Tech is always evolving — even in a pandemic. It's clear that the impact of this evolution is apparent everywhere. However, the events industry is one of the most obvious areas impacted by the ongoing change.
The gathering of people in large quantities for protracted times is something that was diametrically opposed to the concept of shelter-in-place orders, quarantines, and social distancing imperatives. This has led to an explosion of technological tools to help facilitate safe and effective virtual events.
Some of these take care of the basics, while others enhance the experience. Let's take a look at a few different technologies that have made virtual events not just possible but palatable.
Shifting from a surviving to a thriving mentality
Before looking at specific tools, it's important to understand the paradigm shift that is taking place. When the pandemic started, the crisis turned the remote-work concept into a necessity. The ability to work from home was no longer a perk reserved for fancy benefits packages or highfalutin jobs. It was something businesses were employing to stay alive.
Now that the initial wave of "survival" remote work is behind us, it's become clear that remote work isn't going anywhere. It's become an expected perk, and it's one that workers aren't letting go of any time soon. When the pandemic started, 98% of remote workers said they wanted to work from home at least some of the time. A year later, the sentiment was still strong, with more than half of workers declaring that they would rather quit than be forced back into an office.
This has left C-suite executives struggling to figure out the right way forward. Many companies are scooping up office space and decking it out to lure workers back into a dedicated professional setting.
However, at the same time, there is a sincere understanding that remote work will, at the least, play a part in most businesses' futures. The virtual tools are already in place thanks to the pandemic, and they can help if there is another pandemic-like emergency.
With that said, many virtual office spaces aren't necessarily set up to thrive. Instead, they have tailored themselves to a "survival" attitude — and with the rapid pace of technological evolution, they'll fall behind if nothing changes.
How Businesses are Adapting
So, in the same way, that businesses are investing in bigger, better office spaces, if they're going to keep their remote workers "in the fold," they need to allocate similar resources toward maintaining their virtual activities.
In the case of an office or onboarding software, many companies can utilize third-party activities. You choose your provider and they keep things cyber-secure and up-to-date with the latest cutting-edge tech.
In the case of a virtual event, though, the responsibility falls to organizations to make sure that they're keeping their virtual event experiences (and the variety of tools that it requires) contemporary and effective. With that in mind, let's take a look at some technological advancements that are helping businesses not just host virtual events, but improve the experience, as well.
1. Communication tech
A disorganized in-person event will leave attendees feeling they didn't get what they paid for. A disorganized virtual event will lose those attendees completely before the event has ended (and in many cases before it's even started.)
This is why you want to use high-quality communication tech to keep everyone on the same page — and this isn't just referring to paying for a Zoom account. You want additional tools to help your event run smoothly.
In the early days of the pandemic, there was a fair amount of grace for companies as they figured out how to host an online event in a smooth, productive manner. Now, event attendees no longer give grace to an unorganized virtual event. Furthermore, if companies do not ensure structured, well-organized, or productive virtual events, their attendees won't stick around.
Using Communication Tech to Increase Engagement
The ability for attendees to listen to lectures and training sessions after the fact means many will jump ship as soon as they feel bored. They know they can come back later to listen to the recording (often at 1.5X speed to get it over with faster.)
That's why it's important for companies to use the right communication tools to keep their events organized and on track. This starts with a good digital calendar. This can have an impact on multiple levels.
For instance, the obvious one is smaller meetings. When your event includes a handful of people, you can use a digital calendar to inform everyone of the time of the event. Many calendar apps also allow you to add live-stream links, notes, and guest lists. These tools can also instantly generate notifications if any event details change.
Along with smaller gatherings, a calendar is critical for larger events. As you begin to plan an event, you can use a calendar app to orchestrate logistical meetings and make sure that your team is staying closely connected. You can also, of course, use that app to help attendees remember when the event takes place.
2. Comprehensive quality
From Zoom to GoToMeeting to Microsoft Teams and much more, there is no end to the number of web conferencing tools out there. This is nice when it comes to selecting a platform that works for your particular needs. However, it can also make it difficult to maintain consistent, quality events over time.
Remember, each event doesn't just include your virtual meeting platform. It also integrates dozens and even hundreds of different headsets, microphones, operating systems, and endless other factors. Even the physical condition of each attendee's space can impact things like light and audio quality.
That's why you need to consider technological advancements that can work behind the scenes to smooth out and improve the overall quality of your events — both during and after the live portion. This is the virtual event equivalent of mixing and mastering separate musical tracks to create a unified end product.
Livestorm, a video engagement platform, offers a case study of this tech in action with their use of the Dolby.io call recording API to create comprehensive recordings of on-demand streaming events. The tool records high-quality A/V elements, but it goes further by helping capture additional things, like on-screen shared files, for participants to access in a playback feature.
We live in a world where it's no longer okay to just connect everyone connected in a virtual room at the same time. If you want to create a quality event for your attendees, you need this kind of tech to unify things into a single, comprehensive experience.
3. Interactive elements
So far, we've touched on the organizational and quality elements of virtual events. These are critical starting points. This is because logistics and basic quality are critical to making your event stand out against the competition.
Now it's time to consider how to make your virtual experience not just impeccable but unique. This should focus on making your event as interactive as possible. Fortunately, there are multiple ways that tech can make that possible.
When it comes to the event itself, there are many ways that you can spice things up. A good example of this is Immersive View. One of the biggest hurdles of virtual events is making it feel like the event is all happening in one single place.
Earlier in 2021, Zoom offered a fun way to address that problem with its Immersive View tech. This brings all of the virtual participants of a virtual event into a single "virtual space." The result is fun and restores a sense of togetherness for an event.
If your event feels perfunctory and dry, you can also turn to tech to make things a bit more interesting. For instance, SnapBar allows companies to set up virtual photo booths. This provides an interactive element that enables participants to bond and better remember the experience.
Keeping up in the virtual event world
There are many factors that go into hosting a good virtual event. This starts with basic things like picking out a web seminar platform, but it can't stop there.
Companies around the world are getting in on the virtual event experience. This is quickly upping the ante and setting a higher standard that attendees will naturally expect. As technology develops, it's important that teams find the best new tools to help keep their events at the forefront of the virtual experience. There are many ways to do this, from obvious organization to comprehensive quality to engaging experiences.
The critical factor is that companies shift away from a "virtual events are helping us survive" mentality. Instead, they should foster a thriving mindset throughout every virtual event that they host. Only then can they expect to keep up and both survive and thrive with the times.