How to Incorporate Online Events into Your In-Person Events

While online events are gaining traction, there still are many reasons to have in-person events. Some sponsors prefer in-person booths, some attendees enjoy the chance to leave the office for a few days, and other reasons. However, you may still want the opportunity to reach a larger audience – sponsors who like the option of online downloads in their booths, attendees who prefer to learn from home or their offices, bosses who don’t want to pay for travel costs. 

You can combine the two very successfully to get the best of both worlds. Here are a few of our tips to do so.

1. Live stream your sessions

To make the online attendees feel like they’re really a part of the action, live stream your presentations during the in-person event. You can do this using any number of applications, such as YouTube Live (which now has taken over Google Hangouts), LiveStream, etc. Anything that gives you a live stream link will work successfully. 

Make sure that you have a good quality camera (a GoPro or a good smart phone camera will both work great) and that your audience can see both the slides and the presenter’s face. 

2. Make the slide decks available online.

This will benefit both your in-person and your online attendees. Whether they’re sitting in
the back of the room and forgot their glasses or they simply follow along better when they have the slides in front of them on their computer, always make sure you have slides available. 

This will be great for after the live portion of the event as well. Those who attended the sessions live will like having the deck to refer to in the future and those who missed the session will be able to look back and see what they missed.

3. Make the presentations available On Demand for both in-person and online attendees

Just about every in-person conference I’ve been to has more than one presentation going at a time. Because of this, it’s impossible for any attendee, no matter how meticulous, to
 see all of the content live. Your in-person attendees will be excited about the opportunity to be able to catch the presentations that they missed, and your online attendees will be more likely to view all of the presentations at their leisure. 

4. Allow your online and in-person attendees both to participate in Q&A

You can do this a couple of different ways. Your speaker/presenter can have an online chat room that they can refer to during the Q&A with the in-person crowd, so that they answer questions from both audiences; alternatively, you can ask your speaker to answer questions from the online audience after the event using a chat room. 

Either way, you’ll want your online audience to feel as much a part of the action as your in-person crowd. In-person attendees tend to try to catch the speaker after they are finished with their presentation, whether by the stage or in the lobby afterwards. Your online audience does not have that opportunity, so you need to make sure that they have the option to ask their questions as well. 

5. Work with your sponsors

You have more sponsor real estate, so to speak, utilizing an in-person and online event simultaneously. It’s quite easy for sponsors to send you materials for an online booth – typically online downloads, links to their site, online giveaways, and graphics. This opens up a lot of opportunities for different kinds of sponsorships. 

Your in-person sponsors may want to have both virtual and physical booths as well. You should approach them and see if they would be interested in having an online and a physical presence at your event. 

Keeping these few tips in mind, you can have a truly successful online event to accompany and broaden the audience for your in-person event!

Have any questions? Send me an email at caitlin@vconferenceonline.com and I’ll be happy to help out!

Virtual Events are Too Expensive!

The cost of virtual or online events is a really big factor when deciding whether or not to host an event this way. Marketing budgets are always pretty tight and approaching the Powers That Be for a budget boost or with a new idea can be nerve-wracking.

Luckily, I can set your mind at ease with just one sentence: online events are far more cost-effective.

If you’ve ever hosted an in-person event, you’ll know how tedious, frustrating, and expensive they are. Without exception, in-person events just end up with nickel-and-dime costs like coffee, lunches, security, space for the event, bathrooms, staff for check-in, and so much more. Sometimes you’ll even hear the dreaded phrase, “food and beverage, plus-plus.”

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“Pens will be extra.”

With an online event, nearly all of those costs vanish. The online event platform becomes your venue. The security is built into the event and is mostly for the purchase of event admission and moderation in chat. Check-in desk is null and void because it’s done automatically with a login. Coffee is supplied by the attendee’s own office. They likely brought their own lunch (or you’ll have an hour break for them to go get it). There is no plus-plus with an online event.

Some platforms will cost a little extra for customer support chat. However, in-person events have the same thing – staffing. No in-person event allows for a self-service set-up (what venue would allow that?) and yet most online event platforms have some form of it to give you even further discounts.

In the age of technology, where we all carry a micro computer in our pocket and are in constant contact with our friends and coworkers, the convenience of an online event will also make it more profitable. You open the doors to a wider, international audience, inviting more success and leads (which is what we all want from these events anyway). It’s a busy world and if an attendee doesn’t have to take half a week off to fly to your conference and be unable to work for the whole time, they will jump at the chance.

Not only will an online event save you money, but it will likely make you more money as well. Take that to your boss.


Have any questions about hosting a virtual event and want a great platform that will help you every step of the way? Email us directly at sales@vconferenceonline.com 

Looking for a subscription-style virtual event platform? Check out our new pricing model here.

Getting beyond Marketing Emails

Every marketer’s dream is to have their ideal audience and potential clients come to them.

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Living the marketer’s dream.

No banner ads, spam marketing emails, or annoying commercials necessary – and it make an advertiser’s job easier. Hands-free marketing is the goal, right?

 

How do you make the marketing process so easy that your clients find you before they even know they’re looking for you?

Connect to your audience through education

That is a very broad way to say that your marketing strategy should first and foremost involve teaching your audience something that you know extremely well and that they want to learn about.

If you try to convince your audience that they should choose you you before they realize they want the services you even offer, you’ll annoy more people than you’ll close. Proving your trustworthiness and knowledge gets you in front of the competition before your potential client even knows they need you.

How do you do this?

  • Find a topic you know like the back of your hand (and they don’t).

In your sphere, there are problems that your audience is looking to solve. Chances are, you either have the solution to those problems or you know where to look to solve them. Do you have a large number of problems you know how to solve? Great! You can create an online class or a series of articles on it. By proving that you know what you’re talking about, you establish yourself as a trustworthy source. Your audience will come to you for solutions (and you’ll already be at the top of their list when they want to spend money).

  •  Talk about easy-to-tackle issues.

Don’t try to overwhelm your reader/viewer with too much information at once. Try to break up problems into smaller step-by-step solutions. If your audience comes to a webcast and realizes you’re going to be talking for three hours, they’re already checked out. Take it by small steps to make your information more accessible to your audience.

  • Don’t brush off your own expertise.

Whatever your end goal, whatever you aim to sell to your potential client, you are confident that it’s a good product or service. Don’t play down your knowledge or forget to mention how you can be so helpful to your audience. If you’re a doctor discussing what a symptom could mean, it helps the patient to trust you if they know you actually are a medical professional. Make it clear why you’re an authority on the topic.

Your ideal audience doesn’t necessarily know who you are, so if you approach them by telling them that you’re great, they’ll just ignore you like a flashing banner ad. Offer them something they need – like knowledge, helpful tips, etc. – and they’ll be much more likely to become a good lead for you.

This way, you also connect with people you know will be good, qualified leads. A smaller number of quality leads is better than a huge number of terrible ones that will never pay off. Don’t waste your time (or theirs).

Want to educate your audience with a virtual event? Check out how to get started here. Questions? Email us at sales@vconferenceonline.com

5 Reasons Why a Virtual Conference Will be More Successful for You

Events are inherently marketing for the companies involved. Whether the event is meant to be educational, networking, or simply a tradeshow, the end-goal for those arranging the event is marketing.

Most companies have a pretty strict budget for all things, but marketing is difficult to quantify, since the results aren’t always immediate or easy to measure. In that case, wouldn’t you want to make sure that any money you put toward marketing is furthering your goals?

Of course you would. So here is a short list of why you should host your events – whether they be classes, conferences, or tradeshows – online and virtually, rather than in-person.

1. Cost.

As I already mentioned above, budgets are tight. Everyone wants to make money, but they don’t want to spend it. With that in mind, here are just a few of the things you end up spending money on with in-person events:

  • Lunches for all attendees and staffWater Cost by scyg
  • Coffee
  • Space for the event
    • space for presentations AND exhibitor booths
  • Security guards
  • Electricity
    • All your attendees will need somewhere to plug in their laptops
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Pens/trinkets at exhibitor booths/check in
  • Staff for check in

And on, and on, and on. None of these are a cost to consider with an online event. Security for payment and the presentations is taken care of by the platform hosting the event.
Coffee/lunches are the responsibility of attendees (as are bathrooms). If you want to do a giveaway, you only have to pay for the few shirts or keychains you decide to give away.

2. Reach

An in-person venue can only hold so many people before the firemen get antsy. Online, you only have to worry about bandwidth. If you have lots of people paying to come to your event (or lots of sponsors helping you with the cost), bandwidth is a truly minute cost. With all this extra space, you can allow so many more people in your event and therefore get your message out to them.

Additionally, only so many people can afford to travel to an in-person event. Your goal is to reach as many people, so why would you limit that? There is a cost to attend, a cost for hotel rooms, a cost for food, plus the cost for time off of work. With an online event, your attendees (and their bosses) don’t have to worry about that, so many more will be able to join you.

3. Leisure

If your presentations are broadcast at a scheduled time, there’s no sweat on the attendees Beach chair silhouette by laobcto watch it as it broadcasts with On Demand capabilities. No matter how many presentations you have at an in-person event, an attendee can only view one at a time.
With On Demand, they can view any presentation they want, anytime they want, wherever they want (with an internet connection).

This makes things a lot easier for your attendees and exponentially raises the value of your event, encouraging more to register and even further increasing your reach. The convenience of watching these presentations online far surpasses the cost of travel.

4. Analytics

If you have to spend money on something, you want to know its effectiveness. Online events provide information that would be creepy (and impossible to obtain) at an in-person event.

You can know things like what presentations an attendee viewed, how long they viewed each for, which booths they went to, whether they participated in the networking chat or presentation chat.

Beyond that, with a company like vConferenceOnline, your project manager has access to the analytics of past events, which means that that person can help you to improve your event based on the successes and failures of previous events.

5. The Ultimate in Greentree by gurica

The whole world is trying to go green, with good reason. You can contribute to this, along with all the other benefits, while saving money. 100% virtual means no paper cups, no plastic food bags, no waste, nothing. If your company is looking to “go green” or if that is already a goal you are pursuing, I highly recommend a virtual event.

 

Have any questions about hosting a virtual event and want a great platform that will help you every step of the way? Email us at sales@vconferenceonline.com

MoreHelp

The Benefit of Session Tracks

Many online event platforms attempt to copy in-person events, particularly when it comes to sessions. During an in-person event, there are a few rooms set up with perhaps a theme for each (or perhaps none at all). The sessions are presented in each of the rooms and there is typically a ten-fifteen minute break in between so attendees can check the schedule, look for the next presentation, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in before it begins.

Many platforms emulate this by having a session listing where the attendee will choose a particular session to watch and, like a webcast, when it is over, click back to the lobby to choose the next they want to watch.

As an attendee, if there is a theme to a room, typically, you want to watch all of the sessions. You find a table in the room, settle in your chair, and stay there until the sessions you’re interested in run out. If an in-person event were run the same way as many online events, the room would have to be cleared before the next session, forcing all attendees to stand outside before being let back in.

That idea seems so inconvenient and unnecessary that vConferenceOnline created session tracks. It’s very similar to a playlist – sessions are scheduled to present live or play pre-recorded content at a particular time, have a break in between, then continue with the next session. An attendee can simply stay in the “room” and have the sessions play seamlessly and conveniently.

How does that benefit you, as a conference host?

The time in-between the sessions can be used for any manner of things. You can play elevator music to entertain the attendees. You can host a trivia game. You can ask people to communicate with you via Twitter hashtags or Facebook. You can show commercials from you or your sponsors. Ten or fifteen minutes is a lot of air time – with no fewer options for how to use it!

Many options that make things easier for your attendees also make for great opportunities for you and your sponsors. Just think creatively!

Your Speakers are Your Biggest Assets

A conference relies heavily on its content to market the event – which makes a lot of sense. If you see a movie trailer and hate the concept behind it, you aren’t likely to pay money to go see it, let alone waste your time with it.

Therefore, it is extremely important to have talented, comfortable, knowledgeable speakers for your event. If they are well-known, active in whatever community you are a part of, this makes them an even bigger asset. How do you use their influence to your benefit?

Many virtual event coordinators create banners or badges for their speakers to put on their website or blog. These will say something like “I am a speaker at x event” and link to the event. If you want to track how many people use the links from your speakers’ sites/blogs, you can always use a VIP or discount code.

Most public speakers have active social media accounts as well – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a blog. These are another great opportunity for your speakers to proudly announce that they’ll be participating in the event and to encourage their peers and audience to join in on the event. With virtual events, this is even better – the followers are used to interacting with this person virtually, so communication during the event will be very effective.

Are your speakers running/part of their own companies outside of your event as well? That’s a great opportunity to set them up with a virtual event booth. They will be able to interact with attendees not only through their presentation and the chat you set up during/after, but in their booth as well. Curious attendees can learn more about the speaker’s company, which can be a huge selling point to get those popular speakers to participate in your event as well.

Make sure that your communication with your speakers is effective and frequent. This builds a relationship between you, ensuring that the speaker is having the best experience possible, encouraging them to participate in your events again in the future. Well-known speakers in your community often discuss with one another their experiences at events and if yours has been excellent, your speaker may have contacts that would be happy to participate in your future events as well!

Most of all – remember that without presenters, you would not have an event. Your speakers are very important and should be treated as such!

Producing Content – horses for courses

Why Virtual?
Josh Harrison
Producer
vConferenceOnline

Producing Content – horses for courses

So I talked about the importance of video in creating an engaging presentation. So for this last article let’s get into some real world HOW.
You’ve decided “Josh is right, we should use video in our event.” Congratulations, you’ve made the right choice! Now how do you do it? Let’s set out some example scenarios:

Scenario 1: Your online only event has 6 different presenters. The budget won’t allow for in-studio professional video production. They all have slide deck presentations and want to stick to that plan. The presenters are all in different areas of the world, but you want to give the event a cohesive feel.

Solution:  Not a problem! We have a tool that allows presenters to record their desktops to include slides, full motion computer demonstrations and yes, their webcam! You arrange for a slide deck design treatment that they all use and you make suggestions for webcam placement and lighting in a simple to read document that we provided you. The speakers make quick test recordings and send them in for approval. Everyone agrees it looks and sounds good. They go about recording their full presentations and you smile with satisfaction in a job well done.

Scenario 2: Your in person event is going to include a bonus online event. You need to record and document all presentations and the keynotes. You’d like to offer the online event a week after the in person event for anyone who missed anything. Both in person attendees and non attendees.

Solution:  We discuss your needs and decide that you need a multi-camera production. Our crew designs a production equipment package and travels to your event to record the show. We work closely with your team to ensure that all required moments are captured and we setup the event online to allow for scheduled playback of these videos the following week. You just grew your event attendance, not to mention your event’s income.

Scenario 3: You’ve decided you want to take that same event to the people live over the internet!

Solution:  We add on a live streaming package to the already fully planned production package and you have created urgency and excitement for those that couldn’t attend in person.

Scenario 4: You are having an online event with your company’s top executives. This needs to be polished and professional. Production quality is very important. The event will be live with on-demand versions of the presentations available after the live event.

Solution:  We invite you out to our production studios in Tucson Arizona. Our producers work with you to decide show flow and set design. The required content and rehearsals are scheduled. Everyone knows what is happening when and where they should be. Our well designed studio gives your event that high end look you were after and your executives appreciate the chance to tee off at some of the world’s best golf courses after the event.

I could go on and on as there are many different scenarios. The point is that we can handle any of them and we help you along the way. That is a major separator for us as a platform provider.

I hope these quick articles have been informative, or at least entertaining. “Like TV”.

To Video or not to Video – Slides and a Webcam

Why Virtual?
Josh Harrison
Producer
vConferenceOnline

To Video or not to Video – Slides and a Webcam

I will admit right off the bat that I am a bit biased towards video for online events. “Like TV”. By which I mean seeing a person’s face not just hearing their voice. But ask yourself… which do you prefer? Static or moving images?

I mentioned in an earlier article that static slides and telephone audio probably aren’t the ideal format for your next big online event. However, there are some key points to consider when you are thinking about your event’s playout format.

First and foremost, what does the content call for and how do the viewers want to take it in? If you’ve got nothing but computer code and script syntax to cover, there may not be a chance to see the presenter’s face much less put him/her in front of a camera. On the other hand, if you’ve lined up a big name (and they are not presenting loads of text) then you are probably going to want to put that persons face front and center and let other materials like slides play a supporting role. A good example is the TED talks. If you’ve seen one you know what I mean. They are interesting, engaging, and nice to look at. Now imagine that you only see bullet point slides and their voice behind that. The subject may still be interesting, but you’ve lost the engagement and immersion.

Just a little side note:  Personally, I don’t get event platforms that put all the content up in front of you at the same time in so many little windows. The problem I see is that there is no main focus. This probably comes from my training in both cinematography and design. It is important to direct the viewer’s focus. It’s much easier to take in information when it is presented clearly and your attention is directed in one place. If I’m looking at a slide deck window, a video player window and any other assortment of “supplementing materials” windows, my focus is never on just 1 thing. The human eye will wonder when allowed.  I prefer a “like TV” approach where you get one screen and that window is your focus. What you put in that screen is up to you.  Arguments can be made for both sides, but that is what sets us apart from many other platform providers and we like to think it’s the best way to deliver engaging content.

Ok, so I said there were “some” key factors which would imply more than the one I just described. Secondly, Is it possible? Can you actually get the presenters to use video? I say, “where there’s a will there’s a way”. Not every session has to be a huge multi-camera production. Keep in mind that even a webcam is better than no cam at all. Giving your viewers something to connect to besides text is a big part of immersion.  Ok, sales guy hat on for a second. We have a full HD production facility that is purpose built to deliver presentations. As our client, you have access to those facilities and our production staff. Also, there are plenty of free lance video producers who can help. Beyond                       that we offer tools that allow for self recording that are easy to use and can help you avoid bland presentations. I understand that wrangling speakers alone is difficult, much less trying to produce video, but that’s what we are here for. It’s what we do and we would love to help you take it up a few notches.

Off with the sales guy hat and on with the video guy hat again. Quality is important. It sets a level of respect for your brand’s reputation. The world is full of boring slide deck presentations. You don’t see anyone commenting on social sites about the latest PowerPoint preso they just saw. Pay special attention to producing creative, engaging content and step outside of the box a bit.

In the next article we’ll get into some technical stuff. That’s what this is supposed to be about right?

Event Schedules – Live vs Sim Live vs On Demand

Why Virtual?
Josh Harrison
Producer
vConferenceOnline

Event Schedules – Live vs Sim Live vs On Demand

Oh good! You’re still reading my articles! If I was a blogging kind of person, I suppose you could call these blogs. Whatever works for you.

How was that for small talk? OK, back on track now. Event Schedules. This is an important part of planning your online event. Many people are used to a scheduled day or set of days with sessions scheduled to start at certain times along with allotted time for breaks, special gatherings and exhibits. At an in person conference you are almost restricted by a schedule because no one has figured out how to be in 2 places at 1 time. Enter the “online” event. Time is no longer your enemy (in most cases).

There are 3 main ways to go about placing out or scheduling your event’s content.
Live – This means you are streaming out the content (usually audio and some sort of video) to your attendees in real time as it is happening. This is common when an online event is running alongside an in person event. This is also a very common format for people who have done webinars with teleconferencing involved. Live is there for a few good reasons, but many people do it this way simply because they don’t realize there is a better way. Don’t get me wrong, live certainly has its place. I would say those places are running alongside a live in person event or where 2 way interaction drives the live session’s content…Like a call and response sort of scenario. However, as you’ll find if you continue to read this, there are some interesting ways to maximize your content and time by avoiding “Live”.

Simulated Live – This is where there is a schedule for the event and content will be shown at a specific time, but the content has been pre-recorded. Think “like TV”. This is a favored delivery method because session content can be recorded and presented without the risks of “live” problems ruining the event. There are currently much more easily accessible technologies to help create your session in a non real-time project format than there are for content generation in a live stream scenario. You may say, “how do we get the interaction then?” “Good question!” I would say. Chat is a very common part of any online event. It allows attendees to interact with support staff, presenters, vendors, and even each other in a medium that almost everyone is familiar with. The beauty of pre-recorded sessions is that the presenter can be discussing his/her session with the viewers as his/her content is being played back. Rather than having to wait for questions until the end of the presentation which limits the amount of time that can be devoted to the viewers questions. Thus limiting the very interaction that you thought you could only get with a live event.

On-Demand – Do you have a DVR? Do you love it? Why? (Besides fast forwarding the commercials). Because it allows you to watch what you want when you want to. Most of the world is headed this way. We are becoming accustomed to receiving our information when and how we want it. On-Demand events allow content to always be available to the attendee which allows them to say “Thank you Mr/Mrs Event planner”. Think about it. What if your event is 3 days long and an attendee can only attend 1 of those days. He really wants to participate but he can’t conform to YOUR schedule. Don’t lose him because of this, your event can conform to HIS schedule.

On-Demand can also bolster your event as an added option. Some event planners charge for On-Demand, some use it as a value add and some go all out and do On-Demand only. Keep in mind that if you’re concerned about attendee interaction, On-Demand can be setup with email discussion systems that alert the presenter whenever a viewer has a comment or question. A popular option for Education is to have office hours with the presenter so that students can watch when they want and then gather together at a pre determined date and time to discuss. I will make a bold assertion and say that this is also the way of the future. It only makes sense as people’s schedules get busier and work/personal lines get blurred. This works for some forms of content and not for others. Remember, use the right tools for the job.

Different types of Content and Delivery

Josh Harrison, Producer
vConferenceOnline

Different types of Content and Delivery

The good news is you have options. The other good news is that it’s not hard to choose your option.

I’ve seen many types of events and helped produce content for all of them. The important thing to remember is you have to make your content available in a manner that suits the information presented and in a format that your audience wants to consume it in.

Example #1:

You run a yearly conference. Typically you get 2000 attendees to your 3 day conference in Las Vegas. Your attendees are used to days full of educational sessions and exhibits. We won’t talk about the evenings cuz what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

You don’t want to alienate the crowd that attends the in-person event, but you know there are thousands if not tens of thousands of other interested people that couldn’t make it for 1 reason or another. If you were to do a hybrid event that runs alongside your in-person event you might stream live video broadcasts of the keynotes or sessions. You could offer online exhibitor booths and charge a fee for all those attending online. Or you could use it as a free teaser and limit the content to entice possible in-person attendees to your next event.

Example #2:

Your company needs to train new sales staff around the world and you’ve been asked to cut costs on the training program. Why send trainers all over the world for days on end at high cost to deliver the same information over and over? Do a continuing education event that is ongoing and place training modules and videos on-demand or scheduled with trainers manning the chats. Still need that person-to-person training? Trim down the amount of time needed by placing the material that doesn’t require person-to-person in an online event.

Example #3:

You need to market a product or service and your company wants new marketing avenues. Do a webcast where you have an expert in your industry do an informational talk on your product and make it invitation only or release it to the whole world to watch whenever they want? Further, don’t just do slides and a phone call, make it a video where you can see the presenter. Webcasts and webinars are great for fostering interaction with potential customers and clients. Keep an open email portal for the on-demand period so potential customers can contact you with questions and see other viewers questions and answers.

These are just 3 examples. There are many other possible scenarios and each event is a little different. I’m really trying not to be a sales guy right now, but I have to say that that is why our platform can be a great choice. We are not a template you plug your info into and push go. We really do work with each event to help you pick the delivery, format and options that best suit your event.

I’ll get off the sales horse now and get on my video producer horse for a minute. It’s important, now more than ever, to create compelling content. Viewer expectations are up. Slides and telephone audio aren’t going to do the trick like they used to. Video production can be had for little investment and it makes a world of difference in keeping your viewers attention and instilling a good impression of your organization. Granted, it’s not always the best way and at times is just plain overkill. Either way, always keep in mind how your viewer wants to consume the information you want to deliver.

That takes us to the next Article: Scheduling… Live, Simulated-Live or On-Demand.