Today’s Virtual or Hybrid Conference
Who are the conference planners? They are the team that picks the perfect location, plans every aspect of the event to keep attendees engaged, and manages the event budget. Their job became even more challenging in early 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic quickly transitioned the business of conferences to virtual or hybrid events. But how do you plan a virtual event that keeps attendees engaged over several days?
Of course, a virtual conference is not a string of Zoom meetings for hundreds of guests. In this blog, we will provide the top tips for planning a virtual or hybrid conference and tell you about the impact of audio video.
The Definition of a Virtual or Hybrid Conference
If your organization or association is invited to attend or participate in a virtual conference, you may be wondering about this new breed of branded meeting. As the association HQ capital of the United States, the DMV region has a long history of hosting conferences and conventions.
Now, instead of entertaining guests on rooftop venues with fantastic urban views, planners must capture and keep guests’ attention with virtual or hybrid events. Audio-Video becomes the glue that holds the event together.
To set the stage, here is a description of both types of events:
- Virtual Conference: A branded experience that keeps guests engaged with live streaming events, including networking opportunities and sponsorships. Attendees join the conference from their home office or the organization’s location.
- Hybrid Event: This is a blended event that combines an on-location conference experience with live streaming. Hybrid event planners must keep the virtual guest captivated with the feeling that they are fully participating in the conference. Some guests may attend portions of the conference in person or only attend by live virtual streaming.
If you are an organization or association planning a future event, the planning and launch process has become ever-more complicated. To that end, here are some tips from the professional team at Audio-Video Group.
Virtual Conference Tips from the Audio-Video Group
To transition from planning an on-location event to virtual, here are some of our top changeover tips.
Event Sponsorship and Fundraising
Traditionally, event planners have sold sponsorships and trade show space to extend the event budget. Since sponsor funding is one cornerstone of the event budget, planners will need to be creative.
Instead of banners, tabletop displays, and show booths, planners will need to offer virtual trade shows, website pages, and live, streaming product demos for top sponsors.
How can you offer live opportunities to sponsors? Offering them exposure and website traffic is something they want.
Keynote Speakers and Panel Discussions
Often, keynote speakers and especially panel discussions are an attendance draw to any conference. Specifically, guests appreciate the spontaneous interaction with panel participants.
You can continue the spontaneity with the use of live streaming paired with chat moderation. For hybrid events, be sure to include those watching the keynote speaker or panel virtually by moderating and using their chat questions and comments in the discussion.
Virtual Classes and Seminars
You will need to move courses and seminars to online events for a virtual conference. Consider pre-recording classes or using online training software applications. The silver lining is that a pre-recorded forum can be viewed at any time, 24X7.
Event hosts can charge a fee for classes outside of the conference package. For a hybrid approach, conference attendees can attend a trade show and panel discussion in-person while taking a class or attending a seminar online.
This hybrid approach lets event planners provide social distancing to a multi-day event.
Whether looking for business partners, employment opportunities, or industry contacts, many conference attendees score networking at the top of their conference goals. If you want to boost attendance at your next conference, you need to include networking opportunities.
How do you network at a virtual or hybrid event? Consider a chat room-led happy hour. Savvy event planners are working with craft beverage companies to deliver Happy Hour boxes to attendees and even include event sponsor swag in the box.
The Role of Audio-Video in Your Next Virtual Conference
At Audio-Video Group, we help lots of clients navigate the critical role of audio-video in their virtual and live conferences. Set the stage for a successful event by partnering with us to craft the AV plan to create a virtual or hybrid conference. For success, you should consider audio-video needs in the early stages of planning. It can make a huge difference.
Bring us a list of your conference objectives early in the planning process to take advantage of our extensive experience. Can a sharp audio-video plan capture the vision of the sponsor? Yes, especially in the new world of virtual and hybrid conferences. A strong AV plan can also boost the sale of conference tickets.
Consider the role of AV for live streaming of your keynote speaker, panel discussions, and networking events to present a robust calendar of events for your next conference. Without audio-video support, a live-streamed event is not possible.
AV is the unsung hero of a virtual or hybrid event. How can we help you plan your next conference?