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2022 Trend Prediction for Virtual Events

Veronica Brundle - Jan 21 2022, 1:42:00 PM

By now, we know COVID-19 has changed the way we do just about everything, from shopping to working to hosting events. The pandemic’s fallout has driven the corporate industry to pivot and reassess how they do business, arguably one of the most powerful shifts in corporate life.

Unfortunately, the virus isn’t going anywhere soon, with a number of unknown variants being discovered and tracked, and the world is suspended in lockdowns, social distancing, and other protocols to contain the spread. In turn, several notable companies, such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter, have permanently moved into a hybrid-work-from-home situation.

Along the same lines, many events are planned from the onset as hybrid or completely virtual in the upcoming years. Here’s how these virtual events will serve the world in the near future.

There’s a lot to be learned from hosting or attending a virtual event, such as:

  • A wider audience reach
  • Cost efficiency
  • Environmental friendliness
  • More exposure for the attendees
  • Better data collection

Above all, virtual event platforms have taken the user experience to the next level thanks to enhanced supporting technology. In the before times, technology companies weren’t focusing their resources and energy on improving this experience. But now, several efficient tools have emerged to help carry out the process of hosting virtual events.

According to event professional community EventMB’s 2021 research, 71% of event planners said they would continue to employ a digital strategy even after live events return. Along with that, 59% of the people globally have been reported to prefer attending a virtual event in the current situation.

The events of the last 22 months have proved time and again it’s impossible to predict the future. But one thing for sure is that virtual events are here to stay. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out what that looks like. Here’s what to keep an eye out for in the upcoming year.

A simulive presentation is when the participants pre-record their talk and then host a live Q&A afterward.

The many advantages of a simulive presentation include:

  • Better audio and visual quality than a webcast
  • Smooth and tight presentations
  • Higher level of production value

The tried-and-true formula for a virtual event starts with a presentation and ends with a Q&A session. But that doesn’t always need to be the case with creative approaches to enhance the attendees’ experience, including breakout rooms, quizzes, and more to engage the audience and allow more opportunities to interact.

Historically, major corporations have conducted one annual conference or event. Now, because smaller virtual events are becoming more prevalent, more events can be held. And the online discussions they ignite can last for years, blurring the distinction between one event and the next. For example, Webit, a yearly tech and innovation festival, became a Global Virtual Platform in 2020, hosting 12 events each month with a total attendance of 250,000 people.

In a recent survey regarding virtual events, only 13% of participants felt that celebrity speakers at virtual events were essential to them, as opposed to 18% who claimed topic and area specialists were most beneficial.

For optimum engagement, organizers must make sure the insights their subject matter experts and thought leaders are delivering cannot be gleaned from anywhere else. For example, event planners should align their keynote speakers with their brand and ensure the content is personalized to the audience rather than delivering some prescriptive, evergreen content.

Post-event survey questions are a sure-fire approach for gathering information about an event, but they never told the whole story. Gathering data and insights from an event has never been easier thanks to virtual event technology.

Event organizers can now track practically any key performance indicator (KPI) to determine event performance, including total registrations, the number of attendees at each session, how long they stayed, the number of discussions, and how many hits each sponsorship page had. This new data is being used by event organizers to create better event experiences and demonstrate event return on investment (ROI).

Organizers can even make modifications based on their data in real-time. For example, if guests keep departing a session, the presenter may post a survey question or start a Q&A to try to reengage them.

Another method to use data is to see which speakers received the most interaction and session views, in addition to which received the least. The event organizers may use this information to figure out which types of speakers were the most popular and find similar speakers for their next event to boost attendance. When reviewing data, make sure to look at average session ratings and view length.

If one positive effect outlasts the pandemic, it surely must be virtual and hybrid events. Organizers and attendees alike have easily adjusted to the benefits virtual settings have brought. Maybe this is the type of new normal we can embrace.

Originally published at Jan 21 2022, 1:42:00 PM. Updated on Sep 27 2022.

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