Category: Blog

Rehearsals for Virtual Events – How to Get Them Right!

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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.

Read: 6 Ways to Work with Remote Speakers for Virtual Event Success

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.

Read: 5 Reasons Why your Events Need a Virtual Host

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.

eBook: Virtual Events – 10 Ways to Keep People Interested!

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!


4 Ways Tech Can Help Personalize the Virtual Event Experience

how tech can personalise the virtual event experience
Want the lowdown on tech trends and virtual events? In your inbox, every week.

Personalizing the event experience has always been a big challenge for planners. In fact, research from Eventsforce shows 73% of organisers see personalization as a big deal for their events.  And it’s not surprisingly really. Personalization helps engagement and improves both experience and satisfaction measures, which means better ROI.

But with virtual events, personalization takes even more importance – especially as screen fatigue kicks and organisers try to find more creative ways of engaging people online.  And this is exactly where technology can help.

The challenge is, however, that with all sorts of tech available, it can be hard to understand how it can be used in a way where personalization can successfully add value to the attendee experience.  To address this, we have taken four key areas where tech can make the impact you want.

1) Get Noticed

You need your event to stand out. That has always been the case – but when the only events on offer are virtual, you face even stronger competition. This is where tech that enables you to personalize invites and web landing pages should be top of your list of requirements.

Personalizing invitations can be simple and effective. By tailoring them as much as possible to the invitee, you can significantly increase their chances of attending. Virtual event platforms like Eventsforce VCD have integrated tools that can help you target people based on their behavioural personas and demographics.

For example, if you know that your attendee list is made up of corporates and academics, then you can create two separate versions of the same invitation with each one outlining the sessions that would be of interest to them. Both audiences have an interest in attending your event, but they have quite different goals and different ideas on why your event matters to them.

You should also aim to tailor your event web pages for different audiences. For example, a landing page with information on peer reviews, abstracts and referenced publications may be more interesting for your academics.  Whereas your corporate audience will be much more interested in seeing commercial ideas that the event aims to address.

Using tech in such a way as outlined will help to get your event noticed.

2) Drive Attendance

When attendees decide they want to come to your event, make it simple for them to sign up. Registration is such a critical element of the user journey. Get this wrong and attendees will not come.

Again, many event management solutions can help you personalize the registration journey by creating different registration paths for each type of attendee.  Before starting the registration process, segment your audiences, whether that be a delegate, sponsor, exhibitor, speaker, industry sector etc. You can then set up your registration pages so that each attendee is led through a set of registration questions that are specific to their selected category.  For example, exhibitors may get asked about web-banner sizes, whereas journalists may be asked to upload accreditation documents.

Using the tech, make sure that your attendee can get to the place that they need to be, in the simplest way possible, without added distractions. Make sure event registration is as streamlined as possible.

On-Demand Webinar: Virtual Events – How to get the registration experience right!

3) Connect People

With many people unable to go out and meet, it’s imperative that your virtual event offers as much as connection as possible. Attendees want to connect with each other and share ideas, insights and experiences. Suppliers want and need to meet buyers.

The good news is that event technology helps you connect the right people and all you need to do is decide what you want to offer. Let’s take a couple of examples to illustrate this.

By integrating networking tools as part of your registration process or virtual event platform, attendees will be able to see who is attending that may be of interest to them and set up meetings with people they want to meet. These tools are quite good in that they don’t allow attendees to schedule meetings that clash with other meetings or sessions that they will be attending at the event.

You can use smart matchmaking tools to help exhibitors, sponsors and attendees make the right connections.  For example, with Eventsforce VCD, virtual exhibitors can find attendees that have shown a specific interest in their offering.  They can then set up meetings and deliver more targeted messages and campaigns.  And if you are concerned about analytics, don’t be. There is much data that you can dig into and learn from.

4) Maximise Your Content

Attendees are often attracted to virtual events because of the content on offer. And because there is much competition as we mentioned earlier, it’s critical that you maximise the content you deliver.

Again, technology can help with this. Even before you decide which sessions to hold you could be mining the data to establish which subjects and hot topics people are really interested in. And in what format? Do they want short presentations, do they want lots of break-out sessions, do they want panel sessions? Find out what they want and you will be well on your way to a great event.

But, once you have established what the event content will be, don’t forget to promote it especially during your event.

Push notifications or in-platform broadcast messages are a great way of doing just that. By identifying your attendees’ interests and needs around speakers and sessions, your system can make it easier for you to personalize the notifications you send through your virtual event platform. For example, when an attendee registers for a session, the system can send them a reminder 30 minutes before starting.

Using tech to make it easy for attendees to personalize their schedules at events is also a good idea. The Eventsforce VCD platform, for example, gives automatic recommendations – it also has advanced filtering options that allow people to view and choose sessions that focus on their chosen themes and interests.

 Conclusion – Pay Close Attention to Feedback

Personalizing the virtual event experience is an effective way of engaging attendees. Having done that with the multitude of tech tools at your disposal you should then listen to the feedback. What does it tell you that you can improve for the next edition of your event?

There is so much value in feedback. Review it from all sides. Does the tech add or detract from the user experience? Is there something obvious to you, that is not seen by attendees which could produce better ROI? How are the personalization journeys of the different stakeholders?

Pay close attention to feedback to improve. All attendees expect more from your virtual event production and using tech for personalization is one of the quickest ways of addressing this.

Looking for practical ideas on how to use personalization around your events?  Get your copy of the ‘Event Planner’s Guide to Personalization’ for advice and tips!


The Pros and Cons of Hybrid Events

Want the lowdown on tech trends and virtual events? In your inbox, every week.

Right now, virtual events will likely stay the dominant player in the events space for at least the next six months of the year. However, as we start to see the impact of Covid-19 vaccination programmes and lockdown restrictions slowly start to ease, in-person events will return – albeit in a modest size.

And when this happens, hosting a hybrid event that enables both in-person delegates and virtual attendees to participate will make a lot of sense.  Which is why we’re seeing so much hype around hybrid in the industry right now.  Interestingly, however, a new poll from Eventsforce has found that 70% of event organizers are NOT considering hybrid as part of their 2021 event strategy.  Which opens up the question as to why.

What is the deal with hybrid?  Should it be part of your event strategy moving forwards?  And what are some of the key considerations you need to think about before taking that step?

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the some of the most important pros and cons of hybrid events.

The Benefits of Hosting Hybrid Events

If there’s one takeaway from the last year is that virtual events can work if planned and executed well.  And one of the key benefits? The ability to reach out to more people and engage with those who typically didn’t attend in-person events.  Which is great. To put these people aside once in-person events return, will not make any sense.  There are other benefits to the hybrid model too, including:

1) More Choice for Everyone 

Hybrid events offer greater choice for attendees. They can choose whether to attend the event in person or as a virtual delegate. It provides them with options. They are not required to travel half the way around the globe if they don’t want to. They can simply attend virtually. But if they want to travel and physically meet other people, then they can.

Some people may not have the time, money or the support needed to go to an event as an in-person delegate. However, with a virtual component being a key part of a hybrid event there is no reason for them to miss out.

Hybrid events are also good for the organizations that hold them. No longer is there a need to be restricted by physical venue space. The virtual opportunity has knocked down all boundaries.  This means a business can decide how many delegates it wants to invite to the in-person event (ex. VIP customers), rather than try and get the biggest space possible to cover as many people as possible.

Some organizations are developing a ‘hybrid hub’ approach that links virtual delegates with hubs of people attending the event in-person. Everyone is joined together through a digital experience but delegates enjoy a different experience. Hybrid events certainly provide choice.

Related: 7 ways events will change in a post Covid-19 world

2) Greater Diversity and Inclusion

Greater inclusion of attendees is one of the best things about hybrid. They allow those delegates that were not going to be able to attend to now do so – this could potentially mean more revenue for your event too if you charge delegate fees. We already mentioned issues such as money, time or lack of support as being key reasons for people not being able to attend in-person. However, there are other factors as well. For example, some delegates may not be able to attend due to being unable to obtain the necessary documentation, e.g. a visa application to get into a country. A virtual delegate of course doesn’t need a visa.

And as hybrid events increase the inclusion of attendees this means you will get more diversity of opinion as a result. The two go hand in hand. More diversity of opinion leads to deeper and richer discussions and debates. That can only be a good thing.

3) The Sustainable Connection  

The benefits of hybrid events in terms of their sustainability value is considerable.  Traditionally, the only way people could attend events was by going in-person. Often that resulted in delegates travelling long distances and staying away from home for a number of nights. Those actions had an adverse impact on sustainability initiatives, not least because air travel is one of the biggest contributors to climate pollution. So offering attendees an alternative to travel by having a virtual component demonstrates how beneficial hybrid events can be for the environment.

However, sustainability isn’t just about the impact on the planet. Hybrid events are also sustainable when it comes to generating income and profitability. Remember their extended reach to those people that typically couldn’t attend in-person events. That reach is good for you, good for your sponsors and good for your exhibitors. Plus, if you’ve been holding virtual events in this last year, surely you can’t suddenly exclude the virtual audience once we are back to in-person events. That would make no sense at all. Hybrid events offer the ability to develop your sustainability credentials with both planet earth and your profitability.

Related: How to make events more sustainable in a post Covid-19 world

The Cons of Hosting Hybrid Events

The benefits are clear but there is a reason why many organizers are struggling coming to grips with a hybrid strategy for their events moving forwards.  Let’s take a look at some of the most common concerns we’re hearing in the industry:

1) Complex to Deliver

One of the big challenges with hybrid events is that they are complex to deliver and potentially costly. Essentially, delivering a hybrid event means producing two events and therefore you will need more resources.

You cannot offer the same experience for both audiences either. The virtual attendee experience has to be different to the in-person one – otherwise why would one bother? If you do not develop programmes that speak to the attendee type you risk not satisfying either set of delegates.

Long gone are the days of streaming to a virtual audience by placing a camera in the back of a plenary session. Your attendees are way more sophisticated and demand more.  The virtual component has to be a production in its own right, which is distinct from the in-person experience.

You also have to think strategically about your pricing decisions. What will you charge for an in-person delegate? Will you need a smaller venue for a smaller audience?  Will that help with costs? How much should you charge for a virtual delegate? In addition to delegates, pricing needs to be adjusted for increased sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities. There is little doubt that hybrid events require more complex decisions to be made.

2) Audience Envy

Following on from the complexity issue is the tricky challenge of audience envy. Does it exist? It does. Any delegate that attends an event is interested in what is in it for them. It’s only natural.

If you go to a hybrid event as an in-person attendee, do you really care about the experience of the virtual audience? Probably not. And if you’re a virtual attendee, are you really fussed with what’s going on at the physical location? Again, it’s pretty unlikely. That’s not to say delegates are not interested in what’s going on beyond their programme but they are more interested in the one they are attending.

And this is where hybrid events need to deliver and exceed expectations to reduce any potential for audience envy – as this will impact attendance the next time round. The last thing you want is for one audience to believe that they are being adversely impacted by you providing your other delegates with a better experience.

Perception is always tricky and that is where you need to diligently ensure that neither set of delegates feel they are missing out.

3) The Need for Change 

Hybrid events by their very nature challenge people to change. Whilst they do not shout change they certainly cause it because of the opportunities that they provide. Delegates have more choice and organizations can decide whether or not to hold hybrid events. And whilst you can argue that is a good thing not everyone seeks or wants to change.

In-person events have been the only gig in town really (until now). People are used to how they work, what is expected and how business is generated. They are comfortable and can easily argue if something is not broken then why fix it.

However, Covid-19 changed everything and events went virtual big time. Virtual works and if you add that to an in-person event to create your hybrid experience you are making big changes. Not everyone wants change or is ready for it and this can be a challenge for the successful roll out of hybrid events.

Conclusion – Time for Evaluation

Whether you believe that hybrid events are the future and are the ‘new normal’ is entirely up to you and your organization’s objectives (and budgets!). But before you come to any conclusion, you will need to let go of any ‘unconscious bias’ you may be holding.

Hybrid events offer an alternative, a new way forward, but they do come with complexity. They come with risk and they come with benefits. They can be hard to navigate but at the same time they offer endless possibilities.

There really are pros and cons to consider. But one thing is clear they should be included in your discussions now to establish how and when they should be used. They certainly have a place within the mix you offer of in-person and virtual events.

Running virtual, hybrid or in-person events? Eventsforce can support you with registration, abstracts, live streaming, audience engagement tools, remote speaker management, networking and virtual sponsors and exhibitors. Watch video, book a demo or get in touch with the team to see how we can help!

10 Most Read Stories on Covid-19 and Virtual Events

10 most popular stories on Covid-19 and meetings and events
Want the lowdown on tech trends and virtual events? In your inbox, every week.

Almost a year has passed since the Covid-19 pandemic turned the world of events upside down.  Many events got cancelled. Many got postponed.  And many more went online.  The dramatic shift to virtual events created all sorts of new challenges for planners.  From rethinking agenda design and managing remote speakers to dealing with new tech and finding interesting ways of keeping people engaged.

eBook: Virtual Events – How to Keep Your Attendees Engaged

Yes, virtual events will never replace the face to face experience and in-person events will slowly make a return in some form or another.  But if there’s one take-away from 2020, it’s that virtual events can be incredibly valuable.  You can still create a sense of community with audiences.  You can reach out to more people who typically don’t attend in-person events.   You can still provide education and learning and give attendees the tools that help them engage and make valuable connections – much in the same way you would for your in-person events.  And you can still generate revenue too.

With all this in mind, we thought we’d share our top stories from 2020 covering different aspects of virtual event trends.   These were ten articles on our blog that really hit the mark with our readers and give a good indication of the kind of topics that organisers seem most concerned about too.

Based on unique page views and social media shares, have a look at our most popular event management stories from 2020:

#1 Seven Ways Events Will Change in a Post Covid-19 World

No one really knows what events will look like in a post COVID-19 world. Even when in-person events resume, the reality is likely to be that for a significant amount of time, attendees will be split between those willing and able to attend physically and those who will not. We have seen a number of interesting articles across industry sites which give organisers a lot of good information on what live events may look like in the ‘new normal’ and some of the things they need to think about for their future planning. Demonstrating different approaches and advice, have a look at some of the key things to consider when encouraging attendees to come to your in-person events. Read more.

#2 How to Manage Sponsor and Exhibitor Expectations Around Virtual Events

The new virtual event environment has made the whole process of securing sponsors and exhibitors a lot more difficult for organisers – both in terms of providing value and managing expectations.  But the reality is that virtual events can be incredibly valuable for these important stakeholders.  They can help them reach out to more people.  They can engage with them in more creative and memorable ways.  And more importantly, they have more opportunities to extend this engagement long after the event is over.  Take a look at some of the key things you need to do to get the buy-in you need from your sponsors and exhibitors around virtual events. Read more.

#3 Infographic: The Impact of Covid-19 on Meetings and Events

As the Covid-19 situation spread across the world, our industry faced an unprecedented time of risk and uncertainty.  This infographic looks at the results of a research study conducted at the beginning of the pandemic with 550+ event planners investigating what impact it has had on meetings and events.  It also looks at how organisers are making critical decisions around cancellations, the uptake of virtual events, what challenges they’re facing – and how they’re spending their time working from home.  Read more.

#4 Ask the Experts: Virtual Events – What Can We Do Better in 2021?

If we look back at the year and assess how things went, what would we change? How did organisers deal with the new challenges they faced? What were the biggest lessons learnt?  And what can we do better in 2021? EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s well-known virtual event experts to find out more about their views on the event landscape this year – including what went well, what didn’t and what they think will be the biggest trends over the coming year. Read more.

#5 Key Skills for Running Successful Virtual Events

Managing virtual events requires a different set of skills from event planners – from filming and broadcasting to writing scripts and dealing with new tech. But according to a recent poll from Eventsforce, 53% of event planners don’t feel they have the skills or experience in running successful online events. This could be very worrying, especially as these events are going to be around for a while.  Have a look at some of the key traits and skills organisers can focus on to run more successful virtual events. Read more.

#6 Events and Covid-19: How to Manage Your Delegate Expectations

Research shows that 1 in 4 event planners see managing delegate expectations as one of the biggest challenges of the job in the last year. Organisers want to be doing everything they can to protect their delegates. They want to make things easier for them, continue educating them, whilst minimising disruption and anxiety.  But it’s not easy. Have a look at the best ways of communicating with attendees in the three most likely scenarios – cancelling or postponing an event, going ahead with an event and making the move to virtual.  Read more.

#7 Covid-19 and Event Insurance – What You Need to Know

Event planners all around the world are having to make difficult decisions in a constantly changing environment.  Many are also having to deal with the financial consequences of cancelling and rescheduling events – which adds another level of burden especially when it comes to dealing with insurance cover. So what are some of the critical things organisers need to understand about event insurance in the current climate?  What should you realistically expect from your insurance provider if you’re cancelling an event and how can you prepare for the future? Read more.

#8 Nine Most Commons Mistakes with Virtual Events

In a short period of time, organisers have had to quickly adapt their skills set to a virtual setting.  They’ve had to understand the increasing expectations of delegates that require more and more from a virtual experience.  They’ve also had to deal with many issues that typically come about in an online setting. Have a look at dome of the most common mistakes that appear time and again in the creation and delivery of virtual events – along with some best practice advice on how to avoid them. Read more.

#9 How to Make Money from Your Virtual Events

Although a lot of online events these days are paid-for affairs – the majority remain free to attend.  And this is partly because many organisers become a bit stuck when it comes to thinking how they can charge for virtual events – a recent poll showed that 40% of event planners are concerned about charging people for their online events. The reality is that virtual and hybrid events both present a perfect opportunity for event organisations to increase their revenue – whether it’s through ticket sales, bookable items, exhibitors or sponsorship.  And it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. Read more.

#10 How to Choose a Virtual Event Platform

Virtual event platforms can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. What might seem like a good solution for one event may not work for another.  So how do you choose the right one? Based on recent discussions we’ve had with clients and other organisations pivoting to virtual events, have a look at some of the key things all virtual event platforms need to do to help organisers make the most of their technology investment. Read more.

Want to stay up to date?  Why not sign up to our EventTech Talk newsletter for weekly tips, updates and research reports on all the latest event planning, marketing and technology trends shaping our industry today.






Top Event Planning Skills You Need in a Post Covid-19 World

event planning skills post covid-19

Change in our industry is nothing new. It’s something event planners have been dealing with in every aspect of their job. But 2020, we saw some truly significant changes due to the dramatic impact of the Covid-19. Event design has changed, venue operations have changed and how attendees consume content has changed. It is a lot to deal with for event professionals. And we have no idea what’s coming next.

But as we take a step into 2021, it’s important that organizers step back, evaluate and prepare to ensure success in these unpredictable times.  With that in mind, we have put together seven post- pandemic skills that event planners should focus on today. Let’s take a look.

1) Sales, Persuasion and Negotiation 

The ability to sell is within each one of us. It’s not just for the people that have the job title of Sales. We are all persuading and negotiating with each other throughout our day to day activities. Most of the time we don’t realize we are doing it.

And it’s a good thing, because whatever your role is, you are going to need your inherent ‘sales’ skills more than ever before. With clients, with stakeholders, with delegates. Selling, negotiating and persuading skills are crucial in a world where the events landscape has changed beyond recognition. Even selling in-person events will be different. For attendees to want to come to your event, it really needs to stand out, meet hygiene standards and focus on in-person experiences. And then there is the business of selling the virtual. Talking to clients about virtual and hybrid events will soon become part of the everyday language of all event professionals.

Related read: Ask the Experts: Virtual events – what can we do better in 2021

2) Social Distancing Design and Management

Social distancing and its importance in helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19 has been uppermost in the minds of venue managers and event planners for many months now. Even when a vaccine to combat the virus has been rolled out across the globe there will be a need for social distancing to continue.

Therefore, at least in 2021 social distancing management needs to be in place. And in-person events have to be more carefully and creatively designed with safety and sanitation measures in place.  Event design is about to become more complex for planners. But, it also provides an opportunity for savvy event professionals to make a bigger impact.

Related read: 7 ways events will change in a post-Covid 19 world

3) Community Manager Mindset

As virtual events bring event audiences more online – embracing the mind-set of a community manager is also going to be a key post pandemic skill. Whilst you do not need to have the role of a community manager, understanding what they do and how you can help them will be very beneficial.

Community managers are all about engaging with the community that is important to the organization. It could be a community of staff or the community could be subscribers or viewers or potential buyers. However, understanding the communities that your organization needs to engage with and then being able to assist with ideas on content and social media activity will certainly help.

4) Risk Taking

In 2021 more risk taking will definitely be required. We are not talking about big make or break risks, but experimentation is needed. No longer is there any set approach for events. Yes, the principles remain similar but making in-person, virtual and hybrid events become real successes will involve trying new approaches, testing what works and learning as you go. In many ways, risk taking can be quite refreshing. And as the events sector is known for its creativity, problem solving and entrepreneurial spirit there will be many people that embrace it. To succeed you will have to take risks. How else will you stand out from your competition?

Related read: How event planners can use this time to stay competitive

5. Seeing the Virtue in Virtual

According to a recent poll from Eventsforce, 53% of event planners don’t feel they have the necessary skills nor experience in running successful online events. This could be very worrying, especially as these events are going to be around for a while.

The good news is that many of the skills needed by event planners have already been gained by delivering live events. These skills can be easily transferred across to help deliver virtual productions.

However, whether you are a planner or have a different role, all event sector professionals need to understand what goes into creating and delivering virtual events. This is essential as virtual events form such an important way in which all organizations can keep in front of their customers and stakeholders.

On-Demand Webinar: How to become a tech-savvy event planner

6) Helping Develop Hybrid Events

Closely following on the heels of virtual events are hybrid events. Hybrid events are combination events that enable in-person delegates to meet at a physical venue and for virtual delegates to attend via a web-link.

These events are perfect for providing attendees with real choice as to how they can participate. And whilst many countries have lockdowns going on, hybrid events offer local in-person hubs to be created whilst at the same time they enable organizations to reach out across the miles to welcome virtual delegates. Hybrid events are important in helping organizations stay in front of their customers.

Therefore, they need to be understood and included in the event strategy mix. Critically all event professionals involved in hybrid events must make their programs work for both the in-person and virtual delegates.

7) Data-Led Decision Making 

As the events sector has been dramatically impacted by Covid-19 any old assumptions that were relied on to make business decisions are now of no value. Everything has changed and continues to change. Therefore, it is more crucial than ever that organizations study their data. Not their old data but the new data. The data that will give them clues and insights about what their customers actually want.

Whilst ‘gut instinct’ as a means of making decisions will never disappear (and neither should it), analyzing data will become even more important. And that analysis needs to be deeper than before. It cannot simply be a cursory glance at some analytics. It needs to get to the root of understanding what is going on in different sectors and in different regions across the globe. People that understand how to analyze data and bring it to life in a way that the C-Suite understands are going to be in big demand.

Where to Find These Skills    

Some of the skills highlighted may feel overwhelming. Or you may already have them in abundance. But, whatever your situation, it’s a good idea to be honest about what you and your team members are good at. For example, some people are much better at risk taking than others. The good news is that many of the key skills can be developed through your own efforts. There are numerous blog posts, eBooks, videos and podcasts that can assist.

And in addition, there are many options for developing skills through learning programs and courses developed by industry associations, film schools and commercial companies. Many of these are available online which means you can learn in your own time. If you need to call in external consultants and training providers, then do so. It will be an invaluable investment

The post pandemic skills we have highlighted are quite specialist. You could decide that you want to become an expert in all of them and that would take a considerable investment in time. But that may not be totally necessary. What is necessary is that you understand that these key skills are the ones to develop across the organization that you are part of.

Conclusion – Time for Action is Now

Event professionals had to deal with a lot of change and disruption in 2020. The events that we have come to know and love have been impacted. The reverberations of the changes can still be heard and felt. But, whilst it is hard for those professionals that wish for the sector to remain as it was, those times are gone.

Covid-19 pressed the pause button on many industries and allowed time for reflection. As we lean into 2021 that time is over. Now it is time to move forward and get as many of the new post pandemic skills as possible. It’s time to embrace the change and come up with new event formats for clients. After all, one thing is for sure they will be looking to you for new initiatives and new developments to help their business succeed. How much you help by becoming their go-to resource will in large part be down to how you adapt and develop.

Your journey may not be an easy one but it’s time to act now.  Grab the post pandemic skills you need and delight your clients in 2021.

Running virtual events?  Eventsforce VCD is a fully integrated virtual event platform that can support you with registration, live streaming, audience engagement tools, remote speaker management, networking and virtual sponsors and exhibitors. Watch video, book a demo or get in touch with the team to see how we can help!
















Ask the Experts: Virtual Events – What Can We Do Better in 2021?

virtual event trends 2021

There is no doubt that virtual events are here to stay. Even when consumer confidence comes back, vaccines are rolled out and people start travelling around again, having a virtual element to a live in-person event will become the norm. But if we look back at the year and assess how things went, what would we change?

How did organisers deal with the new challenges they faced? What were the biggest lessons learnt?  And what can we do better in 2021?

EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s well-known virtual event experts to find out more about their views on the event landscape this year – including what went well, what didn’t and what they think will be the biggest trends over the coming year.

Let’s take a look.

Brandt Krueger – Technical Producer, Consultant, and Educator for the Meeting & Events Industry

Those organisations that are going to be the most successful in 2021 are going to be those that used this time not to stand still, not to replicate our in-person events online, but to push the boundaries and try new things.  Attendees have been more than forgiving these last 10 months, and while some saw online events as a stopgap before returning back to “real” events, others chose to use it as an opportunity to flex their muscles about what a quality online experience could look like.

As we return to in-person events, hybrid is going to be the model of the day. I’m sorry to the naysayers, but I just really believe that no matter how fast we get the world vaccinated, there’s going to be a population that’s going to be less likely to pull the in-person trigger, wishing to stay at home or in the office.

I call it the ‘Netflixification of Events’ (should come up with something shorter and not trademarked, but it works). People already make the choice. Is it worth it to pack up the whole family for a movie, paying a gazillion dollars for tickets and popcorn? Or maybe we should just wait for it to come out on Disney Plus? People are going to start behaving the same way with events. Is this event worth it to me to take 4 days out of the office to fly 6 hours and live out of a hotel for 3 days? Or will I just watch it online? Are you going to leave these people behind? Much like the blockbuster movies make you go, “Oh, man I wish I was seeing this in the theater!”, so must our blockbuster online and hybrid events drive interest in our in-person events!

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Miguel Neves – Online/Virtual Events Producer and Chief Social Strategist

I believe we are currently just scratching the surface of what is possible with virtual events. In 2020 they were forced upon us and we went from having an eager appetite for content in the spring to the loathing of almost all virtual event by fall, in particular those falling under the category of webinars.

In 2021, we are sure to have more advanced tools at our disposal and AV partners with increasingly better solutions. All this is good news, but where we can make the biggest stride forward is in developing new concepts for virtual events. This is crucial for virtual events to thrive because attendees are rarely excited by one-hour-long webinars that feature bullet point filled presentations and have only the dying minutes allocated to questions and answers.

Virtual events can take so many diverse formats with different durations, different ways to deliver or discuss content and different participation styles. I firmly believe that we will see the emergence of different concepts and we will draw a line between another “webinar” and virtual events that we can get excited about. What they will be called is for us to define, but that is what I am going to invest my time in 2021.

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Tahira Endean – Head of Events – SITE Global, Writer, Speaker, Connector, Collaborator

Virtual events need to be people-centric, purpose-driven. This is the basis for Intentional Event Design and it has never been more important that now. It is about designing for the experience vs. designing for the platform. Using the basic principles of human engagement and how memorable experiences are created through our various senses – we can learn, connect, reflect, apply learnings, and build relationships through dialogue, discord and laughter. And this often leads to creative ideas and innovations.

If we deliver virtual events like a weak, one-way broadcast to an audience already suffering from digital fatigue in a time when billions of hours of content are being developed, we are failing our participants.

Think about it from the perspective of the guest who is inviting you into their space every time they choose to watch your content. Or even better, interact with our content and others who are sharing this same experience. Deliver interesting content using the best practices of storytelling. Ask them to engage with the content and each other. Challenge their assumptions and invite their opinions – and provide stimulus they cannot get elsewhere, in digestible bites. And have some fun along the way too!

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Paul Cook – Hybrid & Virtual Events Specialist, Content Writer & Speaker

What can we do better when it comes to virtual events in 2021? It’s a great question and there are a number of different responses that come to mind. But for me the key is that we treat virtual events with respect – and this applies on many levels. They help organisations conduct business, they encourage more inclusivity of attendees and they help reduce the carbon pollution from events. These are just three thoughts that spring to my mind.

Do we need to respect an event format? Yes, because only then will we take them seriously enough to unleash the creative thinking of event professionals that will enable virtual events to fully evolve. If we don’t respect them, they will always be second class and a poor substitute. What a waste that would be. In 2021, as we come out of the eye of the Covid-19 storm we need every asset in our tool box to help our clients. And virtual events are very much a part of that.

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Abi Cannons – Global Innovation Success Manager, Reed Exhibitions Ltd

Virtual events in 2020 have given us a lot to think about and there has been much to learn along the way. One of the biggest lessons has been to effectively review the learnings after each event and sharing knowledge internally across brands and teams.

After an initial rush to move at speed, slowing down the planning process is leading to more bravery, skill and therefore more creative ideas. This in turn has led to more excitement about the possibilities that come from virtual events, but it would be a waste if all the experiences and wisdom just walked out the door because it wasn’t passed along.

That’s why we have a focus on recording everything and sharing it widely – we all want to learn and want to do the best for all our customers. Our lesson is to never stop learning when it comes to virtual events. Somebody somewhere is always looking at a new way of doing things and the tech keeps developing to support that. You cannot sit still. You need to keep learning from the lessons that virtual events provide. Sharing is not only caring but can truly help us evolve.

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James Morgan – Principal Lecturer in Events, University of Westminster

When it comes to the future of virtual events, my opinion is that we need to adopt a much more ‘virtual experiencescape’ approach. In other words, it is not just about viewing a screen with talking heads with an attractive backdrop, but rather it is about designing a multifunctional experience that offers interactivity to attendees. By adding physical elements that can be posted out to attendees prior to the event, we can also activate more than two or three senses.

The virtual event experience is not just about the experience of the user on the day of the event or just about the tech platform either. Yet, these seem to be the predominant drivers for organisations putting virtual events on. I think we need to be looking at the whole experience journey – basically pre-event, during the event and post-event. And we have to look at an interconnected experience and really ask whether it is good enough.

We should also explore potential negative experience impacts and design these out. There are many friction points in a number of virtual events right now. We need to really look at them and ask if the friction of registration and required data, the friction of interacting on the event day as well as friction in post experience is at a minimum, to help ensure we get more people attending and engaging.

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Conclusion – The Road Ahead

Everyone has a view on virtual events. Some people like them and some people don’t. But, what’s clear and highlighted by our ‘experts’ is that virtual events offer massive opportunities to organisations that want to make the most of this form of event delivery.

As our experts pointed out, we are really just touching the surface of what is possible. That in itself is both scary and exciting.

Virtual events are here to stay. And with the shock waves of Covid-19 still resounding and a bumpy global economy ahead, the event planners that do well will be those that help their clients stand out. And virtual events certainly help in that. Having them as a permanent fixture of the future events landscape can only be a good thing.

Running virtual events?  Eventsforce VCD is a fully integrated virtual event platform that can support you with registration, live streaming, audience engagement tools, remote speaker management, networking and virtual sponsors and exhibitors.  Book a demo or get in touch with the team to see how we can help!

How to Use On-Demand Content AFTER a Virtual Event

How to use on-demand content after a virtual event

Good event content has always been invaluable for attendees. And it seems with virtual events, even more so –  a new poll by Eventsforce shows that 70% of organisers are spending more time and money producing high quality sessions and presentations so that they can engage more effectively with people online.

And it makes sense – the serendipity of networking at in-person events can’t be replicated in a virtual environment so attendees will naturally focus more on the learning aspect of the event experience. But the benefits don’t stop there.  Virtual event content can bring enormous opportunities for organisers to drive post-event engagement, expand audience reach and build much stronger relationships with attendees, exhibitors and sponsors online.

So what can you to with all your content once your event has ended? And how can you best use it to maximise your virtual event ROI?  Let’s take a look.

eBook: Virtual Events – 10 Ways to Keep People Engaged

Virtual Events – The Value of On-Demand Content

Capturing event content and making it available after the event is useful for attendees, non-attendees and your event’s bottom line – and many virtual event platforms like Eventsforce VCD support this functionality.

At many events, attendees must choose which sessions or tracks to go to. Often, it’s a difficult decision especially when the overall programme is stacked with not to be missed content. But an attendee cannot be in more than one place at the same time and has to choose. And despite the best of intentions, delegates can become distracted at events. For example, it can be hard to go to a session if a key client has just contacted you and wants a catch up. This is where on-demand content makes all the difference. The content can be viewed at anytime by the viewer.

For those people that couldn’t come or didn’t know of your event, on-demand can be very valuable giving them a flavour of why they should attend your next event.

And of course, you can add to your bank account (if you wish) by charging for access to on-demand content. Remember, your content is valuable and is worth charging for.   You may even consider charging different rates to those who signed up for the event and those who did not.

How to Use Content Post-Event

Deciding what to do with your event content can lead you in several directions. But if you deliver what your audience wants you will be on the right track.

1)  Look at Attendee Feedback

Some of your decision making will be based on the analytics you collected.  What conversations did attendees have during a specific session?  With this information you can come up with a plan to develop the content further.

For example, feedback could be that a speaker touched lightly on a topical area and your delegates want to explore it further. They want to go deeper. Or perhaps the talk triggered a desire to investigate a niche area that was only a small part of the overall presentation.

2) Reproduce Content in New Formats

Taking your event content and turning some of it into written content is a simple win. From presentations you could create blog posts or write case studies. On the more contentious issues you could publish white papers.  Those thought-provoking nuggets from speakers could be used as material for guest speaker blogs.

If you have enough content on a certain subject area, you could create an eBook. In doing so, you might want to invite contributions from people in the form of quotes and comments. This outreach activity will help keep you and event top of mind with the contributors.  You could also produce some invaluable checklists/top tips for your readers. This content is always well received, especially the ‘How To’ lists.

3) Don’t Forget Visuals and Videos

You might decide that visuals are the way to go. You could make short videos that re-iterate the highlights of the event. Depending on your event you might have a mix of entertainment videos and educational content videos. Short snippet videos are always welcomed. But to mix it up, you could also release full-length speakers’ videos as well.

In addition to video, you might want to get creative and develop some stunning infographics. These are relevant especially when a speaker has given out lots of statistics in their presentation. Or if you’ve run quite a few polls with some interesting results.

For wider diversity and inclusion, you may wish to have caption some of the PPTs and event videos with subtitles. And if your audience would benefit from the content being translated you could do that as well.

Related: How to use polls for better event engagement

4) Host Social Media Chats and Spin-Off Events

Event content can be used with your social media activity. Whether your audience is on twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any of the other social media channels, you might decide to take some of your content and use it to start new discussions across these channels.  For example, a topical issue could easily be debated on twitter through a live Q&A. Simply make sure you have a relevant hashtag that everyone can use and in doing so you will capture all comments. Schedule an hour for the chat, invite a host and answer questions as you go. Twitter chats are a terrific way of staying in touch and reaching new people.

As well as having social media discussions, you can maximise your event content by having spin-off events. For example, you could have competitions, debates, or similar. You could have a monthly quiz around all the on-demand content you post around your event.  Again, your research will provide invaluable clues as to whether to deliver spin off events and if so on what subject areas.

5) Create a Resource Library

With lots of great event content you will be in a great position. You can never have too much content – especially if your attendees find it educational, inspiring and valuable.

You can use that content for ideas for ongoing blog posts, podcasts, newsletters and much more. And that allows you to keep in touch with the buyers, customers, subscribers, readers and listeners. In other words, you can use it to keep close to the people that matter to you.

You can create a valuable resource library on your event website – or host everything on the content hub of your virtual event platform.  After all, you have enough content. Providing a library is a neat way of creating new conversations with your delegates and with the wider community of people who could come to your future events. All you need to do is appoint someone as your data librarian. Show your audience just how seriously you look after your content and it will pay off.

On-Demand Webinar: Choosing a virtual event platform – how to get it right!

Conclusion – Maximise Your Virtual Event ROI

There are numerous ways in which you can use your event content. The captured content can be provided as on-demand viewing. But then as we have shown you can change it, develop it, and keep it in a helpful resource library.

It makes sense to maximise your event content. It gives you reasons to keep in touch with your audience, to demonstrate that you are the go-to source for content and it encourages new people to come to your next event.

Don’t forget to study your analytics to help you establish what you need to do next. If one speaker shone above all others, then you have a clue already. Hone in on what you can do next with that speaker and then call them.

Getting your content in order will be key to your success. Delegates love being able to find content that is relevant and easy to find. Make sure your content meets that criteria and you will be well on your way to maximising your ROI from the event content.

Running virtual events?  Eventsforce VCD is a fully integrated virtual event platform that can support you with registration, live streaming, audience engagement tools, remote speaker management, networking and virtual sponsors and exhibitors. Book a demo or get in touch with the team to see how we can help!