3 Ways to Create Meaningful Engagement at Virtual Events
Join us as we discuss how things are in the event world now, where they are going and what to expect after the pandemic. We spend a lot of time thinking about the future, and working with many folks that are engaged in delivering LIVE experiences now. We have our ideas and it was a blast to be guests on Jonathan Jackson's new show to chat about our ideas. Enjoy! ~Sherry and Itamar
So, how do you create meaningful engagement at a virtual event? To answer the question, we interview a couple legends in the event world, Itamar Kubovy and Sherry Huss. Itamar is the Executive Producer of Pilobolus and a founder of Live Labs. Sherry Huss was a co founder of the Maker Faire (show, movement, tribe), and also a co founder of Live Labs.
Producing Virtual vs. Hybrid Events
Creating meaningful, lasting engagement at virtual events is a new challenge brought on by Covid 19. Before the pandemic, most large events were already hybrid events. Meaning that, live events were often produced with virtual event components. Like adding the livestream component to cut down on travel costs. Now, virtual events are all we have. A virtual event usually looks like this: a virtual conference platform with clear navigation/branding, VOD (video on demand) for breakout sessions and keynotes, live streaming for live question and answers, and hopefully a solid social networking and collaboration element. So, how do we make virtual only events engaging in the absence of physical networking (not to be confused with tinder), eating and partying together.
From Hybrid to Virtual Events, and Back
Hybrid events are like… live events, with a livestream element. But to do it right, like TED talks and Apple announcements, we have to look at an episode the of hit television phenomenon Friends. Particularly, why was Friends shot in front of a live studio audience? Because canned laughs (laugh tracks), were already considered cheesy. Plus, you get better performances in front of a live audience. This is the same for the reason we have audiences for late night shows and at big Apple product launches. Apple could intro the next generation iPhone 20 (whatever), from an office. Or just make an incredible video, with explosions, and slow motion snowball fights that are shot on iPhone. There’s no way to authentically capture the excitement, laughs, and applause at an event than having your biggest fans, and stakeholders in the audience laughing at every joke, hanging off every word.
After the Pandemic, Events Will Be More Like Late Night TV
The pandemic is forcing large companies to see the upside of virtual only events. My prediction is that, once they see how scalable and engaging virtual events can be, they’ll want the virtual element to be the priority of the show. Just like Apple events. Apple puts it most trusted stakeholders, fans, and journalists in the audience when they’re doing a product launch. And because of this, the energy is fire. Fire baby. The energy of the thousand people in the auditorium is hanging off every word, stoked about every new product feature… Laughing at every inside clever joke. Music makes us cry, and laughter makes us laugh. This energy requires curating a fan crowd, and capturing their audio and video, to enhance the experience of the people viewing everything at home. It’s peer pressure. Just like, when Monica says something funny and cute, the live audience enhances the effect. Virtual, people, is the future of events. Bands used to go on tour to promote an album. Now that album sales are dead, bands release a new album to create interest in their next tour. So yeah, Ross is the future of live events.
Want To Up Your Virtual Event Production Game?
Check out our friends at Repertoire Productions, they have been producing Virtual and Hybrid events since before it was a thing. Repertoire produced 100 makerfaire.com videos for me from one of our shows (Sherry), and for real, Repertoire invented how to produce a TEDx event. They’ve been listening, innovating and collaborating with the world’s top brands for the last 10 years. And if you think about it, there are similarities between Friends, the Late Show, and a TED talk… Relatively small live audience, check. Curated audience consisting of enthusiastic “tribe”, check. Audience reaction drives digital reactions, check. The difference between TED talks Apple events and the majority of “other” events is, TED and Apple figured out that, 1) The real audience is virtual, and 2) the live audience is there to boost the effect for the virtual audience. Just like Jimmy Fallon and Friends.
Here’s the call to action part, if you want to up your virtual or hybrid event production game, check them out, they would love to hear all about your ideas and will definitely help you shine. Ask for Jonathan!
Also, thanks to our friends at Production Line Studios.