Combining Live and Simulated-Live Sessions

As technology advances and events transition smoothly from in-person to online, one thing remains certain – there’s just something our presenters enjoy about giving their sessions live. Online events have a great way to simulate this experience with simulated-live presentations. These are recorded ahead of time at the presenter’s leisure at their home or office with a neutral background, then scheduled for the event. This is a great option because it allows the speaker to interact with the audience in real-time, answering their questions and engaging in deeper discussion with them.

However, many speakers like to present their session via a live stream of some sort – YouTube, Google Hangout, etc. This gives them the same feeling as speaking at an in-person conference, allowing them to end the session with about fifteen minutes for a Q&A.

With this in mind, how do we make sure that both of these kinds of presentations are successful and streamlined?

Over-communicate with your presenters

For both live and pre-recorded sessions, you need to be in frequent communication with your presenters. For both, they will need similar guidelines. Dress-code, a neutral background (preferably without a window behind them), a quiet surrounding – and of course they need to have their slide deck ready.

One tip that we’ve found very successful to make both types of sessions look streamlined is to have the same theme on the slide decks for all presentations. It doesn’t have to be fancy – in fact, it shouldn’t distract from the speaker’s presentation. A simple grey background, a teal ombré, or even black would be fine – and don’t forget the event logo!

You also want to leave a space for the presenter’s webcam on the slide deck. A square in the lower or upper right corner is typical. If you prepare the slide deck theme for your presenters, you can ensure a great-looking session. 

 

Make sure they know the schedule

For pre-recorded, you’ll want to make sure that the presenter knows the due date for sending you the recording. This way, they will have lots of time to prepare their slide deck, set aside an hour or two to do the recording, and polish it if necessary. Most speakers are used to live presentations; this will likely go pretty smoothly.

  • You’ll want to take tip 1 into account here, though – keep in contact with your speaker to make sure they know the date is coming up and ask if they have any questions.

For live streamed sessions, you’ll want to schedule a walk-through with the presenter to make sure they are comfortable with the live stream service you have chosen. This typically only takes about ten minutes as most live stream services are made with us in mind. You should schedule this for a few days before the event so that the how-to is fresh in everyone’s minds.

As long as your speaker has all of the information that they need and you know that they are prepared, you will both feel less pressure on the day of the event. If you and they are less stressed, the event will be a breeze!

 

Utilize your resources

Depending on the online event platform that you’ve chosen, you’ll have a variety of resources at your fingertips. With vConferenceOnline, we provide a full library of how-to resources that guide you step-by-step through creating and setting up your event. We also provide a project manager who will be available by phone and email leading up to and during your event to make sure that everything goes smoothly for you and your event is a hit.

Your job is to bring the ideas and the materials to the platform – our job is to make sure that your event is fantastic and your audience looks forward to the next one! With that in mind, ask any questions you have for your event. We’ll be happy to help out and even give you ideas for how to make it even more successful. With nearly a decade of online events under our belt, we have lots of data and a bevy of analytics in our pockets.

If you keep these three tips in mind, you’re sure to make both live and simulated live sessions look fantastic to your audience; your speakers and audience will have a great time discussing the topics, too!

And always, if you have any questions, feel free to email us!

Talk to you soon!

Should you charge for your online event?

In your to-do list for your event, one of the first things is to decide: are you going to charge attendees to view your event, or are you going to find other ways to cover the cost of hosting? When this question comes up, usually there are two options:

  1. Charge attendees to cover the costs
  2. Charge sponsors to cover the costs

If your event is well-established (you’ve been hosting it for a while either online or in-person), it’s easy to justify charging an attendance fee. Your content is consistently worth the attendees’ time, you’ve been in the game for a while so your name is known, and if you haven’t been charging yet, the attendees are likely surprised that you’re “giving away” your content.

If you’re just starting out or if your audience balks at the idea of paying for attending an online event, you may want to approach sponsors in a different way and view them as benefiting from the event just as much as you and your attendees do, turning it into sort of a ricochet effect – your attendees benefit, so your sponsors benefit, and so you benefit. 

 

Let’s say your event is established and you’ve decided to charge for it. How much do you charge? Your first step would be looking at other events in your sphere.

  • What similar events are there?
  • Are they online or in-person?
  • If they’re also online, how much are they charging for their content?
    • How many presentations do they have lined up?
    • Are the speakers going to several different events and repeating those presentations at each (are the presentations not unique to the event)?
    • How well-known are their speakers?
    • How well-known is the event?
    • Are they competing with another event happening at the same time?
  • If the event is in-person, consider the other fees that the attendee or their company will have to cover (hotel, food, travel, car, time out of the office).

If you find one very much like yours (online, similar renown, etc), that’s your best reference point. If they are a competitor, this is your chance to slightly lower your price (while making sure that your costs are covered and you will profit from the event).

If you can combine the profit from the sponsors AND the profit from the attendees, I would recommend that you lower the price for the attendees. If the price is lower, more attendees will be able to attend and you’ll actually profit more!

Have other questions about hosting an online virtual event? Not sure about the difference between virtual tradeshows, virtual conferences, webcasts, or classes? Shoot me an email at caitlin@vconferenceonline.com and I’ll be happy to answer your question – it may even end up on this blog! 

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

What kind of virtual event should you host?

You have decided you don’t want to do an in-person event; you want to avoid the hassle, the enormous costs, the inconvenience. Now, you’re ready to dive into the virtual event space…but with what kind of event?

Luckily for you, virtual event platforms are malleable and any kind of event you want to host can be done online. However, before you start setting anything up for your event, you should choose the format, as that changes a lot of things down the line.

What kind of events are possible online? All. But here are a few categories to give you an idea.

Classroom-Silhouette-300pxWebinars

Webinars are typically one (or two) sessions – these don’t usually have exhibitors and
feature a smaller “footprint” with a 1-2 page registration site.  When the attendee gets to the site, they are taken to the session room during the day of the event, and to the on-
demand menu while the event is in on-demand mode.  There is not usually a conference lobby, nor are there typically exhibitor booths. However, both can be added, depending on what you envision for your event.

Online Courses

Online Courses are similar to an online university class, but shorter. These are typically several sessions (usually fewer than 15) usually offered for a fee and  starting on a specific date, with ongoing on-demand access for a period of time.  This sounds very “variable” – an example would be 12 sessions on a topic, starting on August 1 and available to attendees for a period of 30 days.  Typically, there aren’t exhibitors for courses, although sponsors and/or exhibitors are possible.  There is usually a class- or session-ending quiz and you can issue a certificate of completion if the test is passed with the score you provide.

Virtual Conferences/Online Trade ShowsProfessional-People-Silhouette-300px

These are larger virtual events, typically featuring more than two sessions/presentations.  They can include as few as 2 and as many as 150+ sessions running across many days and 12 rooms or tracks of simultaneous sessions.  Typically, with an exhibit hall, these events can also be free for attendees, paid or freemium model events. However, all aspects, including the price for attendees, are easily customizable.

Which one works for you?

This all seems very wide-open and variable – there is a lot of overlap between the events. The biggest change between them is what audience you are trying to reach. Webinars are typically free and focused on getting leads for a sponsor or yourself. Courses are focused on teaching and are usually the product you are trying to sell – there is almost never a sales message in this format. Virtual conferences are focused on educating and selling, with the sessions for educating the viewer and the exhibit hall to encourage them to talk to sponsors.

The good news is that all of these event types are extremely successful online. Each event, whether it is pre-recorded and broadcast on a schedule, broadcast live, or allows the viewer to choose when and which session to watch, at some point can allow the viewer to watch at their leisure. With an On Demand section of each event available, you can access a large international audience and spread your message further than you could with an in-person 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

 

Pre-Record or Broadcast Live?

In-person conferences are only slightly different from online events, but one way in which they are vastly different is the presenting style. In-person events are presented live, with the speaker on a stage or at the front of a classroom-style room, speaking to the audience in real-time. They can step off the stage and answer the audiences’ questions while being a foot or two away from them and everything they say is live. This is great for a personal touch to events, but with a larger event, the personalization fades.

For online, virtual events, you have a few different options to try to replicate this experience while broadcasting your message and knowledge to a large audience. You can pre-record your sessions or host them live. If you host them live, through a livestream, you can even use a service like Google Hangouts to invite attendees to ask questions in real time while showing their face and using their own voice.

So, what are the pros and cons of each option?

From the platform standpoint, it makes no difference if an event is live or pre-recorded. The platform will work with either and it’s all about what makes you more comfortable.

Live sessions are great because the presenter has (hopefully) rehearsed their presentation and knows it like the back of their hand. A live panel-style session can be personalized to the audience. They can submit questions before the session via social media or text chat. Those questions are then answered during the session, which adds a nice touch for the audience.

However, live sessions carry a threat to your event as well. If the presenter is late, has connection issues, forgets their slides, has background noise, doesn’t wear something appropriate, or just has an “off” day, it can reflect badly on your event and brand. This is why pre-recorded sessions have their own benefits.

With a pre-recorded session, you can approve it ahead of time, cut out background noise, ensure that it aligns with the high quality event you are arranging. If you decide to do a 100% On Demand event, where the attendees are able to choose which session they want to watch at their leisure, this is the only option – and it’s a great way to make sure each presentation is up to your high standards!

Both types of presentations – live and pre-recorded – have their pros and cons. Make sure you figure out what the aim of your event is before you choose which will fit the best for you.

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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

Happy event planning!

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!

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.