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Rehearsals have always been critical for running successful events. And with virtual events, even more so. Everything that you do has to be choreographed. The more polished the delivery, the better your events are perceived. And the better ROI for your attendees and stakeholders too.
Not prioritising enough on rehearsals can have irreversible consequences on an event and the attendee experience. And yet it can easily be avoided with careful planning and execution.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the key things to consider when planning rehearsals for your virtual events.
Virtual Events: Run-Throughs Vs Rehearsals
One of the first key issues is with the terminology. It may be your language, or it may be your clients or speakers but it’s important that you are both talking about the same thing.
A run-through is not a rehearsal. A run-through is when you talk with your client about what they are going to be doing. This will include taking notes of who will be presenting, when they will be on and if they will run their own slides.
A rehearsal, on the other hand, is when you have everyone in place, with their presentations ready and the tech crew delivering what you need from them. The rehearsal is where you run the whole thing as though you were live on air.
For example, getting a tech crew in for a rehearsal when in fact it is a talk-through will just put your costs up unnecessarily. Therefore, it is super important that when you’re talking to people about rehearsals, everyone understands exactly what you mean.
Getting the Most from Your Run-Through
A run-through is the perfect opportunity to make sure everyone is clear on what is going to happen and what roles they must play. There is no point in discussing other business at a run-through. It just detracts everyone. If you’re an agency, you may need to diplomatically bring your client back to the main reason for the run-through if you find the discussion has moved in a different direction. For example, a debate on how event ticket sales are going doesn’t have a place in a run-through.
At the end of a run-through, everyone needs to know what they need to do to prepare and get ready for the rehearsal which is the next stage. You need to encourage questions to be asked. Or you can ask questions to your presenters and tech crew and test whether they are clear on what they will be doing. For example, will the presenter be calling for slides and need a cue operator or will the presenter be screen sharing. It is this kind of detail that is dealt with at a run-through.
Getting Ready for The Rehearsal
The rehearsal is your opportunity to iron out the bumps and adjust improve the final performance. And there will always be something that can be improved.
A rehearsal is where you want to imagine that you are ‘on air’ to ensure that it is as close as possible to what will happen on event day. It means going through all the lines, the transitions between speakers and the playing of video content. It is not the place to talk through what will be done.
You will need the speakers, the presenters, and the host to be speaking as though they were live. That may sound obvious, but in some rehearsals, speakers talk quietly, and the planner worries that they may not be heard properly. Yet when the speaker is live ‘on-air’ – it can sound suddenly really loud. Rather than having the stress of that situation, what you need is for the speaker to be speaking as they will be when on-air.
In addition to the voice projection being right, the rehearsal needs to mirror being on-air. Therefore if your speaker is going to be standing in a studio, that means you also need them in the studio for the rehearsal rather than being in their home sitting at their laptop.
Make sure that everything is as close as it can possibly be to the on-air live experience and you will get better results.
Defining Roles – Virtual Hosts, Moderators & Facilitators
Another area that always demands attention to detail for a successful production is being clear on the roles people will be playing. Often, the roles of moderator, host and facilitator can become confused. Depending on who you are talking to these terms can have different meanings. Whilst the roles have separate functions, you may find the expectation is that one person may be fulfilling all the tasks.
For example, what do you want the moderator to do? Is it to check the chat and questions that are coming in from delegates? Is it that they do that role and present the questions? Or do you expect the moderator to be doing something else?
Whilst the terminology can be interpreted in different ways, make sure you define these roles with details on what you want the person to do. The last thing you want is people making the wrong assumptions. The easiest and best way to make your production a flawless one is to spell out exactly what you need from each role.
Getting Your Virtual Tech Team Ready
Naturally, getting your tech team ready is equally important. It’s not just about your hosts, speakers and moderators on what they need to do. Your tech and AV production team needs to be ready to go. At rehearsal they need to be sure that they understand what is going on, who is in charge, and what’s required of them.
You need to be sure that your tech team have done testing before you start a rehearsal. This is especially important when you have multiple things happening at the same time. For example, with virtual awards, it’s important to get the winner announcement perfect. This means you have to seamlessly have the name of the winner read out and then the visual of them and the music sting to be played simultaneously. You cannot be testing that on-air as it will be obvious to everyone that you were not prepared.
Polls, Questions and Attendee Engagement
Engagement is one of the biggest challenges for organisers when it comes to virtual events and it’s vital that you understand how the mechanics will work to get the most out of your engagement tools.
For example, you want a poll. Sounds simple enough. Now all you need to decide is who puts the poll content into the app or platfom? Is it you or are you providing content to the tech team to do the job? Who calls for the poll to be displayed? It could be the presenter, or it could be the host. Whichever it is, do they bring the poll up on display or do they need to give the cue to the tech team? Once the poll is up, delegates can respond. Now you have to decide how long the poll stays up before it’s taken down.
Now that you are clear on how you will run your poll, you need to test it. And again, the feedback of what works and what doesn’t will enable you to make adjustments to improve before you go on-air in front of your attendees and other stakeholders.
Be sure to test your other engagement tools as well – whether that’s gaming, quizzes, Q&As and so on.
Conclusion – Meet Increasing Expectations Around Virtual Events
There is no doubt that the expectations of everyone has increased when it comes to virtual events. After all they have been the only game in town and viewers have seen all sorts of virtual events from the cringingly bad to the really good. And those who understand the value of rehearsals will have seen better results.
It is obvious when a company has not done a rehearsal or not even talked through what they are going to do. It just shows. A live production means there is no hiding place. Everything you do is on-air for all to see, the great and the terrible. But for those who understand the value of rehearsals, they will get stronger ROI simply because of the time and refinements they will have put in from the practice.
Think like a sports professional or a theatre production company. Rehearsals are in their DNA and they should be in yours too if you want to keep exceeding the expectations of your stakeholders.
Running virtual, hybrid or in-person events? Eventsforce VCD is a virtual event platform that can support you with registrations, live streaming, audience engagement tools, remote speaker management, networking and virtual sponsors and exhibitors. Watch video or get in touch to see how we can help!