April 14 2021

By Warwick Merry

So many conference organisers and event professionals are focussed on creating an event that is like a TV show. They want it running smooth, loads of pre-recorded video so they know it will work and a stack of AV special effects to make it dazzling. With hosts and speakers in studios in a central location or at the speakers’ homes, it is relatively simple to connect the broadcast to the event software and send it to delegates, wherever they may be.

But your delegates want more. Much more.

The underlying tenet of events that I am part of is, delegates want events done WITH them and not just TO them. A TV show is not enough. If it was, you could just send everyone a recording and let them watch it, knowing that many may watch at a faster speed and skip to the good bits. Your delegates want more. They want to be PART of the event not simply subject to it.

Your delegates want more than simply TV. They want to interact with it. They want questions to be taken during the session and interacted with. They want to be up on screen like bringing someone up on stage. They want to share some of their experience with a similar situation that the speaker is discussing. Our delegates are so used to social media that they want their events to be social and engaging. They want, or even demand, Two Way TV.

So what does that mean for events?

This doesn’t mean spending a load more money. You really don’t need a tech set up like Oprah, Tony Robbins and other mega setups you may have seen. There are some simple ways you can include this concept in what you are currently doing.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to encourage use of the chat box. Get your speakers to constantly refer to the chat box and encourage people to share their thoughts and experiences. Even if the chat seems a little off topic, their input in the chat box means they are part of the event and not using some other messenger app to complain about what is happening or how boring the speaker is.

If you have a pre-recorded session, then make sure you have the speaker in the chat box interacting as it goes. While they may not be live on screen, they can be live online. Make sure your host is talking and interacting with the delegates, having fun with them and keeping them engaged. If you are running a hybrid, ensure that each site has their own host.

Using polls, word clouds, digital whiteboards, breakout rooms, and other tools keep the delegates engaged, energised and entertained. Make sure your speakers use them.

Our events must be about, and, more importantly, with our delegates. The principle of “Two Way TV” will significantly lift your engagement, energy and ROI. Online and hybrid events are too significant a part of our future event space to have them simply mimic TV. We must take it to the next level. What will you do for your next event?