You’ve done the research and picked your virtual event platform, Congrats! Now, can you make it work?
There are a lot of virtual event platforms out there with a variety of features and capabilities. In fact, if you Google variations of “virtual event platforms”, you are met with over 6 million results! As an event planner, where do you even begin? While the platform software providers do their best to make it look easy, the underlying technology can be complicated.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Most of the platforms sell ease of use… “We have a fantastic full-featured product that will give you the best virtual event ever for the least amount of work and it’s super easy to implement.” The truth is, it’s complicated web and video streaming technology. There are a lot of nuts and bolts under the surface that can be very difficult and tricky.
For instance, attendees often join from several locations using various operating systems, firewalls, browsers, and mobile devices. User interface and design elements that create the look, feel, signage, and presentation of content also need to be considered.
Increasingly, many event planners don’t know where they need help within the platform. They trust the first impression; that it’s user friendly and easy to implement. Too often we are finding when they get close to the finish line and are about to go live, they realize “oh I didn’t know I needed this”, or “why is this not working?” To get quick resolution on their issues, it’s helpful if they can ‘talk tech’ with the platform’s support team, but it’s often an alien language to the majority of event planners.
What Kind of Support Can You Expect?
Some platforms can be easy to use. They are easy to implement if you are technical-minded, have experience with web development or have technical, web resources available to you.
Some platforms will help you set up your event for a fee and some offer no support at all. Because of the recent influx in demand for their products, we’re finding they tend to be understaffed and often times cannot promise support will be available when the event goes live. We’re also experiencing newly hired support staff without adequate product training who are uninformed and may not have any in-depth experience with their product yet.
For example, a client approached us to help with some post-production video editing. After finalizing the video editing, the client learned their chosen platform requires all videos to end exactly on the minute. We had to re-edit the videos at the last minute by adding extra slides and music to ensure the videos met the system requirements. This scenario illustrates the importance of understanding platform requirements ahead of time, specifically in terms of video production. Furthermore, upon completion of resolving the issue, the platform’s software team was surprised to learn their product had the capability to present the content the way our client used it. They now plan to market our client’s innovative content presentation as a new feature.
Unforeseen Production Issues Commonly Encountered
Many virtual event platforms have production restrictions or requirements several of our clients were initially unaware of, wreaking havoc at the eleventh hour. Just a few of the most common issues on various platforms we’ve recently been pulled in to resolve with clients are:
- Limited file size of final videos
- Only accepting specific file types, such as mp4
- Automatic reduction of the resolution of the video quality, regardless of how well it is produced
These are critical considerations that can easily be overlooked and will cause serious quality issues including visual and audio anomalies, blurriness and signal degradations. Not to mention a huge waste of time and resources, and sheer panic days before an event.
When Quality Matters, Bring in the Experts
Running a virtual event requires a very particular set of skills, many of which event planners already possess from their experience in hosting live events. Some will also have the technical skills necessary to pull off a polished virtual event, but the majority will need some help. In all likelihood, with so much on their plates already in simultaneously orchestrating the many other critical aspects of a virtual event, event managers simply just don’t have the time needed to tackle the technical burdens necessary for a successful set up and delivery of the event. Whatever your situation, it’s a good idea to be honest about what you and your team members are good at. Calling in experts can be an invaluable investment.
At Seamless Event Solutions, we ensure our client’s content is produced according to the requirements of the platform they have chosen. In addition to our audio visual expertise, this often means using our technical skills to “look under the hood” and assess what is needed prior to beginning production. We help them navigate the potential technical pitfalls that can cause chaos and panic in the hours leading up to the opening of their virtual event.
At the onset of COVID-19, audiences were patient in accepting a less than perfect virtual experience. Now, the bar has been raised and expectations are much higher, especially for a paid virtual event. While virtual calls and meetings are very familiar, and technical snafus and poor quality are easily forgiven, virtual events are a different ball game – thanks in part to the virtual event software platforms that have elevated the experience. Attendees have high expectations with the presentation of content, especially to hold their attention and keep them engaged. In order for event planners to achieve a strong ROI on their platform investment, as well as for attendees to realize their ROI for attending a paid virtual event, content needs to be creative, there needs to be a slickness to the broadcast and everything needs to look as polished as it possibly can.
We’re all in this brave new world together trying to figure out our roles and help each other along the path to learn and get better. If you need help navigating your platform requirements for your virtual event, please get in touch – we are happy to help.