Together We Can Make Virtual Events & Online Presentations NOT SUCK!

Ok, for some we can only make them suck less…

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Virtual Events, Webinars, Live Streaming and Online Presentations

Futurist Mindset: How Events and Exhibitors Must Re-Imagine the Attendee Experience

Early this month I was honored to be the keynote speaker as well as moderate and industry leader panel at the Center for Exhibition Industry Research yearly event CEIR Predict. As with most events this year, it was a hybrid experience with in-person attendees and speakers live at MGM Inner Harbour and online attendees watching the live stream.

Below is a write-up from the panel that I moderated which included Joey Graziano, SVP at National Basketball Association, Melissa Ashely Advisor at AirFair and Leana Salamah, Vice President, Marketing | International Housewares Association.

Joey Graziano participated via Zoom and was able to interact with myself the moderator in a true hybrid experience!

Panelists from the 2021 #CEIRPredict provide key findings on how marketing and digital transformation will impact the future of B2B exhibitions.

“We are not going back to the way we ran events before the Pandemic. It is essential to rethink/reimagine what the future is going to look like.”

Brian Fanzo, Futurist (Tweet This)

When speaking with panelists from the recent CEIR Predict session on marketing and digital transformation, a clearer picture of our industry’s future came into focus. 

In this forward-glance, we measure our Total Available Market as the world, and we’re are no longer limited by physical boundaries because we’ve mastered personalization-and-customization-at-scale. 

Sounds nice. 

Joey Graziano, SVP Business Development & Global Events, National Basketball Association, also believes this profit/experience utopia need not be just a dream. It comes down to leadership, clarity of intent, and monetizing live, viral moments. The key to Graziano is,

We need our engagement and monetization strategies to stop being mutually exclusive. The best strategy reimagines the experience for our audience AND drives the P&L.” 

Joey Graziano, NBA

Melissa Ashley, Advisor, Airfair, put it this way, “Everybody shifted to using technology to navigate the marketplace. The customer has the choice of when, where, and how.”  

This dynamic will not be shifting back. When given multiple choices of how you want to consume your content, why would you ever wish to have your preferences withdrawn? You wouldn’t – and our audiences won’t either. 

So what now? How should our organizational leaders prepare and empower their teams for a digital future? How can they leverage an economy of creators and serve audiences who have extensive choices of where they receive their content?

The key to unlocking the value of the medium may live within the very nature of Communities.  

Brian Fanzo believes that a key to unlocking value could live with relatability, “If influencer marketing is the business of trust or an extension of trust, the Creator economy monetizes and builds community across platforms.” He goes further, 

“This is the most connected generation ever. It isn’t that the younger generation has no attention span; they just have no tolerance for irrelevant content.”

Futurist Keynote Speaker Brian Fanzo Hosting Panel on Digital Transformation within events and exhibitions industry

The opportunity is there.

Graziano believes firmly in the responsibility of leadership in plotting this future, “As leaders, it is our job to take a problem, develop simple success metrics, push them forward, and enable people to decide the ‘how.’” Empowerment drives ownership. This shift in mindset could be the difference between holding onto traditional ideas and becoming poised to capitalize real-time on moments of live engagement. 

He gave a few examples:

  • Think about a soap opera, right? The writers know what’s going to happen next. In many events, you know the viral moments because you scripted them with your speakers and entertainment. How can you monetize that? 
  • You have an online event with 50,000 people, and they’re all paying $99. Perhaps 20,000 of those same attendees would pay $250 for a personalized experience. How do you find that out and offer that experience?

He added an important distinction. I call it out as a distinction because there is something our industry has been hesitant to mutter. Graziano’s perspective is, “We need to shift our mindset from ‘nothing is as good as live’ to ‘live is one valuable entry point’ and use our content to reach hundreds of thousands of people globally.”

Throughout the Pandemic, we’ve all spoken the phrase, ‘Nothing will replace the power of face to face.’ We believe it, and we’re not wrong, but it could be that we’re unintentionally limiting our sphere of influence – and at the same time, eroding our teams’ confidence in other mediums.  

Specific to COVID-19 and our response to it, Graziano sees it as, of course, a tragedy but also an opportunity. “COVID-19 destroyed our sense of connection. It gave us new fears and futures. And yet, it created an opportunity for us to innovate, define new audiences, remove bureaucracy and emerge stronger.” 

This perspective became even more powerful when we learned that Graziano’s father is a retired NYC firefighter and 9/11 survivor. He taught Joey and his siblings that it is the sum of our responses that define us. He would ask, “If your neighbor’s house was on fire, would you run into it?”

The sum of our responses. 

If anyone reading this hasn’t yet leveraged the Pandemic to innovate with your teams and prepare for our collective future, now is the time. 

For an industry that has always been about its people, we can make that happen. We can look after one another’s houses – even when they aren’t on fire.

To help your teams, we’ve summarized all the findings from the Thought Leaders – Focus on Focus on Marketing & Digital Transformation for you.

Key Findings:

Best Practices:

  • The future of marketing is relatability – people want to connect and understand what is important to them. Your brands can be relatable through authenticity. 
  • The future of business is Community. You can build Community with customers, staff, clients, etc. 
  • Individual creators create their own communities. The creator economy monetizes and builds Community across platforms. (Platforms changed the word “attendees” to communities)
  • Digital enables us to do more in-person. How one uses tech will ultimately enhance the in-person experience. Repackage content and release it over time. 

Creating Value: 

  • Most obstacles are imaginary and are really opportunities.
  • Organizers need to create exclusivity, scarcity, personalization and customization. 
  • Research indicates trade shows are coming back, but you can supplement them with other content year-round.
  • You can do nearly anything digitally. Organizers must drive additional value and raise the bar.

Tapping into emotions:

  • Organizers must address the emotional reasons people go to trade shows. Foster creativity; do not control it. 
  • Prioritize engagement and Community – look at where you are not positioned and look to outsource to organizations that do this well.
  • Empower creators and embrace that they think differently.
  • Want people to feel ‘these are my people, people I can trust.’
  • Empower loyalty!
  • Brands aren’t great. The people behind the brand make it great.

Join us again next week as we continue our conversations with CEIR Predict panelists. Next Up: Focus on Industry Disruptors. 

Ps. If you’re thinking, ‘Wait, wasn’t this week’s content about disruptors?’  You’re not wrong. Everything covered above is about digital and marketing disruption specifically, but as we know, disruption isn’t limited to those topics. Next week we’ll explore ways you can support your teams as they build a culture of inclusivity, navigate the future of work, and protect their employees, attendees, and customers from physical and cyber security threats. 

Originally posted at: https://ceirblog.wordpress.com/2021/10/17/ceir-predict-post-event-focus-on-digital-transformation-session/

3 Interactive Ways to Reinvent Hybrid Events and Meetings

For hybrid events and meetings to create unique and valuable experiences, they must focus on three things: shrinking the distance, building a 365 always-on community, and a mindset shift from a 2D world to a 360° one.  

Hybrid seems to be trendy at the moment because, for many, the uncertain future of offline events and the ever-changing world of virtual everything is overwhelming; focusing on hybrid allows for overarching statements such as “the best of both worlds.” 

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The mistake most are making when they get excited about the hybrid future is to connect the worlds that existed before the shutdown—linking in-room offline attendees with the virtual audiences and the belief that content and the speakers can bring both worlds together, interacting as a group.  

But let’s keep it real.  

Zoom fatigue, boring webinars, and underwhelming pre-recorded virtual events is what we’ve been living with for the last nine months. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise as we’ve undervalued the virtual experience for the previous ten years, and we believed we could repurpose what we did offline. It would be magical and unique online.  

The hard truth is that the event and meeting world will never go back to the way of the old.

The attendees of the future have witnessed the good, bad, and ugly of a virtual experience, while many are discovering how to supplement what they thought was only available offline conferences and meetings.

Disconnect and false hope migrating online

As I learned in my days in cybersecurity, then in cloud computing, and most recently with social media marketing, there’s a massive disconnect and false hope that happens when migrating online.  

This disconnect starts with the notion that “more is better” as we can reach more people and gather more data, leading to more experiences and, ultimately, more revenue.

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The false hope begins with the idea of going online means it cheaper, and we get more thanks to reduced travel, less overhead, and minimization of risk.

This might sound like doom and gloom, but the good news is that we can learn from those past offline to online experiences while also managing our expectations.

Remembering this pandemic has forced a change to virtual and is unlike anything we could have ever prepared for, and the future will be unlike anything we’ve experienced before.

So, where do we start?

  • First, we must re-invent, not repurpose, every aspect of both virtual and in-person experiences.
  • Second, we must move from believing this is a pivot to embracing that this is a time of creative innovation where we will shape the future.
  • Lastly, we must focus less on the technology and limitations involved in creating a hybrid approach and more on what problems we can solve and new solutions we can make with a 360° experience.

1. Shrinking the distance: re-invent vs repurpose

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As with cloud computing and digital marketing, the idea of more possibilities, thanks to online, will inadvertently lead to making decisions that make our interactions feel less human, increase the difficulty in building trust with our new audience, and ultimately weaken our connection with the existing audience we’ve worked so hard make.

Although many of these trends have already begun in 2020, I believe shrinking the distance must be our focus and top priority.

To do so, we must redesign our hybrid strategy to create a centralized mobile-first hub that the hybrid attendee experience, connecting the online virtual world to the offline in-person experience.

That centralized home will exist within a mobile-first experience that will shrink the distance created both virtually and in-person.

This will give the online audience the ability to bring what they do online to offline experiences while also enhancing virtual events, allowing for more robust notifications, chat, and content management.

The mobile-first hub will also shrink the distance created with offline events, which often feels disconnected from online, besides maybe an event hashtag on Twitter. The mobile hub will empower offline events to develop more in-depth data drive strategies such as session prerequisites and community meetups.

2. Building a 365 always-on community: virtual is here to stay

For the past ten years, when someone mentioned the need for an event to have a community, the simple solution, or what I believe was a band-aid, was to create a Facebook group or website forum and call it a community.

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It prioritized the months leading up to the event, the days of the event, and then until the event surveys were submitted. The rest of the time, it became a random dumping ground for event marketing and networking spam from attendees.

Yes, communities can and do live within Facebook groups and website forums, but for these communities to be a success and indeed be 365 always-on, they must be empowered to grow rather than build.

We must build event communities centered around the attendees’ shared passions and the common purpose that are focused on providing value and engagement 365 days of the year.

Ultimately if the community is designed to grow and has proper investment, not only will it be the key to the success of hybrid events, but it will be the glue and the lifeline that allows for future pivots and unforeseen changes that happen in the future.

3. The mindset shift from 2D to 360°: leave offline limitations offline

There are several reasons virtual events, webinars, and online meetings haven’t replaced offline events, conferences, and meetings over the past ten years. The main reasons are the lack of time and resources from all parties, from production to planning to platforms to speaker presentations.

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These reasons created a very low baseline of expectations when it came to virtual events and stifled any innovation or dedicated redesign of what was possible virtually. If anything good comes out of COVID-19 it’s that it forced us to invest the time and resources in what was possible virtually.

Over the last couple of months, with each failed virtual event, we’ve been forced to look at how we can reinvent virtually and open an entirely new world of innovation.

All of this is great but is only transformational for hybrid events if we are willing to not limit that re-invention to virtual by looking at every aspect of an offline meeting and event.

This starts with asking ourselves important questions such as:

  • Why does this concept exist, is it needed, and if so, how can we reinvent it?
  • How can we leverage new technology not only to create new experiences but to simplify existing processes?
  • What role does educating our audience and managing expectations play in the success of our hybrid event, and how can we do that bigger and better?
  • What role can speakers and emcee’s play that goes beyond the stage?
  • Do we need projection screens, or can we leverage digital overlays and immersive stage design to go beyond PowerPoint?

I do believe hybrid events are the future in the short term and the long term.

But to avoid the mistakes of other industries, we must manage expectations, focus on redesigning over repurposing and prevent the band-aid ideas of “more is better” and the concept of “best of both worlds” from driving us to merely bridging a gap.

Together we can build a successful hybrid future by focusing on a centralized hub that’s community-focused, that’s driven to innovate and create new experiences that leverage the 360° world around us!

Brian Fanzo, Digital Futurist, iSocialFanz is just one of many talented speakers taking part in PlanetIMEX, the October Edition on 12-16 October.

First posted here: https://www.imexexhibitions.com/insight/blog/hybrid-events-and-meetings-are-the-future-but-arent-the-best-of-both-worlds

This education session was sponsored by Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, part of PlanetIMEX, the October edition.

Virtual Events Will Suck if Interactive is the Goal

Interactive virtual presentations, interactive virtual events, interactive webinars. Interactive democratic and republic virtual conventions... We've all heard it. I don't care if you're a speaker, you're an event, organizer or even if you've attended a webinar or a...

Virtual Presentation Skills – Going from Passive to Interactive (Reinvent DON’T Recreate)

No matter what you call it “pivoting to virtual” or “forced to work from home on video,” the one thing that won’t work is merely doing the SAME thing we do offline just virtually!

That is what causes content shock and adds noise to the already noisy world. We can all think of painful recent examples where a 60-minute zoom calls with one person talking into the camera puts us to sleep. The webinar that shares slides in full screen with a robotic voice speaking to us as though we can’t read what’s on the slides ourselves.

Here’s the thing…

I don’t believe virtual will replace what we do offline!

But I believe that by reinventing how we think about virtual and what a virtual experience is, we will discover new opportunities and experiences we never knew were possible.

One of my most popular talks over the years is titled: “Limitations Inspire Creativity,” which is especially true in this current environment.

What we can’t do is combine offline limitations with the new limitations we are presented within the virtual world.

The reason most virtual presentations suck and many fail when making this transition to virtual is they don’t reinvent; they repurpose. They create based on the old limitations and then blame the new for not being as good or the right path to the future.

  • Virtual experiences require a paradigm shift embracing a 360° perspective of what’s possible, rethinking everything from:
  • How we share our knowledge?
  • What format do we deliver our message?
  • How long do you require the audience’s attention?
  • What visually is best to convey the emotion and impression we desire?

Virtual experiences aren’t about having multiple cameras, or 3D avatars or interactive overlays flying across the screen.

It’s about discovering what is possible in the virtual world and reshaping the experiences we create to capture, maintain, and scale TRUST with today’s hyper-connected virtual audience.

Find more Virtual Presentation Resources on these pages:

How I’m telling stories in my presentations with Prezi Video Interactive on video overlays

The live streaming tool I went all in with in 2020 to live stream to Facebook Live, YouTube and Linkedin Live

Virtual Experience Media Hub and Resources

Presentation Tactics and Tips to Project Confidence in the Age of Virtual Meetings!

During this period of social distancing, you’re likely expected to speak on camera more than ever or if you aren’t excited it’s probably because you are being forced to speak at an upcoming virtual event or your teams next zoom video meeting.

See the video below for how Brian is using 360° Video in his pre-recorded virtual keynote presentations

Whether it’s for a Zoom call, a department meeting, a virtual speaking gig or a video storytelling project, it’s crucial to project confidence, calm, and authority to keep those on the other end engaged.

With that being said we are getting pressure to make sure our presentation is engaging and interactive and dynamic which lets face it makes the entire virtual presenting process extremely overwhelming. This is the reason I created this video below:

How to avoid the PLEASE GOD NOT ANOTHER WEBINAR with 4 Virtual Presentation Skillsets!

In this video you will learn how to: –

  • Evoke the right emotions through your body language and visual presentation
  • Establish authority and rapport with audiences of any size
  • Speak clearly and concisely without sounding staged or rehearsed
  • Beat on-camera nerves and project confidence and calm
  • Set the stage for an effective visual presence whether you’re on a webcam or professional camera
  • Maintain a high-energy presence and form a connection with your audience Whether you’re speaking to an audience of one or 100, you can’t miss this chance to unlock the secrets to a strong on-screen presence.

If you are looking for a dynamic host or MC for your next virtual event or you’d like Brian to speak one of his current keynote programs please email Michelle@MichelleJoyce.com or call 1-704-965-2339.

If you are looking for more virtual event resources please video this page which is updated weekly and our new YouTube channel dedicated to virtual experiences, events and presentations.

The One Asset Most Virtual Events Undervalue and it’s Not the Speaker or the Technology!

Virtual Event producers tend to get caught up in things like technology and speakers and getting attendees to sign-up... So much so that they tend to forget about the piece that brings everything together and no it's not the theme or the branding. Not only does this...

4 Immersive Virtual Presentation Styles to Create with Prezi Video

I’m a big believer that Limitations Inspire Creativity

Created with Adobe Spark highlighting my Prezi Video Presentations

Forty-three days ago, I “googled upon” Prezi video, and although I had used Prezi in the past (2016 last logged in) I hadn’t heard about them launching a video tool in late 2019.

I tweeted them:

Since that tweet, I’ve delivered 18 virtual presentations and created 25+ videos using Prezi Video. On top of that, I also have another 6 Prezi Next templates in the “design brainstorm phase.”

The only limitations with virtual presentations are within our creative minds!

The feedback after each presentation has been fantastic, but I’ve also appreciated the access I’ve had with the Prezi Team. I’ve had multiple calls with the co-founder, the head of the video product, VP of Strategic Partnerships, and other members of the team to share feedback and have a better understanding of the use cases and roadmaps of Prezi Video.

Below are 4 of types of dynamic presentations I’ve given using Prezi Video.

But honestly, the most exciting part has been exposing Prezi Video to friends, executive clients, and fellow virtual speakers and seeing the unique ways they are leveraging it for their presentations, video meetings, and virtual keynote presentations.

If you are still working on the strategy for your next virtual event make sure to check out this post on what it takes to create a successful virtual event.

1. Customized hologram overlays with a shaded background

Customized a Prezi Next presentation and then converted it to Prezi Video as the video becomes the background.  This can be used to create the desired emotional connection needed to maintain audience attention and drive interactivity within virtual events.

2. Branded speaker program transparent overlays

Custom graphics and overlays for Brian’s Press The Damn Button Virtual Keynote Program.  As speakers, it’s important to stand out from the noise, be memorable but also demonstrate the high quality and value you provide with each virtual presentation.  This is a great way to do just that!  This screengrab is from the Socio Hackathon you can watch the replay and read the recap here.

3. Sponsored overlays with brand colors

Zoom presentation live-streamed to Facebook Live using overlays and interviews.  This is one of the 3 main types of video content needed when building a dynamic virtual event. You can watch the replay on Adobe Sparks Facebook Live Page!

4. Video templated graphics replacing webinar slides

Created from a Prezi Video Template much easier to customize and adapt for a virtual video presentation.  This can be done with pre-recorded, produced, and even live streaming video content.   When thinking about live streaming it’s important to go beyond the average Facebook live.  This screen capture is from Kerwin Rae’s K2 Business Accelerator event and you can watch it here.

Why Prezi Video?

For me what excites me the most about Prezi Video for virtual presentations as you aren’t limited to standard templates or just video overlays as you can leverage all of the Prezi Next catalog or even create your own from scratch.

The advanced editing functionality has really allowed me to up my game and the virtual cam connecting directly to Zoom, GoToWebinar, Facebook Live and every other platform I’ve presented on virtually makes Prezi the number 1 tool in my virtual presenting toolbox.

I’m sharing all this not to get you to try Prezi instead to open your mind to what’s possible as you never know what you might “google upon” if you are determined to shift the perspective and transform the way you share your message virtually. 

If you want to see how I created one of these Prezi Video presentations I did a walkthrough using eCamm Live directly after a virtual event hackathon for Socio where I shared the steps and mindset I leveraged here:

I’m such a fan that I’ve signed up as a reseller and created a landing page that I will update after each presentation with tips, tricks, and lessons learned with Prezi over at BrianFanzo.com/Prezi

Ps. I’ll be sharing more info over the next couple of weeks around the reseller partnership and services that we are working on together… In the meantime, feel free to send me an email if you want to jump in and give Prezi Video a try!

Virtual NFL Draft: 15 Lessons When Moving a Live Event to Virtual

I’ve never been one to look at media companies or the top 1% of innovators for examples on how to transform or change. Because let’s face it, most of us don’t have the budgets, brand recognition, or resources.

But with the first-ever virtual NFL draft, an exception should be made as not only can we learn from how the NFL, ESPN, and The Walt Disney Co embraced this pivot but we can replicate what they did on very reasonable budgets. This virtual event experience was world-class in ways most didn’t even notice.

Now before you throw your hands in the air, I will admit yes, the NFL virtual event included over 600 camera feeds managed by 250 employees live streaming in the homes of 85 draft prospects, 32 head coaches, and general managers and was broadcasted across multiple tv and social media channels. And yes, they leveraged professional on-camera personalities who provided a sports experience to a sports starved social distancing audience.

Yet, if we abstract the broadcast and scale components from experience it’s very similar to every other pivot of an offline event to virtual.

It was hosted by Trey Wingo in a studio with 12 event producers connecting thought leaders and experts from their homes with limited tech, that couldn’t travel, and that was only as good as their wifi signal. That is the same scenario 1000’s of brands, events, and associations are facing today as they pivot their live conferences into virtual events.

Now, in all honesty, the NFL Draft is like a holiday for me as a Steelers fan. I was going to love the draft no matter what but when I sat down to watch it, I wrote down on my paper “3 things the NFL did good and 3 virtual experiences the NFL didn’t do good.”

To my surprise, I ended up with over 15 unique examples of what the NFL did great and 3 or maybe 4 experiences I would love to see integrated with future virtual sports events.

“The success of this year’s draft is a testament to the unprecedented collaboration across the NFL, ESPN, and The Walt Disney Co. in the midst of such a challenging time.” 

— Jimmy Pitaro ESPN President

Here are the 15 lessons with screenshots that I believe every virtual event can replicate and that I’ll be including for the virtual events I host, speak, or build a strategy for.

Watch the video above for additional context around each example and the exclusive debut of the “shoe cam” from my home studio in Virginia.

1. Change is polarizing and difficult for most but you must own that.

The change required everyone involved in the event to adapt from the production teams to the commissioner Roger Goodell to the players getting drafted not from NYC but from their parent’s living rooms!

It’s also extremely important to integrate traditional and familiar elements of the offline event into your virtual event as the Roger Goodell did encourage the live fans on the tv to BOOOO louder as they would in years past.

2. Test and tweak pre-event and document it for marketing

No doubt everyone involved with the virtual NFL Draft had to be surprised that there wasn’t a massive technical issue as I believe there is only one guarantee when it comes to live-streaming and that is that something will go wrong.

About 5 days before the draft pictures started being shared on social media of the coaches and general managers “home war rooms” and players started teasing out how they planned on replicating the New York experience at home.

For events, the pre-event marketing can be very forced and all about sales but if you document the setup, the process and give the audience access to behind the scenes this becomes great content. This content not only can this serve as your marketing but it makes the audience feel as though they are part of the process and in many cases, they’ll do the marketing for you.

3. Go all-in with one host from start to finish

Trey Wingo took on the role of in-studio host and the job he did over the 3 full days was nothing short of remarkable. His great job as host was noticeable by most but if you broke down the little aspects the role he played in the virtual NFL draft success was first class.

Trey Wingo A++ Job hosting Virtual NFL Draft

  • Reminding the audience regularly about the fact this is all new and we are doing the best we can while not making that a center point of the virtual event. 
  • Rolling with the 2–3-second delay when interviewing guests and adjusting the formats of questions so that guests could jump in without him having to interject each time, therefore, the delay was much less noticeable. 
  • Having high energy and passion throughout the entire marathon while keeping it light and fun as the event went on. 

The lesson here for everyone producing or planning a virtual event is INVEST time, money, and resources in a great host not multiple hosts or allowing an executive to host because they thought it would be fun.

Invest in one confident and dynamic host to be the face of the event before, during and after that understands how to roll with the punches, manage expectations and is focused on making others look good and be their best during the event while celebrating the production team that helped make it all happen.

4. Create virtual experiences where ever your audience is and it’s ok to multi-stream

Yes, the TV broadcast was the main product but let’s face it social and live video has been a vital role of all offline sporting events for the last 5+ years. But they could have easily broadcasted the same content across all channels instead not only did they change up the content across channels but they empowered the different teams to create unique experiences for their fans as well. 

Leveraging speakers, hosts, sponsors, and employees of the brands and associations around the event to create content and unique experiences. Not only is this great for marketing the event but it also provides a “choose your own adventure” aspect for the audience allowing them to consume content how they want, where they want and in the format they want. 

5. Create swimlanes & freedom allowing awesome to happen

Virtual is a drastic change for everyone and with drastic change, we naturally have a tendency to create rules and strict guidelines in an attempt to mitigate this risk. But in most cases that leads to very structured and boring copy cat content that no only is boring but limits the creativity of the talented people involved in the event. 

But I firmly believe LIMITATIONS INSPIRE CREATIVITY and to enable creativity you can’t limit or control the talent involved with the event. But having no rules or giving them a whiteboard of possibilities won’t work either. 

If you create a list of “swimlanes” that includes what you can’t do and what to avoid while also giving ideas and the freedom to try different things the possibilities are endless and in the case of the virtual draft the creativity led to dogs making draft picks and the families of the coaches being a massive part of the experience. 

6. The right mix video of live streaming with pre-recorded and production

On a majority of the virtual event strategy calls I’m on with clients the question is always asked “Should we do this event live-streamed or not?”

I believe that isn’t the right question to ask rather every virtual event should include a 3-way mix of video content depending on the goal of each segment.

  1. Production Quality Video
  2. Pre-recorded Video
  3. Live Streaming Video

The virtual NFL draft did this amazingly and the best example was prior to the Cleveland Browns draft pick they announced that Fletcher on behalf of St.Junes would be making the pick. Now they could have easily sent Fletchers family an iPhone as they did players and done this with live streaming but why take on that risk? 

Instead, they had a pre-recorded video of him sharing how excited he was and setting up the pick before kicking it back to the studio where the official “live draft pick” was announced. 

Having a mix of video content is essential for maintaining attention but also adding dynamic elements to virtual events but most importantly is understanding when and which type of video content is best for each aspect of a virtual event. I share more on this in a video I created last week. 

7. Include a variety of access and vantage points but only if they have a specific purpose. 

As reported on ESPN, the players that were being drafted were given two iPhones one to provide a tight shot and one for one on one interviews after they were drafted.

You might not have also noticed but they had the “live look-in” of the coaches, GM’s and owners letting us see their reactions but no audio was included which I’m guessing was for privacy. But what this allowed was the ability to have others in the room without worrying about them disrupting the broadcast. The end result was a family affair of dogs, friends and kids coming in and out of the draft room.

You’ll also notice no interviews were given via that wide shot as the emotion you want to convey with interviews and thought leadership level content needs to be intimate and much tighter. 

The combination of multiple shots was beautifully done but be warned this can be overdone as many speakers will buy multiple cameras, I have a 3 camera shot for my virtual events, which is great but only if each camera has a specific purpose and emotion associated with it. 

8. A strategic change of content formats including broadcasting, interview types, music

The area of entertaining or fun content is an area that almost all virtual events overlook as they include networking breaks and in many cases happy hours but seldom include musicians, comedians or influencers.

The NFL took this up a level with multiple pre-recorded videos from multiple different brands. Although there was some backlash on twitter when one of the artist’s video was played rather while draft picks were happening. The lesson here includes entertainment and fun but make sure it’s not disrupting what the audience is there for rather it should be complimenting and amplifying it. 

9. Manage expectations while rolling with the punches

Virtual events are not only new for brands and associations putting them but also new for the audience and it’s essential that expectations are managed and we educate the audience on what’s expected from them, the variety of content available, and the different engagement aspects that will be included.

Remember many attendees when they think virtual they picture a boring webinar that they usually move to another tab and ignore and it doesn’t matter how engaging and exciting your vide is if the audience has already put you on tab 1,310 in their browser. 

Must educate the audience before and during the event while managing expectations around technology and any changes to what was scheduled. 

With the freedom and swimlanes as discussed above, you also have to be prepared for some of the odd and risk that will be taken which was on display with Titans head coach Mike Vrabel although it was done all in good fun. 

10. Provide access you can’t get anywhere else

In my personal opinion, the reason Live Streaming Video is a gamechanger is when it’s used as participatory content not just one-way broadcasting. This means including comments and shootouts from those watching live and even better bringing on audience members and special guests to be a part of the experience and participate in the direction of the content. 

The NFL did this in a variety of ways, although I feel like the Facebook Live, Instagram and TikTok content could have done this more it was fun to see the #DraftAThon with Roger Goodell & Friends engaging the live audience.

11. Keep it fun and relaxed and lean into what works

As I mentioned before I believe Trey Wingo did a world-class job at hosting the NFL Draft but it was his report with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that stole the show in the fun and relaxed category. Early on the teasing and joking about Roger’s man cave was fun and witty sparking meme’s on social media. As the draft wore on into the 3rd day Trey doubled down on this making comments about Roger’s Sunday entire and Roger even going as far as making draft picks from his lazy boy recliner. 

This kind of banter and fun might sound easy and natural but it’s only made possible when the host and guests are provided the freedom to be themselves and then a good production team and host see’s it’s working and leans into it. 

@nfl

Hey Jerry, can’t believe I’m doing this but you asked… welcome to the league! ##goingpro ##nfldraft ##duet with @jeudyjerry

♬ Toosie Slide – Drake

Ps. The fact that the NFL social media accounts also got into the fun posting their own competitions made this even more of a success.

12. Up-cycle virtual content to amplify event & drive conversations

For offline events, the promotion and sales of tickets and attendance are 99% frontloaded to a pre-event activity as you need time for travel and manage attendance driven aspects of an event like seats, food and fire code. 

With multi-day virtual events, the ability to amplify the event in real-time and up-cycle content across different channels can not only drive additional sales for the event but it can also create social conversations putting the event in the feed of those that maybe knew about the event and forgot or didn’t know about it at all.

With virtual there are also lots of questions about integrating sponsors and one of the ways that this can be done is by including virtual badges, hashtags and swag within the virtual experience. The NFL did this by simply providing virtual backgrounds for all 32 teams which can be used on Zoom, your social media cover photo or the background of your desktop. 

13. Include sponsored content that connects with an event in real-time

When it comes to virtual events I believe the possibilities and value for sponsors can be massively greater than traditional offline conference but it requires a collaboration mindset that goes beyond just the day of the event to include speakers, hosts and even other sponsors. This can be done in a variety of ways from videos to swag to contests and more. 

The NFL has always done a great job of this and that was included in the social media content and #OneTeam charity focus throughout the broadcast.

14. Be social & connect your content across virtual experiences

Leveraging social media in collaboration with a virtual event is a no-brainer but to do it well it requires a unique strategy for each social network as well as multiple creators creating a variety of content. You can leverage everything from event hashtags to user-generated content to exclusive giveaways.

The NFL did a great job of this by sharing out unique content aspects from the main broadcast for teams to leverage on their feeds. They also went out of their way to create custom content directly on the platform including TikTok and Instagram stories.

The key to making this all happen is having a production plan beyond the live content and easy ways to share this amongst the different teams involved with the event which can be a shared drive or tools like slack. It’s also about empowering the right people that have the right level of access. I really enjoyed the different fans and players taking over the brand accounts or doing live videos throughout the draft.

During the draft, I was amazed at how quickly the broadcast level content was turned into 2 minute twitter videos and dynamic virtual videos being shared on Instagram. This doesn’t require a big budget rather a very strategic approach to sharing content across social media channels in real-time. 

15. Keep an open mind to the new possibilities 

Virtual events WILL NEVER replace offline events but if you create them from a virtual experience mindset the ability to create new experiences and amplify offline events is almost a guarantee.  Yes, it takes a team to put on a virtual event and I the fact the NFL draft went virtual in less than a month with only 250 people supporting it made the success of this event that more impressive to me. 

This video after the Virtual NFL Draft with Roger Goodell should be shared with every executive and leader that questions the value of virtual experiences both in the short term and what they can empower in the long term!

The question is what virtual experiences will you learn from as you create a virtual event and maybe even more exciting is what will ESPN, NFL and The Walt Disney company do for the next virtual sporting event that is no question coming as they’ve set the bar pretty high to start!

For more virtual event resources check out this page on my website that is updated weekly with virtual event resources, videos, and best practices

Also check out this twitter thread from Dave Feldman VP of Social Marketing for the NFL… Really love the transparency and behind the scenes access he provides in these tweets!

Why Virtual Keynote Presentations Must Convey Raw Emotion & Empathy

Telling stories is central to what we do as keynote speakers. It draws us to our audience and makes what we teach and deliver within our keynote presentations memorable.

With the rise of virtual presentations, that crucial emotional connection has become harder to sustain and even more important. While at the same time, the future of virtual innovations such as augmented reality and virtual reality are all about reinventing how we convey virtual emotion. But sadly when most speakers, event teams and brands talk about virtual events or online keynote presentations that have a bad taste in their mouth thanks to webinars, “almost live” product demo’s and the random live streams of their neighbors cat that they’ve seen in their Facebook Live feed.

Way back in 2018, the National Speakers Association asked me to deliver a 10-minute keynote and 60-minute hands-on workshop at their Winter Conference to teach and inspire fellow speakers on how the next wave of technology will allow an audience to step into our shoes and interact, virtually, with the powerful emotions of a narrative.  I give NSA credit as this was not only an innovative way of thinking within the rise of offline events but it was also helping to provide additional revenue streams for speakers.

But for most speakers, when they thought about virtual experiences or the impact of online technology, they either associated it with innovations around augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence or linked it to the 30-minute webinars they’ve provided over the years. In my session at NSA Winter Conference which you can watch below, I worked hard at opening my fellow keynote speakers’ minds to having a new perspective on what virtual and online provided both on-stage and online. Here are a couple of the most tweeted quotes from that talk:

“Telling stories draws us to our audience and makes what we teach memorable, the problem is that because of the rise of virtual presentations, it’s getting harder to sustain an emotional connection with our audience.”  

“Relatability is the secret of online success, and live video is the gateway drug demonstrating participatory real-time interaction that will force us to rethink the power of virtual experiences

Virtual events, webinars and online summits don’t contain the same limitations as offline events which as speakers means our virtual event experiences have endless possibilities and the only real limitation is our imagination and willingness to think differently on what we deliver, how we provide and the technology we leverage to present our messages!”  

Forced Covid19 Pivot to Virtual

Fast forward to 2020, and the transformation Covid19 has forced postponing worldwide conferences and forcing not only conference but speakers to deliver virtual keynote presentations.  

Although the keynote below and the workshop were received very favorably by the NSA audience, I felt many linked my passion for virtual experiences and my desire to disrupt the virtual event space to the fact I was a millennial and had built my speaking business on the back of content marketing, social media and live streaming video.

“As speakers simply taking what we do great on stage at offline conferences and providing that online won’t cut it and will force you to lower speaking fees for #virtualevents and ultimately do more harm than good to your speaking brand!

Focus on shifting perspective and understanding the emotion your body & visuals are evoking!”

As the conference event industry and the professional speaker world point their attention, budgets, and brands towards developing and delivering virtual experiences the directions they can go are endless. I’ve made it my mission to do everything I can to disrupt and reinvent with those I coach, advise, and partner. Not only on the importance of reinventing what the virtual stage is but also the need to educate speakers, event professionals, and virtual event attendees on what is possible, what is expected, and the future we can ultimately create together! 

Give this video a watch and join me in shifting the perspective of virtual experiences and removing the limitations we have placed on virtual events. As I believe the only limitations that exist in the virtual world are within our own imagination.

For additional resources and to view the soon to be launched Virtual Experience marketplace click here.

If you’re looking to hire me to give a virtual keynote, MC or coach your speakers on being better on virtual please fill out the contact form and Michelle my head of events will get you all set up.

Top Live Streaming Video Software for Virtual Event Speakers, Teachers and Webinar Presenters

Live streaming isn’t new and in 2014 it drasticatly disrupted the marketing and social media world as apps like Meerkat took over SXSW, Twitter launched Periscope, Facebook went all in with Facebook Live and even YouTube, Instagram and Linkedin integrated live streaming.

Presenting at SXSW 2015 on Meerkat Live Streaming

For professional speakers and event planners’ live streaming was a “nice to have” for marketing and it did make the broadcasting of the opening keynote more accessible to a larger audience but it impacts truly was felt in the wake of Covid19 canceling offline conferences forcing everyone online.

Since 2014 I’ve done 3500+ live streams including launching live video campaigns for my clients on Facebook Live, Blab, Instagram, Periscope as well as webinars and online summits. But much how the world is changing to adapt to working from home so have the live streaming platforms and software in regards to functions, features, ability to multi-stream, custom overlays, multi-person integration and this is across a wide-range of solution types.

I’ve had so many questions about live streaming that I wanted to create a live stream showing the tools I use and what scenario is best for each… So if you are a virtual event speaker or running live zoom calls or wanting to make your live webinar more dynamic here are the tools I use…

I break the live streaming software into these categories:

  • Web-based
  • Mac encoder
  • Mobile manager
  • Zoom + live overlays
  • Multi-streaming

As I say in my most popular keynote program: PRESS THE DAMN BUTTON

As I stated in the video I do have a relationship with these tools but I also have a relationship with other tools that I didn’t show as these are my favorites for presenters, teachers, meeting leaders, and keynote speakers!

The tools I tested included Streamyard, Ecamm Live, Switcher Studio, Restream.IO, Wirecast, OBS, Be.Live, Zoom, GoToWebinar, On24, VMix and BrandLive.

If I misspoke or something has changed since I recorded this I will add updates in the comments of this post!

You can check out my Virtual Event Home Studio set up on my Amazon Store Here.

Secret to Virtual Events from National Speaker Association Keynote
Secret to Virtual Events from National Speaker Association Keynote
Secret to Virtual Events from National Speaker Association Keynote

NEW PODCAST

Flipboard Resources

Virtual Experiences YouTube Channel

Virtual Keynotes with Prezi Video

Re-Inventing Virtual Events and Online Keynote Speaker Experiences

Together we MUST re-invent and re-think how we approach virtual events as we have fast foward 4 years in these last 4 months since Covid19 disrupted the offline event and conference space.

On this page you’ll find resources updated weekly on webinars, video collaboration, live streaming video, online summits, digital events and virtual experiences

Want to create a Dynamic Virtual Experience Presentation for your next Digital Event?

Looking to put on a Virtual Event in 2020?

Brian is currently offering Multiple Packages:

Virtual Event Keynote Speaker

Brian’s virtual programs include stories, experiences, and real-world takeaways. His programs leverage the platforms that exist and integrate within the design of an interactive digital event. 

Virtual Event Host & Online Emcee (MC)

The most important role for virtual events in 2020 is the face of the event, the event host.  In addition to keynote speaking, Brian is an event host and emcee, where he advises speakers and sponsors, helping them understand what it means to be interactive. As an emcee, Brian helps to foster conversation and interactions in chat rooms and understands the importance of both produced and live video components. 

Virtual Event Producer and Live Stream Strategist

As an all-inclusive event producer, Brian works with brands, events, and associations to help redesign what an ideal virtual event should look like. Brian starts by helping to define what success looks like, and then designs the content, customizes the format, trains the speakers, and ultimately educates the audience to build a total package from a “digital-first” mindset for a virtual event.

Virtual Event Advisor, Brand Ambassador & Consultant

As a virtual event advisor and consultant Brian will work with brands to help redesign what an ideal digital event should look like. Brian starts by helping to define what success looks like, and then designs the content, customizes the format, trains the speakers, and ultimately educates the audience to build a total package from a “digital-first” mindset for a virtual event. 

Brian spends time walking each client through his formula for creating their “choose your own adventure” virtual experience, providing insights on tools and updates on industry trends.

Brian understands the importance of catering to different ways of learning and consuming content while testing and working with different platforms, integrating virtual communication, creating digital assets, and training/coaching everyone involved in the virtual event.  

Schedule A 20 Minute Strategy Call

or call Brian’s speaker agent Michelle Joyce at (704) 965-2339