The Virtual Event – No Turning Back
Now that we are recovering from the whiplash of being thrust into a totally different way of planning and delivering mass events, it is time to strategize on moving forward optimizing what we have learned from the scramble to find solutions and the expanded use of emerging technologies. According to the World Health Organization, an event counts as a “mass gathering” if the number of people it brings together is so large that it has the potential to strain the planning and response resources of the health system in the community where it takes place.” For most corporations and nonprofits looking to hold events in the near future including 100 people or more, this would apply.
Everybody hates virtual events, but we’re going to have to live in this universe for a minute__ a minute lasting at least for the next 4-6 months. While many are eager to get back to live and in-person handshaking, face-to-face negotiating over a cup of coffee, and just being able to linger with colleagues in the conference hall or meeting room after the main event to strategize or problem solve, we are still not there yet. And even when we get there, the virtual event is not going away entirely. Hybrid events, in the meantime, will segue us into full blown in-person events once we are able to return safely and comfortably to large unrestricted gatherings.
While a face-to-face event may be the preferred way of hosting your event, there are proven benefits to virtual events, certainly from an economic standpoint and in this climate where many are still reluctant to participate in large gatherings because of health concerns. There will be situations, as well, where a virtual event will be your only and best option. But when virtual-only is simply not the solution and in-person is not possible, hybrid events can provide both an in-person and virtual experience, combining the best of both worlds. Hybrid events will definitely be key to the establishment of the new normal in the events industry. With the guidance of the right planning team, you can provide an experience that is rewarding for both in-person and remote participants.
Focus on Programming and Content
When offering a virtual or hybrid experience, you will need to focus on your programming and content, so your event provides the same attendee experience for both your virtual and in-person audiences. Because it is much more difficult to keep the virtual attendee engaged in front of a computer screen, you will need to keep this in mind during your planning. When considering speakers and deciding content, it is also important to make sure that they will translate as well over video as in person.
Whether you are producing an in-person, virtual , or hybrid event, the audiovisual production is critical to an event’s success. With the power to inform, engage and inspire your audience, A/V delivery will impact your audience’s experience of the event significantly. A large misconception about virtual events is that they should automatically be cheaper. In reality, they take more to produce regarding technical capabilities. You also have a higher chance of needing to pay for a really engaging host and dynamic speakers. Keeping the material fresh and content in small bites (no more 45-minute keynotes guys!) and available can result in added benefit to both event sponsor and attendees.
Our team understands the importance of capturing the moments that make your audience feel like they’re sitting right there in the conference room space, and we can help you deliver the best content in the most engaging way for both your virtual and your live audiences.
Transitioning to In-Person Events
Entirely in-person events should be planned when it is essential that your attendees be there in person or when you cannot accomplish your objectives or communicate content effectively, as well as when it is determined to be safe and in the best interest of attendees. Make sure when you are ready to transition to in-person events you have an event team in place that has relationships with medical professionals who can provide advice on the best way to keep your people safe. With a skilled and innovative event team that has relationships with professionals that have knowledge of industry trends as well as the necessary relationship with medical professionals who can provide advice on the best way to keep people safe, you are well on the way to having a successful event.
Normal as we knew it and business-as-usual led us to some great events in our pre-pandemic past, but with fewer options. And while we had begun to realize the ways technology could impact the design and delivery of mass events, we had only begun to scratch the surface. The disruption caused by a nearly global shutdown has catapulted us into new possibilities in the event world that have the potential to reach far wider audiences and have far greater impact, given the right preparation to meet the occasion.
Whether planning a virtual, hybrid or in-person event, the key to moving forward is in being well-prepared. Our team of experienced architects at The Grant Access is equipped and eager to help you in designing the best possible event to meet the needs of your clients and to accomplish your event goals.