Tyler's Trending Tuesday - Week 5: Virtual Events

Author: Tyler Cox



WEEK FIVE OF TRENDING TUESDAYS: VIRTUAL EVENTS

As businesses re-open, companies will start looking at if they can handle having in person large events again. Is that containable? Is that too many people at once? Can virtual fulfill event needs for the time being? And if so, does that mean it could be a long-term thing as well?

This week would have been InfoComm 2020 in Las Vegas! I remember my first Vegas InfoComm and it was incredible. Besides needing orthopedic shoes after being on my feet all week, it was amazing. But all those people packed into that convention center for over three days, right now, sounds like a nightmare. I wonder if something that large could be pulled off for even just one day. Instead, InfoComm decided to hold the event virtually. Let’s look at what virtual events are doing and how they might continue to change conferences for good.  

THIS WEEK’S FINDINGS

WILL VIRTUAL BE HERE TO STAY?

“Technology events and conferences worldwide require novel approaches as they are highly-complex tasks. The recent transition from offline to online has made it even more challenging. Cloud has given stability and flexibility to this ‘everything virtual or online’. With social distancing “Virtual” has become the ‘next normal’ and businesses are heavily shifting towards virtual conferences and online events.”

As Mohul Ghosh puts it above perfectly, folks are “shifting towards virtual conferences and online events”. And after participating in one, putting a small one together and watching my girlfriend plan for the past two weeks to be in one, I think they will be here for more than just a few months. This is adapting at it’s finest. You take a 30,000 in-person event and put it online. Some are very straight forward with set times of basically full days’ worth of webinars and individual “virtual booths”. But that is just the beginning.

Professor Charlie Fink at Chapman University was working on a class focusing on the XR/VR industry and as soon as COVID-19 hit, the class changed its trajectory and started to see how this will come into play with virtual conferences. Fink puts it perfectly here:

“With VR, you are present, and presence is extremely satisfying.”

So, will we start to have avatars and virtually walking to booths through VR? Or technology that sets up that type of feeling through our screens with videos and interactions. This is another aspect of how we get to experiment and create this new type of “virtual interactions”.
 
HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL VIRTUAL EVENT

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

After participating in the Almo E4 virtual event, which was a great experience for Yamaha Unified Communications, I was able to see both the backend work and exhausting live days that come with putting on a virtual show. Some interviews you have to pre-record and do post production. But a big thing is to make sure you plan out weeks in advance, multiple practice run throughs with all participants. Now these won’t be 5-10-minute run throughs. They will have to be tedious 1-2 hours, from start to finish, without the actual speaking, but to make sure everything runs smoothly. Every participant will have different internet bandwidth, headsets or speakerphones, cameras, etc. These are things that must be figured out and ready way before the day of. Clear audio and video will be deciding factors as to whether someone stays at your “booth”.  Practice, practice, practice. Even after all that practice, you must be prepared for a few mishaps and that is okay. This is new to all of us.

ENGAGEMENT

“Is it events that are boring or those who facilitate them? I’ve seen people captivate audiences with a piece of written text…I’ve also seen a lot of technological gizmos that are utterly tedious. Most conferences fail because the gist of the content that underpins them is weak, uninteresting and uninspiring.” – Yann Gourvennec, CEO of Visionary Marketing

Making sure you keep your customers experience engaging is one of the key points to a successful virtual event. Whether your company is running the event or you’re participating as a “virtual booth” at a larger conference, you need your interaction with the folks visiting as entertaining as they would be in person. Make sure you have good content, visuals are clear and concise, and that your speaker can be interactive. When you are at these large conferences’ folks walk through your booth, you show them what you have to sell and converse. Give the visitors the option of interacting with you through either the chat box, Q&A and put together polls for them to fill out while visiting your booth. An article here states that “by the end of this year, 80% of internet traffic would be from virtual conferencing.” We need to make sure our attendees don’t get too bored and that you’re keeping them engaged throughout their visit to your virtual booth.
 
ALLOW FOR NETWORKING

Our companies pay for event badges, airfare and hotel rooms for us to go to these conferences not only to educate ourselves on our competitors/industry, but to network; forge new partnerships and relationships with folks that we might not have ever met elsewhere. Something unique that I took part of was a virtual happy hour that had 15-minute breakout rooms where you were paired up randomly with folks in that session to meet n greet. This is a great idea for virtual events in many ways. It can give a break to the attendees from watching presentations and interact with folks interested in the same topic, product or whatever your booth is focusing on.

POSITIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM A VIRTUAL EVENT

The difference between in person and virtual is that “in-person events come with restrictions in the number of attendees, however going virtual will have no such restrtictions.”

“Another important aspect of virtual conferencing that can help businesses in the post-pandemic world is the collected data that can be analyzed to understand the performance of your conference. This valuable data can help businesses to track their attendees better to understand how each presentation and talks have been viewed and can significantly make the virtual conference more engaging for their guests. Some of the other minor benefits of virtual conferring would include the ability to record sessions which provide opportunities for attendees to replay sessions anytime to reinforce their learning.” – Sejuti Das, Senior Tech Journalist

We in the AV world already know that technology and hardware need to be working seamlessly for whatever conference, event, online classroom, etc, to run smoothly. When putting together these events, the data that can be tracked through the technology used could be extremely valuable to your company. Looking at attendance on certain speakers or topics. We can gain a lot of value from this type of data to help us create better content and hopefully in the long run, create the right equipment that our customers need in the now!
 

PRODUCTS TO LOOK INTO FOR PRESENTERS AT VIRTUAL EVENTS:
  • YVC-200 – Wireless or USB Bluetooth speakerphone
  • HD Single/Dual – Wireless USB Mic option: omni, directional or wearable
  • CS-700 – All-in-one, Zoom Certified, audio/video soundbar.
  • YVC-200/Huddly Go Bundle – Great speaker/mic and great quality video together