SINGAPORE – As the outbreak forces face-to-face interactions to be kept to a minimum, virtual events are all the rage now. Zoom meetings and webinars are the most commonly held, but what if you need to organise a full-on conference with multiple tracks, exhibitor booths and networking?
“Today, because of the situation with travel restrictions, lockdowns and safe distancing measures in place all over the world, every business and industry is having to adapt to the digital world, and run meetings and events digitally,” said Veemal Gungadin, who founded events technology provider GlobalSignin in 2006. The Singapore-based company provides organisers with solutions such as event management platform, GEVME, for the full lifecycle of digital events.
But even as many planners are ready to move their events online, over 90% of event professionals have never actually organised a digital conference, based on insights gathered from attendees of GlobalSignin’s slew of past digital events.
Mr Gungadin has the following tips on helping planners to get started on running digital conferences:
Consider the “why” of organising a digital conference
The first question a planner should ask is why he/she wants to organise a digital conference. It’s not about jumping on the bandwagon. Planners should look at the value that they are creating for their stakeholders such as attendees, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors. And the return on investment they will be getting, whether it is in terms of awareness or revenue.
Digital conferences are not webinars
Understand the difference between webinars and digital conferences, which sit on almost opposite ends of the digital events spectrum. While webinars are relatively simple to organise and usually comprise one session that lasts around an hour, digital conferences are full-fledged conferences fully repurposed to be delivered online. They tend to have multiple sessions – talks from speakers, breakout sessions, different tracks – that can last over many days, and include exhibitor booths and networking.
Know what format to take – to go live, recorded or mixed?
Once you have decided to go ahead, you have to determine if the sessions being streamed at the event will be fully live, fully recorded, or a mix.
The benefit with a digital conference is that you have the possibility to have your speakers pre-record their sessions and presentations, and you have the ability to do video post-production to ensure a high standard. This format is the lowest risk because you avoid issues like connectivity with speakers during a live event. But it requires much more preparation, and you do lose the live element.
Creating value for sponsors and exhibitors
With digital conferences, it is important to think about how to create value for your sponsors and exhibitors. During the “How to run a digital conference” webinar organised by GEVME, moderator and regional account manager Pavvi Singh shared benefits of digital conferences for these stakeholders, which include measurable brand engagement, 24/7 digital exhibition booths that can feature catalogues and live chats, as well as opportunities for richer content such as sponsor videos and sponsor ads during conference breaks.
Online engagement more critical than ever
Keeping attendees engaged and entertained in-between sessions has never been more important – but this is a challenge that is commonly faced by planners who are organising digital conferences. In addition to the more common live polls and Q&A, you can consider including theme-based breakout sessions, speaker chat rooms, virtual ice-breaker activities, virtual karaoke or even interactive games.