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Why virtual events are here to stay and how to avoid online horrors

By 18th October 2021November 2nd, 2021Blog
Mother & Son Dressed Up on Virtual Call

There will be enough horror stories going around this Halloween, without your virtual event becoming one of them. So, if you want your participants and presenters leaving your conference feeling special, not spooked, this article’s for you.

While lockdowns have lifted in many parts of the world, recent experiences have proven that, in so many ways, virtual events can be better than in person ones and come with a wealth of additional benefits. While there will always be a place for face-to-face, here are 10 reasons why our clients tell us they aren’t frightened of virtual, or hybrid events, in fact they love them and are convinced they are here to stay:

You can:

1. Turn your event around quickly. We’ve done it for clients with just a few weeks’ notice.

2. Achieve the same, or perhaps an even bigger impact.

3. Skill up presenters to deliver brilliantly online – a key skill in the new world.

4. Involve more people. You’re not constrained by venue capacity.

5. Secure higher attendance, through shorter more focused sessions.

6. Get insights from beyond the ‘usual suspects’. People contribute more readily through tech that allows them to have their say.

7. Collaboratively and globally agree priorities and make decisions in real time.

8. Put time back in diaries. No need to travel, or spend hours on organisational admin.

9. Lower your overall costs. No flights, trains, transfers, accommodation or catering costs.

10. Record your event. People don’t have to miss out – they can catch up afterwards.

“Virtual events have changed people’s perceptions. It just seems crazy to ask anybody to travel across the world for one or two days when the same impact’s possible from your desk. I see a future with far more virtual events and I certainly wouldn’t rule them out now.”

Recent Axiom client who was a first-time virtual event organiser

There seems little doubt that in our hybrid working world virtual events are here to stay, but that doesn’t make it any less scary if you are new to organising them. So, in the ‘spirit’ of giving out treats not tricks this Halloween month, here are Axiom’s top tips for avoiding those online event horrors.

H is for ‘Happily ever after’.

Start with the end in mind. What do you want your participants to know, feel and do when they leave this event? If you don’t have a goal and create some metrics to measure against it how will you know if your event’s a success?

A is for ‘Adaptable’.

Want your participants engaged and gaining the same knowledge regardless of how they are attending? Then you need to adapt your format to suit the virtual environment. There is no one-size fits all but generally speaking you’ll hold someone’s concentration for longer online with shorter, sharper bursts. Think an episode of the Vampire Diaries rather than the Twilight saga.

L is for ‘Leader’ prep.

Coach your speakers, panellists, and hosts in advance to get everyone’s tech, technique, and timings right. It needn’t be a scary as they think. Ensure your contributors know how to make virtual eye contact, light themselves with natural and side lighting, minimise background noise and mute their microphone when not speaking.

L is for ‘Laughter’.

While you may be there to ‘learn’ there’s no reason you can’t lighten the mood and have a laugh with colleagues too. With a virtual event it’s perfectly possible to blend old and new worlds. Axiom recently partnered a university keen to build a sense of community and have some fun with its students, who received a DIY pizza making kit in advance of the event. At a virtual social evening everyone made, cooked, and ‘enjoyed’ their pizzas together. Virtual break out rooms too can be used to informally chat and make new connections.

O is for ‘Organise’.

Did you know a virtual event enables you to organise pre-recorded presentations and blend them with live content? It takes the pressure off your contributors, enables you to secure polished performances and, better still, your audience can’t tell the difference. This is just one of the many things you can put in place in advance of a virtual event that will help you be more organised and will enable your event to run smoothly.

W is for ‘WOW’.

When you want your event to stand out you can really ‘WOW’ your participants by using the right video conferencing software. We’re not talking Zoom or Teams here. Our transformative tech enables you to make your events truly interactive. Participant profiles that aid networking, virtual breakout rooms for smaller group exercises and interaction, exercise countdown clocks to keep people on track, interactive real time polls, live Q&A. Various providers offer alternative software and each does something different. The great thing about partnering with a virtual events expert like Axiom is that they aren’t tied to any single provider so can help secure the technical partner that best matches your bespoke needs.

E is for ‘Engagement’.

You are likely competing much harder for someone’s full attention when they are joining remotely. Those who work from home may find it more difficult to stay focused – tempted to multitask or experience interruptions from children, pets or delivery drivers.

The best way to engage people is to keep your event interactive. Create a good blend of interactive exercises and activities. Our experience also shows you can secure extraordinary engagement by keeping participant contributions anonymised.

E is for ‘Experience’.

Putting on a virtual event, or speaking at one, is the stuff of nightmares for some. But there is no need to lie in bed worrying. Axiom’s been working in this space for decades, so talk to us. Unlike Dracula, we don’t bite.

“There were loads of things Axiom prompted us on that I hadn’t even thought about. They’d ask questions like: ‘What are you going to do if this or that happens?’ They gave us loads of ideas from their experiences of other events. Given this was our first time organising virtual events we really benefited from that handholding. Without Axiom our events wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful as they were.”

Recent Axiom client who was a first-time virtual event organiser

N is for ‘Non negotiables’.

The beauty of a virtual event is you can professionally record it so your message doesn’t just get out it stays out and spreads – and with it your non-negotiable outcomes.

Whether you want to improve morale, compliance or customer service, secure buy-in and inspire action for your new strategy, go back to the beginning of your event planning and ask yourself if you’ve secured all the goals you wanted. If you haven’t, it’s worth taking some advice from an expert communications provider, like Axiom, to help you bridge the gap.

And how will you know you’ve delivered? Ask participants to give their feedback and measure your success.

Now don’t be scared, if you’d like to learn more about how we could co-create an inspiring, informative and interactive virtual, or hybrid event, call us on (0)33 3088 3088 or email us info@axiomcommunications.com

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