VIRTUAL MEETINGS: Top 5 priorities and 3 fun ideas
Pivot, adapt, change, react - whatever you call it, we are all learning to live a new “normal”. And as much as I don’t like the term, we can’t deny it. The events industry will never be the same again.
It seems like it was just yesterday that we were having to justify the expense of live, in-person events and trips. We quoted statistical research and psychology experts to prove to senior management the value of “experiences”. Then when the objection was costs, we provided senior management with financial analyses to prove that live events contributed to the bottom line, EBITDA even (yes, we can - just ask me). Now, we have no choice. It’s not about proving anything, it’s about providing the benefits of events… online. But can we? Can we really provide the benefits of an in-person event when we’re miles, and time zones apart? Not completely. In-person events simply can’t be matched. But when you need to get your team together, or get your message out to your customer, partners or employees uniformly and collaboratively - and the other choice is having no event at all – a virtual event is your best option. Whether it’s a one- hour event or a multi-day conference, we can:
Develop a brand campaign that is engaging
Create excitement about an upcoming event
Communicate a red-thread message over the course of several weeks
Secure time on peoples’ calendars
Speak live to your audience
Measure attendance and participation in events
Track event engagement through chat, polling, and attendance charts
Create unique attendee virtual give-back and health and wellness programs
Measure learning and knowledge retention through surveys
Save money on travel, accommodations and food and beverage
Re-utilize materials for months beyond the main event
Reach audiences that would otherwise not have been able to travel or attend your event on your event dates
Event planners are challenged daily with the impossible. We’ve learned to find creative solutions to overcome everything from missing shipments to audio failing in the middle of the keynote presentation, so of course we will use our ingenuity to overcome the challenges of physical distancing. That’s a given. And we will help each other. That’s why I’m writing this. Here are our top five suggestions for how to bring out the best of live events into virtual events:
Content is KING: Maybe this is a bit elementary, but it needs to be your top priority. If the audience isn’t going to get anything new from your content – cancel it. If they can get the message more efficiently in some other way, they will.
Visuals are QUEEN: Let your audience see your speaker. And don’t let your speaker read the slides. In fact, challenge yourself to as few words on the screen as possible, four or five tops. Invest in creative visuals, custom comics, and video. You won’t regret it.
Audio can be the devil: Be sure to practice and don’t forget to have your speakers join early, shut their doors - and by all means, get more than one speaker. It’s biologically proven that we need multiple voices to keep our audience’s attention.
Engage your audience: Make sure to ask questions, whether they answer in the chat box or through polling. Let them ask questions, and if you don’t get to their question during the session – send an answer to each guest after the session. This will make you a hero!
Let’s EAT: Food & beverage is core to our events, so feed your audience! Send UberEats or Panera e-gift cards to invite your audience to a lunch-and-learn, or an online conference. You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of feeding them AND skipping the ‘I hate fish’ complaints.
OK, so those are the basics, now how do we add to the all too important fun side of events. Here are a few suggestions:
Laughter is the best medicine: Hire a live comedian to entertain your group. Just make sure to set clear expectations of acceptable content with your talent, and remind your audience to grab a drink of their choice, sit back and enjoy.
Music is good for the soul: Hire a great DJ, with a good sense of humor who knows their music for a festive, themed music trivia game. Or, hire an amazing violinist who can keep up with the Charlie Daniels Band. Make sure to pick a genre that your audience can relate to.
Games aren’t just for kids: Have some fun with interactive games for groups small and large. Our favorites are Fibbage and Scavenger Hunt. Winner gets bragging rights or a gift certificate!
Need some help? FUSION Performance Group can help with a part or conduct the entire event -from naming it, to developing the look and feel, all the way through to facilitating and executing the wrap up survey.
About FUSION Performance Group: FUSION works with thought leader companies and stakeholders who want total control of every aspect of maximizing and measuring meeting and incentive Return on Investment (ROI). FUSION is successful in enabling companies to:
· INCREASE top line revenue
· ESCALATE productivity
· IMPROVE retention and productivity of top performers
· CREATE a sustainable growth platform while moving the 'middle 60%’
· DRIVE better results
· MAXIMIZE AND MEASURE incentive program ROI
New mindset = New results