Leverage these event pro tips and tricks to make your virtual event content shine in a big way.
Event pros at VMware report virtual event content engagement at VMworld on par with their popular pre-pandemic in-person events. Virtual events are thriving at VMware and driving bigger audiences than ever to engage with their event content.
According to event content manager, Allison Crooker, “We focus on content in a big fashion. VMworld includes hours of continuous content delivery, over 1000 produced videos, and something targeting every major geographic region.” How do they do it? Here are some of the tips Allison and other top virtual event content developers follow to consistently turn out engaging virtual sessions and keynotes at their events.
Make it a planning priority
Great content starts with mindful planning. Choose speakers who not only have something valuable to share with your audience, but who additionally can present energetically to a camera. On-board speakers well in advance of event day. Give them a framework that helps them link their presentation content to overarching event themes and messaging.
Make it fast-paced
Online attention spans are notoriously short. Research indicates a virtual speaker has about 60-90 seconds to gain audience interest or attendees switch a presentation to audio only. To hold attendees’ visual attention, guide speakers to skip the personal intro and start right in with valuable content. If someone really wants to know about a speaker’s background they can look it up. Hold content reviews for all sessions and check presenters and slides to be sure concepts are clearly stated and progress quickly. Let attendees ask questions to dive deeper and boost engagement.
Make it personal
At in-person events, attendees look forward to meeting and interacting with experts on a deeper level through breakout sessions. Coach your remote speakers to engage with their virtual audience members more personally. It’s as simple as greeting a few people by name at the start of a session or asking a question and sharing a few responses along with the contributor’s name and location. (Hint – just keep an eye on the audience chat feed.) A little goes a long way here in helping attendees feel like they are part of something and not just watching a broadcast.
Make it regional
Allison says “At VMworld 2020 we ran content for 48 hours straight to offer something for every region.” Impactful content follows the sun and plays out in local time zones, regions, and languages. It includes custom content designed to appeal to regional tastes and expectations. This may include supplementing regional conference agendas with a unique speaker, celebrity, or even entertainment with regional appeal.
Make it entertaining
Entertainment sells, and tech companies like VMware pay top dollar to have well-known actors, comedians, and musicians participate in events such as VMworld. Content doesn’t have to include keynote’s from Hollywood’s A list to provide entertainment though. When agendas include a bit of fun such as a magician or a digital scribe, it encourages attendees to stay tuned in for the novelty. It also allows attendees to refresh mentally and be ready for the next deep-dive session.
Make it surprising
Divergent content such as a live hippo cam is one way to surprise attendees. As with bringing entertainment value to the content, creativity often takes you much further than added cost though. For example, at Zoom’s Zoomtopia 2021 the emcee added humorous Zoom filter effects on his video stream each time he came on camera.
Make it interactive
Virtual event platforms offer multiple tools organizers can use to boost content interaction. Take the time to train all your speakers on the platform-tools available to them. Encourage speakers, moderators, and hosts to incorporate at least some interactivity into sessions. If sessions are pre-recorded, have a subject matter expert lead interaction in the session chat. Follow-up sessions with live audience Q&A sessions. From gamification that awards points for interaction to session rooms that enable attendees to join in a Zoom-style discussion with your experts, make the most of the tools your platform provides for interaction.
Make it energetic
An energetic session certainly starts with a charismatic speaker, but there are many tips and tricks anyone can use to add energy to a session. Start by having speakers stand rather than sit for their talk. Although speakers can’t typically move around much for a virtual presentation, you can use multiple cameras on the speaker to create an illusion of motion by switching up the camera angle every 60 to 90 seconds. Invest in top-quality microphones for speakers and remind them to project their voice even though they can’t see the audience.
Make it genuine
Above all stay away from sales pitches and marketing spiels in your event content. Give attendees a real person they can connect with to feel part of a conversation they care about.