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Not all event virtual platforms are created equal
In this series of articles, I will explore some key considerations when choosing which virtual platform to use for your event, concentrating on functionality, customisation and support.
Selecting the right features of your virtual event platform
Over the past few years, virtual events have made significant progress.
With the pandemic leaving no other option, event professionals delved into exploring how virtual events and online meetings could be enhanced, accelerating the quality, content, and format of events.
With this significant surge in virtual event platforms, choosing the right one for your event, conference or online meeting program became a daunting task – how do you decide which platform will be the most effective for your event?
Now that the dust has settled, event planners are looking to make more informed decisions about what solution is suitable for their audience, taking the time to evaluate existing hybrid meeting technology and consider the features that each platform offers and whether or not they are the right fit, to help take your event to the next level.
"Having a clear and compelling purpose and understanding what experience you want your audience to have, is essential to creating a lasting impact from your event."
How to select the right virtual event solution
The first step is defining the aims and structure of your event.
To create a lasting impact from your event, it is crucial to have a clear and compelling purpose and to understand the type of experience you want your audience to have.
Having a clear and compelling purpose and understanding what experience you want your audience to have, is essential to creating a lasting impact from your event.
For example, your audience may want engaging, short, quickfire sessions, prefer to network and meet potential customers relevant to their business, or wish to engage with high-quality, bespoke content.
Knowing what experience you want to deliver, serves as the foundation for identifying the necessary features to incorporate into your event, providing you with the first part of your selection criteria in choosing the right online event platform.
Making your features work for your event
You will expect some product features from your event platform as standard: a stage area to integrate your video stream into, an agenda, an attendee list, live chat, polls, Q&A, networking and breakout rooms, to name a few.
However, having them all available may no longer be enough – are they token additions to the event, or do they actively work to increase interactivity and engagement from your event’s audience?
As an example, let’s look at the agenda.
By its definition, the agenda is a list of activities that make up your event in time order – typically showing the session time, name, speakers and a short description of the conference session.
So, how can you get more from your agenda?
Use your event agenda to encourage attendees to move around your event and interact with different content. If the session is later in the day, enable attendees to watch a preview or read/download related content. If the session has already happened, provide an on-demand recording linked from the agenda, that they can watch “today” – don’t make people wait to engage.
Enhance your agenda by including images, videos, and links. These items elevate the viewing experience from passive to interactive.
Are you using the right features for your event?
This principle can be applied to every feature you want to deploy in your virtual event.
Question why you are using it, how your audience will interact with it and if you can make it better. But also question if you need it at all.
I have observed that adding features just for the sake of having them is not always beneficial. Just because you can conduct a poll of your event participants, doesn’t mean you have to. Will people engage anyway? Maybe. Is it the best experience for your audience? Maybe not.
Whenever you choose a feature to use at your event, go back to your aims and ask yourself how it adds to the event experience. If you can’t immediately answer the question, don’t use it.
Likewise, when you have decided to use a feature, consider when or how often you use it. Take our friend the poll again, you have decided it adds value to your event, but do you need it in every session? Again, maybe not.
Balancing comprehensive functionality with a user-friendly experience
When choosing your virtual event or conference platform, knowing it can provide every possible feature is crucial, but spend time understanding how the functionality is deployed.
The key to success is knowing the platform’s flexibility when it comes to deploying each function and knowing it can do more than just be “available.” How can you foster interaction and engagement with the feature?
The best platform for your event must balance comprehensive functionality with a user-friendly interface so that your audience feels like they are part of the experience and that their interaction is being rewarded.
To ensure maximum impact, it is recommended to maintain a clean user interface with only relevant content or functionality shared at a given moment in time. This helps keep the audience focused on your message and the experience you’re trying to create.
Next in the series, I will be looking at customisation, there may be more to this than you think…
Curious to learn more? Say hello.
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