Two Critical Principles for Virtual Event Design

May 21, 2020
Alissa Hurley, CMM, CED

Hint: It’s not about the platform

Over the last two months (though it certainly feels much longer), our industry has frantically been pivoting live events to virtual event formats. For many, this meant rapidly researching a vast array of streaming providers, web conference solutions, and virtual event platforms.

In the process, it’s also meant a lot of trial and error. How many of you quickly launched a web conference for hundreds of participants, only to realize that the platform alone doesn’t address everything you need to achieve your desired meeting outcomes?

In the rush to virtual, many of us have lost track of the most critical step in the process – event design! Here’s a reminder of two critical principles to consider when designing your virtual event.

1. A virtual event is not a direct translation of a live event

Zoom fatigue is real. If it’s not already a diagnosable condition, we’re probably not far off from seeing it in medical textbooks. With unlimited online and at-home distractions, it takes a different kind of focus to engage in virtual events. Coupled with the lack of visual or physical breaks attendees would typically have in a live setting, the ability to overcome these distractions can be overwhelming without the right balance of high-stimulation and lull time.

Second, it’s more challenging to establish emotional and attitudinal connections across cyber space. The networking that typically happens more serendipitously in a live environment must be designed with purpose in a digital environment.

2. You can warp time and space

We all struggle with attention spans in digital environments. But unlike the time or space restrictions you have in a live event setting, you can be more flexible with virtual events.

Engagement doesn’t need to happen at a specific time and can be stretched to meet the needs of your audience. Leverage the freedom of access and community building tools across time zones to meet participants where they are – delivering content when your attendees need it, and how they need it. Content such as on-demand video sessions or simu-live can open new opportunities for engagement with presenters and learning opportunities.

As the global event industry enters the recovery stage, there will be an ongoing need to engage remote audiences – either completely virtually or in a hybrid setting. Put the principles of event design first before considering the delivery platform and consider partnering with someone who can help guide you through the design process and create an experience that will be sure to meet your desired outcomes.

Our team has created virtual and hybrid solutions cultivated from years of experience. Connect with us to see how we can assist with your event design.