As Team SEQ continues to run at full speed with virtual events, we can see that our clients and audiences have entered into a new phase of familiarity with them as well. Whereas in March everyone was gobsmacked, April and May the brave were experimenting, June through August everyone was getting on the bandwagon, right around the start of September everyone started to synthesize what they had learned and experienced so far in virtual events.
While our entire team has a treasure chest full of learnings (#spoileralert: there’s more to come!), our Technical Production Department has some excellent key takeaways regarding virtual technology and building a compelling virtual ROS which we’re excited to share with all of our readers. We look forward to working with all of you soon and discussing how these tips will apply to your next virtual event!
- Variety is the spice of virtual! Aside from the technical necessities of a solid internet connection and contingency plan (more from Brendan below), there are so many FUN elements that can go into executing an engaging and interactive virtual event. In a world where video calls have become the norm, there are a plethora of creative ways to bring your live event into the virtual space. Whether through virtual networking breakouts, photo booths, cocktail receptions, VIP experiences, selfie contests, games, audience interactivity, comedy shows, musical performances or live streaming dance parties, guests truly have the opportunity to experience the vibe of your live event from the comfort and safety of their own homes in innovative ways.
- Think of your virtual ROS as more of a visual experience. In live events bringing a show to life was enhanced by the space, the lighting, the stage and the featured speakers. In virtual, the show IS the event. For an awards program, utilizing confetti or themed graphics as well as cheering sound effects and royalty-free music (more on licensing music for virtual events at another time!) are just a few ways to amp up the energy of the show and keep the audience excited and engaged. If pre-recording, remind your speakers of the vibe of their segment so that the mood translates on tape. Are they cueing up a heartfelt moment or announcing a lifetime achievement? Including context as well as thinking through the visual experience of the show will increase the “wow” factor of the virtual experience for the speakers, honorees and audience alike.
- Make a contingency plan in the event of technical difficulties, and once you've already made one, make another one! From a technical standpoint, when you are producing a virtual event with talent connecting from their home, office, cellular hotspot, or even vacation home on a remote island, there are so many elements you cannot control for. That does not even get into how your attendees are trying to view the event from and the quality of their own connection. It is essential to think through contingency scenarios and to test them fully prior to event day.
- In May, there seemed to be a much larger emphasis on producing virtual events as fully live. There was a considerable amount of resistance to doing anything that was pre-recorded or simulive for fear that it was somehow cheapening the overall event. As time has gone on and clients and vendors alike have begun to understand more of the risk associated with producing a virtual event as live, this attitude has begun to change. Exclusively using pre-recorded content or using almost exclusively pre-recorded content in combination with a live emcee is starting to become more common and in some ways more standard than fully live virtual events.
- We always aim to expand our pool of partners, but the transition to virtual has allowed us to meet and work with event pros we wouldn’t have been able to work with when geography was paramount. In the same vein, we are able to work with our most familiar vendors in new and exciting ways.
- Embrace the change! Being open, flexible and collaborative with clients, vendors and your own team will allow for a different type of creative event. We are in largely uncharted territory right now, we are all exploring and creating the virtual event landscape together. Don’t get hung up on limitations, but see them as opportunities for experimentation and success!