With many local governments discouraging large gatherings of people, associations and nonprofits are having to think creatively about how to host remote events. Taoti is currently working with a number of our clients on thinking through diverse challenges like hosting a virtual science fair, remote training sessions, and virtual annual conferences. While there are many challenges, we think there are also opportunities to rethink conference formats and events to take advantage of what technology has to offer.
Look to TED for inspiration
We must recognize that virtual conference attendees are going to have access to their laptops with a load of distractions from email and Slack, to social media and the news. We encourage our clients to think about the right presentation and length of all content, from speaker sessions to ads. Without the need to get up and move conference rooms, probably the TED talks’ 18-minute time limit is a better length for sessions than 30 minutes or more. There’s also an opportunity to make each session even more interactive by adding features like a question and answer or multimedia that may have been difficult in an in-person event.
Sponsors need love too
Sponsors are the lifeblood of most conferences. The reality is that most of them are looking for business development leads and building brand awareness. We can provide each of these with a thoughtful digital approach.
Virtual events will require finding creative ways to feature sponsors messaging. Well-designed advertising and messaging at the beginning and end of each presentation will help build brand awareness for sponsors. Equally, the segments can be used to promote stand-alone sponsored events like featured speakers and webinars. And, just as every podcast features several sponsorship messages, events may need to insert these brief interludes. Conferences will also need to be thoughtful about how they distribute attendee lists and encourage sponsor outreach to attendees.
How to get people chatting without drinks and snacks
Networking is an essential part of conferences and maybe the hardest piece to replicate. But we think there are creative solutions to encourage connections. Using video conferencing software like Zoom or BlueJeans, a conference can set up breakout rooms based around topics or interests. These groups could be informal chats or moderated discussions. Having a format for matching vendors and attendees (using manual matching if needed) could be successful. Think of this as an opportunity to make networking more efficient for everyone. Attendees will know specifically who to connect with based on their interests.
Optimizing User Experience
Our research shows that while video conferencing software provides the ability to connect and stream content, it is not optimized for hosting a virtual conference. Each event will likely need a stand-along webpage or microsite to make sure attendees know the schedule and can find and access all virtual events.
It is also another way to promote your sponsors.
Adding the energy
Without the fun of traveling to a new location, we need to insert some energy into our events. That might include mailing attendees a box with sponsor swag and fun branded items that fit into the remote work environment. We also think adding contests, like best remote work location or most clever social posts, and social media campaigns can add to a sense of community for attendees.
As a full-service creative agency, we are here to create an impactful and fun virtual event for your stakeholders and sponsors. Thanks to the digital age we live in, there are several options for organizations and companies to continue hosting r events and conducting business as usual. Drop us a line if you have new ways your organization is approaching virtual events. We would love to add your ideas here, too.