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Tricks and Treats: Virtual Events Edition

October 20 2020 / by Karen Mares

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Happy Halloween! 2020 seems to have been the Year of the Virtual Event. Having to pivot quickly, translate in-person events to virtual, and manage the influx of attendees participating in them, people have had some real trial-by-fire experiences in the last several months. In the spirit of the season, we're giving you the Tricks (event fails) and Treats (how to fix them) of virtual events.

When our work lives met our home lives, some interesting things happened. Blending those two distinct elements into producing and/or attending virtual events, along with all the stresses of everyone in your household home all day, made for some scary stories. I asked our Event Producer teams to share with me the best and worst of their experiences with virtual events, and they did not disappoint.

Trick: Mute Fails

      • Using the restroom = Mute yourself.
      • Trash-talking your company or colleagues = Mute yourself. (Or, don’t do that!)
      • Inappropriate streaming video with sound on in the background = Please mute yourself  

Treat

EventBuilder streaming solves the problem of unwanted and potentially embarrassing attendee background noise. Presenters are in a Teams room that streams out to attendees via a browser, and attendees interact with messages, polls, and other engagement tools.

Bonus Treat

If your event and attendees are in a Teams room live webinar and interacting with your presenter, remind everyone as soon as they join to mute their microphones when they aren't speaking, and leave a reminder in the chat with the same instructions. If all else fails, manually mute them. Save them from themselves!

Trick: Webcam Fails

      • Suggestive picture of your partner on the wall behind you = Turn off your webcam!
      • Messy house of horrors = Turn off your webcam!
      • Open robe = Please turn off your webcam!

Treat 

Virtual backgrounds are your friend. Teams gives you a few options to hide what you want to hide. You can blur your background, choose a Teams pre-loaded virtual background, or choose a custom virtual background. I have no doubt those options have saved many events from either shock, distraction, or both.

Bonus Treat

EventBuilder streaming solves this problem, too. Attendees consume the presentation content — they don't use their webcams with our streaming console. And, well, we bet most presenters do get all the way dressed if they're using a webcam with their presentation.

Trick: Sneak-up-on-You Fails

      • New person ends the stream/event early = Didn't see that coming.
      • Off-script presenter = Didn't see that coming.

Treat

What's the old saying? "Too many witches spoil the brew?" Clearly defining your event roles goes a long way toward preventing rogue presenters and/or moderators from wandering out of their lane and making mistakes that affect your event. For example, assign a role that allows someone less experienced in event management to view, present, and assist with event moderation, but with limited permissions so they can't accidentally send your event into the ditch. Assigning roles appropriately can help prevent the exact scenario in the "trick" mentioned above.

Bonus Treat 

Help keep the presentation on track by staging a rehearsal to test everything and communicate exactly what you can and can't do with the presentation content before your event. Gather any files and media uploads in advance so they are queued and ready when needed. If your presenter goes off-script and insists on trying to spin up a 30-minute video in the middle of the event, remember this: you can say no.

Trick: Acts of Nature/Out-of-Your-Control Issues

      • Fire alarm goes off in your hotel where you're presenting = Out of your control.
      • Once-in-a-decade windstorm knocks out your power = Act of nature.
      • Technical/cloud outages = Out of your control.

Treat

Have a disaster recovery plan detailing what you will do if your event fails. Make an outline of each step you take if the event doesn't work properly — for whatever reason. Decide things such as who will be your backup, how long to troubleshoot the problem if you can, when to cancel the event, and how you will communicate the cancelation to your attendees. Detail all the steps in a disaster recovery document and keep it easily accessible.

Bonus Treat

Write your scripts for all of the above possibilities in advance of your event and keep it with your disaster plan. It will save you from fumbling for words in the heat of the stressful moment.

A Little Grace Goes a Long Way

Because we have had to blend our home life and work life, there will be a certain amount of chaos that can surround the extra stress. Don't beat yourself up if these "tricks" ring familiar. Mistakes happen, and we are all making the best of ever-changing situations, multi-tasking, and figuring it out as we go. 

Make Your Next Event Treats-Only

If you want to avoid all the tricks and just enjoy the treats — take advantage of our Professional Services. We know your events need to look flawless and run smoothly to keep audiences engaged and coming back for more. With EventBuilder's full-service professional event management, training, and event production, you can relax. Contact us for a consultation today!

Karen Mares

About Karen Mares

Karen is an Event Producer and the Content Creator here at EventBuilder. She's also a wife, mom, singer, and history nerd.

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