Digital events can be just as inspiring and engaging as the in-person variety
For Boom Chicago, autumn usually means a return to big events. Luckily, that’s still true, but this year, most of these events are digital. Boom Chicago, with improvisation in our DNA, is good at adapting. In the previous six months, we have become leaders in digital events with tens of successful ones under our belts. Sure we miss flying to different cities, staying in fancy hotels and being part of huge spectacles, but it has to be said: ending up in your own home with your own family, sleeping in your own bed, is pretty sweet. And more importantly, digital events can be just as inspiring and engaging as the in-person variety. They just have to be done right.
Here are six tips to help make that happen:
1) Don’t Aim Low
Ignore the haters and doubters. People WILL be inspired. You DON’T have to cut a week of important content down to one 90 minute session. Your event CAN have networking opportunities.
Need a week? Plan a week. Do you want your international teams to bond? Plan cool activities. Can there be social interaction? Yes!
To hit all those goals, your digital event has to be great. It has to grab people’s attention and be fun. To make a unique event, however, takes thinking and imagination. You have to own the digital medium and make it work for you. Ring the real doorbell of an award winner at her home while everyone watches live online? That’s thinking outside the box! Partner your internal host with a professional one to present together? That will keep the energy up.
Takeaway: Don’t be scared of delivering all the content you want and need to deliver.
Takeaway: Get a creative partner to be creative.
2) DON’T LET A SMOOTH AGENDA BE YOUR HOLY GRAIL
Shape the event around your creativity. When you’re an event organizer (or the person hiring the event organizer), it’s easy to let the draaiboek run the show. Of course everyone wants a smooth event. But here’s the thing: Exciting, creative ideas are rough at first. To someone nervously clinging to a small-font spreadsheet that breaks down each day to the half minute, new ideas are problems. Actually, new ideas are problems, but problems can be solved. Creative ideas are what will set your digital event apart. They will make it unique, engaging and memorable. And you know what? In the right hands, they’ll end up running smoothly too.
Takeaway: Creativity trumps organization
3) DON’T BE BORING
Boring speakers with too many slides and too small fonts are a no-no at any event, but in a traditional event, everyone is at least in the same room. That gives your audience some connection to even a dull speaker. Online, people tune out faster. Your speakers have to be trained for digital presentation. They have to look at the camera and not at the audience or their screen. And of course they have to be emotionally connected to what they’re saying. And smile smile smile.
There is a reason we tune out a monotonous speaker, but listen to the one whose energy and tempo keeps changing. The human brain is designed to spot the new and to tune out the repetitive. Why can you stare for hours at the sea or a campfire? Because you’re high? Maybe. But I meant because they are both irregular and unpredictable. Our minds are drawn to what they can’t predict (see that woman I dated in the 90’s).
The same thing applies to events. Don’t make them monotonous with a constant tempo. So should you aim lower and use less content? Come on, ‘Don’t Aim Low’ was literally tip #1. You need to mix up the energy, the format and the way your content is delivered.
A great way to surprise people at your serious event is with humor. If you make your participants laugh while you deliver content, they will not expect it and they will love you for it. Humor works online. And I don’t just mean funny memes. Stand-up comedy shows are popular on Netflix because jokes work online.
Takeaway: Train your speakers. It’s important!
Takeaway: Humor makes Business Better
4) DON’T GO OVERBOARD ON SET DESIGN
Inside a huge event location, a massive, impressive set design can blow your audience away and keep them impressed for days. On their laptop? Nope. No matter how awesome a vibe you create on stage with your cool set pieces, the participants’ vibe will still be that of their office – and likely their home office.
What is important is to have a set, where your host stands (not sits) and ideally a second (or third) camera. A black curtain background with colored lights shining on it is fine for small events. Bigger events can look big without breaking the bank on set design.
Music adds more to the energy with varied ‘stings’ and a ‘walking on’ track. Visually, think about transitions, logos and fonts, but then stop. Ask participants to wear something special or to participate in a unique way. You could even order everyone the same appetizers or cocktails from UberEats or even (crazy idea) send them to everyone in the post.
Takeaway: Cameras, music and graphics are important
5) DON’T IGNORE THE INTIMACY
Digital events offer an intimacy that is not possible at an in-person event. Although there is no roar of the crowd, each individual audience member is only centimeters away from the presenters. The screen is a barrier, and yet you can see tiny facial gestures and raised eyebrows that would go unnoticed on a stage. This delightful paradox means the medium is both distant and one-on-one. Participants are literally separated from each other, sometimes by oceans and time zones, and yet everyone you see is in a close-up. There’s no back of the room to hide in… except by clicking the cowardly ‘camera off.’ Have your speakers own the intimacy and master it. Use the chat and ability to see faces to your advantage, to make the whole thing more interactive – maybe more than it would have been in person.
Takeaway: Presenting in the digital space requires new skills
6) DON’T HAVE A DIGITAL EVENT WITHOUT BOOM CHICAGO
Careful readers might have noticed we suggested finding a ‘creative’ partner, one that ‘understands the unique nature’ of digital events and who can help you ‘mix up the energy’ and ‘train your speakers.’ Maybe this partner knows a few ‘professional hosts’ that can help you present this digital event and even add some ‘humor.’
Would this partner be Boom Chicago for Business? OF COURSE! Our experience can make your event more special and memorable. It’s lucky when your passion is also good for business. Boom Chicago is great at planning events, changing things up and adding humor to content to make the messages stick. We also work seamlessly with our tech partner We Are Live to so everything goes smoothly behind the camera (and in the cloud) as well.
Here is an extra seventh tip: Bring us into the planning process early. Then there is time for ideas to be smoothed and incorporated into the draaiboek and scheduled to the half minute. Win-win!
Takeaway: Book Boom Chicago for Business