Putting on the right virtual show

There are several types of virtual events in the market

Correctly classifying an online event is crucial in allocating the best resources to design it, said speakers on the Virtual Congresses: What Works And What Does Not panel during IT&CM Asia & CTW 2020 virtual conference on Tuesday.

Nicole Walker, CEO of Australia-based PCO Arinex, suggested that planners first help clients differentiate between the types of online events.

There are several types of virtual events in the market

“We have clients confusing a standard webinar with hybrid and satellite (or hub and spoke) events,” she noted. Offerings on the platforms in the market also differ, so it is important that planners pick the correct one.

Digital event planners also need to avoid a one-speaker show or back-to-back sessions, with Walker warning that “Zoom fatigue” is a critical obstacle.

She suggested having polls and gamification to keep the audience engaged, inject alternating content such as videos, and reduce presentations from an hour to 45 minutes.

Professionally-delivered and high-quality content from expert speakers remain top of the checklist regardless of the event format. Martin Boyle, CEO of the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers, said: “Delegates are willing to pay (for a registration fee) if the content is high-value. Don’t assume content has to be free.”

In utilising hybrid and satellite event formats, Jason Yeh, CEO of Taiwan-based GIS Group, warned that different strategies and additional resources are required.

Yeh, who was instrumental in the delivery of the recently concluded 59th ICCA Congress in Kaohsiung, which utilised a hub-and-spoke format, said planners would need a team staffed by people with IT experience in the backend as well as a camera crew familiar with TV programming to “make (content) more attractive for online viewers”.

In creating spoke events to support the main hub, Yeh said PCOs might even have to act as content producers to develop localised programmes.

Providing further technical advice, Walker said planners would have to take into consideration the unique lighting requirements for virtual telecasts, as well as other details such as screen backgrounds.

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