Vaccinations are rolling out and in-person events are returning – at some level. Most are smaller than pre-Covid days – with a lot of focus on sanitation, airflow, and social distancing.
With a jump in virtual events in 2020, many discovered the joys of being there – without having to be there. No flights, no hotels, no days away from the rest of your life – and the coffee choices from your at-home Keurig.
Many event planners have recognized that even when life is back to the way it was, there are benefits to keeping events hybrid at some level.
According to the Event Manager Blog, “While nothing will ever completely replace an in-person gathering, virtual events represent a lifeline for events in the midst of travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders, and they will be a key component of events during the transition back to live and beyond. Incorporating virtual elements at live events will be crucial to their viability.”
This leads us to the first reason to host a hybrid event:
Hybrid Events Allow You to Reach a Larger Potential Audience
Between social distancing, stay-at-home orders, mask regulations, travel restrictions, and general concerns about returning to pre-Covid “normal,” hybrid events allow those who are comfortable going to in-person events to connect with those who are not. Plus, hybrid events aren’t solely limited by capacity restrictions.
The Event Manager Blog says hybrid events allow “for much more inclusivity and diversity at the event, which in turn can offer the potential for more interesting exchanges, a larger overall audience, and a higher ROI.”
Hybrid Events Offer a Greater ROI
You line up the speakers, book the venue, determine food and beverage options – the to-do list seems endless, but with limited capacity in every venue, your ROI for the in-person event is limited.
Expanding to a hybrid event expands your ROI potential because you can target those who are comfortable with in-person events as well as those who are not.
Not only does this help you have a larger, more successful event, but it also helps more attendees network and learn from other people.
The Event Manager Blog says, “You may even want to find ways of connecting your live attendees with the online audience in order to maximize the networking potential and minimize silos based on the privilege of attending in person.”
Hybrid events create a win-win situation for everyone.
Hybrid Events Have Data Tracking
In-person events allow for some data tracking before and after the event, but virtual and hybrid events allow for real-time data tracking. Attendees provide personal data when they register for the events, when joining a session, and when submitting surveys.
This data is easier to collect and review since it’s digital, and it makes it easier to encourage in-person attendees to complete forms and surveys online, especially during post-pandemic events.
Hybrid Events are Scalable
When you have a virtual event, the seats are practically endless. When you have a hybrid event, you have some limited in-person seating as well as a practically endless online audience.
But what about sponsors?
Hybrid events offer more sponsorship opportunities, which means you can scale your event to serve more people in more ways.
According to Aggregage, many sponsors are shifting their budgets to virtual events because of Covid-related restrictions as well as the requirement to have more data to back up their spending.
Hybrid events also offer you, as the event host, the data you need to attract sponsors. When you have more sponsors, you can put on a bigger show, have more in-demand speakers, and curate experiences for your in-person and online audiences to connect in safe, meaningful ways.
Partner With the Right Event Experts
If your organization is planning an event later this year and you’re considering expanding to a hybrid event, know that you don’t have to host a hybrid event on your own.
Hybrid events, while they have extensive benefits and opportunities, also combine the intricacies of in-person and virtual events with the added challenge of connecting both audiences in interactive and meaningful ways.
Because of the unique challenges hybrid events present, our team at Meet Me In The Cloud considers hybrid events as a unique delivery skill.
Jeff Gallagher, Head of Event Assist Productions at MMITC, says,
A mix of virtual and in-person is very likely to be the future of events. Organizations that want to approach a hybrid model need to consider how to deliver a stellar in-person experience and keep the virtual attendee engaged. Considerations need to be made for both audiences – which adds a level of complexity.
Don’t face this complexity on your own. Whether it’s a quick team meeting, family reunion, or annual corporate conference, Meet Me In The Cloud has helped many businesses like yours optimize their virtual events with Event Assist Services.
Through the summer, we’ve seen a massive migration from in-person meetings and conferences to online or virtual events. Unsure if your event can be successfully held online? Here are some examples of the many events you can host virtually.
Corporate All-Hands Meetings
An all-hands meeting is a company-wide event that promotes transparency, celebrates milestones, and encourages alignment of goals and strategies. Whether your team is in-house or spread all over the world, having an online all-hands meeting can keep everyone on the same page, no matter their current work environment.
All-hands meetings tend to have many moving parts like multiple speakers and slideshow presentations. You could consider hiring an event services business to help you with the planning and execution of this crucial event.
Concerts, large conferences, wedding receptions – who knew these would be a bad idea to host in-person in 2020? Large gatherings have been discouraged for the rest of the year and beyond, but if you are a professional conference host, you likely can’t afford to lose your audience for this event. And your audience likely can’t afford to miss the event for professional, educational, compliance, and networking reasons.
Large conference events are perfect for online platforms if you have the right tools and knowledge. Virtual events can be customized for any audience, any time. Create conference sessions in much the same way you’d do it in a convention center or hotel – set up a schedule of events and create online “rooms” for attendees to join.
Make your session itinerary available early for attendees and let them pick and choose what is of interest to them. There are even conference apps that can foster networking, note-taking, and conversation.
Virtual City Council Meetings
The work doesn’t stop, even in a disaster or pandemic. And city council meetings are necessary for the function of every community. You can plan all city council meetings virtually, which can help boost attendance and alleviate commute-based conflicts. Virtual meetings can also garner more participation from the council, as each member can be highlighted through video feeds and chat options. Everyone can speak up in whatever way is most comfortable.
By hosting online, city councils can offer chat- or email-based real-time question and answer sessions to directly address citizens’ issues.
Are you a little nervous about hosting your biggest annual conference online? Why not break the sessions out into webinars?
Webinars are short online events, typically done for classes with specific topics. You can do a single webinar, or host a small series that focuses on the same theme. This is a great way to add some flexibility to your online offerings. You can schedule the same webinar at different times, and since the information and presentation are the same, you know what to expect each time you host. It’s a great way to test the waters of virtual event planning while still providing valuable information and training for your customers.
Do you normally host a benefit for your local children’s hospital? Throw a gala to raise money for your town’s library, fire department, or place of worship?
Moving fundraisers to an online platform means a larger audience reach. Those who can’t or won’t come to the physical event may feel more comfortable watching and participating from the comfort of their home. You can showcase musical acts or skits, give speeches, or even offer silent auction and chat- or phone-based donation opportunities.
Plan Your Virtual Events with Meet Me In The Cloud
Meet Me In The Cloud’s Event Assist Services are perfect for online events of any size or type. Check out our different packages and enjoy these benefits: pre-session planning, content review, in-session technical support, and post-session follow-up. For more information, read our datasheet or contact us today. Let us help you make the most of your next online event.
Thinking you’ve forgotten something is one of the worst feelings, especially in a professional setting. There are so many resources out there to ensure you never have to feel this way, and you want to make sure the advice you’re being given is helpful and correct.
Migrating event solutions to a digital platform offer unique opportunities and challenges, so here are 10 quick tips for your online event that will help you make your experience a good one.
1. Check Your Connections – All of Them
Technology is multi-faceted and optimized for the user experience, but accidents and issues can still happen. Make sure all of your tools are connected and set up correctly. This means all elements: video (webcams, screen sharing, projectors), audio (test microphones through your event platform to check for feedback or other issues), and internet (wifi, hard connections, VPN, etc.).
2. Remember You Are (or Will Be) LIVE
Remote work offers a lot of freedom in terms of desk and office setup, wardrobe, and general atmosphere. Set reminders for yourself and your event participants to take a hard look at their surroundings and optimize them before the event to minimize unwanted distractions.
Check your outfit and your surroundings. Large jewelry could jingle, strange things in your video background could distract listeners while you’re talking, and having inappropriate or strange items on your shared screen will, at best, cause some embarrassment and at worst violate company policies or codes of conduct.
3. Send Out an Agenda
Give participants an agenda so they can follow along and have an idea of what to expect before the meeting starts. This can help them prepare and will also discourage wandering eyes or cellphone gameplay during the event.
4. Embrace the Tradition of Pre-Show Announcements
Do you know the pre-show announcements at the movie theater telling people to please silence your cell phones? Along with sending an agenda, be sure to give a brief statement at the beginning that outlines the expectations of the meeting or event. This is an important online event tip because each attendee is in a wholly different environment from you. Outlining these expectations first can help you enforce them when you notice someone has stopped listening and started texting or petting their cat.
5. Take Advantage of the “Mute” Button
In line with tip #2, there will be things that you don’t anticipate happening, so take advantage of the “mute” button. This is a great reminder to add to your pre-show announcements. Remind yourself and your participants to mute those mics when someone else is talking or presenting.
6. Increase Engagement by Assigning Roles
In presentations or meetings, you can assign roles to ensure more people are actively engaged. In your agenda or at the beginning of the event, assign roles like note taker, timekeeper (to keep any one participant from monopolizing the “stage”), and chat mediator (this person can monitor a live chat feed by weeding out redundant or off-topic comments and voice questions and comments participants don’t feel confident voicing themselves). Take some time to come up with a list that makes sense for your event.
7. Don’t Forget About Eye Contact
It is very easy when you are speaking and on video to look at your notes or fail to initiate virtual eye contact. Though it will feel odd at first, remember to move your eyes up from your screen and look directly into your camera lens so listeners are compelled to pay attention.
8. Keep the Speeches Compelling
As you are thinking about the goals and information that will populate your event, remember that no one likes to watch someone read PowerPoint slides word-for-word. Make notecards or jot down some talking points, and practice speaking to your virtual audience. Framing information in a story format is usually more compelling than listing statistics or jargon-laden objectives, so take some time to add a few anecdotes to your presentation.
9. Don’t Play the Waiting Game
If your meeting or event is set to start at 9:00 a.m., keep to that schedule. Waiting for “just a few minutes while everyone gets on” only serves to disengage all the participants you are currently talking to. Start right away with your content and maintain a steady pace to keep energy and engagement high from start to finish.
10. Mix in Fun Polls and Practices
Break up the monotony a bit by sending out polls or creating interesting practices to keep people on their toes (think about all those “jumbotron” games that can be played using your video conference software). They can be icebreaker-style games or questions that let participants learn a little bit more about each other.
Still on the fence about your upcoming online event? Let Meet Me In The Cloud help with their collection of event assist services.
Virtual meetings and other online events will be commonplace by the end of 2020 if they aren’t already, and having a successful online event is important for you and your business. With virtual learning and work-from-anywhere initiatives holding steady through the summer, you want to ensure your remote employees, colleagues, and clients are not wasting time during ill-prepared Zoom or Microsoft Teams calls.
We’ve outlined some things you should consider when planning and executing a successful online event.
Consider Your Event Length and Timing
Whether it’s a quarterly board meeting or a weekly check-in, it’s important to consider what the best time and length will be for your virtual event. Some of this will depend on the considerations below, like engagement level and hosting platform. It’s easy to think of an instance where a meeting was too long and how detrimental that was to your day or workflow, but having a meeting that isn’t long enough can be just as unhelpful.
Be sure to think through the purpose of the meeting and brainstorm what timeframe would best serve your objectives. Is this a meeting to share some quick announcements or policy changes? A shorter meeting would be fine. But if you are looking at something that is more collaborative, say a monthly status update for a large company project, allowing more time for discussion and questions may be more beneficial than a quick recap-style conversation.
It is also worthwhile to consider the timing of your meeting: early mornings are great for quick meetings, but diving into an immersive and interactive discussion might go better if it’s scheduled later in the day.
Keeping event length and timing in mind can set your audience or participants up for a good experience before the event has even started.
Consider Your Preferred Engagement Level
Another important variable in the formula for a successful online event is the expected engagement or interaction level. Streaming a speaker with content-heavy monologues will not elicit high engagement if you don’t prompt your audience beforehand or allocate time sprinkled throughout the session for questions or comments.
If you are just looking to give event participants a lot of great, curated information, then your focus on engagement (keeping your audience’s attention) is still critical but your allotment of time for interaction and active participation can be minimal. It may be wise to remember, however, that in a world full of screens, our natural reaction to watching a program that isn’t stimulating is to search for outside activity or another screen to escape to.
If you are going for an immersive or collaborative event like a brainstorming session or a panel discussion, it’s important to spend time building a schedule that offers large enough blocks of time in the presentation to facilitate good conversation. Give your participants time to familiarize themselves with the expectations so they can feel comfortable contributing to the group discussion.
Pick the Best Platform/Technology
With the advent of the novel coronavirus, hundreds of virtual event businesses changed overnight to offer all the things instructors, conference directors, and office professionals needed to keep operations up and running.
To execute a successful online event, you should research multiple hosting and scheduling platforms. It could save you a lot of time and headaches on the day of the event. Finding the best video conferencing software for your business is easier than ever before – you have hundreds of resources, blog articles, reviews, and peer experiences to pull from before you make your final decision.
Don’t forget: just because you’ve always used a specific service doesn’t mean you have to keep using it. Don’t be afraid to upgrade as your needs and the needs of your business change.
Bonus: Consider Hiring a Professional Service
Dreading the thought of making all these decisions and preparations for your next event? Consider hiring a professional service to ensure you have a successful online event. These services can range from tech support to specific event scripts and schedules, and they can do the heavy lifting for you while you just focus on being a valuable asset during the event itself.
Every online event is different. Check out Meet Me In The Cloud’s event assist services.
I Don’t Need an Expert…I Can Do It!
One of the first signs of being a full-fledged adult was to try to take care of our “adult problems” without calling in mom or dad to help fix it.
If the sink disposal broke, then we’d think “I don’t want to call a plumber just for that! I’ll fix it myself!” Or if the car was making a funny sound, then we’d hop on YouTube and find a random video and attempt to play mechanic on the most expensive piece of machinery we own.
But we found ourselves removing the entire sink disposal without any clue of how to get the thing back in. Or we put all the pieces back together in the engine of our car only to discover that we have an “extra” bolt still in our hand.
And we ended up having to call the professionals anyway and now the problem is even bigger than it was in the first place!
Stick to Your Area of Expertise
Occasionally in the pursuit of business, we do the same thing:
We try to do things on our own that are entirely out of our area of expertise.
Sometimes we find ourselves in over our heads and an instructional YouTube video isn’t going to get us out of it. And the same thing goes for adopting a new program or software into your company culture.
When adopting Cisco Webex, it can be tempting to want to try your own adoption methodology. We get it. I mean, how hard can it be to plug in a video conferencing and online meeting product and just get to it? Right?
While the Cisco Webex products are amazing and ultimately easy to use, that first round of training and implementation can be a bit of a hurdle.
Common Problem #1
Your company might find themselves attempting to implement your own training approach but it might not be successful simply because it might be a bigger job than expected or you might run into some unforeseen complication.
Solution: Meet Me In The Cloud has a proven 6-Step Adoption Methodology which will take all the strain off of you as your company goes through the training process.
Common Problem #2
Perhaps you purchased the Flex Plan with Cisco but you aren’t entirely sure what is included or even how to use those features. You know that you bought meeting, team collaboration, calling, and contact center services but what exactly should those features look like implemented into your company?
Solution: Meet Me In The Cloud conducts a discovery process to analyze use cases and then we tailor the training to the needs of your unique users.
Common Problem #3
A Webex Events plan is certainly one of the most impressive components that Cisco has to offer companies who are looking to reach employees and sales prospects across the country or around the world without travel and venue expenses, but it’s amazing capabilities can at times be perceived as difficult to implement.
Solution: Meet Me In The Cloud offers a series of training sessions for each feature for all levels of knowledge workers.
Because at Meet Me In the Cloud – we have learned one thing is for certain: trying to understand the Cisco products, train, implement, and follow-up is not something that you want to DIY. You and your company deserve customized training and adoption: that one-size fits all is very rarely the best approach.
Get in touch with us to avoid these 3 common problems, so you can achieve your desired business outcomes faster with Meet Me In The Cloud.