trending | May 04, 2020

We Put on Our First Virtual Conference. Here’s What We Learned.

The social distancing era has created an unprecedented challenge for the events industry. And while we know that nothing can replace an in-person event or conversation, we also know we need to stay connected in these uncertain times. So, in an effort to adapt to the current situation—and bring a touch of the magic from a live event into our homes—The Lavin Agency embarked on its first-ever virtual conference. What’s the Future @ Lavin Live was an ambitious three-day event that invited the brightest minds across all industries to discuss what’s coming next. Here’s what we learned.

With seven hours of programming over the course of three days, and nearly 10,000 audience members giving us feedback, we certainly learned a lot from What’s the Future. So, what worked, what didn’t, and what could we improve upon next time around?

 

“We spent a lot of time thinking about and developing the networking side of the event, which is notoriously terrible even at live conferences,” shares founder and CEO David Lavin. “People want to talk to each other, yet it takes a lot of effort to develop formal ways to feel informal.” Experimenting with participation through polls, word clouds, and a Zoom reception after the event allowed us to engage our audience despite the physical separateness. And because of the barrier, we worked doubly as hard to create the conditions for connection, conversation, and debate. “I think we got it right in spite of the fact that the technology isn’t designed to do that,” David notes.

 

Our speakers were also invited to play with a range of different formats, from an interview, to a keynote, to a moderated discussion. “Some speakers really shone in one format over another. One size doesn’t fit all,” says David. Now, more than ever, having the right speaker can make or break an event. With the in-person element removed from the equation, you need to have a profoundly engaging speaker in the right setting. Working with a speaker’s bureau like The Lavin Agency can help. A bureau will have extensive knowledge of their roster and can recommend a speaker who will be a perfect fit.

 

We don’t have to miss out on events just because we’re in quarantine. We simply need to learn how to work with our new socially distanced reality and make some adjustments. As David reminds us, “Virtual is a unique platform and it has to be treated as such.”
 
If you were thinking of canceling your upcoming event due to COVID-19, consider some of the benefits of doing it virtually down below.
 
Save Time and Money
While virtual events do require time, dedication, planning, and marketing like any other, it’s considerably less work than an in-person event. Take advantage of the fact that a virtual conference is less time-consuming, and also more budget-friendly, as a way to stay connected to your core audience during this period of uncertainty.
 
Make More Connections
As we mentioned, making connections can be difficult even when we’re face-to-face—especially in a professional setting. The great thing about a virtual event is that it not only forces us to get creative about having conversations, it also allows for real-time commenting, polling, and discussion to take place. That’s hundreds of people you may not have gotten a chance to meet in a face-to-face setting, chatting with you online—with their full name and profile on the screen.
 
Gather Feedback Easily
The secondary advantage of comments, polls, and real-time discussion? You can quickly and easily gather tonnes of feedback! Instead of relying on the audience to complete a post-event survey and compiling the answers, which may take weeks or months, the feedback is happening right on the screen—and can be archived for later reflection.
 
Measure Results Instantly
You can almost instantly—and pretty effortlessly—gauge the success of a virtual event by looking at the data. How many people showed up? How many engaged and interacted? Where did your attendees log in from? How long did they stick around? There is so much valuable information at our disposal when we put on a virtual event—precise, data-driven information, that will help us improve. Don’t throw that opportunity away!

 

To book a speaker for your next virtual event, contact The Lavin Agency today and connect with a talented member on our sales team.
 

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