Avoid the pitfalls of the teleconference with a well-coordinated web-event on a bespoke easy to use platform. How it’s done.
Nothing beats a well-executed summit if you want to create awareness, leads and engage large groups of people in knowledge sharing. And the need for these global connections is not going away despite the challenges faced at this moment in time.
Technology provides a strong solution for switching your event to digital. But participants expect all the advantages of a physical event - well designed and executed with a great deal of focus on engagement and value. Anybody who has experienced the confusion of a teleconference knows the format is not optimal for interchangeability and fluidity. A well run web-event avoids the pitfalls of the teleconference totally with a bespoke easy to use platform and a well drilled show coordinator.
Advantages of web events:
- Added reach
- Customised user experiences
- On-demand communication
- Measurable leads
- Platform for extending the life of the event
Here are challenges of running a successful web event:
1. Technical - Web events are totally dependent on technical platforms that enable them e.g. the connectivity, video streaming and ability to enter into discussions. The key is to first design the summit and then devise how the platforms can help. The platform needs to be flexible and combine technologies to create a bespoke experience for the attendees.
2. Community & Engagement - A sense of community is necessary to create a place where people can share their views. At a physical event participants need only to look to their side to find a connection. At a web event people may choose to stream the content at a later time. Even if they log in during the live event, you may be reduced to a small window at the top of their screen and you are facing the challenge of a dual-tasking unfocused audience.
To create commitment you can make some content exclusively available live. This could be content of highly valuable or or intimate nature (e.g. a fireside talk with a leading speaker). Put names and faces of the participants and their presence at the live event is vital as is asking for their questions and feedback.
3. Keeping it real - Virtual summits will not offer the same opportunities for building personal relations and networking as physical events. The key here is to keep content honest, concise and at eye-level with the participants. Let your company's personalities shine through, introduce some spontaneity and be open about what you do not know.
4. Intuitive platform - One of the biggest challenges of creating engaging web events of any kind is to allow people to have quality conversations and engagement. This is even more challenging in the virtual space. Anybody who has experienced the confusion of a teleconference knows the format is not optimal for interchangeability and fluidity. A well run web-event avoids the pitfalls of the teleconference totally with a bespoke easy to use platform.
5. Interchangeability of content is key - through a mix of live streaming and pre-made content you can get your message across effectively. Using live surveys and polls you can also ask for, and showcase, the feedback you get in return. Getting the participants to really talk to each other online is a heavy lift but very achievable.
Managing the change to a web event
For most participants and contributors a web event will be a new thing and they will have had even shorter time to prepare than you. Without the right event planning the risk is that they see it as a light traditional event without the side benefits of traveling, networking and meeting important people. Make them realise this isn’t the case. Things will be very different for some contributors that will have to deal with a new timeline and format.
Deadlines for deliverables are key and topics has to be curated. Material has to be prepared in advance to be uploaded and distributed. Workshop content has to be adjusted to fit the online platforms and to create a consistent user experience. Workshop owners have to present during the live events and be available before and after to moderate discussions and update content.
The journey of the participants takes them through sign-ups and pre-reads, surveys, actual participation and the afterlife of on-demand content and follow-up initiatives.
All of this presents a lot of work to event owners, contributors and the project team. The first web event could be a learning experience for everybody involved but in the near future things will no doubt move towards more virtual interactions. But we can’t forget the lessons from the last 20 years of physical event management.