It is no surprise that, after a couple years of pandemic, many event planners are excited to get back to in-person events.
Interestingly, though, not all attendees are. And perhaps more importantly, now event planners are beginning to view their business models differently…through the lens of new opportunity.
After more than two decades in the virtual events space and producing countless hybrid events in the process, there are several foundational questions to consider, particularly when it comes to Hopin.
How can we gamify the virtual attendee experience?
Think about the nature of in-person events: people show up for content, but they stay engaged because of people.
Unfortunately, virtual “events” are just webinars that talk at people instead of with them.
Hopin enables more than just pushing content at people. Like in-person events, there is “connection” that can happen before, during, and after. (Ask us about their cool networking feature!).
How can we help people connect both onsite and online?
Often “hybrid” means “stream content to online attendees.” And that’s not wrong.
Ideally, though, you’re helping people to connect with people…regardless of where they are.
How early in the planning cycle should we think through online options?
The sooner the better. Here’s why:
Nearly every part of an event can be integrated – from how presenters engage audiences to how you help attendees “meet” and exchange information to how you help vendors maximize value.
And the more that the online portion of your event is a later add-on, the more likely virtual attendees will end up like they’re passive viewers of the “real” event. It doesn’t have to be that way, obviously.
How should we approach specialty service vendors?
There are two big categories of need for hybrid events: the onsite crew with cameras and connectivity and tech management, and the online crew who project-manage integration, speaker preparedness, interaction and game design/integration, etc.
Many vendors (including us) will tell you they can do it all for you. What most won’t tell you is that they really specialize in one or the other, and the other is an afterthought. For instance, we have a ton of experience flying people around with computers, encoders, cameras, and microphones…and most of the time we don’t do it anymore.
Instead, we recommend a local production crew with whom we partner…and we know that well because while we can do it, there are even better reasons to focus on what we do best (which onsite A/V teams rarely know as well as we do…particularly when it comes to speaker prep, facilitating virtual networking, and strategizing how to employ engagement activities that engage both onsite and online audiences equally in and around Hopin).
How do we begin to think about adapting interactions and engagement?
Begin with what you know well for in person events … what do you want to accomplish and how would you accomplish it? For example, it’s not uncommon to create some form of game or contest that will incentivize participants to visit vendor booths.
Next, once you know how you’d like to tackle it, think through how to map and adapt it to the specific tools at hand. This, of course, means understanding some fine points and nuances of the technology.
Finally, don’t write your plan in stone until you’ve investigated what the online technology brings to the table. Often you’ll discover new and improved ways of doing things that weren’t possible in an onsite-only environment.
The bottom line
Hybrid events represent both complexity and opportunity: Complexity because you’ve got two different attendee experiences to consider, and opportunity because they’re so much easier to scale.
Some organizations are even using this time to limit in-person attendance for reasons like safety and intimacy (perhaps via “invitation only”), while recognizing the opportunity to reach many more around the world.
Virtual Classroom facilitators have a lot on their plate – not only are they trying to communicate the lesson, engage with students, and knowledge share, they have to be aware of the virtual classroom tools, and be able to manage conversations and feedback through chat, polls, online Q&A, as well as breakout discussions. When facilitators are facing this alone, they may choose to not take advantage of all of the tools available that could greatly increase interaction. They may feel overwhelmed at the production and facilitation aspects required. In this instance, without assistance, the facilitator may be then forced to lecture to the attendees with minimal interaction.
That’s where the virtual classroom producers come in – they act as the technological expert on the virtual platform so the facilitator can focus purely on the content and engage with participants. To make the producer and facilitator relationship the most productive possible, we offer the following tips:
- Have the producer assist with the behind the scenes activities of participant interaction such as breakout sessions. Engaging virtual classroom events include activities that solicit information from participants especially in a breakout session debrief. In addition to handling the organizing, prepping, and ending the breakout sessions, the producer will help collect their feedback and ensure it is available during the debrief with the entire group after the individual breakout exercise has ended. The producer is also invaluable in assisting participants while in the breakouts with any audio or connection issues that may arise. Often, the producer may just need to hop into the virtual breakout room to remind the participants how to use annotation or chat tools.
- Allow the producer to look out for participant technical issues and questions. If the facilitator is taking care of content and trying to process information coming from multiple places, it is helpful to have an extra person looking out for the participants. Often, this may be seeing someone has posted a question or used the raised hand feature that the facilitator may have overlooked. Virtual classroom producers can also help keep the facilitator on track if certain activities are taking up too much time.
- The virtual classroom producer helps create a seamless fast paced learning environment. By being flexible the producer can add value to the class by creating polling questions, whiteboards or breakout rooms on the fly if needed should the facilitator decide those elements would better meet the needs of the individuals of that class.
- Create a leader guide that specifically outlines production tasks. For example, include instructions for participating in the breakout, typing on the whiteboard, pasting text into the chat area. The guide should be very specific and cover the ‘when’ and the ‘why’ in addition to the ‘what’. This will help clearly define the facilitator and producer roles when it comes to the interactive elements of the class.
- Meet a few days ahead of the live classroom to review content and planned exercises and activities. This meeting is best held in the same virtual classroom platform that will be used on the day of the live event so that the facilitator/producer team can plan exactly how things are going to work. It will also give the producer a chance to walk through all the virtual elements of the classroom with the facilitator to familiarize them with their functionality. It will also allow the producer to familiarize themselves with the content a bit prior to the session.
- Establish emergency back-up procedures. What happens if the facilitator drops offline and the producer is left with the class? The answer to that question needs to be determined ahead of time. The producer should know whether to call for a break or to ask participants to complete an exercise, such as typing into chat. Also, this is the time to test that the facilitator has an excellent internet connection and phone connection, and to discuss a back-up plan if either one goes out. For instance, if their internet goes out, should the producer run the content and have the facilitator speak to it (if they can still maintain audio connection), for example.
- Create a set of ground rules. The producer needs to know how to respond to participants who get to class late or leave early. For example, if someone logs on 35 minutes into the session, should the producer tell them that class has already started and provide an alternative class time? Or offer up the class recording if it is being made available?
- Ensure that the producer has all participant and facilitator materials, such as pre-work, job aids, and other handouts. This will make it easier for him or her to support the facilitator and the participants.
- Hold a Post-Mortem after the session is over. After the live event, share notes about what went well and what could be improved in the future.
V2 | Virtual Event Manager
Everyone’s lives are busy and packed with a million things to do – whether it be in your personal or professional life. We’ve all heard the term “multi-task” and we all do it, perhaps even on a daily basis. However, we must ask ourselves, how efficient is multi-tasking? Yes, maybe we are accomplishing multiple tasks at once, but how efficient are we completing those tasks? In his TED talk, “Forget Multi-tasking, Try Mono Tasking” Paolo Cardini talks about the busy world in which we live and how technology and endless apps allow us to “multi-task.” You might be cooking dinner, talking to a friend, and trying to send an email all at once, and then you smell something burning right as you are about to hit send. This is the fallacy that can happen when we try to multi-task – something can get forgotten or not done to the best of our abilities. He playfully shows images of our iphones paired down to a single calling function, and a simple “compass” app to bring us back to a simpler time when we focused on one thing at a time.
Planning events, whether in person or in the virtual landscape can be a daunting task, with many facets – from marketing to scheduling to finding speaker talent and narrowing down a topic. Those things take enough of your time without having to focus on all the behind the scenes technology – such as webcast schedule and setup, branding, video compatibility, emails, and reports. That’s where we come in. Let V2 help take care of all the logistics so you don’t have to multi-task when it comes to your event, and you can “mono-task” on one thing at a time. Our mission is to make your life a little less stressful, so you can focus on the message, not the mess-ups.
V2 | Virtual Event Manager
Increasingly, more financial institutions are moving away from conducting Investor Relations and Quarterly Investor calls strictly over the phone. By utilizing webinar and VoIP based technology, financial institutions are delivering better information to investors and stakeholders, while at the same time boosting participation and turnout during these meetings. And here’s the kicker: Many financial institutions are actually SAVING money over traditional telephone costs, by turning to internet based technology.
Here’s a recap of the benefits that can be realized by moving an investor relations or quarterly call to a webinar format:
- A Picture is worth 1,000 words, literally: Imagine the difference from listening to a bank SVP or CEO verbally describe quarterly results and earnings, compared to actually SEEING and hearing those results live. It’s the same difference that makes television an inherently better medium to transmit content compared to radio. Empowering your investors with an improved experience will lead to better engagement, and a better understanding of the information you need to convey.
- Pick the right tool for the right job: The internet has reset the rules of communication on a global scale. You can capitalize on this revolution by using the same technology that makes Skype, Google Hangouts and Vonage so popular – Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) audio technology to stream audio to an attendee’s computer speakers. Practically every Enterprise level webinar platform has the ability to stream an audio signal over the internet to an attendee’s computer speakers. By giving your participants the ability to listen to your investor relations call by either computer speaker or phone, you are providing options that allow people to connect to you with the best possible method for them. Here’s one of the most important reasons to consider making this switch: Computer based audio streaming is FREE. For every person that hangs up the phone and turns up their computer speakers, you are directly saving on telephone costs. That one investor who always calls in from Hong Kong? Free. The investment firm in New York that blasts out your meeting notifications and has everyone dial in individually, versus joining the call from a conference room? No charge, across the board.
- Create a Lasting Impression, securely: By hosting your relations call online, you automatically create an archive that can be accessed by investors, securely, at a later date. Providing extended access to your quarterly results increase retention and understanding. With the ability to monitor or “gate” your webinar entrance, you can safely monitor and control who has access to your calls while at the same time gain a much better picture of who accessed your recordings, when they accessed them, and for how long.
- Easy to join, easy to attend: Todays’ webinar consoles are not only easier than ever to join, they are also intuitive for attendees who may have never attended an online event before. Some of the best consoles run completely via a streaming signal – aka Adobe Flash, or Microsoft Silverlight. Streaming eliminates any need for an attendee to download or install any sort of software to attend and participate on the event. This is the same technology that you use when you consume almost any YouTube or online video, and helps to ensure an effortless attendee join experience.
- Empower your participants: Another great benefit of webinar technology is the added participation abilities for your audience. Providing the ability for attendees to type in questions, or participate in audience polling is a great way to boost engagement and overall retention. Utilizing written questions in a meeting, versus verbal ones that are asked over the phone, will allow you to better prioritize and combine related questions into larger cohesive topics. This ensures that topics of importance are addressed in your meetings in an efficient and effective manner.
- Ensure the success of your call: As with everything, working with the right technology and the right people to manage that technology is essential. Make sure you have a quality production team behind you that support you and your presenters, while providing a flawless experience for your attendees.
V2 provides professional webinar and webcasting support for businesses worldwide. Interested in finding out more about how to transition you investor relations calls into effective online events? Give us a call, or shoot us an email. We’d be happy to help.
V2 | Director of Business Development
Are you looking to increase audience participation and engagement on your next conference? Have you tried a hybrid meeting? What is a hybrid meeting, you ask? Well it is adding an online or webcasting component to an in-person meeting or conference.
Hybrid meetings integrate in-person discussion and virtual meeting elements, which allows attendees to connect and share information, and even ask questions of the conference speakers. Participants who are unable to travel due to time or budget constraints have a way to easily participate in the event, either live or on-demand.
While some companies believe that a virtual component can discourage participation, it actually typically helps increase engagement. By offering an alternative to onsite attendance, those who are unable to attend live can still enjoy the conference experience. Businesses that provide live and on-demand viewing options after the conference allows even more attendees to view the meetings at a later time at their own convenience. Onsite attendees may even decide to tune into the virtual experience – you never know when conflicting presentation times may cause conference attendees to miss a presentation they would like to see.
Also, speakers and other thought leaders that may be unable to travel to the conference can lend their expertise by presenting virtually. As a result, you won’t be missing out on incredible presentations and can connect and collaborate with individuals across the globe.
Archiving the presentations with a webcast also allow for more opportunities to share the experience after the fact through different marketing vehicles and social media. Edit and re-purpose parts of the webcast for promotional tools or as an educational piece to share with other organization members or employees.
Finally, include online polls or exit surveys to find out how it went and why participants joined virtually. These metrics will allow you to continue to hone the hybrid event experience for future conferences.
Want to incorporate a webcast component to your next conference, but don’t know where to start? We work seamlessly in the background to coordinate the virtual platform with the onsite AV crew to ensure the virtual participants’ experience is as smooth as possible. Need help editing and converting the archive afterwards? No problem! Contact Us Now!
Virtual Event Manager
We all know the routine by now: Fall gives way to winter, the days turn colder the nights become longer… and before we know it we’re smack dab into the busiest weeks of the year. This fall season has proved to be one of the busiest periods for us on record, and was a fitting finish to a banner year overall. Having hung up the headsets and stepped away from the key-boards for the year, the V2 Crew is off to a well desired holiday break. If it actually, really EVER snowed in Portland, we’d all be out making snow angels right now. Since rain and snow angels don’t mix however, it’s a great time for us to look back at 2014, and to thank each of you, our clients, our fans, and our partners for your continued trust and faith. You have been the wind beneath our wings, the good tidings to our cheer, the green eggs to our ham. From everyone at V2 (all the way down to Peyton, our pseudo company canine), thank you. We are honored to work and collaborate with each and every one of you..and we are equally excited to think of what lies ahead for 2015.
We wish you a safe, happy and prosperous New Year. Before we completely throw out the old and ring in the new, here’s a look back at a few of the highlights that made 2014 such a great year:
Take off, eh? V2 invades the Great White North
In May of this year, V2 was honored to partner with PNC Bank and the Herjavec Group to produce a 90 minute webcast featuring Robert Herjavec, star of ABC’s “Shark Tank” from Toronto, Canada. As a capstone of PNC’s Small Business Month Series, the webcast was viewed by thousands across North America. As an entrepreneur, businessman and media mogul, Robert’s energy and enthusiasm was infectious. Robert’s life story is a testament to the outcomes that become possible, with effort and drive. V2 was honored to produce this webcast, and to be able to work with such amazing talent.
Another year of Growth
V2’s efforts to horde the best and brightest event producers on the planet continued unabated for 2014, as we were thrilled to welcome Phil Smith to the team. Phil’s expertise and experience in webcasting and webinar production is daunting, and spans back longer than some of our post college careers. A veteran from the PlaceWare (pre Live Meeting) days, Phil adds another level of expertise to an already unbeatable team. And perhaps better yet, Phil’s wit and sense of humor is sharper than a…. well you get the point. On a tough day when everyone is slammed and the hits just keep coming, a little levity and a chance to smile can truly be the elixir, and the bond that will never break. Welcome to the Justice League, Phil.
Brave New World
2015 will bring the launch of a new venture for V2, one which we’ve been putting a lot of effort into: Building upon the successes of the V2 Certification Tool and in response to public demand, we will be welcoming SimpleCert to the market in Spring of 2015. SimpleCert’s design and mission is.. well… simple. Designed as a SaaS tool, SimpleCert will allow you to build your own online certificates, send out customized notifications to your recipients, and automatically store all of your recipient and certificate data as required for any continuing education program. Build. Send. Store. It’s that simple, and we feel it can provide a solution to a process challenge that until now was only solved by countless mail merges, excel spreadsheets and mind numbing tedious work. We invite you to check out SimpleCert, and sign up for updates to stay informed as we get ready for the Launch.
Once again, thanks to each and every one of you. Stay warm, spend time with loved ones, and recharge those batteries. Happy New Year, and here’s to a fantastic 2015.
V2 | Director, Business Development
V2 was honored to be a part of the recent PNC Small Business Month webcast in Toronto, Ontario on May 21st. PNC Bank is a valued client of ours. This webinar was a great opportunity for them to showcase their Cash Flow Insight(SM) software. CFI is a small business owner’s solution that provides them the opportunity to understand and accelerate their invoice and receivables while also organizing their payables in a way that makes cash flow more efficient. The software also conveniently syncs to the business’s current accounting software.
The guest speaker was Robert Herjavec, Founder & CEO of the The Herjavec Group. Robert is also a professional race car driver but is probably best known for being the Leading Shark on ABC’s hit television series, Shark Tank. Armed with a digital encoder, V2 streamed a live video feed of Robert through the multi-functional INXPO XPOCAST Prime web console. It allowed viewers to see him speak while also viewing his entertaining and insightful PowerPoint presentation with tips on what it takes to start a small business, how to make a name for yourself, and also how to stay competitive, the latter point being no small task since as Robert pointed out – technology reinvents itself every three years. He stated that anyone in the business arena better love the challenges you are faced with or the competition will pass you by. According to Robert, the world will be won by the adaptable. The path to success is not a straight line but if you are able to adapt, you will succeed.
As we reach the end of 2013, we want to pause and take a moment to look back and highlight some memorable milestones that took place here at V2, as well as give our gratitude to our clients and partners that have helped make us successful.
V2 – New Name. New Personality.
2013 was a big year for us, as it was our first official year as V2 after completely re-branding our company and changing our name. A year later, we feel that the brand presence and personality of V2 fully encompasses our vision and goals of an environmentally friendly Portland based company committed to providing the best event production services in our industry. Bottom line – we want to help make your virtual meetings easy and stress free, and we feel that we have definitely accomplished that, as we continue to hone our skills, research the best web platforms, and expand our service offerings to fit the needs of our customers.
Our clients spend lots of time putting together interesting speakers and great content for their webinars. It’s a lot of work – and once the event is over, how do you continue to leverage the webinar recording/content? You can send out follow-up emails to attendees and registrants from the event with a link to watch the recording – which is a great way to continue engagement with the leads who signed up for the event, but what about future leads? How can you use your webinar archives to promote future events or services? The answer is a simple one: Let V2 turn your existing content into a podcast!
Now, you have probably heard the term “Podcast” before, but you may be asking yourself, what exactly IS a podcast? And what are the benefits of creating a podcast? A podcast is a pre-recorded file that can contain audio, video and other forms of content. It can be streamed or downloaded directly by online users, and set to synch automatically with users via an RSS feed. Podcasts were first popular for radio and entertainment purposes, but recently have grown more widespread. Creating a podcast from existing material allows you to breathe new life into existing content that you already have at your fingertips. Podcasts also allow you to distill content down from a longer presentation, allowing you to market to a wider audience.
V2 can deliver this technology to you, and at an extremely effective price. We provide the recording platform, the coaching, and the editing needed to make your content shine. All you provide is the recorded content, or the speakers and presentation material you would like us to use to create the podcast. Whether it is older content, or a presentation designed specifically for a podcast… it’s a smart way to utilize existing resources to communicate to your audience. Have questions about how V2 can help with your next Podcast? Shoot us an e-mail or give us a call – We would love to help!
V2 | Virtual Event Manager
Clear Skies is Now V2!
It is with great honor and excitement that I’ve been asked to write our first blog, as V2. Those of you who have followed us thru the years as Clear Skies know that we’ve first and foremost been a company of friends and colleagues with a passion for online events. From the very beginning we’ve made a conscious effort to place our people and our skills first, and utilize these strengths to the benefit of our clients. Stepping into our new name of V2, we’ve come full circle on the initial inspiration behind this company and stand ready to grow with this market as it continues to revolutionize the business world.
As a virtual events production company, we’re hard pressed to think of a name more fitting than V2. We’re running events in 6 separate platforms on an almost daily basis. Our team is literally the best in the business, having matured with this market from it’s very infancy. We have thousands and thousands of webcasts under our collective belt. This expertise in the world of virtual venues gives us a huge competitive advantage, and it’s allowed us to provide that level of service that you have come to expect from Clear Skies. You’ll get that, and more with V2. As the world changes and technologies advance, you can count on V2 being at the forefront of innovation. It’s difficult to think of a more transformative medium than the internet, and there is no end in sight to how businesses will continue to utilize virtual venues as a primary communication tool. We’re incredibly excited to have a front row seat in this amazing marketplace.
Lastly, we would be nowhere without our partners. PURA Marketing and Green Rising Marketing have been invaluable to us during this transition, so a tremendous thank you to Cathey, Jeff, Holly, Gina, and Chelsea… what a long trip it’s been! But we’ve arrived, and we love the new digs. Thanks to each of you for your expertise, help, friendship and laughs.
And to our colleagues, clients, friends and followers – a big thank you as well. Your trust has provided the momentum for us to grow as a company, and we are committed to providing you with the exact same service and expertise that you’ve always known us by. We don’t take your trust lightly. Together we will continue to build upon the foundation that was Clear Skies, and look forward to the future that is V2. Our journey may only be a few years old, but with V2 we have taken a big step forward in defining our true standing within the market. And we are deeply honored that you have chosen to join us on this exciting adventure. To each of you – thank you. We wish you all the best, and here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2013.
All the Best,