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The 3 Main Challenges of Hosting Virtual Events - With Solutions From Our Experts

The 3 Main Challenges of Hosting Virtual Events - With Solutions From Our Experts | MCI Group | Events

Calendar icon September, 10 2020

Hosting a virtual event in lieu of your planned face-to-face one has many advantages: it’s cost effective, environmentally friendly, measurable, and it extends your reach. But what are the most common challenges you can encounter when shifting to virtual?

The virtual events environment is not problem-free. There are some challenges that need to be considered before starting to think about creative and engaging solutions.

From our experience, there are 3 main challenges you will encounter when you utilise virtual events to galvanise your audience.

To make sure you don’t miss an exciting opportunity to promote your brand or organisation and connect with your target audience, we’ve asked 3 of our global experts to share advice on how to overcome those 3 big challenges.

Challenge 1: Creating engaging attendee-centered virtual events

Keeping your audience actively engaged is even more important while they're remote. You’re competing for their attention against work chats, inboxes, their phone, and many other distractions.

Audience participation is a fundamental part of making a virtual event valuable. If your audience isn’t engaged and contributing to the event, shaping the discussion, you may as well just pre-record all your content and host it on a website.

Solution: Content strategy is key

“People attend events because they want to see, learn, share, and network with peers. While formats differ and need to adapt for the online space, it is key to ensure that the virtual edition delivers the intended expectations.

It is crucial that every minute of content is well planned, similarly to a TV experience where every segment of content builds a narrative through minute-by-minute programming.

Breaking content into bite-sized chunks allows people to digest and assimilate content more effectively. Make sure the information you’re presenting is timely and relevant. Don't bombard your audience with content, better to spread it out over time, even in multiple sessions. And trigger the right emotions – it'll help attendees learn better and increase overall engagement.”

 

Juliano Lissoni, Managing Director MCI Canada

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Challenge 2: Poor online facilitation skills of speakers

Many speakers assume they can simply take existing slides, story and structure of in-person events and deliver them in the virtual environment. This is a misguided assumption.

Solution: Think digitally

“Seasoned speakers and presenters are very much like performers, in that they feed off from the energy of the audience. And the opposite is just as true, the audience also feeds off the energy of the speaker. That is then amplified by stage and show craft to bring about powerful feelings and energy.

Hence, presenting to a camera and speaking to an audience who are viewing it through their laptop screen or mobile screen is a different animal all together. Speakers needs to reset how they present to capture the attention and deliver the content effectively. Here are few ways to do this:

  • Change the pace for the online audience – they are no longer seated in a room, where speakers can make eye contact and gauge their attention. Timely moments and utilising “hooks” and “engagements” will not only engage the audience but give the speaker an indication of how they are reacting.
  • Keep it short and simple – there is a difference between a presentation and a lecture; a presentation leaves an impression. Therefore, keep the message and visuals simple. An animation to transport the audience to a destination may seem like a good idea, but every minute counts for someone sitting in front of the screen, so make sure it is speedy and that the right message (not how good the animation is) gets through.
  • Get to know the “stage” – the audience will be viewing the show through a 16x9 screen, that is the medium that will connect you to the audience. The stage is now determined by the camera, lighting and audio. A simple adjustment to the camera to frame the speakers and position the speakers to get the right lighting can make all the difference.

Treat virtual as a friend and you’ll find that in every challenge is an opportunity. There are advantages of being in a virtual setting and making use of different tools can bring alive an experience that was not possible previously.”

 

Victor Darmawan, Corporate Director MCI Singapore

Challenge 3: Going beyond technology limitations

Virtual events are totally dependent on technical platforms that enable, among other things, video streaming and online discussions. With each platform, come new opportunities for engagement, but they all have some serious limitations as well. Each service provider will try to steer the overall design in a way that suits their platform.

In a situation like that, it is easy to lose focus of the overall event design.

Solution: Your audience comes first

“Designing virtual events is not about the platform, it is about the message, the audience and the story.

Digital experiences must be tailored to the audience. Short and sharp, interactive and digestible, not to mention memorable to engage all persona profiles.

The virtual experience design process enables the development of individual and highly effective solutions - structured and co-created. Objectives and challenges, as well as the needs and requirements of the target group, need to be analysed first.

These findings are used to outline the big picture and to create the attendee journey right from the start.

Once the key to a communicative challenge is found, solutions will be designed and implemented. And this is when platforms come into place. At the end, not at the beginning! Then you design value driven virtual spaces where you can share stories and build communities around brands, products and topics.”

 

Andreas Laube, Managing Director MCI Germany

The true challenge of running a digital meeting is not just the technology but a reinvention of your meeting to work in a virtual space. If you’ve encountered any of these challenges in your process and you’re in need of some guidance, you can get in touch with our virtual events experts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Benedetta Fadini

Benedetta Fadini
Benedetta Fadini

Benedetta is a Content Creator with a passion for storytelling and new technologies. She covers stories on the latest innovations in the event industry with lots of research and a pinch of humour.

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