away and you have selected your speakers it doesn’t matter. You can incorporate information and opinion that is coming in from social media. This will also ensure that your content is as up to date as it can be. Use social media to not only share news of your event but also to enhance its value.
You can ask your audience directly too – whether through social channels or your registration process. Find out what topics resonate with them or specific issues they have that they’d like to be addressed.
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Conclusion – Become a Content Detective
Too many virtual events can become mediocre because they have not worked through the impact of their content and how it will land with their delegates. Content that is simply thrown together to get something out there is no good.
Delegates will see it for what it is and you can be sure they will be unlikely to return to a future edition. Make sure that your event stands out because of your superlative content.
Become the content detective and examine everything in detail. How will the delegates be feeling, what will they have learned, is this presenter the right one for this session and so on. There are many questions to be answered and our steps will help you address them.
If you take the content element of your virtual event seriously, then you will be well on the way to success. And you will stand out head and shoulders above your competition too.
Running virtual, hybrid or in-person events? Eventsforce VCD is a virtual event platform that can support you with registrations, live streaming, audience engagement, networking and virtual sponsor ROI. Watch video or get in touch to see how we can help!