We've written quite a bit about virtual events and webinars. With our new COVID reality, we thought it was an important topic to revisit.
While virtual and online events may be the only option in the short term, event organizers can benefit from a virtual mindset when they approach all events going forward. Integrating a plan to host your event virtually if circumstances demand it should be a mandatory part of the overall planning process. Organizers should have the technology in place so they can easily "turn it on" when needed. Even if the event does go off as planned, live and in-person, consider adding online aspects to increase engagement. The option to create streaming video should become an essential event utility like electricity or WiFi.
While social distancing may have accelerated the acceptance of online events, webinars, in particular, are not a new concept in the federal market. Market Connections' Federal Media & Marketing Study (FMMS) found that three-quarters of federal workers reported watching live webinars during the workday and at least one in five were watching recorded webinars on their own time (weeknights and weekends). Webinars tend to be mainly one-way communication - with a speaker presenting and time for questions at the end. Frequently, the Q&A is not done "live," rather questions are gathered via messaging, vetted, and asked by the host. However, as our collective comfort with platforms like Zoom, WebEx, and Skype grow, future webinars could become more interactive, allowing for video participation and interaction between speakers and participants.
As we begin to slide into the last quarter of the year and start planning for 2020, the human inclination is to go bigger and better next year. But, we would challenge you to look at how going smaller can actually lead to a greater impact. Smaller events can deliver the same learning as a large event, however do it in a way that enables event organizers to get closer to attendees as well as a different way for attendees to interact with the content and with each other.
For context, we would define a small event as somewhere around 20-50 people. With this size, attendees have an opportunity to get to know one another and the presenters on a deeper level. This is helpful when you're looking to build better customer intimacy or when you are looking to gather feedback. A small group allows for more interaction and questions, so organizers can take advantage of the opportunity and build in plenty of time for Q&A. Attendees can get the lecture experience at any event, so set your event apart with increased access to and interaction with speakers and thought leaders.
We're living in an on-demand world - streaming video, same day delivery, peer-to-peer sharing, and more - and events have also adapted to consumer desire for content where and when they want it.
On-demand events tend to be in a webinar format - an educational, one directional presentation. While these events may lack the networking component of live (and even some live streamed) events, they are a great option for learning and training, providing just-in-time information. Continue reading
Streaming video and high availability of video collaboration applications have made virtual meetings and events more viable and desirable. This does not mean the demise of in-person events and meetings; on the contrary, it signals a human desire to see and interact with one another.
As we've written in a number of posts here, attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors no longer want to be passive participants in an event. Sitting back and just listening and taking notes is not enough. A logo on a sign is not enough. Booth space is not enough. All participants are looking for interaction and engagement with each other and with the event as a whole. While online interactions are convenient, the connection made online translates into a desire for in-person interaction. A study from Digitell found that "up to 30% of people attending a live streamed event have attended the live physical event the following year."[Tweet "It's Not a Zero Sum Game. The balance between online and in-person events. #GovEventsBlog"] Continue reading
It's been a little over a year since we last looked at the state of virtual events. Since that post, streaming has become more mainstream with the launch of Facebook Live. The rise in mobile device usage and access to high bandwidth connections has fueled the viability of video in recent months. Its popularity -- and power -- is growing at an amazing rate thanks in part to Google and Facebook's efforts to promote video through prioritizing it in their algorithms.
While every virtual event does not require video (many audio and slide-driven webinars are very valuable and popular), it is a dynamic way to hold the attention of virtual attendees. It also serves to broaden the reach of live events to an online audience.[Tweet "Virtual events can broaden the reach of live events to an online audience. #GovEventsBlog"] In 2016, the Super Bowl, the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and the debates were live streamed creating a second venue for people to watch and interact online. While the Federal events we list on GovEvents are nowhere near the scope of those events, there is a real need and opportunity for virtual events in the federal market. Continue reading