It’s a little different than a digital conference, but I think it illustrates how a little bit of creativity goes a long way toward creating a shared experience.
Storytelling that stands out
When was the last time you listened to a commencement address that wasn’t your own?
May I suggest this 15-minute doozie from Apple founder and noted turtleneck owner Steve Jobs. This video is blurry, Jobs barely looks up from his notes, and frankly everyone looks silly in graduation robes. However, the storytelling is so compelling that you can’t look away. (Other people have agreed over 11 million times.)
You can invest every cent you have in a fancy virtual event platform, but without powerful storytelling, your event will fall flat.
Presenting a story virtually has two major components: what you are saying and how you are saying it. Many smart people have written about best practices for presenting: Smile while you speak, make sure you use inflections to emphasize your point, etc. All of the experts are getting at one overarching rule: Don’t be boring.
Even if you can’t walk on stage in front of a captive audience, hosting a virtual event does open up some new storytelling possibilities.
- Element of choice: Additional screens and modules can enhance your story by giving users a chance to customize their experience.
- Interactive video: Players like Eko provide interactive video editing tools, which makes it easier than ever for brands to get the audience involved.
- Whiteboarding: Zoom has a simple whiteboard feature you can share with participants. For a more robust whiteboard, check out Mural.
- Small groups: Split the audience into breakout rooms. On Zoom, the host can work with you to split the participants into different parallel video calls, then bring everyone back together when the time is right.
Making a connection
Once at a dinner party, I met the world’s foremost expert on using snake venom to cure cancer. I did not leave my house expecting to meet this person, and he definitely did not plan to meet me, the world’s foremost expert on overwrought virtual event strategies. But it made the evening much more interesting.
The ability to create and nurture relationships is an essential element of an in-person event. Although these connections aren’t quite as organic online, virtual event planners can facilitate interpersonal connection through a strategic use of the available tools:
- Matchmaking Virtual VIP: Setting up a private Slack channel is one way to generate conversation and set up exclusivity.
- Group Chats: The most powerful takeaway from a live conference is often the networking. Incorporating a virtual chat room in your digital event is a simple and smart way to encourage organic connections.
- Participation: Getting people to participate online is harding with the awkward silences and wandering attention spans. You use competition and incentives if you set up interactive trivia and quizzes (followed by a prize).
If these elements work in concert, audiences will leave your event feeling a sense of wonder. They will have enjoyed a seamless event, made new connections, learned through storytelling, and enjoyed a powerful shared experience.