Live to Virtual Events: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Times have changed. As companies start distancing themselves from live events, virtual is reality. Switching from high touch to high tech can be challenging, but just because the format has changed, doesn’t mean the process has to. The best way to create a dynamic and engaging virtual event is to approach it like a live event!

That means strategy, creativity and execution are still critical. And so is how we apply them across traditional event logistics – such as attendee and speaker management, audience engagement, event content development and production.

Venue

All events need a venue. For live events BC (Before COVID), that usually meant a hotel or convention center. In the world of virtual events, your technology platform is your new “meeting space” and finding the right one is your first step. Your event needs to be more than a haphazard video call, so think about the event experience you want for the presenters and audience to find the right platform to help host your event. And to truly make your virtual venue feel like “home” you can explore designing virtual “sets” and branded backdrops for your presenters, as well as event-branded landing pages – your virtual venue “lobby.”

Agenda

Just like live events, you need to consider the audience experience and plan your agenda accordingly. Your audience is sitting in front of a computer, most likely at home, and it’s harder to hold their attention. Scheduling shorter general sessions and strategically breaking up the day (coffee/snack breaks, lunch, etc.) helps keep the audience fresh and attentive.

Audience Engagement

As with any event, you’ll still need to tell a story, create an experience, and make it memorable. The key to any successful event is an engaged audience. Most virtual platforms offer engagement tools like polling, Q&A and quiz functions, so incorporating these into your presentations can create an interactive experience for the audience. Video production elements like company logo animations, animated name/title speaker intros and traditional video productions are even more effective for virtual events, because they give the audience a visual break from the PowerPoint slides and “talking head” experiences that often dominate typical video conferences. And of course, nothing engages an audience like compelling content, so now more than ever, don’t let the technology get in the way of what you need to say.

Stay Connected

Your audience may not be able to enjoy each other’s company, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still connect with them in a personal way. Send gift baskets and branded “swag” directly to your attendees’ homes, and in turn, have them send in personal photos and thoughts on the event content that you can integrate and display throughout the event – all great ways to unite the audience and stay connected.

Practice Makes Perfect

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Tech rehearsals, presentation rehearsals and dress rehearsals. Familiarize yourself and presenters with the virtual platform. Understand the technology and practice as if you’re live on stage – because virtually you are – and practice makes perfect.

Ask the Experts

Lastly, ask for help. You wouldn’t plan a live event without help from industry experts and you shouldn’t plan a virtual event without them either. It’s a team effort. And with over 20 years of video and live event experience, MK3 can help turn your live event into a successful virtual event, without having to reinvent the wheel.

Scriptwriting Tips of the Trade

Video production is a visual medium, but more often than not, it starts with the written word. The script is the foundation a video is built on, so it’s always a good place to start. If you’re tasked, challenged, or motivated to write a video script, here are a few tips to help guide you.

Find your voice. Not the actual voiceover artist, but your brand voice. What tone should you use to deliver your message? Casual and conversational or serious and informational? Your tone and word choice should always match your brand.

Stand Out. Find a way. If your video can support an abstract conceptual approach, let the concept guide the scriptwriting. (Just make sure the tone, attitude, or style supports the information and doesn’t bury it.) If your message or brand requires a more straightforward, informative approach, you still need to find a way to stand out, and again, it should start with the writing. A solid creative approach can always turn a good script into a great video.

One is the loneliest number. You really need your video to resonate, so work hard to whittle the content down to one main message. You can support your message with 2 to 3 sub-messages, depending on the goal and the intended length of the video. But keep it lean, so viewers know what you mean.

Avoid the long and winding road. Don’t lead viewers down a path without directions. Structure your script so that you communicate or “tease” your main message up front, so viewers know what they’re about to hear. Then you can “unpack” your message in an orderly fashion and sum it up again at the end, reinforcing what they’ve just learned. In other words, follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Tell viewers what you’re going to say.
  2. Say it.
  3. Tell them what you just told them.

Write for the ear, not for the page. Grammar and syntax are important, but with video scripts, you’re writing for the ear. You want language that rolls off the tongue and flows like a welcome conversation. That means avoiding stilted, overly formal language and sentence structure. Get your 5th grade English teacher out of your head and write with your viewer in mind.

Out loud and proud. Shorter is better. Always look for ways to edit your script to keep the total running time down. The best way to check the length is to time it while reading your script out loud, at a slow, reasonable pace. Timing it “in your head” doesn’t work – it takes time to actually wrap your tongue around every word.

Be talented. Tips don’t take the place of talent. If you have a way with words – go for it, but if you don’t, find people who do and work with them. Some people just have “it”, and that’s why they’re writers.

Great American writer Dorothy Parker one said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” Writing isn’t easy. It’s equal parts talent, hard work, practice and patience. Scriptwriting is an important part of our creative process at MK3. Whether we’re writing a script from scratch or taking a client’s script and “punching it up”, we have award-winning creative directors and writers on staff, ready to write the right way.