We’ve been talking a lot to customers recently, discussing the best way forward for their virtual events. When it comes to virtual, sometimes even when you ask what seems to be a simple question, you get a quite complicated answer. However, there are very valid reasons for this and worth taking a little time to understand them.
The Quick Pivot to Virtual Progress
It’s true virtual events have been around a while, but until the COVID-19 pandemic they revolved around certain formats and were fairly rigid and simple in terms of what they presented. These virtual offerings delivered more from a ‘tech’ perspective than a real event experience for audiences, mainly because of the type of agencies that provided the service. What has happened over the last 6 months has turned all of that on its head. There has been a seismic shift into the virtual world as the meetings and events industry has been forced to re-evaluate how it can continue to deliver exciting experiences for clients.
Let’s face it, everyone is suffering from screen fatigue and clients, tired of ZOOM calls, are looking for inventive solutions from their agencies in terms of what can be done.
This has led to agencies breaking new ground and offering clients brand new virtual solutions. So while virtual may have been around a while, the pace of development has been at a breakneck speed with event agencies at the cutting edge of this ‘virtually’ new industry. At BCD M&E we are continually working alongside our clients to develop these new solutions, and while we can rely on our event expertise to guide our clients to the best outcome, many of these newly developed solutions are exactly that, new.
We of course have preferred platform partners, but we are, to quote our Head of Production, “platform agnostic”, meaning we are not tied to any one product. This allows us to host our client events on platforms that best suits their objectives, even building tailored functionality when time, budget and requirements allow. What we have seen over the last 6 months are the following emerging formats, guided not so much by the platform, but by the content. This is probably the biggest change in this area since virtual began, when it was the platform that dictated the content you could share and how you shared it.
Emerging Virtual Event Format Trends
Live corporate broadcast
Live presenters brought in from multiple locations, local or global, to present. This can include panel sessions and discussions, Q&A interaction or straight forward presentation to camera. With or without a host, sometimes combining the remote presenters with a studio environment, this can be perfect for seminars and corporate conferences. Interactive features such as polling or live Q+A can be brought in supported by TV studio style production values, graphics and animations.
A full event timed to go out as a live webcast, but with all content pre-recorded and either accessed on demand or at pre-determined times. Useful when multiple language translations are required and when you need cast iron guarantee of delivery.
Pre-record and live
A mixture of content with live speaker sections intercut with pre-recorded presentations and a mix of media such as video and animation. Can include audience interaction through comments and questions as well as entertainment. This format works well for virtual awards presentations or information delivery with panel discussions.
Pre-recorded, but made to look and feel (simulated) live. For example, recording a live presentation session in multiple studios and editing that together after. This gives you the best of both worlds; a live feel with presenter interaction but the ability to get the best edit possible. This also allows more time for enhanced background animations, particularly if shot against green screen, and multiple languages translation. Items like polling and live questions can also be added so delegates can participate live. Useful for conveying corporate, brand and product messages and compiling delegate feedback with post event analysis.
Building for the future
From the time COVID-19 began to impact the live events industry, events agencies such as BCD M&E began to pivot their offerings and experience to the virtual space. Creative, content, production, registration, audience engagement and understanding the delegate journey, all remain as valid in the digital space as they ever were in a live environment.
What’s important to appreciate is that because of the frenetic pace of change and the drive for innovation, no-one is a virtual event veteran. But at the same time, there is probably no organisation more experienced at virtual than an events agency.