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The single biggest mistake virtual-event organizers make

Virtual events are a mere translation of physical events to the virtual world, right? Oh no. Big mistake. We at Boothted know very well that virtual events are very different from normal events: they come with their own challenges, with their own benefits, and with a whole different flair. While many things are different, here’s the ONE single thing that most organizers are getting wrong about virtual events.

Recently I observed my wife participating in a virtual-conference hosted by one of the big four. She sat in her home office and connected for 2 half-days full of speeches on Webex. It was interesting to see how she grow more and more distracted, annoyed by one presentation with a particularly bad sound and lengthy speeches. Eventually, her attention shifted away from the conference and she replied to urgent emails and did other stuff (here’s how to improve events hosted on Zoom, Webex and Co.).

Let’s not beat around the bush: keeping the attention of attendees is hard enough during normal events. Who hasn’t seen most of the audience sitting in their chairs, staring at their smartphones instead of listening? That’s a hard fact. Now imagine how less focused attendees will be attending a virtual event where nobody will see how often they open a new browser window, get up, chitchat with others, or even leave the room.

The root of the problem is the attention span. Does truly anyone believe that it’s a pleasure sitting for hours in front of a screen watching more or less interesting presentations? Honest answer: usually it’s not, especially not for attendees who are easily distracted by their surroundings or are only vaguely interested by the topic of the presentation. So why shall organizers stick to long-hour events if obviously, attendees prefer shorter events? Why not break up a day-event into digestible chunks? Why not break up the whole event into various sessions placed over several days?

So this is the biggest mistake virtual-event organizers do:

Organizing long hour events, instead of spreading it over several days, in chunks of one to a maximum of two hours. Give attendees the chance to choose what sessions they wish to attend while not entirely disrupting their entire work-day. Few people will anymore allocate an entire workday to join a virtual conference. Face this reality and adapt to it.

Let’s go for a clear action plan on how to make your event compatible with the new habits of your attendees.

The first thing to do:

Break down your event into thematic groups

If your event is longer you will inevitably find topics that match together so that you can quite easily create individual sessions. The word “sessions” already gives you quite a good indication of where to start your work as many events are already grouped into sessions.

Most of the existing virtual event platforms (Boothted doesn’t make an exception here), will allow you to add a schedule to your event so that attendees can easily navigate your event.

Create a compelling mix

Make sure that each session contains a really compelling topic, speech, or panel-discussion. This will motivate attendees to flock in and to hopefully stay even for less compelling presentations. The idea is that compelling content leverages even less compelling content.

Creating a compelling mix means also combining various formats and media. Your event doesn’t have to consist only of presentations. Make sure a presentation is followed by a short video, a panel discussion, a more interactive format such as a Q&A session. Attendees who are participative are attentive.

Play with the timing

The shorter the better? Not always, but truth to be said: keep things as short as possible and as long as really needed. I’ve seen it way too often, that long presentations of 45 minutes to one hour are being hosted. Sometimes the content requires such durations, but most of the time it should be possible to break down such presentation monsters into smaller chunks. I always recommend to at least add one or two Q&A sessions to keep the attendees awake. A short break might also do wonders.

Overall I recommend having short presentations, 10-15 minutes at a faster pace. This will give your event a whole new dynamism, but of course, requires tough guidance and planning.

Leverage the power of the replay

Let’s be honest: watching a live-presentation only makes sense if you wish to interact in a Q&A-session or to see what other people are asking. Most of the time watching a replay will just do fine. I signed-up recently for two webinars but couldn’t attend because of scheduling conflicts. I supposed I could comfortably watch a replay of the webinar. As so often: supposing is not a good idea. No replay, just some slides do download with little value for me.

Especially virtual events are pre-destined to come with replays. It’s almost a sin not to provide attendees with replays and to give them the possibility to choose when they wish to consume the content. That’s one of the reasons we at Boothted allow organizers to keep an entire booth open for a longer duration so that replays, Q&As, resources, etc can be consumed at any moment by the attendees.

Explore new formats

Virtual events allow you to create a whole new attendee-experience. Consider your event more to be a TV-broadcast and try to add elements that made these broadcasts so popular. Adding a moderator providing professional guidance through the event, add intros/outros, stinger-transitions, and professional lower-thirds to show your speaker’s names. You can as well easily add videos or other pre-recorded elements to your event. There’s an almost unlimited choice of elements for all budgets. At Boothted we built into the DNA of every booth the flexible choice of the live-stream. From a simple unbranded live-stream to a fully-fledged broadcast. Sometimes it can be so easy. Be creative!

What have your experiences been over the last months with virtual events? Have you been fully focused or been distracted? Happy to learn more from you!

Resources: www.boothted.com

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Case Study

Trade-Show: iBuyBlack-Friday powered by Boothted

iBuyBlack.org is promoting top-rated black-owned businesses in the United States with a focus on Pennsylvania. To promote their businesses iBuyBlack organized an iBuyBlack-Friday special event. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the event had to be fully virtual and so the organizers chose Boothted to host not less than 30 vendor-booths. The modular concept of Boothted proved to be instrumental to the success of this event.

The pandemic proved to be a disaster for businesses. Brands and organizations try to find ways to get in front of their clients by using a virtual solution. But not every solution is suitable for every occasion. iBuyBlack.org reached out to us to host their Black-Friday sales. This year of course everything was different and it was clear that only a virtual solution could accommodate this event.

The challenge: visibility

The challenge was how to give a larger number of businesses adequate visibility. In addition, many of these vendors were not tech-savvy, so it had to be a system that was easy to deploy both for the vendors and for the audience. Not only should be all the participating vendors be featured within a compelling program but also should every vendor-booth be easily accessible at any moment. And of course, information about iBuyBlack had to be made available as well. That’s where Boothted came in.

The solution: multi-booth by Boothted

We provided the infrastructure with a main-booth featuring a day-long live-stream with interviews and specials and at the same time connected not less than 29 vendor booths, accessible right from the main-booth. Everything was set up in close collaboration with Jacqueline Taylor-Adams from Taylor-Adams Marketing who proved to be an amazing partner for Boothted. Her marketing skills and vision to provide amazing services to the community were an amazing help.

Jacqueline kept in contact with all the vendor booths and worked hard with them to activate their booths. For sure this was not always an easy task as many of them had never done anything virtual before. But thanks to Jacqueline’s skills and the easy-to-use interface of Boothted everything was set up for Black-Friday when the sales kicked off.

Lead-Generation

One of the key features which make Boothted interesting for vendors is Boothted’s lead-generation ability. Boothted is by design built to help to generate leads. There are various possibilities to interact with potential leads:

  • the branding makes sure that each booth is unique and perfectly adapted to the CI of the brand
  • every booth, including vendor-booths, allows the host to add a live-stream. This is the perfect possibility to get in front of the audience with a presentation, a workshop, or whatever might adequately highlight the products or services of the vendor
  • the “about-us” section gives an overview of the activity of the vendor
  • the person-to-person-chat provides an excellent opportunity to connect with prospects and to directly answer their questions
  • the Q&A and the FAQ’s helps to create content on the booth which is useful to the audience
  • detailed analytics help to retrace the activities on the booth and to reconnect with leads in a targeted way

Easy to use

The vendors were not necessarily tech-savvy people. Therefore it was of prime importance that Boothted was extremely easy not only to set up but to use. Many of our clients praise how intuitive it is and how fast one can set up a booth or even an entire event. This proved to be a big advantage in helping the local businesses shift from person-to-person to virtual. It simply felt less scary than most had imagined it would.The same applies as well for the visitors: each booth is easily accessible, fast, and intuitive to navigate and focuses on the brand rather than on useless gimmicks.

Finally!

The event proved to be a huge success both for iBuyBlack.org as for their vendors. Even though nothing can beat real contact, we managed to create something new, something that truly leveraged the benefits of a virtual event.

Additional Resources:

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Case Study

FEDIL: Virtual Presentation with Boothted

Wow, that was short notice. Sophie Macri, head of Communication at FEDIL in Luxembourg reached out to us whether we could handle for them a hybrid event, more precisely a virtual presentation/conference. Roughly seven days were left to set up the infrastructure on Boothted, planning the filming of 5 speakers on-site, and creating a branded live-stream. Challenge accepted!

The Cercle des Chefs du Personnel is an important briefing about current legislation in the field of HR that the FEDIL provides each year. No wonder that this time it was different due to the pandemic. Only a virtual audience while the 5 speakers would be filmed during their presentations at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce who has a fantastic infrastructure for such endeavors.

The virtual part

Setting up Boothted was really easy, especially as the FEDIL had worked with Boothted prior to the event and handled much of the configuration of the booth themselves. As one of the speakers was from the Ministry of Equality between Women and Men, a partner-booth was set up, providing additional information about the work of the ministry.

Adding additional booths for partners, sponsors or vendors is extremely easy thanks to Boothted’s highly modular concept. Every booth has its own branding, own schedule, and of course downloads, chats, and much more. As the FEDIL already had set up a booth, a good part of the branding work was already done and the existing booth could simply be cloned and adapted to the needs of the new event.
Thanks to Boothted’s built-in slide-sharing, it was easy to let each speaker control their slides individually and to embed them into the live-stream.

The live-stream

Each of the 5 presenters had a rather complex topic to handle. We decided to place them in a half-circle around a lectern so that both the social-distancing rules could be matched while at the same time being able to show views of all the speakers together. We decided to film with a total of 3 cameras and to equip each speaker with each own wireless tie-microphone to avoid having to share any microphones.

2 cameras were connected wireless over NDI while the main-camera was hard-connected to Livestream-Studio which was used to add the branding, include the presentations, additional information, and as well as pre-recorded videos. We streamed directly to FEDIL’s Youtube-account and embedded the stream into Boothted.

Showtime

We know how many things can go wrong during such an event. Yet in this case, simply nothing went wrong. All went smoothly instead. People flocked in virtually with a peak of over 170 concurrent visitors. During the presentations, the attendees started to ask questions using the Q&A section of Boothted. The questions were answered at the end of the session by the presenters even though some questions could also have been answered directly in the Q&A section.

Closing titles

“The event was a real success and I would like to thank Boothted for this excellent opportunity”, explains Sophie Macri. For us the result was flawless. Thanks to the amazing team of the FEDIL who got fully involved and was absolutely motivated to make it happen in the short amount of time given. One of the things that surprise us, again and again, is how few questions from attendees we receive how to use Boothted. Obviously, the platform is to a degree self-explanatory so that no further guidance is even required.

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