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Why we should treat digital events with the same care as live

With the rise in the number of virtual events, Robin Purslow, chief executive of event production company Eclipse, underlines the importance of treating them with the same care as live ones.

Virtual platforms have been a saviour to the meetings and events industry throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to online services like Zoom, WebEx and Demio we have been able to catch up with our colleagues, network, and attend conferences and events with relative ease from the safety of our homes.

While the threat of Covid-19 is present and travel restrictions remain, virtual events will undoubtedly continue to be held and, as event planners become more confident and creative in their delivery, we’ll see them evolve.

However, while virtual events might be relatively simple to set-up and seemingly require less planning and organisation than their live counterparts, if event planners want them to go smoothly and be a success, it’s important that they apply the same level of care to virtual events as they would to live ones.

To help event planners run successful virtual events, here are my top tips for making online offerings share a similar impact as events designed to be attended in-person.

Pick the right platform

Consider the online platform you choose to run your virtual event in the same way as you would a venue for a live one. When researching it, ask questions like: ‘Is the virtual space big enough to hold potential visitors?’ and ‘can presentations run while someone is speaking?’ Alternatively, the platform you’ve been looking at might be too complicated for your needs and something simpler might suffice. You wouldn’t hold your product launch for 50 people in a lecture theatre with 400 seats and likewise, you wouldn’t squeeze 400 delegates attending a one-day conference in small meeting room with capacity for 50, so the same goes for virtual events. Select appropriately.

Stay connected

If you know that hundreds, or even thousands of delegates will be attending your online event, it’s important to ensure you can reach them. Connectivity is a two-way thing, but if the deliverer of the event has a problem with their IT infrastructure, you can expect barriers to event delivery. If you’re live-streaming an event, it’s essential that you work closely with your technical partner to ensure you have the capabilities to deliver a seamless broadcast and effectively integrate interactive functions you may require, such as live polling, Q&As and more. There’s much more to it than meets the eye and having a strong internet connection is far from being a recipe for success, so it’s highly recommended that a technical partner is consulted before going live, who will conduct a comprehensive audit of infrastructure and mitigate any IT threats. If you’re still wondering why it’s important, imagine inviting hundreds of delegates to your live conference and them finding that the doors to the main auditorium ae locked when they arrive. It wouldn’t happen would it?

Test, test, and test again

Efficient event planners know that the secret to a successful event is good planning and making time for a dress rehearsal. A professional event production team will always check sound and lighting before an event starts and experienced speakers will have their script, or presentation compiled and practiced well in advance. The importance of testing the delivery of a virtual event – including sound levels and lighting is potentially greater than that of a live one. If attendees aren’t happy with what they find, they can simply end their involvement with the click of a button.

Delight delegates

‘Anything is possible’ is our mantra at Eclipse and we work closely with event planners to find ways to delight their delegates. This same mindset should be applied to virtual events. Online and hybrid events have grown massively in the last few months, so it’s vital that yours stands out among others and you find a way to hold someone’s attention. Featuring a dynamic virtual backdrop, patching in recorded presentations from expert speakers, and including some live chat and polling functions are just some of the ways event planners can shake up their online events.