Uncertain times call for digital and virtual events

by Melodie Hindmarch

13 March 2020

A group of colleagues sitting together around a meeting room table

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Depending on where you are in the world, the threat of the Covid-19 coronavirus may well have started to impact how you live and work. Each country is responding in its own way – from enforcing lockdowns to issuing health guidelines and travel bans. We’re seeing sporting events cancelled or thrown into doubt, cultural attractions staying shut, and schools closing too.

We’re also seeing companies issue duty-of-care advice to staff, others dictating that employees should work from home, and conferences and trade shows postponed or turned into virtual events instead.

For most businesses, even if employees can’t travel, it’s vital that they find ways to stay connected and productive.

For those in office-based jobs, working remotely is nothing new. Ten years ago, it was quite rare for people to work this way, but technology and attitudes have progressed, and for many people it’s now a welcome and necessary part of everyday life.

A woman working on a computer

For those in office-based jobs, working remotely is nothing new

The spread of coronavirus may well see working practices accelerate even faster as organizations re-evaluate how to respond to protect staff and ensure business continuity. Working from home – and using unified communications and collaboration solutions – may become more normal, accepted, and even expected.

What if real-life events don’t or can’t take place?

It’s certainly causing alarm for those planning IRL – in real-life – events, especially where they involve travel or gatherings of large numbers of people. There’s no mistaking the effectiveness of face-to-face meeting at trade shows, conferences and other industry events. After all, they offer the chance to meet, mingle, network and catch-up with the latest trends, products, and ideas. They are where ideas are shared, contacts are made, and deals are struck.

But what do you do if they don’t take place? If they can’t take place?

Deliver digital events instead

This is where digital, virtual events come in to their own. They offer a way to deliver a seminar or a whole conference – a morning, a day, a full week – to your audience, and to be able to plan and proceed with it, confident that you can deliver the event and your invitees can attend.

No travel time required. No travel bans to disrupt. No uncertainty to worry about.

For corporate or internal communications – whether it be sales kick-offs, town-hall broadcasts, or marketing conferences – you can bring a team or even an entire global organization of thousands together, sharing presentations, ideas, and ensuring consistent messaging reaches everyone it needs to.

For commercial purposes, you can run everything from customer training sessions and demonstration webinars to full-on virtual events, complete with exhibitor booths, alternative break-out sessions, and opportunities to generate leads as you attract new registrants. Taking it a stage further you can fully monetize any event, only granting access to those who have paid for a conference pass or an individual session.

A virtual room to represent a virtual event

Virtual conferences – complete with keynote and breakout sessions, and exhibitor stands

Plan and execute with confidence

The beauty of digital events is that you can broadcast ‘one to many’, direct to each attendee’s screen. It could be a handful, or hundreds, or even thousands of people. You can reach them wherever they are in the world, and plan and execute with confidence in uncertain times. Your hosts and speakers can present, your attendees can ‘be there’.

It’s worth noting that these digital events needn’t just be broadcasts – one-way communiques; they can involve interactive elements too. Perhaps you’ll ask others to co-present – and they can be seen on-screen from wherever they are. Maybe you’ll run polls to gauge opinions and or votes on key issues? How about opening-up the session with a moderated question-and-answer session?

Accelerate your interest

The technology and the use cases are there – and while it’s hardly a best-kept secret – the current uncertain times are accelerating the interest, enquiries and planning of these kinds of events.

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Melodie Hindmarch

Melodie Hindmarch