It's all the rage. Post after post on social media, in Facebook groups and Linkedin about 'Hybrid' events. 'Bringing your event online’ , ‘using the latest in event technology’
It seems to be the most logical next step, with the pandemic very much still in force and companies desperate to offer you their latest 'virtual platform' for hosting your event.
I see the latest screens, the latest cameras. Some companies have valiantly built a studio in their warehouse to offer live events. Everyone is talking about green-screening, purpose built sets and bespoke solutions. Some event companies have now set up a whole new 'team' for virtual events. For some venues it's the last throws of the dice knowing some events will not be happening anytime soon and understandably they need things to happen, and happen quickly.
Event planners are looking to recreate the event they can't do 'in real life' but in a virtual world. Here's the issue though. They're looking at it all wrong.
They're asking for help and advice on social media:
'I need a platform for a virtual event, 12 breakout sessions' etc, etc.
Here's the problem: They're getting pulled into a system based on the bells and whistles and 'trying to recreate the event' that would be live with a real audience in a venue - as a stream.
This isn't the right approach. It doesn't matter how snazzy the live show is, whether you have fire-eaters, men dressed as mirrors, topless men juggling knives or whatever slightly below-par corporate act can get onto giant LED screens. It's all irrelevant.
This is not how you move your event into this new and evolving space. You cannot just do what you would do normally, but just film it and stream it.
Looked at in a different light. Your live event can't be this - it's needed to be more engaging (and that doesn't mean people sitting watching the 'show'. These are new times, we need a fresh approach. Nothing can replace a live audience that's in the same room.
I see lots of posts here with companies offering all the bells and whistles - but what they are NOT offering is how to make his work as a total 'show'. This isn't about an 'event solution' It's not just a conference or awards show that's streamed. It needs to be tackled differently.
It has to flow like a TV show - perhaps even a documentary. We're all done with watching streams. Zoomed out, sick of Skype. People hate appearing on camera whilst watching something. Getting an audience to sign up to something is relatively easy. Keeping them there and getting them there on the actual day of the event is the issue.
Today's audience is savvy - they know crap content and will see it and reject it easily. Even more so during Covid times. They're consuming more and more media - Netflix and other steaming video sites. The production values are sky high - multi-million dollar productions and they are being consumed at a rate of knots. We demand content and it has to be good.
It doesn't matter if you put your 'speaker' onto a virtual set that looks like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Apart from it looking like a parody of an America news channel, there's another way of thinking and another set of rules. A new set of grammar for the events industry to understand.
These live events are no longer a by-product of the conference. No longer are they a bolt-on for the real thing. It's not just about bashing two cameras up and sending the conference over the internet at the same time as the hall full of people watch the keynote.
Events need to be a carefully crafted, content-rich production. Don't confuse this with the fire-eating jugglers; this isn't the content-rich I mean. What is needed is TV production levels of content, people on the team need to have a background in TV, making prorgramming. Designing content for the viewer on the screen rather than in real life.
The whole thing should be re-imagined. It is no longer about the same old stuff, with some snazzy lighting, indoor fireworks and some third-rate circus acts. It will not cut it.
Over the last few months, I’ve been helping clients with their online events. My mantra is firmly on quality of production and the content. Using my background in making TV shows, me and my team can create something different and engaging, but using the skills from the broadcast media to engage and create with your audience.