Avcom - Virtual Stage

A Paradigm Shift For The Live Events Industry

Olivia Breene, Head Of Business Development at AVCOM shares how we’ve managed to shift our business forward, with few recommendations on how to do so.

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Our live events industry is under threat. Not one person in the world is traveling for conferences, events or business right now and with just reason. But this does not mean that there is not a need for events. In fact, our clients have real business needs to be fulfilled. 

Now, more than ever before, brand communication for businesses is paramount. The need to connect with audiences is crucial should businesses wish to survive in the months going forward. And connection is vital for all team players, not just a targeted audience – employees, customers, investors, press and even influencers alike need to be connected and hear from your brand.

This certainly hasn’t been an easy time. Every business has to adapt to a new way of thinking and a new way of doing business. As social creatures the need for engagement, inclusivity and exclusive access is even more heightened with our current restrictions. 

I don’t know about you, but as I enter week 6 of lock down, I am overrun with Zoom meetings, webinars and online meetings which are starting to merge into a repetitive showreel. Whilst Zoom has been a lifesaver and an app which has been part of AVCOM’s communication tools for years now, I’m yearning for something new which will excite and delight the senses.

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So, what will the new normal look like? 

One thing for sure is that things will never be the same. At AVCOM, we’re being faced with difficult new questions and hard challenges, like so many others within the live events industry.  We have had to pivot and embark on a new journey to find new and exciting ways to support our clients to use technology to create engaging online experiences

Yes, we’ve had to re-imagine what events mean during this time. We’ve had to go back to basics with a new outlook and ask ourselves some of the most obvious questions like;

Why do clients have events in the first place? What makes an event such an important part of the annual calendar for the attendee? How does going to an event make you feel?  What’s so special about live events? My time is so precious, what would make me want to attend an event? 

All of these questions come down to the same answer – it’s all about experience.

So, our biggest challenge as the technical experts within the live industry, is understanding how to create an online experience whilst keeping the core elements of the live event and incorporate this into a new (hopefully short-term) digital delivery. The immersive experience of being at a live event is a feast for the senses, but another challenge we face within digital eventing is that we only have two senses to play with – sight and sound.

Virtual Events Checklist

Luckily, we like a challenge, and this is our forte. Therefore, when exploring digital events, the two most important elements to consider is production quality and creative content. This is a challenge in itself, but adapting a much more creative process and specifically concentrating on the sound and visual elements of the production you will be onto a win.  

To pull off an extraordinary digital event, all you need is:

  • The right technology
  • Engaging content which creates human connection 
  • High value TV production quality

Remember Live Digital Events are technically “live events” at the core.  But you will need to think, TV production quality, arranged in a way which arouses interest and enthusiasm in the viewer. Remember we only have those two senses to play with here so therefore, sound which excites and visuals which stimulate will be the foundations for a great production

 

First things first, let’s understand the technology.

First impressions count, big time. When you’re considering a digital event for the first time, make sure to do it right.  A technically flawless delivery is paramount as this is the first touch point your brand has with audience engagement.  Bearing this in mind, technology should never be an afterthought, using the right technology will be the backbone to your live digital event being a success.

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A glitch-free, no fail and no-drop out experience should go without saying, but as I’m sure you would agree, glitches, failed audio, fuzzy screens and drop outs are becoming more and more frequent. Not to mention, the issues with security which have been playing havoc across certain platforms in the last month.

AVCOM appreciates that technical reliability and security are fundamental factors for our brands and clients.  We have spent the last six weeks listening to our client’s needs, experimenting, researching and testing the best of what’s out there. And now we have designed a selection of different category virtual and live streaming solutions which we know will give our clients an eventing experience like no other!

It’s a big statement, but here’s why it’s true. 

Firstly, guaranteed security with control access, password protection, and a host of embedded restrictions ensure all possible measures are taken to make sure our clients’ events are fully secure.

Now that we have the security boxes ticked, the next step is to explore the technical elements which are available to enhance your online experience for the end user to include, audience interaction, live production, video management and trackable analytics. 

 

If you’re on a corporate network with a large number of distributed office employees tuning in, using an enterprise content delivery network (eCDN) through our enterprise gives employees a smooth, reliable viewing experience without straining your network resources and preventing critical business applications from running. Some options we would recommend to include would be:

  • on demand access to elements of your live event through a sharable customised video landing page
  • organised collections of videos
  • review work in private
  • having password protection that allows all time access to the event

But all of these technical enhancements work only if they have the right content. Whether you’re hosting a high-production event like an annual conference, product launch or the weekly department all-hands, the rule of thumb is to never leave technology as the last item on your list of considerations. Having the right, reliable technology will elevate your content, making the event more enjoyable in the moment and memorable afterward.

 

Using engaging content to create human connection

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The biggest challenge with virtual events is to create a meaningful connection with every attendee. 

Everyone is different and will engage in a different way, as well as experience things differently. But so many of the elements which we already use in the live experience can translate into the virtual world, but with a new methodology in the way we do things.  

Interesting fact: It only takes us approximately 50 milliseconds to make that first impression.

In the virtual world, visual design and audio design content are the most important first impressions we have. The collaboration between both these elements has to be spot on. 

Avcom - Virtual Stage

Walk-ins exist in the virtual world, it’s just different as surprise and delight are still key elements that are yearned for by the viewer. The Welcome and Intro to your event, therefore, needs to have exciting content and should be used to promote your brand, whether it’s video, graphic packages with engaging audio or a networking chat room with virtual live demos – these are all ideas to get the sense of connection with your audience. An opening video is also a great way to develop the connection with you and your brand to the viewer.

Human interaction

A live host is a vital component for engagement. Online events can be isolating so creating that connection is key.  The presenter or facilitator acts as a differentiator from what would otherwise be just another one-way conversation. A relationship is born with the viewer. 

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Taking this to the next level and using solutions for two-way communication immediately makes the viewer feel part of the conversation. Produce professional live events with a suite of integrated tools like live poll options, real time Q&A and audience chat. Choosing an option for live audience interaction functionality gives a sense of face to face interaction.  This stimulates the feeling of a physical event and it allows the online audience members to be streamed individually on a back screen, bringing your event to life.

 

The high production value  

Think TV. To enable this process, it would be recommended that a full story board be developed with our design and technical team to bring your ideas to life. We have ready-to-go staging and design solutions with options for LED, Green Screen, ATOMIC modular structures and AVR. Customised virtual 3D render options can also be provided which can add an extra level of wow to your event. 

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If you make the investment into the scenic solution, adding custom content and motion graphics can contribute to the event’s success and gives you wow.  Sound design should also be given the same consideration as the visuals. If designed cohesively, it gives that edge that no-one else has. Your event is now officially bespoke! 

Another consideration unlike the physical, the limitations on what the viewer sees is now removed. Multiple camera shots, moving jibs, steady cams are great to create a change in momentum like stage transitions, key messages or an effect to visually enhance the viewers experience. 

One of the biggest advantages of not being physically live is that you can also include pre-recorded “live” segments into your event which can be fully edited and used for roll in. 

We know that the live events industry is now changed forever, and that a physical event and joy of human interaction can never be replaced within a virtual world. We know all of this.  But on this journey if we can learn new skills which can enhance the physical live events industry, the future will be bright. 

As we open the limitations of the physical and ironically reach a vaster audience around the world, we leave a lesser environment footprint on it too. Let’s take the positives out of these strange times, be the innovators and adopters, embracing a new journey of delivering virtual experiences like no other.

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