What We've Learned from Our Shift to Virtual Events

Georgina Clarke 4 November 2022

Our society is the most connected it’s ever been, especially following on from the pandemic. The switch from in-person events to ones via our computer screens was initially very sudden, with many being apprehensive to make the shift, rather than postponing or cancelling the events all together. However, now we’re all now accustomed to the way of virtual events, many are glad that they gave virtual events a go.

Breakout rooms, google meet, zoom meeting and Microsoft teams are all phrases that before the Pandemic, we hardly (if ever) used; now they’re a part of our weekly vocabulary.

Whilst virtual events are in some aspects easier (for specific events) than in-person ones, there are certainly positives and drawbacks to both. We’ve all learned a lot about the do’s and don’ts of virtual events and the impact that they can have!

The Importance of Virtual Events

Especially during lockdown, virtual events were one of the few times people were actually communicating and engaging with others. Although it was via a screen, just talking to someone and seeing their face made a huge impact on us all during a very difficult and lonely time.

These feelings of togetherness and community were crucial during the lockdowns, and the importance of virtual events has seemed to remain as we come out of the other side of the pandemic. Many businesses have kept up hosting virtual events as they have realised the potential and opportunities that they bring!

The Difference Between In-Person & Virtual Events

The shift to online events has identified many challenges within the virtual event space, with the most prominent being the dreaded words – “technical issues”. No matter how many times you rehearse and test equipment, on the day there can still be technical problems that get in the way of a seamless virtual event. Although these issues can crop up during an in-person event, they can be much easier to fix with backup equipment, and a whole team physically on standby to help. Whilst online, trying to fix these issues remotely can be a tricky situation to resolve.

One of the other large differences between in-person and virtual events is that virtual audiences face a lot more distractions. Flashing phones, noisy neighbours and family members are common distractions that virtual attendees fight against. The event host in unable to shape the audiences’ environment to ensure for their full attention and participation, whereas it’s much easier at an in-person event to be fully immersed in the event.

There are many other differences, however it’s no question that virtual events are here to stay.

Top Tips on How to Improve Virtual Events

Here at Speakers Corner, we’ve been a part of, and hosted, a vast amount of virtual events – we’ve held more than anyone else, so it’s safe to say that we’re pros when it comes to them!

Below we’ve compiled a short list of valuable things to consider that are guaranteed make your virtual event really stand out against your competitors.

1 - Create Engaging Content

As we’ve previously mentioned, distractions for a remote audience are extremely prominent. Microsoft recently concluded from a study that the human attention span has dropped by 8 seconds – shrinking nearly 25% in just a few years.

Ensuring your audience is engaged is CRITICAL and by giving the viewers something to do, rather than simply just watching, the more engaged they will be.

It’s also been reported that majority of groups lose their focus after the first 10 minutes of an online meeting/event; and the most significant factor that influences attention span is the person leading the discussion, so it’s important to obtain a host that breaks these barriers and engages the audience the whole time!

Our speakers have mastered the art of engagement using all the tools of virtual platforms. We at Speakers Corner are proud to work with experts who have the expertise to ensure the audience have a great experience and connection throughout the whole session.

2 - Explore Prerecording

Whilst it’s important to have some live components for audience engagement (Q&A, live chat, workshops etc.), prerecording’s are a different way to ensure for a smoother running of the virtual event! By utilising prerecording it also means that you’re more likely to stick to your arranged timings, as there won’t be anyone running over their timeslot. Prerecording also allows the opportunity for speakers who wouldn’t be able to make the live event to still make an appearance!

If filmed professionally, they can also make your speakers look better than if their segment was live, as the image won’t blur or lag (which is common with live virtual events, as webcams aren’t as picture perfect as cameras!). This more controlled method also lets speakers record multiple takes and the final clip can be edited to ensure for a polished performance.

If you’re looking to increase your lead generation and further build on your brand, statistics show that pre-recorded webinars are a fantastic way to do just that. About 51% of the people who visit your webinar landing page will convert on the initial sign up, with 36% actually attending the event!

3 - Include a Variety of Speakers

This is especially important to consider if your event is on the longer side, as we have previously discussed the declining human attention span; having multiple speakers will re-engage your audience.

Depending on the topic of the event, the ability of having multiple speakers means that you can showcase different viewpoints, experiences and thoughts. For example, our recent Black History Month Virtual Showcase had three incredible speakers, all of whom had different points to share around the same topic, which meant for a truly insightful, educational and well-rounded discussion.

Our annual Comedy Collective Showcases feature a collection of comedians, to ensure that we cater to various tastes!

4 - The Audience Are Participants, Not Attendees

It’s important to remember that everyone logging on to watch and engage with the event has contributed their time and efforts to the event. It’s common to forget this when the event is virtual, as the audience haven’t had to physically travel to partake in the event.

The host must recognise the attendees’ contributions and their commitment of giving up their time to virtually participate in the event. Ways to do this include simply giving thanks at the end of the event or sending follow-up thank you messages/gifts.

How to Book Great Speakers for Your Virtual Event

If you’re still debating on whether or not a virtual event is right for you, or if you’re unsure what speakers will really make your virtual event engaging, get in touch with our team.

Our friendly experts will be more than happy to advise on what’s best for you, along with providing loads of information and/or advice on what speakers and hosts would make your event the best it can possibly be!

Call us: +44 (0) 20 7607 7070 or email us: info@speakerscorner.co.uk

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