The Show Must Go On
Virtual events aren’t a new trend, but during the global coronavirus crisis, they have become a necessity. Companies large and small are scrambling to replace in-person conferences with social-distancing-friendly online events. The Washington Performing Arts Gala is a stellar example. Originally scheduled for March 2020, the gala was quickly moved to a virtual event due to the virus outbreak. The rapid shift from in-person to virtual attendance occurred in just 14 hours. This included planning, installing, rehearsing, webcasting, and dismantling of the entire event.
Event organizers were able to meet the challenge and bring the gala to the guests. The team had to overcome several obstacles in the conversion process, including fitting the event into a much smaller space; re-writing the script to include virtual performances from several musicians; and preparing a broadcast studio to meet technical challenges in time for the original event date. In spite of the abrupt pivot, over 300 virtual guests were able to attend the gala, and an impressive $200,000 was raised to benefit the performing arts.
The Signal team is also currently helping clients with contingency plans for upcoming events. In just one example, we’re working with a global life sciences company to shift a major face-to-face event to a virtual one. The sophisticated setup, using YouTube as the main platform, will include features such as:
- Simultaneous streaming across multiple platforms
- Up to four independent cameras
- Combination of live, animated and pre-recorded content
- Custom on-screen graphics
- Green screen keying
- Production development
- Live-to-video recordings for future access
What we can learn?
The Washington Performing Arts Gala organizers used many best practices for planning an online event, including audience participation, a compelling script, and high-quality video, audio and lighting. Most online platforms have interactive features, so we’d like to add that audience feedback during and after the event makes a big difference. Think quizzes and polling questions, and encouraging live tweeting as ways to engage participants. Another great way to use interactivity is by taking viewers behind the scenes. This creates an emotional connection and an authentic feeling of insider knowledge that others don’t have. Speaking of creating connection, a unique hashtag can help promote the event and foster attendees’ engagement, while providing important information to planners.
When planning your virtual event, make sure you’re choosing the right platform, content, design and interactivity. The Signal team is here to help you create an exceptional experience for your attendees.