Top Tips For a Powerful Virtual Experience

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Our global virtual event, simplyIC live is due to take place on the 21st May 2020. What was supposed to be a two-day event in London, will now be taking place online as we refuse to let Covid-19 dampen our spirits. Instead, we are seizing the opportunity to showcase the technologies available to us to transform simplyIC into a masterclass of virtual internal communications events. Here, we asked our partners, DRPG to share their secrets on how to create a powerful internal communications virtual experience.

Not a day goes by without an invitation to a webinar (or what we at DRPG like to refer to as a virtual event/ experience or live broadcast) – with topics ranging from better selling to workplace wellbeing. The sad fact is often these presentations ignore the power of the medium and become very bland, if not boring, presentations that struggle to hold interest let alone inspire in challenging times. In a world with global audiences, disparate work forces and heightened expectations of the media being consumed, a simple death by PowerPoint webinar no longer cuts the mustard.

Luckily, we are in 2020 and for many years, technology has had the power to help us create robust, adaptable solutions regardless of geographical restrictions. While the events industry has historically had a turbulent relationship with video streaming – recognising its value but perhaps not taking time to consider the myriad ways that online audiences could and should be specifically catered to – this period of enforced isolation is certainly heralding a shift in the importance of digital.

Here we look at this ‘accidental innovation’ and how businesses can best harness the power of virtual experiences to create functional and engaging solutions to communicate with their internal audiences at a critical time.

Why should we be doing this?

The need to communicate is increasing. Our audiences need far more regular communication than during normal operating conditions. Employees expect to be communicated with 3 x as regularly, minimum. Over half of employees expect daily communications and updates alongside business as usual activities. 77% of employees say sending an email (in times of crisis) does not constitute good leadership or good communication. So where does that leave us? Well the reality is we’re not trying to reinvent wheel, we’re not introducing a new product or service, we’re in fact turning to possibly the most consumed type of content on planet earth at the moment to deal with our issues: broadcast and digital.

So, what should we be doing when it comes to creating a powerful virtual event?

It’s not a simple swap over

When switching from live to virtual, the most important thing is to make sure we are not trying to shoehorn the original live content into a digital format. Streaming an entire live event directly onto a digital platform fails to consider the fundamental differences in how audiences consume online video content compared to content at physical events. If virtual technology is just a replication of the live event, then you’re going to fail.

Let’s re-evaluate the humble webinar

As communicators we should pioneer “live broadcasts” and “virtual experiences” over the humble webinar, pushing the boundaries of live communications blended with technology, and actively engaging with our virtual audiences, bringing them into the conversation as much as possible rather

than having them as mere spectators. The opportunity to ask questions at the end of a session isn’t enough. In a time where isolation is at an all-time high, interaction is key. Top tip: Timing is critical; always leave the audience wanting more.

Interaction packed

To really drive interaction it’s important to create something that audiences will actually enjoy watching, my advice would be to look at your live broadcast or virtual event as a mini TV show, incorporating all the disciplines and process that you would come to expect of your favourite TV chat show or TV news.

There are many ways to get your audience involved, from live polls to question submissions, get them to send in images that can be shared during the broadcast or why not post something out to them before the scheduled event maybe a task for them to complete and share live images of as they complete during a live break out.

Entertain and exceed expectations

Live events are about two things, community and emotion. When you make the switch to digital those elements should still be present. Audiences are far savvier and expectations are higher than ever before. If the content isn’t on point, doesn’t look great or engage them successfully, then the chances are they won’t hang about, or they will simply open another tab or window and listen to the audio. Audiences used to Netflix, Amazon Prime and other endless brilliant content in their private lives don’t want to settle when it comes to communications at work.

Mix it up

If treating your communication like a TV show it is important to remember the diversity and content that goes into a TV programme to hold the audience. Change spaces and backgrounds, have a variety of speakers, keep the viewers eyes and minds moving. You need to control audience gaze, use a multi device strategy including screen breaks, content delivered on smartphones and tablets, and interactive breakouts that move you away from the screen.

Let’s get personal

The flexibility of virtual experiences means you can stream content to different audiences at different times, making it hyper personalised. You can pre-record segments, played out at the same time but only viewable by different regions, job roles or audience type. You can even design different slides to be broadcast at the same time to audiences in a live setting. The possibilities are endless and all that’s needed is decent planning. No more waiting for the presenter to deliver the slides on a flash drive at the 11th hour!

The opportunities for virtual experiences are endless and limited only by our imaginations. Content remains king and a need to entertain as well as educate is vital. Online experiences must be planned and executed as meticulously as their live counterparts or risk falling flat and failing to engage and communicate key messages effectively.

Post by Alice May, Head of Digital Events Solutions, DRPG 

If you want to book a spot at simplyIC live and see how virtual events can come to life, more details a about the event and how to book can be found here. Don’t forget, members of the simplynetwork can attend our events for FREE! Get in touch to find out how to join our exclusive community.