7 tips for best performing digital events
Business Events have been significantly reduced due to the global Corona pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Despite increasing vaccination rates and new safety concepts, most companies are still cautious about sending employees and/or customers to an in-person event.
In the last two years, business events have been conducted almost exclusively virtually. The resonance was quite varied; there was a lot of positive but negative to report, which was partly due to the fact that many people do not see virtual interactions as an equivalent substitute for real-life experiences and contacts.
But thanks to very good conference and event technologies, and based on the many lessons learned from past digital events, 2022 can be approached optimistically and digital events will rise to new heights. Many experts agree: Next year, digital events will continue to establish themselves not only as a good substitute, but as a real alternative to face-to-face meetings and in-person events.
But what do you have to consider if you want to plan and implement digital events successfully? Monika Monzel, Head of Training at AdCoach (adcoach.de), marketing consultant and live marketing specialist at eventmasterbook.com, has summarized the 7 most important success factors for digital (business) events:
- more practical benefit
- more action (instead of consumption)
- more service
- more pre- and post-event activities
- more authenticity ("human touch")
- less people ("downsizing")
- less technology
Success factor 1: More practical benefits
In the past, the fascination of many face-to-face events came not so much from providing information and knowledge, but from the whole "event framework" – a great location, nice people, a delicious catering, a great supporting programme. In the case of digital events, many of these Wow! factors inevitably fall away – all the greater must be the informative benefit. What digital events – more than on-site events – must ensure in 2022 is: (1) New inspiration and insights; (2) Knowledge that can be put to practical use immediately; (3) Speakers who are among the top specialists in their field and who are also willing to share their expert knowledge with others (i.e., not just promote their own business).
Success factor 2: More "acting" than "consuming"
Due to group dynamics and the anticipation of the "event framework" (see point 1), people on-site are more willing to listen to a "long-winded" frontal programme. But with remote events, the chance to simply drop out when it gets boring or complex is too attractive. That’s why it’s essential for digital events to get participants into an action mode right from the start. Small exercises, micro-challenges, project work in small groups (breakout sessions) – these are the keys to success. However, the participants should not be stressed: a good moderation and suitable working material, on the basis of which it is easy to work and collaborate, are crucial.
Success factor 3: More service
With digital events, there is a "technology barrier", which should not be underestimated, and which often turns out to be a very big hurdle, especially with larger digital events. Service staff who help the attendees with their onboarding process ensures that everyone who wants to participate gets access to the event on time. Participant information in advance also needs to be very accurate. An easy to read written tutorial (or a tutorial video) that explains what technical requirements are needed, how onboarding works, where to go in case of problems, etc. is a "must have." Furthermore, the service team should be well staffed: For major digital business events, 2 service people are unlikely to be enough. Rule of thumb: For every 25-30 participants, at least one contact person is needed in the onboarding phase.
Success factor 4: More pre-event activities
For face-to-face events, the day of the event is the most important thing. If it goes well, everyone is satisfied. Pre-programs are not so popular here. With digital events, however, interesting pre-event activities increase curiosity and the willingness to participate in the main event. For example, a preparatory meet & greet with the speakers, a tour of the virtual location, preview videos, etc. are very popular.
Success factor 5: More authenticity
Many people are looking for more "authenticity" in the digital world. In one of AdCoach’s digital business workshops, one of the participants noted that our "Welcome" sign was handwritten on a traditional whiteboard and simply placed in the camera as a teaser image. She considered this to be extremely positive, as this little thing allowed the people to see the "human touch" of the event. Of course, we could have implemented the "Welcome sign" purely digitally – but the use of the classic handwritten style evoked positive memories and thus increased the feel-good factor.
Success factor 6: Downsizing
Downsizing is one of the mega trends in event planning "post Corona". Planning with fewer people on site is necessary in many places for safety reasons – but smaller groups at in-person events often seem a bit unappealing. With digital events, it’s completely different. Here, smaller groups open up huge opportunities: the chance for more dialog, more focus, new contacts, an intensive exchange of know-how and opinions. So, try to plan several smaller digital events rather than one single large digital event. Move away from frontal event formats to more exclusive "boutique formats" where every participant can feel like a VIP.
Success factor 7: Less technical gadgets
Finally, the most important tip. All our experience with digital events shows that less technology often means more success. Even though the number of inspiring digital event tools and gadgets is huge, you should limit yourself to one or two additional technical tools in addition to your web conference technology. Go for event tech tools that are easy for anyone to handle and can be used intuitively (without extensive training). Even elaborate virtual 3D platforms are not for everyone. If they work stably, it can be an extraordinary experience for your attendees to move through such a virtual world with one’s own avatar. However, with poor internet connections or IT-related access barriers, this virtual world can quickly turn into a negative experience. Therefore, follow the KISS formula (Keep it simple and stupid!): reduce the technical hurdles for your participants to a minimum, but maximize the informational value and networking intensity.
(Original text translated from German into English. Please excuse any errors.)
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