5 Questions to Ask While Planning a Virtual Event

Nov 10, 2021 | Event Management

We’ve all sat through our fair share of virtual meetings – from one-on-ones or small group discussions with colleagues to virtual happy hours with friends. By now, we have a general idea of what works — and what doesn’t — from where to place our lighting, how to design our background, and even which “Zoom shirt” looks best (with comfy pants on the bottom, of course!). As a viewer, we know what looks good on the screen, but do we really know all of the things that go into the production of a virtual event?

Chances are you don’t! This is why the team at One10 has expanded to include experts with production expertise who can manage everything about the production process and beyond, from creative development, run-of-show, scripting, pre-recorded videos, speaker selection and strategy and providing support to external production companies.

Virtual events aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so now’s the time to ensure your virtual event strategy is sound. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself as you prep your next virtual event:

Question #1: Do I have the right speaker?

With live events, speakers have the opportunity to captivate audiences with their stage presence. Speakers use their movement across the stage, large gestures and eye-contact with attendees to hold attention and charm the audience. But in a virtual world, speakers run the risk of appearing like a “face in a box.” Speakers have to do so much more to resonate and captivate, and not every speaker’s style translates well in a virtual platform. You could hire the biggest name in the business as a presenter, but if they don’t “pop” on screen, the results will be lackluster. So, make sure you are selecting your speakers carefully, coaching them appropriately, and keeping your virtual audiences in mind.

One10 example: We created a virtual event for a global client that included a live variety show with performances from the clients’ employees. Employees were selected by the client for their ability to command a presence. To keep the program flowing from skit to skit, we secured a well-known, local comedian to emcee the event and deliver the opening monologue. This comedian had the on-stage presence necessary to enthrall the audience, and his delivery translated well to virtual audiences.

Question #2: Did I script too much?

Of course, you want your speakers to stay on point to deliver key business messages, but you also need the dialog to seem natural and genuine. It’s hard to engage with a speaker when you can see his/her eyes reading from a piece of paper at their desk. To make your virtual events a success, this requires a delicate balance of scripting and ad-libbing.

One10 example: We wrote a script for the emcee in our virtual event, but we also didn’t want him to sound like a robot. So, we gave him the freedom and flexibility to ad-lib while still staying on theme. It helped that he was a local comedian, so ad-libbing wasn’t a problem. The rest of the variety show skits were recorded to ensure they went off without a hitch.

Question #3: Is there on-screen chemistry?

If you have multiple speakers, it’s essential that there’s a good vibe. It’s more engaging and entertaining to the audience if it looks like the speakers are having genuine fun, too. Any time you can get two people to have a natural dialog, it’s a win/win.

One10 example: Part of the variety show included employees presenting information in an interview or panel discussion. These were easier for the audience to digest, and they were far more entertaining than watching someone present in front of a PowerPoint.

Question #4: Are the visuals boring?

It’s essential to have up-to-date graphics and creative assets to create a polished, broadcast-quality event. You can’t do this overnight, and it’s best left to the professionals. You need creative teams to lead the production look and feel and experts with production backgrounds who can guide the project and ensure success. Without this, you run the risk of your event looking disheveled, dated, and unprofessional.

One10 example: We carried the variety show theme through every bit of the virtual event. This included consistent color schemes and graphical elements in everything from the hold videos while people were logging into the event, to the interstitial videos that played between the live presentations. This theme carried through to the set, where we used furniture, lighting and color to set the mood and enhance the overall look.

Watch our Webinar: Your Guide to Thriving with Virtual Meetings and Events featuring Callie Medina, Director of Corporate Events at BMC Software.

Question #5: Did you test your internet?

Test, retest, and test again. If you don’t have internet, you don’t have an event. These “tech tests” should take place with every speaker and from every location they will be beaming in from. Will they be sitting at their desk? Check the internet in that spot. Will they be going live from another location? Check that, too. There’s no such thing as testing too much when you are managing a virtual event. Despite all your tests, you must be nimble when (inevitably) the technology or internet glitches. With the global nature of events, you aren’t going to have a perfect virtual connection every time. Additionally, always have a Plan B if things do go down. It is important to be prepared for any scenario!

One10 example: Our variety show was filmed live from a studio, so we benefited from using a location that was custom made for this situation. It took the guesswork out of the technology, but it’s never a sure thing. We still had to react to a few glitches that were out of our control, but we had an amazing technical team on-hand to ensure minimal impact to the event.

Virtual events are here to stay in one form or another, so make sure you’re set up for success. Find the right partner with a wide range of experience crafting virtual events, and with experts on their team who can make your virtual events shine.

Learn more about One10’s virtual meetings and events.

Jill Leibowitz

Jill Leibowitz

Jill oversees strategy and development for One10’s marketing services team in the areas of virtual, in-person and experiential events. Jill’s career has been rooted in journalism where she most recently worked at Intersport in Chicago before joining the One10 team.
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