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Physical events will be coming back — hopefully sooner rather than later — and according to our research, attendees are starting to get excited. Even though it may be some months yet until everyone across the event ecosystem is comfortable with a return to face-to-face, it's a good idea to start planning for the event of the future, and what attendee expectations will be forever changed.
The fact of the matter is that virtual events are not going away. And that's actually a great thing. Not only are virtual events a valuable event strategy on their onw, but hybrid events that combine the best of on-site and virtual offer so much potential for increased reach and revenue on a potentially global scale. Not only can you connect with interested audiences who are unable to physically attend your event, you provide a completely new way for people to engage with your brand. Virtual attendance opens up new avenues for social sharing of content, new sponsorship opportunities, and new ways to build powerful online communities.
Being prepared as our industry continues to evolve is extremely important so that we can all hit the ground running when things return to some kind of normal. So, here are our key tips to make your first — or next — hybrid event an overwhelming success in the future of live.
There’s more to a great virtual event than just training a camera on a speaker. Your audience has big expectations, and the rules of high-quality production still apply.
They may be lounging on their couch, but your virtual audience still wants to feel included. Help them by giving them a sense that they are there in the session room.
Shoot from a range of angles so viewers can see the whole space, and mix applause and audience reaction along with the stage noise. You can also drive engagement with online chat, discussion forums, social media hashtags, second screen apps, and much more to help your virtual audience feel like they're in the room, and to give virtual and physical attendees a chance to mingle.
Prepare as you would for any other session. Provide scripts for everyone, so that everyone knows the order of events. Do a rehearsal just like you would for a physical event. Take the time to perform a complete dry run to catch potential technical issues. Better to blow an electrical breaker during a test than at go time.
And, work with a provider who makes sure to test the other components of the virtual event both before and during the event. You've got the same kind of staff on-site at the physical event ensuring that things run smoothly, so don't neglect the needs of a virtual event and the testing that ensures a smooth experience for your online audiences.
And finally, begin with the end in mind. Stay focused on the goals you want to achieve; everything else will fall into place.
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Our 2020 Year-End Special! How the team at Microsoft has transformed its digital events
Apply these takeaways to your next event