Now many of us are working from home more often, we’re attending a lot more virtual events. So it doesn’t take long for us to get to know what we like — and what we don’t like — about these online experiences.
Every year, Redback Connect surveys the market to track how digital event-goers feel about their virtual event experiences in our annual Redback Report.
Watch out for the Redback Report for 2020, which will be out next month with some interesting observations on exactly how many more virtual events we’re attending, as well as how working from home is affecting our consumption preferences.
One of the interesting themes to emerge, despite the prevalence of video events, is the importance of audio. Stay tuned for more on that when this year’s report comes out.
In the meantime, we looked back over some of the responses to our earlier Redback Reports and came up with this universal list of how not to annoy your growing online audience.
1. Unreliable audio
If there’s one thing you should be totally confident of before kicking off your next virtual event, it’s the quality of your audio.
Our experience managing more than 2500 digital events a year tells us that people will tolerate a halting or even frozen video feed, but if the sound drops out, so will your audience.
SOLUTION: Test remote presenters’ connections a week in advance and go with audio and slides if video isn’t reliable. Or ask them to present from a broadcast studio to be sure of a reliable connection.
If you have presenters dialling in remotely from regional areas where the internet connection may be unreliable, ask your technology provider if they offer a teleconference option as phone lines offer much better audio than dodgy broadband.
Advise remote presenters to use headphones and a microphone to minimise background noise.
2. Boring or unprepared presenters
Every year, respondents to the Redback Report tell us how important passionate and well-prepared presenters are to the success of a virtual event.
You can always train a presenter on how to present well to a virtual audience, but teaching them to be enthusiastic is a tougher ask.
SOLUTION: Make sure they have a good handle on the topic and that they understand your agenda, and share any relevant information about your other guests with them.
If you’re holding a panel, get all your presenters to talk together at least once before the business event so they get a feel for the conversational dynamics, transitions and subject matter flow.
Encourage presenters to practice in front of a camera prior to the event and train them on presentation techniques, as well as how to use your virtual event platform.
Teach them to treat the camera like another person in the room. This means looking at the camera lens when they’re speaking to the audience.
It’s important to keep it natural, use a conversational tone and make sure they don’t forget to smile. The more they relax, the more the audience will too.
Interactive elements such as polls, quizzes, Q&A sessions, and virtual whiteboards are also a great way to build in engagement.
Discover how to present like a Rockstar
3. Too salesy
Digital events are a great way to build relationships, establish credibility and bring prospects closer to making a purchase. But that doesn’t mean you should use them to ‘sell’ to your audience.
SOLUTION: Instead of trying to sell, focus on the value your product or service provides and how it solves the problems of your audience.
Customer case studies are a great way to do this: they enable your customers to provide the proof your prospects need of the value your product offers.
Panel discussions, in which you tackle the problems your prospects face, are another great option.
You can also interview external experts and bask in the reflected glory of bringing them to your audience.
4. Not doing what you say you will
Does your digital event do what it says on the box? If not, you’re going to leave your audience feeling frustrated, unfulfilled and irritated.
SOLUTION: It’s not that hard: cover the topic as advertised; start and finish on time, and do your best to answer the real questions your audience has.
If you can’t get to everyone’s questions in a live forum, either respond in a virtual chat room or answer questions in a post-event FAQ you mail out to your attendees.
5. Too-long events with no breaks
We keep saying it because we know audiences prefer it: shorter is generally better when it comes to digital events and virtual meetings.
Online workshops, conferences, webinars and seminars often deliver a lot of information in a short space of time. Meanwhile, distractions are only a click away in the virtual environment.
With the best intentions, some people will find it hard to remain engaged for your entire event.
SOLUTION: Great digital event organisers will find ways to help their audience to stay engaged, including keeping events short and punchy, and also building in interactive exercises, quizzes and other elements that break up a presentation.
For half-day events or longer, schedule plenty of breaks so your viewers can do what they need to do, reset, and return when the session resumes.
And you can use that time to get your next presenter set up.
Keep these 5 points in mind when formulating your online event program and you’ll go a long way to ensuring both you and your audience have a great virtual event experience.