Is Your Company Pivoting to a Virtual Conference This Year?
How to Recreate an In-Person Conference Experience.
There’s nothing like acquiring those face-to-face business connections like the ones you make at an in-person industry convention, but in-person gatherings are not practical right now. Yet, people still need training/certifications, networking opportunities, sales product demos, and product training sessions. There is still a need to generate leads, grow membership, discuss industry trends, exchange ideas and create solutions.
So how do you fill this gap? Virtual Conferences.
Yes, we know what you’re thinking. Virtual conferences aren’t exactly the most personalized experience. You might be asking,
“Virtual? For our biggest event of the year? How does that even work?”
“What’s the point of doing an annual convention if we can’t gather in-person?”
So, what can you do to recreate the in-person conference experience online?
The answer is to focus your content with surgical precision. Zoom fatigue is REAL, so figure out exactly how many sessions you need and no more. Cover financials, business strategies for the year, and any major culture initiatives. Keep the conference to under 3 half-days, and plan one or two fun group activities to keep things interesting. That’s it.
5 sessions will be more than enough to get people engaged, and will keep swaths of employees from zoning out. At Lime Crane, we’ve done several of these year-end conferences, and we have seen what works, and what doesn’t work. Here are our tips to make your conference professional, personal, and virtual.
Pro Tips to “Professionalize” Your Virtual Conference
Create a dedicated event website that serves as a landing page for all of your events. Lime Crane calls it an event “Microsite”. The agenda can be updated on the fly, have speaker bios for every event, and update employees on any changes so they always know where to go. Just like in a hotel, teammates can get “lost” even in a virtual event. Make direction easy.
Book speakers and moderators that are skilled in virtual events and willing to customize their presentations for your attendees. A great guest speaker is perfect for your session on values-driven culture and purpose initiatives for the year. Get someone interesting and have your “Chief Culture Officer” interview them. The back-and-forth makes for a thoughtful and engaging session.
Keep in mind the virtual audiences will quickly lose interest without variety so supplement the presentations with visual materials like slides, polls, pre-recorded video, along with virtual team-building activities and games.
Capture your virtual audience’s attention with a high-quality broadcast that looks and sounds like it was produced in a professional television studio. Otherwise, you will lose your audience with poor visual audio and visual quality.
Make your presenters comfortable. Presenting alone on your laptop is WEIRD. Our best advice is to use a team that puts your leaders at ease. You need a team that can calmly and professionally troubleshoot technology remotely while allowing presenters to stay focused on their remarks. A relaxed, confident presenter will yield a much better presentation.
From a conferencing client:
“Michael (one of our techs) is so good at interacting with our executives and preparing them for what to expect and getting them comfortable. He’s professional and also personable.”
Pro Tips to Personalize Your Virtual Conference
Personalize your virtual conference with virtual chat tools and immersive booths. Attendees can interact with one another and with vendors before, during and after the convention. We have had great success with a “Virtual Networking Lunch” on a platform like remo.co in between sessions. Our clients have had to add more networking sessions by popular demand!
Add a personalized touch to your conference by sending swag bags to attendees to open before or during the meetings. Our favorite conferences have taken it a step further and even sent catered lunches to attendees on the event day. The reception was INCREDIBLE.
Create and utilize an event specific hash-tag and encourage attendees to network and engage with one another on social media. Don’t forget to embed the social feed on the event microsite.
Encourage interactive, robust Q&A sessions by inviting the audience to post questions for your speakers ahead of time and/or during the session. We love the product SLIDO for Q&A where viewers can “upvote” questions they want answered. Lime Crane will usually bundle SLIDO as part of our conference packages so you don’t have to worry about it.
Provide remote attendees with material to take away from each speaker’s program. For example, a download of the speaker’s latest white paper or professional guide, or a digital coupon for a copy of their book. It could also be something as simple as a written summary of tips and key points from the presentation so the audience can refer to it later.
Last, but not least – plan for technical issues. A lot can go wrong during a virtual session, and you have to be ready to troubleshoot everything from poor network connectivity to the quality of the speaker’s microphone, bad lighting, problems with slides and visuals, etc. The best live events happen in a controlled environment with skilled A/V technicians on site to manage the whole process.
For your virtual event to truly go off without a hitch, hire trained professionals who specialize in webcasting services and virtual event production. They not only make your job much easier by integrating high-level webcasting technology into your virtual conference, they can help coach your presenters to look and sound their best from the comfort of their home or office with basic live-broadcast presentation techniques. Remember that traditional A/V companies may offer “Virtual Event Services”, but the skill sets are different. Make sure your A/V company is experienced at producing remote events, not ones where “virtual live streaming” is an add-on.
But, unlike in-person conventions, organizers, speakers and attendees aren’t bound by the limits of space, time, travel and expense. Think of what you’d love to do in a hotel ballroom with a hundred people, and imagine recreating that experience online with ten thousand. The information and resources offered by the conference can be made available to a lot more people for a much longer period of time.
There is no denying that conferences as we know them are going to look very different for the foreseeable future, so companies have to either adapt or abandon events and conventions entirely. The experienced team at Lime Crane has produced hundreds of successful virtual events for some of our region’s most influential business leaders and politicians. Our technical professionals and television-trained operators also have the capability to carefully control the quality of your broadcast with reliable, high quality professional A/V equipment. This gives us a powerful edge and the ability to WOW your conference attendees.
If you’re in search of a company that has the unique ability to handle your audio/video quality, screen sharing, host-to-speaker private messaging, audience Q&A with the same equipment and internet connection that the speaker will be using on event day, get in touch with us!
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