A Few Thoughts on Virtual Events (Part 1)

When COVID-19 brought business to a standstill, the oversimplified call to action was to ‘pivot’. Many industries, including ours, were (understandably) reactionary and scrambled with a call to Save the ship! Many organizations did this by taking What Was and placing its contents into What’s Available. Addressing a catastrophe at this level does not afford one to strategize. However, our learnings from a year of virtual events, need to be applied to our future event planning, be it in-person, virtual, or hybrid.

The foundation of future event strategy is understanding that live events cannot simply be repackaged for a virtual audience. It seems like commonsense now, but it’s what happened, especially in the first six months of the pandemic.

In a virtual setting, the conference attendee is ‘chunkier’ than they would be at a live event. No, this has nothing to do with being sedentary, it’s about the size of the content. Where a keynote at a live event could be ‘super-sized’ and engaging as a spectacle, on a monitor, tablet, or mobile device, the attendee morphs into ‘viewer’ and is looking for their ‘fast food’ portion to be ‘bite-sized’ (easily digestible – score one for the pun!)

To help, try changing perspective: instead of virtual events, think, “broadcast events.” The attendee experience is more like streaming TV than attending an in-person conference.

-To Be Continued-