Last week we shared on 4 steps to follow with your content strategy. Today we share more on virtual event ideas as well as 5 different content formats to hold audience attention
Here are a few virtual event ideas to drive focus and engagement:
- Engage virtual audiences during the in-person welcome with live polls, feedback surveys, quizzes, or session preview videos.
- Use a mobile event app to send push notifications.
- Use gamification.
- Offer a variety of content.
Remember: A non-linear attendee journey can offer more format options
Instead of running sessions consecutively one after the other and forcing your virtual attendee down a linear event path, viewers should have a choice of:
- Which live session to drop into
- What pre-recorded content is available to view
- Where to find out more about sponsors or exhibitors
- What the opportunities are to network with other attendees or speakers online
Five different digital content formats to hold audience attention
Let’s now look at five different content formats that hold the attention and keep hybrid attendees from zoning out or logging off. The right mix of these will provide you with an engaging programme plus a library of assets that can be reused and redistributed after your event.
1. Thought leadership
Interviews with industry leaders and visionaries in their field will provide virtual viewers with deep, insightful thought-leadership. Find speakers who will draw registrants. Interviews with thought-leaders via webinars or live on stage can be recorded, repackaged and posted to the event microsite.
Marketers, researchers, academics and scientists are just a few of the possible speakers who may have conducted interesting studies to share with your audience. Or, consider using your visitor database or online registrants to conduct a survey and deliver the results in a dedicated session or segment it into bite-sized deliverables. Administering the survey before the event will give these audiences an added reason to attend and discover the results.
3. Client insight
Tap into your client’s insight for case studies, white papers, video tutorials and other forms of shareable online content. When deciding whether this pre-existing content will provide added value for a wider virtual audience, consider the community cross-over, along with your client’s social reach.
4. Product or service training
Staging online product or service training reduces the amount of travel and printed materials involved in the process of giving employees the knowledge and tools to do their jobs more effectively. Cut down the tedium and create virtual training programmes that include video scenarios and augmented reality-powered simulations.
For a hybrid demonstration or training format, why not get in-person delegates to ‘buddy up’ with virtual audience members in one-to-one workshops or small group break-outs.
5. Studio analysis
Use the studio format to record guests discussing what is taking place on the physical stage, which can then be made available to in-person attendees on-demand or broadcast to the auditorium later in the conference programme. It’s the equivalent of the half-time analysis in a football game and is designed to offer additional learnings and insight. If the in-person session is being streamed to the virtual viewer, the studio is temporarily redundant so it’s a good way of making better use of resources to create more shareable content.
Improving speaker content
Delegates around the world have been mentally drifting during live event monologues for years but because they hadn’t physically walked out of the room, we always count them as “present”.
Now, we have the technology to show if an online viewer is engaged, what content they’re interested in or even if they’ve opened a new browser tab in front of your virtual event content.
For years, event planners have been guilty of leaving content and delivery up to the speakers. But in a hybrid environment, planners need to ensure speakers not only deliver interesting and engaging content but that they deliver it in the most interesting and engaging ways.
Four ideas for guaranteed speakers success
Scripting speakers in virtual environments is a sure-fire way to ensure presentations are delivered concisely and sincerely. In the live environment, autocue can be used to ensure that sessions run to time and don’t run over. Virtual viewers who log-on at a pre-scheduled time, only to find an in-person session is still running, are more likely to log-off and not return.
Speakers need to rehearse both what they’re going to say and how they come across when delivering content.
How many times recently have you seen someone on a news channel in a badly lit room speaking to the news anchor with their iPad camera pointing straight up their nose? Often these are important officials or members of government who should have had media training in how to present virtually by now.
Don’t let your speakers get away with unprofessional presenting. If they really must present from home, make sure they have flattering lighting, professional sound and an eye-level camera. If they don’t, they need to be in your studio.
I recently saw a presenter flip to an overhead camera angle to illustrate an idea rather than present it on a slide. I can still tell you every detail of that drawing. Variety creates memorable moments.
4) Audience interaction
Make sure your speakers understand the virtual platform and that they’re comfortable conducting polls, moderating questions, creating word clouds and encouraging audience participation.
Hybrid has opened up new possibilities for digital content and planners are being encouraged to experiment rather than rely on how they’ve always done things.
It’s an opportunity to expand the horizon of events by surrounding a central activity with digital activation, which provides meaningful value to your audience for 365 days of the year.
Hybrid has brought into focus how important content is for year-round audience engagement. It’s up to you as planners to get out there and try different ways to engage multiple audiences experiencing the event from different locations.
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