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Getting Content Wrong
Events that fail pack their programs full of content or don’t have enough of it. Without the right balance, attendees tune out because they become overwhelmed or don’t tune in at all because there isn’t enough to look at. Don’t expect attendees to stay online for hours in front of their computer and don’t skimp on the content risking that attendees will decide there is not enough value for them to invest the time to participate.
As an event manager, I’ve been intimately involved with my customers in the design, planning and execution of their content strategy. And I’ve seen events where they really nail it and delight their audience and those that totally miss the mark.
Here is my list of what events do to get content wrong so you can avoid those mistakes.
Mistake #1 is having sessions that are too long.
Attendees lose interest if sessions are too long, run back-to-back without a break and have no interaction. Shorten sessions from an hour to 30 minutes, put in regular breaks and consider extending your virtual event longer or create smaller events throughout the year.
Mistake #2 is not holding speakers accountable
Don’t let speakers go online without looking at their slide decks or videos in advance and making sure speakers are comfortable with your technology and that their environment to conduct the session is set up for success. There is nothing worse than messy PowerPoints, bad audio, internet that doesn’t work or the dog that barks in the background.
Mistake #3 is having content that is boring
And speaking of PowerPoint, the traditional style of delivering those slide decks will risk boring your audience. The best and most interesting presentations I’ve seen have session leaders mix things up by adding videos, strong graphics, panelists and other ways to break things up.
Mistake #4 is not enlisting outside expertise
Attendees want new ideas requiring you to change things up by looking outside your company or industry or adding customers to share their experiences. Consider speaking professionals who have expertise on a range of topics like marketing, business growth, and leadership. We find that attendees are interested in learning how to keep business moving in the face of the pandemic, how to hold their teams together, and better ways to work digitally. There are a number of really engaging professionals who were great at live events and can deliver the same message virtually.
Mistake #5 is no balance between live and recorded content
Events need a balance of both live and recorded sessions. Live sessions may run the risk of speakers not showing or lack of sound quality. Recordings must be web-ready, well-produced, and designed to capture the attendee’s attention.
Mistake #6 is lack of interactivity
People shouldn’t passively listen to a webinar when technology is designed for interactivity. Make sessions smaller and offer breakout rooms, launch polling questions and share the results. Add questions and answer opportunities throughout the session to go beyond simply broadcasting to an unengaged audience.
We find that the selection of the topics and the speakers that will create and deliver the content is more important than the technology used to during the virtual event. You need to remember that attention spans today are short, so sessions should be shorter. You have to manage, monitor and educate your speakers on how you want your audience to be engaged during their sessions. Don’t be afraid to seek speakers outside your industry because there are quite a few talented professionals out there. Strike a balance between live and on-demand sessions, and don’t forget to make them as interactive as possible.
Remember that for any virtual event, content is king and the right strategy can make or break the success of your program.