Michael Rogers’ recent collection of Webinar Week posts are a great reference for anyone who hasn’t yet jumped into the “Hybrid” event pool. I kind of presume everyone is doing some kind of virtual event at this point – if you’re not, you soon will be. While the previous posts help with background and understanding of how to “make the sausage” – this post presents 5 simple steps you can take which can have big benefits to you and you Members through your events.
We all need a little leverage these days – I hope one of these may be your fulcrum.
It seems a lot of folks are getting interested in “hybrid” events – the kind where some of the audience is “live” in a room, and some are “virtual” – watching the event unfold via the Internet. I believe there is considerable opportunity to improve the state of the art by using things we do every day in slightly different ways. I’d like to challenge those of us who professionally provide “hybrid” events to take them up a notch and really get these.
Most hybrid event providers are employing three fundamental components in their hybrid event – a video of the speaker / panel, the slide deck presented near them, and a Tweet Chat mechanism for the remote folks to provide thoughts and input.
All well and good – great first steps. You are able to carry the activities to the virtual participants and give them a mechanism to provide their thoughts.
I think you’re missing a very big boat if this is all you’re doing.
Remember, back in the day, when you’d call or have coffee with someone to talk about how excited you were about an upcoming presentation. You’re just as excited today – but you’ve likely replaced a phone call with a Tweet. Even more powerful – larger audience - and it takes less time; smart and effective.
As a speaker, I always wanted to know what my audience thought before the presentation. With that knowledge, I believed my audience would feel I’m quite in tune with what they’re thinking and I deliver extremely relevant information. Today, with the magic of HootSuite and a #hashtag – I can! I turn on a channel for my upcoming engagements monitor the hash tag for the event and voila – my audience thinks I’m timely, relevant, and a great use of their time. Sometimes, I’ve even “seeded” the channel just to get a reaction to things I may be on the fence about presenting.
First Step: Create a hash tag for your event / events – get them going early in your event communications and tell your audience the speaker(s) are listening.
Second Step: In your interaction with the speaker(s) – tell them about this opportunity and help them get engaged. As the event date closes in, contact them and share what you’ve seen in the channel(s) to help them prepare – my guess is they’ll thank you for the information.
One of the biggest challenges hybrid events face is consolidated effective feedback – learning the opinions of the entire audience. It’s one thing to listen for applause, count hands; whatever you do when you want to emphasize a point or respond to the opinion of your audience.
How do you know what your virtual folks think?
The moderator watching the Tweet chat is going to deal with the “feedback lag” – the time it takes the remote attendees to think about what they want to say, frame it in a 140 character English message, and then type it, send it, and wait for it to arrive. By the time it gets to the moderator…. Mr. Speaker is keeping the in room audience engaged on another point and Ms. Virtual is left feeling slighted because they didn’t get their voice heard – bad mojo for your next hybrid event.
Third Step: Employ a good real-time polling mechanism that shares the collective opinion of your entire audience. I’m quite fond of Polleverywhere – a nice polling tool which allows people to cast their opinions via Text Message (SMS), Twitter, or clicking on their response via a web page. Stop counting hands – engage the remote audience the same way – and know what everyone thinks.
Don’t forget your speaker! Many times professional speakers aren’t familiar with the needs of a virtual audience. Their messages are tried and true…. for a room full of people. You (or your provider) are the experts – review the deck, look for polling opportunities and coordinate with the speaker to help them cross this chasm.
Keep the conversation going
A lot of people spend a good deal of time and effort to make a successful event. All too often, once the final dish is cleared from the luncheon table – the event point in time has passed and we’re left with whatever memories we can retain about what we learned.
For me, that’s not enough.
Most times, I continue to ponder the points and enjoy the lift from the motivation of the speaker only during the trip back to the office; that glorious time when my thoughts remain my own. Upon my return, there’s the messages, email, and other activities I put on hold to enjoy this great professional activity. If only I could get back to that feeling I had during the event.
I’d love to have an opportunity to hear what others thought about the information – was there a contentious point which caused a stir? Is there more that we can do with what the speaker started – an hour isn’t a lot of time for really big things.
There may only be a few of us that want this “add-on” experience – but what a great group to attract to your Social Networks – we want to be engaged, give us a soapbox.
Fourth Step: Use the Event as fodder for your Social Networks – after the event. Get a blog post or two, maybe the speaker would like to write one – maybe an impassioned attendee. Circulate some of the really good questions out to your network. Create a poll and stick it on your website – maybe the opinion changes with a larger audience weighing in.
Share the wealth
Most events are attended by a mere fraction of the number of people who really could use the information. Creating a great collection of 4-8 minute video presentations from a hybrid event is an excellent way to share the information with a broader audience, create video assets to help with the emerging SEO need for video, and help us folks with failing memories have a way back to get clarification as our memories fade. The incremental cost to bring this should be quite small when reflected against the total investment you’ve just made in the event.
Fifth Step: Leverage video replay of your events – especially the hybrid ones! The provider is already using a camera and audio gear to broadcast – recording and producing is a fairly small step from there. Adapt your content strategies to incorporate this wonderful capability – heck, if you have Pay Per View capabilities there’s even more money to be made.
If you’re waiting for this to get “better” or “more proven” – you’re backing up. “Wait and see” may have been an adequate strategy last year – it isn’t going forward. The ability to have these capabilities is becoming quite affordable and cost effective. If you aren’t doing it – others are and your audience is evolving very rapidly – they are going to start expecting these types of things around your events.
If you’re a speaker, I encourage you to engage with your audience – before and after your speaking opportunities – you can never have too many engaged followers.
If you manage event productions, I hope you find some of these ideas help your audiences grow and feel more empowered by the use of them – drop me a note here we’re happy to lend a hand to help get you going.
If you attend events – I hope you start to experience some of these benefits soon.
Let’s all start challenging the people to give us the most they can for the time we invest in our professional event. I know there is more than this list to be addressed to create a truly fantastic “virtual” experience.
Love it, hate it, think I’ve lost it, got a challenge for me? Drop your thoughts below – I really want to keep this growing and would love to hear what you think.