Virtual and hybrid events will be the norm for quite some time. To effectively host an event that is completely virtual or hybrid, meeting planners will need to partner with a skilled audio-visual team to provide the technical expertise and show production knowledge.
Although virtual events may feel different, they are powerful and scalable, allowing people from around the world to gather remotely. With a hybrid meeting, both in-person and remote viewers can be engaged in a meaningful way. A skilled audio-visual team understands the technical wizardry that is required to bring everything and everyone together, using a combination of professional equipment and software platforms.
“Virtual and hybrid events have overcome the hurdles and expense of travel and lodging,” says Bob Leon, president of Colortone Staging & Rentals, the Ohio area partner of the Rental and Staging Network. “It is more appealing to attend a virtual event than ever before. A higher premium should be placed on the remote attendee.”
When done right, virtual and hybrid events are engagement-driven, value-added experiences that produce results extending past the screen. Good show flow and scripting are critical for both inperson and virtual events. Professional moderation is the key to creating engaging virtual events that flow. During a virtual event, “stage management” comes in the form of carefully timed introductions for presentations, interacting in the comments and creating a two-way experience for attendees that runs on time.
Speaker coaching is also critical in virtual settings and differs depending on how the presenter will interact with the audience. An A/V partner will guide presenters through individual “tech checks” to orientate them to the platform, show them how to share documents and make sure their presentation is displayed in an engaging way. They will also work with presenters to confirm there are not any connectivity issues that will negatively impact the presentations, as well as advise the virtual presenter about posture, dress code and maintaining eye contact.
To support the live audience, an A/V partner will oversee the chat for those needing technical assistance, create a queue to take live questions and manage audience polling.
Not offering a virtual component in today’s environment is a mistake—attendees expect an option to join virtually. For meeting planners, that means budgeting for elements of livestream or other types of webcasting in addition to in-person A/V event costs.
“Just as planners consulted with their A/V team prior to COVID-19, that consultation is just as important today,” Leon added. “There are no set rules; all meetings whether virtual or hybrid are different and require tech.”
Think of an A/V partner as an extension of the team, who enables the planner to focus on other elements of the event. With all the moving parts in hybrid or virtual events, planners shouldn’t have to worry about the technology—that’s for the A/V partner to handle.