Recently, Blue Sky’s VP of Continuing Education Solutions, Amanda Davis, sat down with our clients and prospects to answer their questions. You can view the entire webinar on-demand here, otherwise check out our recap (as well as some new tidbits!) of a few of the questions asked below.
Whose responsibility is it to ensure engagement at virtual events?
- It’s a little bit of everyone but it mostly will come down to the event organizer. Who else is typically involved?
- The platform provider is there to provide the tools and technology while the content is what should be engaging your audience.
- Your sponsors are there to advertise their products and services – unless you have tasked them with being part of your program as a speaker, moderator, etc.
- You can certainly ask your members and/or volunteers to moderate sessions, and the peer-to-peer interaction can help with engagement.
- In general, whoever is hosting, moderating, or presenting will be expected to bring some level of engagement when interacting with the audience, but the overall planning of an engaging event does come down to that event organizer.
- NEW TIP FROM THE VET: Since engagement is hinged on you making it happen, you are facilitating it… be very intentional with how you wish to engage the attendees. You need to strike a good balance between types of engagement, using too many of the same type of exercise with disengage the attendees. For example, do a mix of polling questions split throughout the session + a couple chat responses, where you pose a question, and your attendees add an open response within the chat. Note that you also might have to coach your SME’s on the best ways to add the engagements into their presentations.
- NEW TIP FROM THE VET: Give your learners both online engagement and application tools. A worksheet can be a great application tool, to relate the topics discussed to their own experiences. Create a handout for the learner to work on during the session/program. Keep it simple, but you can meld both notes from the session and questions, reflections, or problem-solving exercises within. This will keep them engaged as some will want to complete this as a takeaway resource. This can pack tremendous value!
Will it ever be possible to replicate the physical exhibition hall experience, virtually?
The expectation of attendees does not seem to be the same (yet) for virtual exhibit halls. Even with 3D virtual reality type experiences, many exhibitors are not finding the value that they may have found at an in-person event. Some ways to generate engagement for your exhibitors include:
- Allowing exhibitors to have Zoom rooms or some type of meeting room where people can visit and have conversations.
- Allowing for dedicated time on the event schedule to meet with exhibitors and continue to remind your attendees to visit them. This should encourage more engagement with exhibitors than just having a 3D exhibit hall where an attendee might feel lost or not have time to check out.
- NEW TIP FROM THE VET: Have dedicated chat times built into the schedule, i.e., attendees move to the exhibit space at 10:00 am and the intent is for them to have conversations via the chat tools within the exhibitor booth/resource space.
No matter what, at the end of the day, not everyone might be shopping (or ready to buy) the products and services exhibitors are offering in this pandemic climate. NEW THOUGHT: I believe this new landscape will be more of a brand awareness tool for the exhibitors, as opposed to what the in-person, face-to-face experience is.
That is ok too… but it is a shift, and the same expectations cannot be applied to this new exclusively online experience. However, you are the gatekeeper of setting proper expectations for these exhibitor/sponsors, as to the engagements they might have. Be clear!
How to price a hybrid event?
- We define a hybrid event as having an audience in-person as well as online. Sessions are being streamed from the in-person event to the online audience. While some people think viewing online means that the cost should be less expensive for those attendees, we think it’s all about the content. If online attendees have access to all the same content the price should be the same. We only recommend decreasing the price if the online attendee has a substantial decrease in the amount of content available to them.
- NEW TIP FROM THE VET: Another newer hybrid event definition is to have some true live online sessions (speaker is teaching at that moment) and mix that with some pre-recorded, or mock-live sessions. I would not adjust the price for this delivery method. One more tip, be sure if you’re doing a pre-recorded session that you have the SME (subject matter expert) who was recorded, or another knowledgeable being available to interact with the learners via the chat function and announce this to the audience at the beginning of the session. This creates a high perceived value to have live access to the expert.
What have organizations done to transform their business model as they deliver both webinars and virtual events?
- A lot of organizations are sitting on their hands – not making any major business model shifts right now. They have a comfort level with their learners, and they don’t want to disrupt that. The shift in the business model is really allowing organizations to take in-person content and move it online.
- I am seeing a shift in the way organizations are enhancing things they were doing previously and leveraging their content a bit more than they may have in the past. We hope that this shift will allow people to look at the content they are creating and make a bigger impact on the member experience. NEW THOUGHT: By leveraging your content after the initial view, you are allowing more access, which for your organization might mean more member value or more non-dues revenue. Repurposing that content is a NO brainer to me!
Amanda dove into each of these topics and so much more, so make sure to watch the full webinar on-demand and sign up for her next webinar!