Producing a Seamless Virtual Event Experience
Getting Started with Virtual Events: Pre-Event Success Series #5
Producing a seamless virtual event experience doesn’t just automatically. It takes thought, time and a lot of planning. Once you’ve decided on your event goals, determined your ideal audience and chosen the platform that will meet your needs, it’s time to design the actual program elements and hone in on the technical needs for the event.
Since this is a virtual event, any mistakes or difficulties are front and center so the execution must be flawless. Every aspect of your virtual event involves some form of technology, so it all has to work together without fail (tweet this). Also, since an attendee’s attendee span is much shorter with a virtual event than an in-person event, your program has to be varied and engaging.
Things to Consider When Producing a Seamless Virtual Event Experience
At this point, we’ve chosen the virtual event platform that will allow for all of the content elements we wish to provide. Any reputable platform will provide some level of technical support to the event manager and in some cases, also to the attendees. Sometimes this support costs extra, so it’s important to ask what the investment will be up front. In a previous article, we’ve addressed the importance of determining your event audience prior to choosing the event platform so you ensure that you choose the platform that aligns with your audience’s technical capabilities.
Your platform is not the only piece of technology that you need to consider. If you are using your own computers to broadcast the event to the platform, then your internet speed needs to be reliable. If you have outside speakers, you also need to check their internet speed. We have had success using Speedtest for our events. You simply open the URL on your computer and click “Go.” The program will do the rest. Be certain to do this a few weeks to months prior to the event so everyone can have any internet issues addressed before the event date.
Besides the internet speed, having great quality video and audio is imperative. Most presenters utilize the camera and microphone that is built into the computer they are using, which in most cases is fine. If you have professional presenters, they may already have an external camera and microphone, especially if they do work virtually. Either way, you’ll want to do a rehearsal or two with each of your speakers to test the video and audio quality on the computer they will be using and from the location where they’ll be broadcasting.
In addition to testing the video and audio quality, you’ll need to consider if you will have a videographer pre-record a session or stream it live. If it’s pre-recorded then you’ll want to view that video weeks in advance in order to have time to correct any issues. If it’s live, you’ll also want to test the video and audio of the videographer.
If you will be using a service like StreamYard to stream the event to your platform, you need to make sure to pre-load all videos and graphics in advance, and do several dry runs to make sure the technology works correctly.
The lighting on the speaker can make or break a good presentation experience. No attendee likes looking at a silhouette of a talking head or a too-bright, washed out face. Speakers should not be backlit or have harsh lighting directed at their face. The ideal situation is some kind of overhead lighting. A “ring light” can be clipped onto your desk or computer and will provide light in the right direction.
Virtual Event Program
Not only does the technology affect an attendee’s experience, but how the program is handled has an effect as well. As we’ve mentioned before, the program and content actually become the experience in a virtual event. We now know that a virtual event needs to be broken down into many segments that can include video, speaker presentations, breakout sessions and breaks to facilitate audience engagement (tweet this). All of these pieces need to fit together smoothly and the transitions need to be invisible.
The entire event should have a theme and follow a storyline – beginning, middle and end, with the elements relating to each other. Don’t simply have a collection of speakers presenting random topics. For example, if this is an employee training, the theme may simply be that they are going to learn something specific about their industry and offer elements that enhance the program around that theme. Also, if you decide to do something fun during the break, you could offer some team building activities that would be in-line with the theme of employee training.
Another way to up the game in the audience experience department is to actually broadcast the entire event from a venue. You can set up a stage just like an in-person event and have all of the speakers present from that location. This is actually a great way to make sure all of the technology works as expected and that the look and feel of the event is consistent as all of the speakers would be filmed on the same stage by the same production crew. That production crew is also right there to handle any technical issues that may arise. Try to have your speakers arrive the day before, or earlier that day, to do a dry run with the production crew.
No matter how you decide to handle your event, testing the technology, doing several practice sessions and running through the event from beginning to end is crucial (tweet this). Ensure that all your event components are tested and running smoothly – from how your presenters look and sound to doing rehearsals and triple checking your technology details. You also need to make sure your program elements are engaging, fit your type of audience and have a flow that makes sense for your event. Each of these elements are included in the recipe for a successful event.