Virtual events have become the norm as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic. With travel, cost and language barriers greatly diminished, we’re seeing an uptick in truly global, large-scale meetings and conferences happening completely online.
For event managers and professionals looking to revamp their strategy in 2020 and beyond, there are a few best practices to be aware of that can help make an event as inclusive and successful as possible. When selecting your digital meeting platform, be sure to consider the following criteria.
Keep Attendee and Presentation Data Safe
Virtual meetings of all sizes often feature shareable resources like posters, slide decks or even full presentation recordings. While you want these assets to be easily disseminated to attendees, you also want to keep your presenters’ proprietary work secure. This can be achieved with event hosting platforms which feature end-to-end encryption capable of protecting the sharing and downloading of these resources.
Attendee privacy is also a top concern planners must consider. A secure platform can be used to protect any and all data gathered during registration and participation. As always, it’s best for the host or event managers to clearly state how they plan to use the information gathered.
Make it Scalable – Without Losing Personality
When an event is fully virtual, smooth functionality is everything. If the live feed glitches, crashes or lags, you risk losing attendees. Whether you’re hosting an enterprise-scale meeting that will draw attendance in the hundreds of thousands or a small corporate gathering, the event platform you use must be able to scale up or down to fit the scope of the event without disruptions.
It’s also possible to have a seamless, large-scale virtual event that still feels unique to the association, industry or brand hosting it. Look for platforms and technologies that offer add-ons, such as back-end customization options and augmented reality experiences. Customization enables the event hosting software to look perfectly on-brand while being easy to navigate, so that attendees don’t lose time figuring out what to do next.
If you want to offer guests something truly eye-popping, look to 3D and AR offerings. Accessible links and QR codes allow these to be easily embedded into programs, panels and websites. Guests can view presenter holograms, realistic recreations of technology on display or even walk into virtual expo booths. These features are easy to work into the platform and can help you offer a truly unique event that will stand out in attendees’ memories.
Create an Inclusive Interface
Accessibility tools are crucial to creating a virtual event that welcomes and encourages all attendees, wherever they are based and whatever their engagement preferences. A few of the latest cutting-edge features you should look for when considering an event hosting platform include:
- Real-time and on-demand language translation. International attendees will appreciate the ability to follow along and even engage with discussions, panels and presentations in their preferred language. Some platforms also offer the ability to easily access and replay content through searchable closed captions.
- Chatbots. Offering an artificial-intelligence-enabled chat window directly within the event interface makes it easy for attendees to ask questions and find what they’re looking for. It also lessens the burden on your event staff, if the chatbot can assist attendees with frequently-asked-questions, they can stay focused on logistics and big picture questions.
- In-window polling and Q&As. Attendees want to remain engaged and present when they’re watching a panel or lecture. For this reason, any interactive features or queries they’re encouraged to respond to should be available right within the video window. You can even consider a platform which allows results, responses or attendee questions gathered to populate directly on the feed in real-time, adding another layer of participation and inclusion for the most active guests.
- Replay capabilities. If you are putting on a large-scale virtual event or even a meeting whose attendees will span multiple time zones, you’ll need to offer a way to access presentations and event content on-demand. This is just as crucial as having a scalable, reliable live event. Any guests logging into your dashboard should be able to easily find schedules, download resources and replay the presentations most relevant to them.
While making a sharp, necessary pivot to fully online events earlier this year had its challenges, the logistical and cost benefits will no doubt lead to long-term changes in how organizations, industry associations and corporations meet and collaborate. As event managers shift into the next phase of virtual hosting, it’s crucial to explore and utilize tools and technology-driven platforms to offer a more engaging, accessible and safe event, regardless of location.
Evan Gappelberg is the CEO of NexTech AR, which provides augmented reality solutions for ecommerce, advertising and virtual events. Evan is an accomplished entrepreneur with an expertise in creating, funding and running start-ups.