Events in a time of COVID-19: What to do when the show must go on

Events in a time of COVID-19: What to do when the show must go on

Unless you’ve been self-quarantining under a rock for some time now, you’ve heard the news: ports of entry closed, travel banned, schools shut, and – the big one for our industry – gatherings of more than 100 people prohibited.

Even if you were to go ahead with your under-100 event, would anyone come?

*Cue tumbleweed*

Conferences, meetings, incentive trips, and travel are absolutely imperative to effective business. But, from 9pm on 15 March 2020, it was no longer business as usual, and it might be a long time before business as usual looks like it used to.

So if you can’t bring people to your event, take your event to them. Everyone’s doing it: Microsoft, Google, Joe Biden, even the Pope.

At 360 Degrees, we’ve done e-vents, and we’ve done ‘em brilliantly.

The key is to pull off a virtual event that doesn’t suck. No boring webinars, no Death-by-PowerPoint presentations. E-vents must add value. It’s hard when you lose face-to-face networking and live entertainment, but it’s not impossible.

And the advantage of e-vents is that they make it easier to reach a wider, global audience – plus you save on hospitality, travel, and catering costs.

Same, same, but different

As different as they are, physical and virtual events have crucial commonalities that ensure their success. The difference is, virtual events rely on technology to pull it all together and to keep audiences engaged and entertained.

Here are the non-negotiables for your virtual event.

1.   Choose an MC with a powerful presence. Your MC should be able to keep energy levels high and spirits up, be comfortable speaking off-script and improvising if there are technical glitches, and be able to field questions via social media and chats.

2.   Venue remains important. Just because your event is virtual doesn’t mean you should host it in your boardroom. You’ll still need a stage, lighting, and high-quality AV equipment. Your background styling still conveys a major message.

3.   Create a compelling narrative. It’s easy to get distracted by social media, work, and the web when attending a virtual event. Keep your audience captivated throughout using storytelling. Every presentation, video, or piece animated of content should have a compelling narrative arc. Better yet, let the audience create their own adventure by choosing which virtual sessions to attend, as if at a physical event.

4.   Know your audience. Here’s where e-vents really shine: they allow you to create multiple videos of the same topic, tailored to each audience. You can do things virtually that you could never do physically, like take your audience inside your product rather than giving the same-old product demo.

5.   Create something people want to share. Think about the elements that make a movie great: an outstanding cast, an addictive plot, and stunning effects that transport you to another dimension. Invest in great content that people will want to tell others about. Make your message memorable, so that it’s shareable.

Worried you won’t get the same turnout at your e-vent as at your physical one? Consider breaking your audience into smaller groups who join a weblink from a central hub. Smaller groups can discuss content, while contributing to the bigger narrative through forums and live Q&As; a great way to create pockets of energy that feed off each other.

Even in crisis mode, the show must go on. Make it e-xceptional. Connect with us for help.