How to Produce a Virtual Event
How to Produce a Live Virtual Event
As Covid-19 persists, while society’s advancements in technology continue to accelerate, virtual events are here to stay. So, let’s get creative and discuss the way we plan and host online gatherings! Here are my answers to a few questions I thought you might be asking yourself as you plan for the future. Enjoy.
What are my options for attendees?
First decide the format of your event attendance – whether it will be 100% remote or partially in-person (see What’s Next: Hybrid Events). Although you may be used to marketing to individuals in your region, it’s important to consider how your event may be a “category leader.” One of the benefits of virtual events is the ability to expand your connection to people outside your local community to offer your event to people with similar interests – not similar geographical location. Then, choose if your event will be marketed across all social channels (public) or invite only (private). Will it be paid admission or free to attend? For hybrid events, consider the perks you plan on incorporating into your event in terms of food, drink, gift baskets, etc. You will need to determine how you plan on delivering these items to your audience. For your remote guests, consider offering a pick-up or delivery service.
What platforms are best to host virtual events?
At House of 8 Media we evaluate every event with the “5 Cs” –
Content, Connections, Conversations, Commerce, and Camaraderie.
We deliver maximum value to organizers and attendees by considering each of the “5 Cs” for each step of your event:
Step 1 Design
Step 2 Setup and Preparation
Step 3 Event Management
Step 4 Post-Event Distribution
A content-only driven event helps your audience discover new ideas and develop expertise with platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. On these platforms, your audience does not need access to a microphone or connection through chat in real time.
Content + Connection
Content+Connection based events is when we see the need for live, real-time interaction. However, this doesn’t mean your attendees automatically need access to their camera/microphone to join you on stage (Zoom). Chat, on the other hand, is an ideal way for your audience to add to the live event. We choose WebinarJam, because we can create a truly branded experience from registration through replay delivery, and for its rich chat moderation controls so we can manage the event from start to finish.
Content + Connection + Conversation
An event emphasizing Conversations through live on-screen interaction with attendees is still great for WebinarJam. People can raise their hand to speak and wait for the host’s approval; they get instant access to their camera and microphone on command. With the other rich live features at our fingertips such as Survey Upon Registration, Polls, and Files, enabling conversations is something WebinarJam does really well. However, if your event is only about Conversation, you may not need a registration process and all these other great features. You event is probably perfect for Zoom.
Content + Connection + Conversation + Commerce
Commerce events are meant to promote your brand, expand business relationships, sell products or services, or drive donations towards a shared mission. Many of our virtual benefits, symposiums, live webinars, town hall meetings, and celebrations are run through WebinarJam for one feature that no other platform has: Offers. Imagine a clickable graphic in the chat column complete with a headline, link description, and button that when clicked-doesn’t eject them from the broadcast but opens up a new web browser tab to an outside url. We’ve had great success using this as links to a donate button, directory of resources, instagram profile, newsletter signup form, you name it! Let’s see Zoom do this! That’s not ever going to happen.
Content + Connection + Conversation + Commerce + Camaraderie
What about netorking, expo booths, branded breakout sessions, or attendee profiles? There are many features beyond the reaches of WebinarJam. If you’d like any of these, your event most likely lands into the category of a virtual conference. We have become a partner with Hopin for all these reasons and more. When you want to entice sponsors with a feature-rich attendee experience to create a robust gathering that ticks all of the boxes you want in a true high-definition translation of a virtual gathering, look no further than Hopin. Consider Hopin for things like a district conference, annual networking symposium, or even a Covid-compliant high school reunion (Monterey High School ’01 here we come!). However, using Hopin takes a great deal of experience and should be done by a professional. Ask us about how to develop your Sponsor Offering One-Sheet with Hopin’s Sponsorship and Expo Booth features!
+ Live Auction/Fund a Need
If you’re holding a virtual benefit or fundraiser with ambitions of doing a digital auction or live donation drive, you could consider OneCause (previously known as BidPal) to ask for donations. House of 8 Media is a proud partner of OneCause. Their MobileBidding platform has become the standard for live, virtual auctions. Please mention us by name in your consultation.
Do I have to present live in my live virtual event?
No! Luckily, a virtual event can be made entirely of pre-recorded presentations that can be shown live to your audience. It can be more efficient ahead of time to script what you’re saying to maximize the time you’re allotted. Use a teleprompter like this one to keep your eyes off the page. In this case, we would edit your show with graphics, music, and slides to create a full show that can be presented as one or multiple videos to be played at the touch of button.
House of 8 Media did this in the recent Chocolate & Wine event with Monterey Public Library Friends and Foundation. We pre-recorded individual interviews on location, created slide-shows, cleaned up existing videos, and edited it all together to form a cohesive 1-hour show that went through a review cycle with our client 2-3 times to completely dial in every moment before the event was presented live to the public on February 27, 2021. Pre-recording can also boost confidence for your speakers because they aren’t required to have the skills that come with being a live performer. Not to mention, adding music creates a truly cinematic experience. You can’t really add an underscore to someone’s presentation live.
What are the advantages of live virtual events?
There are lots of advantages to live remote gatherings! The way by which your audience is informed and connected to your presenters simply cannot be replaced by a pre-recorded video. People are busy! There are a lot of screens to choose from! When you get someone to register for your event, they earmark their calendar to be present for your event. You could be showing a 100% pre-recorded show which could feasibly be uploaded to YouTube and delivered to their email. You just can’t replace a live presentation with a video link in an email though. Once you have your people in the room, going live can help the promotion of your services, products, or company mission. Get them to take action right then and there so that you can make the impact you’re meant to make.
What are the disadvantages of live virtual events?
The greatest challenge of virtual events is connectivity. There is nothing worse than having everything with your event ready to go but not having enough bandwidth to begin or sustain your connection. It’s really important to have a strong internet connection to sustain a bit rate of at least 4 megabits per second. I try to host as many broadcasts as I can from my studio if possible, but when I go on location, I try to bring my own internet.
There are lots of benefits for virtual events now and in the future. As time goes on, we’re only going to get more connected through hybrid events. My advice to you is to hire a professional so you don’t have to become one. There are a lot of creative choices that go into producing an event but making the choice and implementing them don’t have to be one and the same action. In as little as 2-3 x 1hr development meetings, House of 8 Media can take your goals to develop a run of show, design your event, run the show, and assist you in distribution. If you decide to implement the technical elements yourself, you risk inhibiting your creative expression.
When I film someone, there is a fundamental reason why I can’t track their message as well as if I’m not operating the camera, audio, and recording. Find someone you can trust, someone who has made all of the technical mistakes, someone who is inspired by your talent, to be the technical director of your event so that your creativity can soar!
Your Remote Producer,