After transforming the annual APAC and EMEA Unite conferences into a virtual events within one week, Ungerboeck shared lessons learned on how to turn a multi-day conference into a memorable and engaging virtual experience. When setting up an online event format, duration and content may have to be reconsidered as the attention span in front of a screen is shorter.
Shorter sessions (30 to 45 minutes), a lower number of presentations per track, and time at the end of each session for Q&As as well as a minimum of 15 minutes break between sessions is a good rule of thumb. Having sufficient resources such as moderators, presenters, co-presenters and panellists available to run the show is also key. Rehearsals should be mandatory for the conference team in order to test the slides and the technical set-up of presenters and moderators (Internet speed, audio and webcam).
Once the event format has been chosen, a suitable virtual event provider that will help meet the goals is needed. There are many tools available on the market to deliver virtual events, and choosing the right provider will depend on the functionalities that are essential to the event. These include: easy set-up of sessions, ease of use for presenters and moderators, audience engagement tools such as polls and Q&As, support of a large number of attendees logging on at the same time, log-on possible without having to download a desktop app, support of quality video production (either live or prerecorded). All of the above were highly important to Ungerboeck when moving the Unite Conferences to virtual events.
Each conference included about 30 sessions presented by no fewer than 20 different speakers and every session welcomed up to 120 attendees. One advantage of a virtual event is that the attendance rate can be increased fairly easily as participants do not need to travel or pay for accommodation and can be at the heart of the event in just two clicks. Ungerboeck managed to triple the attendance rate in less than a week with strong online communication. (kf)