With uncertainty still surrounding the way we approach events in 2022, virtual and hybrid events continue to be on the horizon. Organizations are looking for new ways to get creative in the delivery of their conferences, meetings, and trade shows to meet rising attendee expectations. Virtual fatigue has set in for many, so no matter what the format of your next event, you will want to mix it up and still deliver a memorable experience that is as valuable for both your in-person and virtual attendees. One way to do this is through AV & Event Production.
AV (audio-visual) Production and Solutions for virtual, hybrid, and in-person events
Virtual fatigue is a thing. For nearly two years, many of us have shifted to a work-from-home environment, participated in countless meetings from our laptops, and have often gone cross-eyed from staring at a screen more than we are used to. The human contact element has been reduced in most instances, and with health and safety top of mind, event organizers are still proceeding cautiously with in-person events.
Most organizations are still leaning towards having at minimum a virtual component to their in-person events in 2022 and beyond. So, as you think through your 2022 event strategy, you will want to take AV solutions into account during your event planning journey.
What is AV production?
When we think of AV production, the first thing that comes to mind for most of us relates to an in-person event; like staging, lighting, microphones, and sound systems. But for a virtual or hybrid event, these things are often overlooked for our at-home attendees. To enhance your event and engage your attendees, no matter where they are located, you will want to consider upping your hybrid or virtual event production. Let us look at how you can incorporate some AV solutions to get you started:
High-quality broadcasting and live streaming:
What captures and holds our attention when we are watching our favorite television show, news program, or movie? A lot of the time, it is a superior quality broadcast or live stream. When planning your next event, do not overlook high-quality AV production. While most of us do not have a cinema-style budget, there are cost-effective ways to incorporate the right tools to keep both your in-person and virtual audience engaged and paying attention. Here are a few ways:
- Select the right event management platform that can support your AV needs. Not all event management platforms are created equally. When looking for the right tool, think about your event goals and select one that can support these. Finding the right platform, combined with an experienced partner, can make all the difference for your event. Make sure you attend platform demos to ensure your selection will deliver what your needs are for a high-quality broadcast or live stream.
- Ensure you have enough internet bandwidth. Whether you are hosting a hybrid event, an event where you have both a live audience and a virtual audience, or you are just planning on catering to at-home attendees, you will want to make sure your internet connection does not hold you back. Most AV companies recommend 1.5x your stream’s bitrate available when broadcasting live. Make sure your in-house media specialist or external AV team is well versed in this area, so your virtual audience gets a seamless livestream experience.
- Partner with a company that can consult, recommend, and execute AV needs both virtually and onsite. Some event professionals are AV savvy and do not need additional expertise to pull off a full virtual event production or live broadcast. But if not, it is best to ensure that you have not only an onsite AV staff that is fully knowledgeable and prepared to meet your goals, but also a virtual staff that can help during preparation or day-of broadcasting – it is even better if these two teams can work together with you and each other. Investing in a production team is crucial, especially if it is your first time hosting a fully produced virtual or hybrid event. Pick an AV provider that can help you determine your needs in advance of your event, and then support you with live stream production, pre-recorded stream production, and stream operation for both in-person and virtual offerings. Seamlessly switching between all these different broadcasts – from live, to pre-recorded, and from web cam to on-demand, and more – can be the difference between a good event and a memorable event.
On-demand content can be anything from a session that was streamed live and recorded during your event, then posted to watch later by your attendees who missed it. Or a session that is pre-recorded by the presenter, then played live during your event. Either way, you will need to make your on-demand sessions engaging and interactive and keep the attention span of your attendees. Here are a couple of ideas to get you engaging with your audience:
- Incorporate graphics and design with your live and pre-recorded content. We have grown accustomed to seeing the presenter’s house blurred out in the background during a live meeting or webinar. If you were hosting a fully in-person event, you would ensure everything was branded by matching your signage, centerpieces, and venue space with the conference theme and company branding. It should not be different when you are trying to pull together a branded event online. Why not change it up by adding a themed or branded background, lower thirds, and graphics to align with your conference branding. These things can be accomplished in a virtual studio setting, which is a studio that combines people and computer-generated environments and objects in a seamless manner. Or an internal or external audio-visual production team can help you accomplish these things post-recording as well.
- Add a live element to your pre-recorded content. Even if your presentation is pre-recorded, there is no reason you cannot add a live element. For example, while your on-demand content is streaming, ensure you have someone available live to answer questions throughout the session on the virtual platform it is being delivered on. Or reserve 5-10 minutes at the end of the pre-recorded presentation for someone to address the questions live. Attendees can use a chat or Q&A panel function, or switch to a live broadcast at the end and be able to interact with a presenter who can answer all the questions they had during the stream. This gives attendees the feel of a more personal connection, unlike a straight webinar.
Interactive AV solutions:
Remember when we used to attend in-person events, and there were so many ways we could stay engaged through networking, gamification in our mobile app, visiting the expo, and attending sessions with newly found friends and professionals who were so much like us? Or when we were in a session, all we had to do was raise our hand to ask a question? With the absence of fully in-person events, you should strive to connect people to people, no matter where they are located during a virtual event – or help remote attendees feel like part of the in-person crowd during a hybrid event. Let us look at some ways to accomplish this for both in-person and remote attendees:
- Incorporate a video wall: One AV solution that can help your virtual and in-person audience stay connected is a video wall. This consists of a multi-monitor setup that forms one large screen. The large screen has the capabilities to allow virtual attendees to interact with in-person attendees, as well as display valuable information.
- Add interactive activities to your agenda: Think about what you would hold onsite for a great conference or event and transform it virtually. Have a morning yoga session. Do an afternoon trivia game. Broadcast a live band during your opening reception or bring in a digital artist who can draw your guests virtually. You can even host a live charitable auction and execute philanthropic efforts for all your audiences. Whatever you choose, ensure you have one or two areas dedicated to livestream capabilities from your onsite venue, so your remote attendees are not left out of the action.
- Communicate through virtual forums, lounges, polls, and surveys: With the right virtual and hybrid production and event platform, you can ensure your attendees are chatting through a public forum such as a virtual lounge – not just with each other, but also with your staff and your presenters. If your event management app is scalable to a mobile device or mobile event app, even better – this allows attendees to keep the conversation going and network with each other, whether they are in-person or watching from home. You can even export the conversations post-event to collect valuable event data.
- Broadcast on your social media sites: Social sites make it easy to broadcast live during your event. Make sure your attendees have your handles and event hashtags handy and use that video wall you are going to display at your venue to show the live feed to both your virtual and in-person audience!
- Replicate your in-person trade show virtually: A great event management platform will allow you to display your in-person expo booth assets in a virtual format. A platform like Pathable even allows for a virtual representative to stay live in the booth and connect with a function called Talk Now, which directly connects an attendee to an exhibitor face-to-face, who can then have a conversation, deliver a demo, or conduct a live meeting. This not only helps to engage your remote attendees, but it also brings more value to your sponsors.
With the right AV production team, technology tools, and vision, you can host a virtual or hybrid event that is memorable, engaging, and connective for all your attendees. For a memorable and engaging event, make sure you have an AV event consultation, and incorporate AV production, services, and unique AV solutions into your event budget and planning. You do not want to miss the power of connecting both your audiences so they will all keep coming back year after year, making your event both profitable for your organization, but also for your sponsors and exhibitors.
Find out how the Pathable event platform can help support the ideas in this article and more: Explore Pathable.