Virtual events continue to evolve and we think it’s best to address key virtual event questions you should be asking. When the craze over virtual events started in the April/May time frame, many had no clue where this would go. Certainly there have been companies producing virtual events before 2020, but certainly nothing like this. Most understood the demand for in-person events with little interest in the virtual realm.
In steps COVID-19 and everyone’s attention jumped to virtual events regardless if we had experience or not. Zoom immediately became a thing while other platforms played catch up to be competitors.
Even months after starting the virtual event process, many have tons of virtual event questions left unanswered. Here are a few popular questions we have seen asked.
9 Virtual Event Questions To Ask Yourself
In your experience, how important is it for virtual event’s guests to be able to see and interact with one another verses. only seeing/watching the main speakers/talent?
Answer: When you think of award shows, sports, and talk shows, the viewer almost always sees what is going on behind the scenes. It’s part of the viewer experience that producers give to their audience who isn’t present. For in-person events, while this behind-the-scenes experience happens more so with VIPs, guests still have the chance to see some of it. Due to the lack of such exposure in 2020, guests miss seeing all the excitement that takes place behind-the-scenes. Being able to show the technicians running the virtual event or speakers getting ready to go live are ways to engage your audience. With everyone simply showing Speakers, Moderators, and Panelist, attendees wants more than just that.
Uniquely, showing a preview of what goes on before the event goes live is a way to welcome guests to your virtual event. If your virtual event is taking place in a studio, showing the set and other props can be an added bonus for attendees. We recommend integrating the behind-the-scenes opportunities into your virtual events.
Can you touch on budget comparisons between in-person vs virtual? Word on the street is Virtual is 20% higher price point.
Answer: We do not believe that virtual events costs more than in-person events for the most part. When you think about in-person events – venues, catering, printed material, staffing, and other logistics come to mind that drives up cost.
When you think of virtual, your primary expenditures are: the virtual event platform, participants, and those running the event. We are not saying that all virtual events are drastically cheaper than in-person events, but in many cases they are. The thing that does drive up the cost of a virtual event is the live-streaming element. Many virtual event platforms charge based on how many people will be watching your virtual event. Just like watching TV, you have to have the the broadcasting capability to reach a lot of people which means money. If you are in a studio, then studio time, plus props also increases costs.
What captioning tools can you use with virtual event platforms?
Answer: This is one of the trickier virtual event questions asked. It truly depends on what integration options the platform gives you. Sadly, many platforms have not considered captioning options for the hearing impaired or those who rather read. It’s also a great tool for non-native speakers, those with ADHD, and those who may have not heard your last sentence. Here are some companies that offer the service.
How to make our events accessible beyond captioning?
Answer: This is such a good question because it allows you to be involved before and after the event is over. The goal of the event organizer is to ensure that everyone feels comfortable enough to attend your virtual event. Offering other ways to make your event accessible is critical for millions of people. Here are some easy ways to do this.
- First, pay attention to your color palette. Ensure virtual event platforms are easy to see and read. All of your graphics and Speaker slides should stay within a certain color palette and opt for colors that are in high contrast. Using a dark background with a dark font doesn’t make it easy for anyone.
- Tag images including on social media. Make sure your documents are reader accessible. Also send out your documents a day or two in advance of your event.
- Use translation options. With the world now having global access, translating your virtual event should be a given. Consider Rapport International to help translate for you.
- Make sure Speakers have good microphones and test them before the event. Don’t assume that Speakers will be loud enough.
How do you keep your virtual events fresh and interesting going forward so that you keep your viewers tuning in?
Answer: This will take research of the virtual event market. We recommend starting with virtual event platforms and seeing what their capabilities are. Hint: just about all virtual platforms have a chat and Q&A feature. Engagement should go well beyond these two and also polls and surveys. That’s not real engagement to us.
Engagement is making sure attendees can network with each other easily. Having diverse speakers and presentation types. Using various backgrounds in your studio. Having a schedule that isn’t just filled with Speakers or Panels. Allow guests to be entertained by Musicians, Magicians, and anything else that they share a common interest in besides the topic of your virtual event. Remember, it’s OK to give your brain a break from the content and have some fun event with corporate events.
Question # 6
What has been the biggest challenge transitioning in person events to virtual events?
Answer: There are a number of challenges that event organizers face with moving from an in-person setting to a virtual. The first thing is to not try to replicate your in-person event in a virtual setting. It doesn’t work and forcing it leads to disaster.
The second is getting executives to buy into the benefits and ROI of a virtual event. Many CEOs are still hesitant about the virtual world and want to wait things out. COVID-19 is going to be with us for at least another year, even with a vaccine. The time to start is now. The global reach of virtual events is reason enough to start.
A third challenge is technical ignorance. Many are ill equipped to produce a virtual event. In many cases, a company or organizer believes they can just get a virtual event platform and it will do all of the work for them. That’s rarely the case. Yes there are platforms that offer production services, but that is an added costs as well as hiring virtual event producers like us.
Moreover, selecting the right virtual event platform is also a challenge. There are hundreds of platforms out there offering various options. Knowing the experience you want to offer your guests is the first consideration to have before spending money on a virtual platform.
What metrics are important to measure to show value to virtual events?
Answer: There are a number of ways an event organizer can determine if their event was valuable for the attendee. Here are a few of them.
- Is the attendee willing to attend a second event?
- Are your attendees engaged during your event by doing the minimum: asking questions, taking polls, and answering surveys?
- How large is your attendance and are attendees wiling to pay for your value?
- Does your virtual event drive conversation after it has ended?
How do you handle virtual fatigue? With so many events being converted to virtual, attendees are tired.
Answer: We get this question often and Zoom Fatigue is a real thing. Ultimately, it’s up to the attendee setting boundaries for how many events they feel they have to attend. We always recommend making virtual events on-demand items or offering free copies of the event after it has ended. This allows attendees to not feel so obligated to tune in during the week when they are already committed to other virtual events.
Second, we also recommend that you not plan virtual events for the sake of it or because others are doing it. Ensure your virtual events actually have key value to offer. Only then should you host a virtual event. Virtual events from any given organization should be spread apart. No organization should host multiple virtual events in the same week with the same audience. One to two per month is safe.
Third, to further prevent Zoom Fatigue, build in breaks between your sessions. Having a one hour or longer session after session sucks the very life out of your attendees. Again this is not an in-person event. People must recharge and think of other things throughout the day. Give them that opportunity.
Lastly, stop making everything a must attend. Yes you as the organizer believes everything you offer during your virtual event is a must attend. Well that’s great, but your attendees don’t believe so. Allow guests to opt-into things they want to watch or participate in and don’t make it mandatory.
The rehearsal aspect is difficult for us. We typically get no more than 1 hr of an exec’s time before an event. Tips for working with these time limitations?
Answer: If your executives don’t see this as an investment, then why are you having a virtual event? This would also be a great way for you to drive the conversation and offer up other people who can lead the virtual event beside certain executives. Not having enough time to go over the virtual event and it’s needs will only lead to a poorly run virtual event.
As a matter of fact, the rehearsal is critical because it gets everyone familiar with the virtual event arena. By the same token, not rehearsing is not an option. One of the biggest issues with Speakers is they believe they will have the same presence as they normally do for in-person events. It has been our experience that this is never the case. Rehearsing isn’t just about the Speaker. It’s about the producers and the technicians as well. Everyone has to be on the same page.
We truly hope these virtual event questions will help you as you plan your next virtual event. Here’s a bonus for those who may be unsure how to start planning a virtual event. Remember that your attendees are the reason you are hosting a virtual event. Look at them as your investors. Without tending to their needs and offering incredible value to them, there is no reason to host a virtual event. If you have other virtual event questions you need answers to, leave them in the comments or feel free to contact us here.