COVID19 lockdowns forced businesses to embrace the concept of a virtual event. Whether that was an annual awards celebration, a conference, a farewell or a largescale training session, for example, the only way to deliver was online, and many companies took up the challenge and fashioned events that were inclusive, engaging affairs.
Now that Australia is operating in COVID Normal, should the concept of a virtual event be shelved in favour of face-to-face gatherings, or can we take the lessons we learned from our period of forced online events and incorporate them into our schedules?
At a minimum, business owners should:
Investigate the pros and cons of virtual events. It may be that a virtual event brings cost benefits and allows an event to take place that normally wouldn’t happen.
What you should be doing:
Look at the advantages:
- Less or no travel time for participants. This is a big one because people are more prepared to commit to an event if it doesn’t entail a long commute.
- Less expense all round. For the organiser, there’s no venue hire, no food and alcohol costs. For the attendee, there’s no ticket cost, no travel costs or parking fees
- There’s no limit on numbers. But if you are going big – as in thousands, best ensure your technology is up to it.
- More flexibility on timing. If you aren’t competing for venues, you can set the date and time that suits. Also, you can record the event and people who were unable to attend can watch it at a later date.
- Access to the world’s best. The money you are saving can be used to access a higher level of guest speaker or entertainment. It doesn’t matter where they are in the world, as they can join your virtual event at the click of a button and you don’t have to pay for their airfares and accommodation. Win-win!
Look at the challenges:
- It’s one dimensional. Meeting people face-to-face and being immersed in the atmosphere isn’t something that can be duplicated online.
- Lack of networking opportunities. Large online events don’t deliver those priceless opportunities to network when you are physically present at an event.
- No accountability. While people may log in to an online event, you have no guarantee that they are actually watching it.
- No live audience for presenters to bounce off. A lot of guest speakers base their presentation around interaction with the audience. While lockdowns have forced them to re-think their approach – it’s often less dynamic.
What not to do
- Don’t ignore the options that video events provide. Events are critical to team culture, networking within your industry and building relationships with clients.
- Don’t forget to develop protocols and behaviour standards around online events – e.g., dress code, cameras on, mute on, using the chat function etc.