Escalating travel costs, reduced event budgets, time constraints, and technological advancement have combined to accelerate the trend of holding virtual meetings.
Q. Why are organizations holding virtual meetings?
A. Cypress Media Group can answer this question about virtual meetings by relating the story of one of our recent clients, a software company. Many of their customers are challenged to do "more with less" in these trying economic times. In order to balance their goal of keeping their clients informed about the latest software enhancements with a reduced travel budget and staff, our client decided the best alternative was to host a virtual event.
Their three-day virtual meeting consisted of live presentations in their corporate headquarters that we videotaped and streamed into an online meeting program. Prepackaged videos were also streamed into the online meeting. To make the experience more interactive, attendees submitted questions for the presenters via an online chat feature.
This software users' conference was offered free to attendees who were active users and whose companies had a maintenance contract with our client.
Q: Does the Webcasting and streaming video technology work well enough now to be considered professional?
A: The Webcasting and streaming video technology is not perfect, but it is vastly improved from just a couple of years ago and is enhanced regularly. With the right equipment and equipment operators like Cypress Media Group uses, the technology is certainly adequate for most professional standards. To ensure client satisfaction, Cypress Media Group recommends a test of all of the equipment before live events are produced so the client can witness the broadcast quality and any logistical problems can be solved.
Q: Are there any best practices to consider when planning virtual events?
A: Cypress Media Group has observed that successful virtual events usually have most of the following factors in common:
Virtual events feel like "live" events even though they are not. Human interaction among participants is critical to the success of virtual events. Ideally, this interaction is constant throughout the event. Virtual meeting attendees should participate in multiple ways with questions and answers, live chat, and social media to feel involved in the meeting and partially responsible for the success of the virtual meeting. Virtual meeting content is diverse so the various components should represent a variety of looks, style, and tone.
The event is promoted with a uniform message and in multiple ways, including e-mail, telephone, and social media. The promotion creates a "buzz" around the event before it begins.
The equipment used to produce the virtual event is tested beforehand. Additionally, the equipment operators rehearse using the equipment so they can deliver the meeting content flawlessly. All technical production considerations contain a contingency plan in case technological malfunctions occur.
Virtual event topics are topical and of immediate interest to the participants. The meeting content is original, interesting, and pertinent to the meeting participants. The audio visual elements work seamlessly. Participants can log in and out of the meetings with ease regardless of their computer proficiency skill level.
Virtual event sponsors capture participant contact information and follow up with participant inquiries promptly, but not aggressively, to pursue sales opportunities. Participant feedback is requested and considered so we can refine future virtual meetings.
Q: What are the cost savings of producing a virtual event over a live event?
A: Cypress Media Group has had clients who have reduced their meeting costs 50%-70% by holding virtual meetings instead of live meetings. One recent client spent $15,000.00 to hold a virtual meeting that we produced. In the past, their live meetings had a price tag of about $50,000.00.
Make Cypress Media Group your meeting and event planning partner today.
E-mail or call our offices at 770-640-9918 for more information on corporate event management or to talk to a corporate meeting planner or one of our corporate event organizers.
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