While every type of virtual event saw an increase in participation over the past 12 months as a result of COVID-19, more people attended webinars than any other type of virtual event.
But increased attendance is not the only thing that’s changing about webinars. How we hold them, the technology we use, and the tools we make available to attendees, are a few of the things that event organisers are now taking advantage of.
So as you begin to plan out your year’s event calendar, make sure you take into account how webinars are changing and can best meet the needs of your customers and your organisation as a whole.
Here are five ways webinars will continue to change in 2021.
1. We Will All be Attending More Events Online
COVID-19 changed many things when it comes to the traditional working environment in 2020, especially when it comes to how we collaborate, share ideas and communicate with our colleagues, clients and other stakeholders.
By May 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 46% of NSW workers alone were working from home, statistics that were evident across all capital cities as well as many regional areas.
As part of that shift, one in three Australians now attend more than 10 virtual events a month, up from just 2% in 2019 — a massive 1500% increase in just 12 months, while the proportion of organisations that held at least one virtual event in 2020 rose to a staggering 85%, according to the2020 Redback Report.
It’s a shift that’s expected to not only continue but to increase, as more organisations discover how effective online gatherings such as webinars are proving to be.More than half of us(51%) who expect to attend more virtual events in 2021.
The success of virtual events is based on planning in the weeks leading up to an event — that includes your content, promotion, facilitation and rehearsal. Take the time to plan, and your event will run itself.
2. Most Business Events are going Hybrid
Not only are organisations realising the advantages that remote work offers — such as lower costs and increased productivity — employees are also on board. More than eight in ten (86%) Australian workers say they want to continue working remotely permanently, at least some of the time.
As a result, gone are the days where companies will be willing to splash out for flights and accommodation to an event that can be just as easily attended online.
A hybrid event strategy is crucial to maintaining the accessibility and convenience many workers have come to expect during the pandemic. To be successful in the future, face-to-face events must now cater for a virtual audience as well as bums on seats. To learn more access our guide to 21 Webinar trends & tips for 2021.
From AGMs to marketing events to training courses, if it’s not online, it’s not reaching the maximum possible audience or ROI.
3. Live Viewing is Up
As organisers and attendees of virtual events become more comfortable with the ins, outs and advantages of meeting online, you can expect to see more events taking place live this year.
In fact, the proportion of people who attended half or more of all webinars and other virtual events live rose substantially to more than eight in ten (83%) in 2020, which was up from around two-thirds (64%) only a year earlier.
With a larger proportion of people working remotely, more of us are finding that live events create an atmosphere of spontaneity, collaboration, and a better way to connect and break up a remote workday.
4. More Collaboration will be Happening Online
Even before the pandemic, research showed that remote work and online collaboration boosted productivity, as opposed to reducing it.
Most workers agree that if they have access to the right online collaboration tools, including video conferencing, they can get more work done out of the office than they would traveling to work every day.
The ability to have remote meetings and events, present work to stakeholders, and share or edit documents are among the digital capabilities Australians say help maximise their productivity when working and collaborating from home.
The key is to choose the best collaboration tools that meet the needs of your organisation and workforce — consider platform features, technical support and security.
5. Virtual Event Tech is Not One Size Fits All
As more organisations become more familiar with virtual event and meeting technology, and many up the ante when it comes to trying to attract as many eyeballs to their event as possible, it’s becoming more important to choose the tool that best suits your event.
Video conferencing is great for meetings where you already know the participants, or want to encourage verbal participation throughout an event, while webinars are great for participants you’re not so familiar with and want to encourage to participate at set times during an event.
Have a checklist of requirements when you’re choosing your technology. Consider the type of event you want to hold, your audience and your desired outcomes. You may need features including secure calls, interactive polls, local technical support, network capacity, screen-sharing, and collaboration over a digital whiteboard, among others.
So if you’re planning to host a webinar this year, take some time to think outside the square and work out what type of event, and event technology, will be the best choice to meet your goals.
For more ways to make the most of your webinars this year, read our 21 Webinar Trends and Tips for 2021.