Providing Exceptional Virtual Event Content
Getting Started with Virtual Events: Pre-Event Success Series #4
The content of your event are all the elements you put together to present your event to your audience. From the speakers and sessions to engagement activities and informational materials, providing exceptional virtual event content is necessary for a successful virtual event.
A virtual event is not just a live event that is moved online, it must be treated like a whole new event (tweet this). There is no way to exactly replicate the live experience so you need to reimagine what’s possible. On his show, Marketing Book Podcast, “Standout Virtual Events,” David Meerman Scott states that “Virtual events are more like TV than movies. Think of it like a 2-3 hour tv broadcast: 5 minutes with the host, then a remote feed, then a virtual interview, then something else, then back to host, etc. During a speaker session, ask for interaction every 5-7 minutes. There is a special place in hell for boring webinars!”
Why Providing Exceptional Virtual Content is so Important
Part of the draw for an in-person event is to engage face-to-face with others. With live events it can be easy to attract attendees with a little food, drink and networking. But with a virtual event lacking many of these elements, the focus is on the content, which is a large part of the experience of a virtual event. One can say that content is the event. If you don’t offer engaging, relevant content, you won’t attract much of an audience and if you do, they won’t continue to watch your event. Getting your audience to move around and take an action every so often will go a long way in keeping them interested in your event (tweet this).
What is Content?
Content can, and should, take many different forms during a virtual event to hold the attention of the attendees. There should be elements of value that your audience believes make the event worth attending. Those elements can include videos, speakers, PowerPoint presentations, downloadable PDFs, and more to offer a variety of formats and create interest. Remember, not every session needs to be live. Pre-recorded sessions can be incorporated into a live event without losing the live feeling. Knowing your audience will help you determine the appropriate content to offer. No matter who is attending, however, the ideal length of time someone is expected to engage is usually no more than 3 hours in one sitting. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t include breaks. Sessions should probably be no more than 30 – 45 minutes each and offer some kind of engagement – chats, polls, breakouts, etc. During a presentation you can even have the audience break out into separate virtual rooms to discuss a question posed by the speaker, then come back to the main session to present their answers.
Examples of Content
Content can also include additional elements for your virtual event, like specialty breakout rooms, sponsor rooms and even activities that you decide to offer during breaks.
Breaks can be any length of time but should be longer if your attendees have been watching a lengthy presentation. A break can be just that, a time for attendees to get away from their computer. A good mental break can be a welcome refresher during a long program. Don’t be afraid to be creative with these breaks. They can include a special activity for fun and engagement. There are many ways to be creative about your event breaks. Think outside of the box. Would your audience be interested in a dance session, yoga stretch break or watching a magician do a fun theme-based trick? How about listening to a popular band, doing a scavenger hunt or enjoying a great comedian? The possibilities are endless. Be open.
Don’t underestimate the element of surprise. Go ahead and tease a “surprise guest.” Imagine how delighted your audience will be when a popular celebrity comes online to greet them or has prerecorded a special message just for them. These days, it’s more affordable to get a celebrity to speak since they can do it from the convenience of their home or business and can pre record a video for you. Famous bands are even more likely to provide a short concert from their studios since they don’t have to travel to your event and they can also pre record the video.
Networking is also another form of content and doesn’t have to be ho-hum. Some virtual event platforms offer an algorithm that can match audience members with each other for the optimal networking experience. You can also create rooms based on certain topics and allow attendees to choose the best fit for them. Or you can randomly assign participants to networking rooms with a time limit. When the time is up, you can shuffle the participants to other rooms to see new faces. You can also offer a fun poll or quiz to help attendees get to know each other better or have them play a game together. Networking isn’t just about making a business contact and trying to sell to them. It’s about making a connection with someone and then getting to know them over time. At some point, you each will find a way to help and add value to each other.
Recap on Providing Exceptional Virtual Event Content
There are many directions you can take when providing exceptional virtual event content. Always consider your audience when making decisions on content. Remember that a virtual audience can’t engage for long periods of time without breaks and opportunities for interaction (tweet this). Mix up the segments of your event – start with an introduction of the event, then go to a speaker presentation, next have the audience fill out a poll, then show a video, after that, offer a break, then go to the next speaker’s presentation, etc. Breaks can include a variety of activities or just be a time for attendees to get away from their computer. No matter what you choose to do at your event, keep it engaging and interesting and attendees will continue watching until the end!