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How to bring all the feels back to events

With so much of our networking, learning and socialising having to take place online for the time being, and the return to crowds gathering in person feeling a long way off, how can you really make sure you don’t add to the zoom fatigue? Instead, create an inspiring and engaging event for your audience wherever they may be. We caught up with the brilliant Natasha Russell, founder of Natasha Russell Events , admirer of wolves, to pick her brains about how to bring those human qualities back to your event plans.

Here are our top ten tips to consider when taking your event virtual:

1. Your platform is your venue: there are a wealth of event platforms out there right now and they all have different pros and cons. So set out the main objectives for your event, and the key things you want, that might be good networking, or that attendees can chat in private video calls. It might be really important that you can crowd source papers for a content within the platform, or our latest consideration, access for those with visual impairments using screen readers. You wouldn’t take every event to the same venue and the same applies online.

2. Don’t try to recreate your ‘in-person’ event online. Some things will work but other things will not. Again, consider your objectives, no one wants to spend 3 days straight online as they might at an in-person event, so how can you break this down to shorter sessions, over a few days. What elements are great when you are all together in a conference room, how can that same objective be achieved online? Think outside of the box and don’t be scared to innovate. A good event producer will have lots of ideas.

3. Create communities: the biggest trend at the end of 2020 was micro-tribes and communities. Do you have a community already, are there sub communities, how can you leverage this to create the best event? You might have a simple webinar but create a slack channel for the conversation to continue. You might take your community onto a social media platform and create a closed LinkedIn group to allow networking after the main event. Look after your pack!

4. Is the future audio only? We have seen a boom in club house usage although it’s only available on apple, we have seen various audio only platforms, and podcasts are really thriving. Does your session really need to be a ‘live’ video? Could it be an on-demand audio only session? Could it be a short-written document, and infographic. Mix up the content types and create more engagement.

5. Create FOMO: There is a real expectation that everything is on demand these days. We live in a world of Amazon prime and Netflix, we can pretty much get whatever we want, whenever we want, create exclusivity by having sessions only available as live sessions or to certain audience sectors. Create a buzz that will be talked about even by those who were not there.

6. Think accessibility. Although we mention audio only, do consider how this might be accessed by those with hearing impairments, have captioning on your output, create transcripts of sessions.

7. Engagement: we have all been there, listening to something but doing something else. Sending a sneaky email whilst on zoom. How to ensure audience engagement? Accept that you won't grab people's attention for 100% of the time, especially with a long event. Create breaks, make it OK to listen to some sessions and not watch, add some sessions on demand, use gamification to encourage attendees to explore the whole event, send out experience boxes that sit alongside the event and create shared moments. For example, we have seen some great coffee break boxes, why not pair this with a barista showing the audience how to create a perfect cup of coffee then have a break where people can enjoy that coffee – together but apart.

8. Are your attendees in different time zones? How will you work with this? Can you pre-record sessions ‘as live’ and have each timezone start at the 9am in their zone? Can you have shared breaks where everyone can be online for a live keynote? How can you create engagement between these attendees who might be online at different times – you might take the interaction out of the main event platform and create a hashtag that can be followed on social media?

9. Wellness has been a huge event trend over the last few years and you can still incorporate this with an online event. Create a strava group for attendees, have on demand yoga sessions, encourage attendees to move away from their desk, whether that be adding gamification to getting outside or encouraging some of those audio only sessions to be enjoyed during a walk.

10. Use a professional. Much like anyone can throw a birthday party, anyone can organise a zoom call. Whilst virtual events have accelerated at a rapid pace over the last year so have the skills of event producers. Many have spent time learning new platforms, technologies and techniques. They can ensure your attendee journey is nothing short of excellent, they can share best practice, offer advice of the best platforms, ensure you have high quality content and generally ease your stress.

Why so many wolves? Well they're organised, they work well with groups, are excellent communicators and are highly efficient just like Natasha. Hit her up for any event advice here and drop us line for any other marketing dilemmas we can help with!

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