Can You Create a Meaningful Experience in a Virtual Conference?

You would think that a company that has been offering live virtual marketing training for years would have no trouble turning their main B2B face-to-face forum into an online event. You would be wrong.

We knew that the online event could not and should not be the same experience, but we struggled internally to understand how it should be.

Our main mission was to create the same energetic and connected feeling that our participants experience during an individual conference.

Here are things we learned during planning

  1. Live virtual event sessions don’t mean better

Do you discuss live or live sessions with your company? pre-registered? According to our participants, many of us are.

To alleviate technical problems and have some quality control over the sessions, we decided to pre-record all of the presenters (except for our last conversation with Kevin Carroll).

However, we were concerned with the “canned” feeling of the sessions. To combat this, …

  • was transparent and told participants that the sessions were pre-recorded
  • A moderator and a speaker said “hello” at the beginning of the session
  • Invite speakers to participate in the session with the participants to speak live, answer questions and play with the participants in real-time (we call this the clock festival)
  • Encourage participants to ask questions at the end of a live question and answer session (other participants can vote on the questions they want to answer)
  1. Still expect the unexpected, but realize that it’s just different

Anyone who has planned a live event knows that there are always problems with the hotel, the rooms, the food, and the flow of the sessions – even the weather. There is no perfect event, even if it appears for the participants. Virtual events do not differ.

  • Allow sufficient time to select the technology. Just like choosing a hotel, it can take a long time and many “site visits” to choose a technology to host your event. As this technology space has exploded, many vendors are supported. It may also take a while to get a demo. And although this type of technology has been around for years, its popularity means that new companies are coming to the market every day, bringing with it many classification options.
  1. Rethink everything

Everyone jokes about Zoom’s death, but we all have digital fatigue. We also need to consider how we can make participants enjoy the experience while teaching their children their homework, checking work emails, and caring about the state of the world.

  • Encourage participants to activate their messages outside the office. This tip comes from our conversation in the network room and we like it. Learning is learning, regardless of the delivery method.
  • Keep your sessions short and memorable. We were really concerned about that. Can you really learn from a 20-minute presentation and a 10-minute question and answer session? It turns out that you can. What we found is that the shorter form (along with the creativity of the speaker) can affect the speakers in a short period of time.
  1. Give participants the human obligations they desire

One of the things people love about their favorite live events is how they feel during and after a conference. It is a wave of ideas, fun, and a sense of belonging. One of the biggest challenges that every marketer faces is how to translate this into an online event. How do you create this experience if you can’t enjoy cocktails, delicious moments, and breakfast meetings?