Virtual Events Round-Up: Drawing Inspiration
By Colin Girkout, Marketing
With the “new normal” in place for over a month now, our event strategy and production capabilities have been at the forefront, working with clients to transform their original face-to-face plans into digital alternatives. It’s through times like these that we are reminded of how valuable connectivity is to a business and how powerful shared experiences can be at driving positive outcomes.
Many companies are finding success pivoting to virtual events through a creative mixture of screencasting, video conferencing, and mic muting. Virtual experiences require their own “care and feeding” as we’ve written about previously. Both the entertainment and tech industries have demonstrated that preserving their shows in this format helps maintain a valuable source of communication and unity with their audiences through this time.
Let’s take a look at a few exemplary ways of pivoting to digital:
Recently, Adobe shifted their annual product and user conference, Adobe Summit, from its Las Vegas location to a completely pre-recorded, on-demand affair. The program was hosted virtually by several Adobe executives who delivered keynotes, product demos, and breakout sessions—each in 15-20-minute chunks. The segmentation allowed the event to remain personalized while respecting their remote audience’s time investment.
The strength of the event was their attention to production. Without an abundance of options, Adobe was still able to maintain their brand’s identity and distinctiveness by incorporating motion graphics, vibrant audio, and frequent transitions. Since their event was pre-recorded, it allowed room for editors to polish the end product without losing any time to technical difficulties. Additionally, the program was hosted on a central in-browser webpage that allowed for easy navigation and automated assistance to the high amount of generated traffic.
There is no substitute for an in-person experience, but Adobe demonstrated a smart way of providing their community with content at an at-your-leisure pace.
In early March, the cloud software company Domo made the decision to transform their 3,000-person conference called Domopalooza, into a 100% online program—rebranding it Domopalooza: Live & On-Demand. The traditional user event typically brought together customers, industry leaders, and product educators to populate three days' worth of speaking engagements and demonstrations. The virtual transformation flipped the show on its head and instead released both a condensed 60-minute live session along with a series of on-demand breakouts.
The value of incorporating a live segment shouldn’t be overlooked—if possible. What it brings is a degree of candidness from your speakers that connects your audience members to a real person—not an audiobook. Domopalooza certainly excelled at balancing live content with produced work, which made the event both genuine and captivating. Interwoven through live stage conversation was a series of clips centered around CEO Josh James with a variety of Domo product users at work. Instead of bringing the customers to the event, Domo brought the event to the customers, providing attendees with an intimate day in the life snapshot.
Due to shelter in place orders, production inside a virtual studio is impossible. However, connecting your speakers through a livestream is one way to feature connectivity in an authentic way.
Next in the round-up, we’ve noticed that much can be learned from the entertainment industry. Late night talk shows in particular are examples of how to appeal to audiences by breaking down the façade and showing personability. Obviously, you may not have Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, or Seth Meyers in your ranks, but you can use this opportunity to show empathy and humanization. Although late night hosts are typically part of a suited up and edited production, they’re using the more informal virtual platform to give audiences a glimpse into their more accessible state.
What audiences are craving during this time is authenticity. Although a high production value will take your program to the next level aesthetically, taking the time to strategize your messaging will take it even further—and make even a FaceTime chat between Stephen Colbert and John Oliver look like gold.
Lastly, various stars in the music industry displayed tremendous solidarity through their performances on Global Citizen’s ‘One World: Together at Home.’ The virtual concert was organized to raise funding for front-line healthcare workers and available to the public across most major networks and streaming platforms. Although the show’s success can be attributed to its lineup of A-listers, the production and coordination efforts needed were immense.
The program was aired in a variety show type format as it switched back and forth from artist to speaker, requiring each recording to fall into place as cohesively as possible. With the state of Keith Richard’s phone camera unknown, this is a more challenging task than it seems. However, what the audience truly cared about was content. Whatever the purpose is of your event, whether it's demoing a new product, uniting a sales force, or providing a mass update, engaging your audience can be as simple as lifting the curtain.
As professionals in crafting unique audience engagements, we at InVision are with you on this journey and exploration of new solutions. We continue to be inspired by our fellow live event community for their resolve as we all strive to provide experiences that connect with audiences through unprecedented circumstances. Although there is no substitute for live events, you’ll find that your stakeholders will be receptive to open communication and high-quality content – and respect your company regardless of the format.
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