What a difference two years makes
73 Media ’ s managing director Ed Tranter offers six things he ’ s learned since becoming a virtual event convert .
On 18 March 2020 , I was in
South Beach , Miami , on a site visit for an event I was running in September that year . The sun was shining , obviously Covid was on the news , but that wasn ’ t going to affect something so far in the future , and the show must go on .
Two days later , I was in the airport trying to get on a flight home and by 23 March , 2020 , the world stopped .
Like most of the organiser community , my jaw dropped , and we had to come up with a plan . The reality for me at the time was that virtual / digital events were not only not on my radar , but I also didn ’ t want them to be .
As necessity is the mother of invention , we all became “ virtual event experts ” overnight .
So , now a genuine convert , and with a wide range of events behind us , what have we learned ?
1 . Don ’ t try and recreate your physical event online – it ’ s a totally different medium , treat it as such .
2 . Make yourself an event KPI list and stick to it – Why are you doing the event , why does the audience want / need it , and what are the commercial requirements of your sponsors / partners . It sounds obvious , but with the nature of virtual , there are so many things you can buy into that will take you off track .
3 . Remember to connect both audiences – what I mean by this , is that , as ever , you will normally have to serve two masters . Your attendees , who for the most part is there for the content , and your sponsors , who want to access the attendees . In a physical event , we all make sure that the route for attendees is through the exhibitor / sponsor , that isn ’ t easy to do in virtual . You must look at different and more creative ways to deliver for the sponsors . Virtual stands don ’ t work for me . I am happy to be corrected on that , so get in touch if you have a solution , but my experience of them has been poor . It ’ s about engaging the sponsor in the event content and dialogue , providing TV style advertising , and as I mention below , the longer life-cycle of the sponsorship .
4 . Don ’ t rush your tech choice – there are now 813 platforms out there , each slightly different . My advice would be , always go back to your list of what good looks like . Think of it like a venue , choose the one that absolutely ticks the boxes in terms of your planned delivery . Not on a shiny additional tool that you end up paying for and not using .
5 . Make your user experience simple – For those who remember the horrors when PowerPoint first came out , just because you can do a transition , doesn ’ t mean that you should . You want a simple , clear briefing for attendees , speakers , and sponsors . Lots of form filling or software downloads will turn off an audience . Simple “ How to ” videos are great , but if you need too many of them , then you may be over complicating it .
6 . A digital event is not just for the show days – The opportunity is around our content that we create so plan what you want to use it for before the event . Everything is HD , beautifully mixed with your lower-third sparkling . When pre-recording sessions , you can add in additional questions that are separate videos to be used post event . You can segment the sessions and then put them
“ DON ’ T TRY AND RECREATE YOUR PHYSICAL EVENT ONLINE – IT ’ S A TOTALLY DIFFERENT MEDIUM , TREAT IT AS SUCH .”
behind a paywall for attendees to access , turn them into content for sponsors to send to their customer base . This is basically broadcast TV , you get so much content , make the most of it .
The opportunity that digital creates is significant , I am not suggesting that it replaces physical , but this isn ’ t the free online banner that print publishers used to use as a value add . It has enormous potential , it ’ s growing , and I am excited to see where it leads .