News and updates from Abbotshall Communications Ltd

We make events

Virtual conferencing - our top tips

Preparing for "normality"


LinkedIn has been a depressing place to visit recently, with news of friends and colleagues losing jobs and well-known events businesses folding.  But I was cheered by a recent post by hugely talented set designer and visualiser Mike Bell, who's turned his talents to designing maps and posters in the style of Underground maps. 


This one shows the huge complexity of the making of a live event.  It reminds me of the huge amount of talent involved in live events, and the buzz I feel as a producer being an integral part of that process.   Virtual is here for quite a while it seems, but let's hope we can get back to live before we lose all the talent from the industry.   


You can see (and order) all of Mike's posters (including an ingenious one tracing the plot twists of the movie Dirty Dancing) on his website.


Virtual conferencing is here to stay for a while it seems with even the notion of staging a hybrid event (where delegates can choose to attend in person or online) seeming a distant prospect.    So here are our top tips for running a successful virtual event.

1. Think carefully before choosing a platform.  Some are great for networking, others are brilliant at delivering in a one-to-many style to a largely passive audience

2. Consider your pricing strategy and what added value your virtual event will deliver in competition with so much free content online.

3. Invest a lot of time in customer service.  You might be able to access your platform perfectly, but your audience members might struggle to get in with firewalls, VPNs, proxy servers or simply their browser settings.  Take time to run onboarding events in advance of the real thing to let delegates sample the technology.

4. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.  Your speakers might be used to Teams or Zoom but they will need a practice on your platform.  Go over screen sharing several times with them so they don't fluff it on the day!

5. Invest in contingency.  I live in fear of a power cut (despite not having had one in years) while running a virtual event so I now have a power pack with a three pin plug input - just in case!

We've all had to adapt to the "new normal" of doing things virtually in the last seven months, but with treatments for Covid-19 and progress with vaccines featuring regularly in the news, it's reasonable to assume that some time in 2021, we might be able to get back to staging events in a live environment.

With this in mind, we're trying to be as prepared as possible and are looking at various scenarios for staging events in entirely live or hybrid formats.  

As part of this preparation, Kathryn has recently completed the World Health Organisation's risk assessment training on staging mass gatherings.