Virtual events have been a great tool for helping us keep in touch in 2020 and there is no doubt they are here to stay. They have provided a solid platform for businesses across the globe to continue to do business, when many weren’t even able to leave their homes. Virtual events are kind to the environment, easy to measure, cheaper than physical events, more flexible and have a truly global reach. But of course, as with all events, they don’t come without their challenges.
From live streaming to navigating different time zones, we’ve put together some common virtual event challenges and how to overcome them.
Many organisers believe that virtual coffee break rooms are a good solution to this problem, but not all things that work for physical events should be replicated online. In our experience delegates who have a full day packed with web streams and sessions would rather use these breaks to have a 10 minute break away from the screen. A good way for delegates to get to know one another virtually is through online competitions, gamification quizzes or games with prizes. For example, we’ve worked with virtual event organisers before to create an activity feed where delegates can share pictures from their home office anything from their dog, the best christmas decoration on their tree to their favourite coffee mug. Sharing those small personal pieces of information can make the conversation relaxed and get people to join in and network.
Commercialising virtual events is a struggle for many organisers because they feel they cannot take the same entry fees as a physical event allows. However, one of the big benefits of virtual events is that the overall reach is far better and there is often no limit to the number of people that can join the event. Much like you would sell tickets to a live event, the same can be done for virtual events. If you have a rich content programme and plenty of opportunities for networking and doing business there is no reason why people wouldn’t want to pay for a ticket to a virtual event, much like they would with a live one.
The technical aspect of virtual events can be stressful for organisers who aren’t used to organising events solely online. If there is something you shouldn't save money on it is making sure you have enough technicians and a good project manager that can help you and guide you along the way. You will need to train speakers on how to present virtually and make sure there are back-up alternatives if a speaker loses connection, or there needs to be a quick change of agenda. It makes sense to have someone there supporting you and making sure everything goes smoothly on event days.
Because of the current pandemic many global companies have had to move their world conferences online, as it is simply not possible for people to move between countries right now. For organisers trying to replicate their world conference virtually, the issue with timezones can present a few challenges, yet there are several solutions to this problem. One solution is to make several conferences adjusting them to different timezones of your attendees, by doing this you can give more local attention and content to the event than if it was global and if you have a company spread out in Europe, the US and Canada that needed to cover different topics concerning their region or demographics this would work well. Alternatively you could have some sessions pre-recorded, some that stream worldwide on a time a day that fits for all the attendees together with a local agenda to tailor the event for the specific regions.
While virtual events may seem challenging if you’ve never organised them before, there are always solutions to even the most challenging issue that arises.