Delivering fantastic virtual events is critical for leaders, meeting planners, event sponsors, marketers, and participants. Now, as every industry, organization, and company is feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual events have moved from a luxury to a necessity. The urgency for delivering excellent virtual events will only grow as leaders continue to adapt and strive to engage all stakeholders across geographies.
We understand that virtual events can be a challenge for event organizers, stakeholders, and participants. At The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), we’ve been advising and participating in virtual presentations and events for years. In fact, in 2019, over 100,000 leaders from 100+ countries video streamed a keynote by CGK’s founder, Jason Dorsey. It’s a passion for us because virtual events and virtual presentations are a great format to bridge and engage generations, leaders, and geographies. Below are our Top Five Frontline Insights to produce and deliver fantastic virtual events.
Five Frontline Insights to Deliver Fantastic Virtual Events
#1 – Bring the Energy and Positivity
Right now, many people participating in virtual events may feel like they’re on their own island, including the presenters. These participants may be quarantined in their own home, trying to work, participate, and navigate home school for a nine-year-old. This reality makes virtual events even more important and urgent as a powerful, meaningful, real-time way to bring people together for inspiration, learning, alignment, and more. These events offer a time to connect, collaborate, share, learn, create community, and prepare to take action. Creating these kinds of learning and engagement opportunities is a necessity, especially in these difficult times.
As tough as it can seem during these times, it’s incredibly important for event hosts, emcees, and presenters to remember to smile and bring the energy! Yes, topics may be serious, and conversations will be tough, but we’re not giving up. We’re moving forward—and it takes energy to move forward, especially now. So, remember to bring the energy! We’re all in this together, even though we may be physically apart. Bridging this divide is exactly what fantastic virtual events will deliver!
#2 – If the Virtual Event Is Live, Have a Back-Up Technology Plan
Technology can be finicky—even in the best of times and situations. What works well in a test run may not work well or at all during the live virtual event. It happens to all of us. Besides doing at least two tests runs with all the technology you plan to use in your virtual event, we find it’s important to have an agreed-upon back-up plan in case something happens.
If the presenter has technical difficulties, such as the audio, video, or slides not working, identify ahead of time who will step in to fill the time for the presenter to log back in. If participants have technical issues, have a plan for who they should contact for a rapid reply—and let everyone know upfront and in the chat. The plan should not be to bombard the presenter with technical issues but to have someone else available to step in and help right away. Assuming elements won’t work is the best way to be prepared and reduce stress for everyone during the virtual event—even if everything goes according to plan.
#3 – Adapt In-Person Presentation Styles for Virtual Delivery
Our presenters have delivered thousands of presentations in-person, but what works with in-person presentations on a big stage for 10,000 leaders or in a corporate boardroom for 11 executives doesn’t necessarily work for a dynamic virtual presentation. Based on CGK’s speakers’ years of experience presenting virtual events with audiences around the world, we’ve found that, in general, virtual presenters should plan to cut their speech down by 20 to 25% to make it much tighter. In addition, virtual presenters should adapt their traditional presentation to include virtual engagement elements such as participant polls, live Q&A, breakout rooms, and other ways to engage participants with the presenter and each other digitally.
#4 – Develop A Post-Event Take-Action Plan
Virtual events are similar to in-person events in that they usually happen once and then are over. A one-time event is excellent for driving an emotional response, creating buy-in, awareness, alignment, and initial learning. But like all one-time events, the results are limited or can fade without reinforcement. At CGK, we’ve found that the best way to achieve tangible, measurable results from a Virtual Event is to have a clear take-action or reinforcement plan before you kick-off the virtual event.
If you’re bringing in virtual speakers, such as our speakers at CGK, make sure that all presenters agree upfront to provide reinforcement videos or Zoom follow-ups to dive deeper and reinforce the content over the next 30, 60, and 90 days. If the presenters are from your in-house team, record the reinforcement content right after (or even before!) the virtual event, and use automation technology to start sending the reinforcement content right after the event. The more reinforcement you provide, whether pre-recorded or go-deeper Q&A, the more the message of the virtual event will stick and translate into action.
#5 – Create a Virtual Event Strategy Document
Too often, there is a temptation to pick up the playbook from in-person events, such as annual meetings or conferences, and try to adapt it for virtual events. Doing this sounds smart but leads to all kinds of challenges. It’s like taking an SUV and deciding to make it a convertible—you could do it, but the result probably won’t be pretty. Instead, start with a blank slate and answer these strategy questions:
- Who will be participating in the virtual event?
- Will they be participating by laptop, tablet, mobile, or all three?
- What type of engagement do we want from virtual presenters, hosts, and participants—before, during, and after?
- What are the key learning outcomes we need to achieve?
- What type of promotion will most energize potential participants before the event?
- What are the key topics that we need to make sure and cover to achieve the learning results we need to move forward during this unprecedented time?
Taking this first step will help ensure you are setting up for a successful virtual event, from the ground up!
At CGK, we are here to help you with your virtual event.
If you believe a fantastic virtual event can help you and your organization drive motivation, leadership, sales, and results during these challenging times, contact us here.
We can deliver one of our highly interactive virtual presentations or provide our trusted insight into best practices from pre-event marketing to post-event reinforcement using our 10+ years of online learning and engagement experience. We’re happy to share what we’ve learned and the different virtual presentations we customize and deliver for clients around the world.
We are all in this journey of resilience and re-emergence together, and that is not a virtual commitment—but the real deal!