As the events industry starts to return, it’s becoming clear that hybrid events are going to become part of the new normal. While there are countless tutorials, resources and products that are geared towards making the technical transition easier to understand and execute, one challenge that remains is how to maximize remote audience engagement.

Founded in 2009 by Anthony Scaramucci and SkyBridge Capital, SALT is an annual global thought leadership forum and networking platform that encompasses finance, technology and geopolitics. In 2019, working with Encore Productions, SALT wanted to reinvigorate this high-profile, invitation-only event and take it back to its roots; a thought-leadership forum filled with conversation-based keynotes and fireside chats that blended together the intersecting areas of finance, tech, politics, academia, sports, military and entertainment.

“Although past events had historically been successful, SALT wanted to continue pushing the envelope on their events to stay ahead of competitors. They were looking to transform it into the event of the future,” recalled Chani Mintz, Senior Producer, Encore Productions.

After coming to an understanding on how to further evolve the in-person event, the task became more complex—how to take the event into the digital sphere in a unique way? The event planners wanted to make sure their virtual audience was given an experience that not only mirrored the specifications of the in-person event, but enhanced it. “We really had to change our mindset on how we approached this – it was really to incorporate the best of live show production with more of a television broadcast approach,” confided Jamey Gallagher, Vice President of Creative Strategy, Encore Productions. With this in mind, the production team leveraged three key techniques: creating an immersive environment, graphic elements and exclusive content.

Create an Immersive Experience

Create an environment where attendees can find and explore your content in a way that easily allows for sharing and participating actively in the experience.

In the case of SALT, there were multiple touchpoints for virtual attendees to interact with: a virtual lobby, exhibit hall, keynote presentation and networking lounge, to name a few. These creative elements allowed attendees to interact with one another and the material presented in a way that made them feel connected and part of the action.

Add Graphic Elements

The producers were also mindful of how keynotes and video content was presented to the digital audience. To mimic the energetic atmosphere at Bellagio, they crafted graphic elements that made each keynote feel as if it were a segment on a news channel. By using these graphics, along with picture-in-picture elements, call-outs for the next presenter, and making it look and feel like a highly-produced television show, the creative minds on this project brought a dynamic experience into existence for these users.

Create Exclusive Content for the Virtual Attendee

Between speakers, they utilized roaming cameras to make those at home feel like they were truly in the room. “The virtual viewer actually had a bigger experience than the live viewer,” said Jamey. “They went right from a live session, to an interview backstage and immediately to the conference center. The virtual attendee could attend up to five functions in an hour, where the live attendee could see maybe only three.”

These elements culminated into an event that SkyBridge Founder & Managing Partner and SALT Chairman Anthony Scaramucci proclaimed to be “by far the smoothest and coolest event we’ve ever done.”

After an exciting year, it’s that time again to consider trends we can expect to see moving forward. Advances in our industry move as quickly as the technology that powers it, and vigilance is important. We polled our experts and these are four technology-powered trends you need to follow for 2020.

1. Audience Engagement

Audience engagement technologies are becoming more mature in the event services space. In the past, one or two (single function) engagement devices may have been used to deliver presentations to audiences in real time. Now, this trend is evolving into sophisticated systems of engagement devices. For example, polling, note-taking, productivity, and communication can all be part of one suite. Expect to adopt engagement systems that allow the presenter and audience to connect authentically and create shared group experiences.

2. Adaptive Spaces

We are seeing a shift: meeting planners are now considering non-traditional environments for both their character and economy. But planners also want their spaces to be flexible enough to suit various logistical needs. Well-designed spaces can do both. By thinking about how people interact, spaces can be adapted for multiple uses. Planners can anticipate solutions that seamlessly facilitate intimacy, comfort, collaboration, and the ability to share content from a variety of channels.

3. Event Measurement

It is no longer acceptable to only evaluate a meeting based on people’s recollections. Today’s digital services collect useful statistics in real time so we can see what people are doing in the moment. This allows us to evaluate the efficacy of an event plan, and consistently make improvements based on the analytics. In the future, technologies that provide additional ways to capture event data and provide even clearer insights will be on the rise.

4. Power Everywhere

Planners and attendees alike need access to power sources to keep their devices charged and ward off potential anxiety about dying batteries. Meeting planners should be aware that visible, plentiful power options are going to reduce anxiety, add value, and contribute to productivity. In addition to power strips, be sure to include plenty of wireless induction chargers, USB-A and USB-C chargers, and mobile charging stations.

Stay Connected

As technology evolves and we learn more, best practices evolve as well. These are only a handful of exciting trends in our industry that can be addressed with well-designed solutions. For more technology trends and insights, keep the conversation alive with your technology solutions provider.

Outside of the logistics of event planning, creating an event that is actually interesting and informational can be difficult. The goal, of course, is to ensure your audience walks away having learned something, and most importantly, retained what they’ve learned. Presenters, along with teachers, have faced this dilemma many times. So, we’ve decided to provide you with some tips on how to ensure your audience retains information, allowing you to create a stellar event which will stretch much farther!

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