More meeting and event professionals are actively booking or sourcing new events now than any time since 2020. According to the Encore Summer Planner Pulse 2022 report, that number represents 71 percent of 461 survey respondents, who represent a diverse swath of corporate, association, administrative, marketing, third-party, independent and special event producers and organizers.
More than half of the meeting and event professionals surveyed say they are booking new events. And only five percent are currently rescheduling or re-booking events — the lowest number since the pandemic began.
Despite rising costs, in-person events are expected to increase in the second half of 2022.
Key survey findings:
- 80 percent of events will have an in-person audience
- 20 percent of events will be hybrid, with both in-person and remote audiences
The demands of keeping these dual hybrid event audiences engaged and planning two parallel events are a major stressor, the report finds. Perhaps that’s why the participant experience is becoming a greater factor in event design, with professionals layering technology over the in-person experience to create events that feel like they are in-person+ — with or without hybrid participants.
When asked how future in-person events will compare to pre-pandemic in-person events:
- 45 percent of respondents said better attendee engagement
- 38 percent of respondents said more networking
- 37 percent of respondents said more attendee personalization
This trend drove Encore to create a free guide to help meeting and event professionals meet shifting audience expectations: Boundless Possibilities for Engagement. The Encore team also offers free consultations on how to enhance the in-person and remote attendee experience.
Other challenges meeting and event professionals say they face include lead times, specifically for large events. Event professionals report that a third of their events for more than 250 people (34 percent) must be organized within a three-to-six month window. Only half of these sized events are planned more than six months out. Most small meetings with one to 50 participants (43 percent) are being organized within one to two months out. Most mid-sized events with 51 to 250 participants (43 percent) are being organized three to six months out.
Want to read the full report? Download it here.
The basic tools, technologies and best practices you need to engage dual remote and in-room audiences.
What are your event essentials?
Basic event technology requirements
Camera and audio: For small, hybrid meetings, most cameras offer integrated audio and speaker solutions. For larger events, you may want an external camera or a broadcast-quality setup. The three main considerations that will help you select the right camera and audio for your event are:
- Connectivity: Will the camera/audio be integrated into a laptop, plugged in via USB, or will it be a broadcast solution connected via SDI or HDMI?
- Field of view (FOV): Do you need a camera that swivels 360 degrees? Or is a static shot with fixed angle of 125 degrees or less sufficient?
Wired internet: Pre-pandemic, wireless internet was the standard, but for broadcast events, you need a wired internet connection.
- Simple wired internet (3 MB) is ideal for 1:1 videoconferencing but not great for webinars.
- Superior wired internet (5 MB) is ideal for webinars, but not great for hybrid conferences.
- Dedicated bandwidth (varies depending on need) is ideal for hybrid conferences and broadcast events but is overkill for 1:1 videoconferences and most webinars.
Additional displays: If your event is a one-way broadcast, then you don’t need to worry about additional in-room displays. But they are phenomenal at increasing engagement between remote and in-room audiences. They help these dual audiences see and talk with each other.
- Traditional tripod screen kits are ideal for educational meetings, standard presentations and large conference rooms. They’re not great for rooms with limited space or interactive sessions.
- Large format monitors are idea for board meetings, rooms with limited space, collaborative sessions and large conference rooms. They are not great for single-focus meetings.
Enterprise videoconferencing tool: When you’re broadcasting content, you need a reliable videoconferencing tool to stream content. Encore offers an enterprise videoconferencing tool through Zoom that guarantees the highest quality stream available. Encore also provides platform solutions and onsite support for technologies such as Chime Go℠, Chime Live℠, Cvent Attendee Hub® and Notified Virtual Event Platform®
Laptop rental: If you want to be able to show up and start your meeting, or if you need to check email and work during breaks, then invest in a rental laptop. For a relatively small investment, it provides huge peace of mind and frees up presenters and planners onsite. Having a dedicated laptop for your event guarantees:
- Properly configured software and broadcast settings
- Full integration with technology services
- Required processing power needed to display rich media content without glitches
Event technology provider: Producing a hybrid event means you’re designing two simultaneous experiences. With one of them being face-to-face and the other existing in digital spaces, this creates additional layers of complexity and potential errors. Partnering with a trusted event technology partner, like Encore, can eliminate human error, turnaround professional-quality events in an abbreviated period, and help you exceed expectations. Contact Encore for a free consultation.
Want to read more about hybrid essential technology? See this content and more in guidebook form by clicking the link below:
It’s exciting to watch in-person meetings and events return. According to Blackstone Securities, group meetings and convention gatherings will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. However, in this post-lockdown environment, attendee expectations have changed. Event technology has advanced. Your audience will also look very different than it did pre-pandemic. Consider these February 2022 findings from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics:
- 3 percent of people over the age of 55 have left the workforce
- 9 percent of the entire American workforce (47.4 million people) quit their jobs in 2021
The pandemic reshaped how we work in America. Even as offices reopen, roughly 6 in 10 US workers (59%) who say their jobs can be done from home are working from home all or most of the time, up from just 23% who worked remotely before the COVID-19. (Pew Research Center, Feb. 16 2022)
According to the Q1 2022 U.S. Travel Association Business Tracker, business travelers say developing relationships is the most important aspect of their business trips. Education and networking traditionally are the No. 1 and 2 most-important reasons to attend events. But the way education and networking components engage participants needs to change. No one is coming out of this pandemic with the same set of values or expectations they had going in. And that creates significant barriers to enjoyment if you intend to plan your events the same way.
All this means event designers must adapt to meet evolving audience expectations.
As an event designer, you have the opportunity tonew event strategies and help discarding their outdated ones. There’s never been a better opportunity to position yourself as a strategic team leader. The rules have changed. It’s time to step up your game. This guide will help you adapt, transform and outperform expectations. Are you ready to play? Game on!
Consider the following:
- The number of in-person events are increasing as fully-virtual events decrease, yet nearly a quarter of all meetings will remain hybrid through 2022. Source: Encore Planner Pulse Spring 2022 Report
- Association professionals report more than 50 percent of their second and third quarter 2022 events will be hybrid and 35 percent will be digital/online only. Source: PCMA Convene Covid-19 Recovery Survey
This data signals a need for meeting and event professionals to shift their mindsets. If between 25 percent and 50 percent of an organization’s events will be hybrid, it might be useful for organizers to think of hybrid events as being ‘in-person+’ rather than just added work or a passing fad.
What do we mean by in-person+?
We mean that technology developed for virtual event platforms can be adapted to enrich the in-room event experience and allow in-person attendees to switch between real-time and on-demand engagement, as needed. For example, if a participant gets an important call during a session and has to leave the room, they could use the event platform Chime Live to consume the content virtually and toggle back to the in-room experience once the call is over.
Virtual attendees are valuable members of any meeting community. Research by MPI and PCMA have proven that virtual events don’t cannibalize in-person attendance. In fact, people are more likely to attend an in-person event after experiencing it as a remote participant. Offering that virtual option allows people who can’t attend the in-person gathering to still experience your event’s content and community. It broadens your reach and helps you engage new audiences. It also amplifies your event return on investment (ROI) by increasing potential participant engagement, transactions and revenue from sponsors and exhibitors.
One of the best ways to create a seamless experience is to focus on engaging both the in-person and remote viewing audiences. Let this document be a guide to help you navigate the process of innovating your event and content design processes so you can access the boundless opportunities for engagement in-person, hybrid and digital events offer.
What’s in this guide
The purpose of this guide is to help you navigate these new opportunities by focusing your attention on seven key areas:
- Developing an innovation process for event design — How to generate, select, and evaluate ideas as well as how to catalogue and store ideas for future use.
- Leveraging event technology for engagement — The basic tools, technologies and best practices you need to engage dual remote and in-room audiences.
- Mapping the attendee journey — How to map the customer journey for your event participants and key stakeholders so that your event design achieves your desired outcomes.
- Creating healthy event ecosystems — Events comprise multiple components, or ecosystems. This section will help you test the health of each one and fix unhealthy ecosystems.
- Practicing radical inclusion — How to avoid common problems that leave attendees feeling disengaged, unwanted and excluded from your event experience.
- Designing engaging educational experiences — How to help event participants engage with content before, during and after your event in ways that will help them learn, remember and value your conference content.
- Maximizing return on education, return on objective and return on investment (ROE, ROO and ROI) — How to analyze event data, report results and use them to improve the event experience, revenues and ROI.
Developing an Innovation Process for Event Design
How to generate, select, and evaluate ideas as well as how to catalogue and store ideas for future use.
Step 1: Identify what needs to change
Sun Tzu wrote, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
If you begin the innovation process without knowing what needs to change, you’re prioritizing tactics over strategy. That’s why it’s important to look at data and feedback from past events or marketplace research before you design your next event.
- Data-point outliers: In which areas did your event score the worst? Where did it score highest? Build upon your successes. Look for areas of opportunity. If something isn’t working, either tweak it or stop doing it.
- Strong anecdotal feedback: Survey results don’t tell the full story. What kind of feedback did you, event team or staff gather from hallway conversations or complaints? Note: People will be more forthcoming and honest with an independent third-party auditor.
- Customer or industry pain points: What keeps your customers up at night? What arethe industry’s biggest pet peeves? These are friction points that your event might be able to solve.
- Big fails: Was there anywhere else you feel your last event (or other events by your competitive set) fellshort?
All will present opportunities for change. Identify three to five items that would make the biggest impact on your event or audience. These are the areas on which you want to focus your idea generation efforts.
Step 2: Invite the right people to generate ideas with you
If everyone in the room looks the same, has the same background or works in the same department, chances are that they’ll generate similar ideas. You don’t want an echo chamber. To generate ideas, you need diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and opinions.
To achieve this, invite a cross-section of key stakeholders and internal team members, including people who may not be directly connected to your event team. Make sure they all feel welcome, included and have an opportunity to share their voice.
Step 3: Lay down some basic rules
If you don’t lay down a few basic rules for idea generation, you’ll end up with a brainstorming session dominated by a few people. Avoid this by:
- Making space for introverted contributors: Before group conversations or any sharing begins, let people have five to seven minutes to write down their ideas on a set topic or question. This allows people to generate ideas without fear of being shut down.
- Create a clear activity schedule: Idea generation should be a time of pure brainstorming. Help participants resist the urge to start shooting ideas down or discussing them by creating different time-bound segments of the idea generation process. For example:
- Make it clear that idea generation time is solely for generating ideas without discussing or debating them. If you allow people to start judging ideas now, you’ll shut everyone down. If anyone offers an opinion, remind them there will be time to discuss the ideas later.
- Follow idea generation time with an activity that allows groups to add bullet points or creative strategies to ideas that speak to them. For example, if you’ve got five areas to innovate, divide the participants into five groups so there is one working on challenges and solutions for each area.
- After these ideas have been fleshed out and contextualized, give groups time to present on the challenges and solutions they worked on. Now is the time to discuss, debate, tweak and improve.
- Develop a parking lot: When people get off-track, gently steer them back on course. One of the easiest ways to do this is to take items that they want to discuss and place them in a “parking lot” that you can come back to later, if time allows.
- Decide on winning ideas and innovations: Ideally, the group in the room can also make the go-ahead decisions. But if that’s not possible, enlist their help in creating the presentations, videos or pitches required for the senior leadership team or event decision makers during the idea generation session. Remember: You don’t need to change everything. Trying one to three new things may be all you can handle.
- Determine how you will measure success: This is an important item to discuss while you’re debating and discussing the ideas. Once you know how success will be measured, then identify who will be responsible for implementing, tracking and reporting those measurements so you can evaluate the success of the experiment post-event.
Step 4: Capture the ideas and innovations generated
- Document the process: Film the presentations, assign dedicated note-takers for each group, or capture what is discussed in some way that makes it easy to archive.
- Create a knowledge database: Sometimes you’ll discover a great idea or innovative process that won’t work for the current event, but which you’d like to try at some point. Don’t lose these ideas. Instead, create a knowledge database.
- Keep records of your experiments: The knowledge database is also a phenomenal place to keep track of what happened when you applied your grandiose ideas and innovations to your event.
Step 5: Analyze results and iterate on your success (or failure)
- Analyze the results: What did you learn implementing this idea or innovation? Why did it work or not work?
- Present your findings: Who is invested in the success or failure of your event? What is the best way to communicate this information to them?
- Iterate and build on your success: Innovation is an iterative process, not a one-and-done thing. That’s why it’s important to examine and improve on your innovations, even if they were successful. If it worked, is there a way to build on that success? If it didn’t work, is there a something you can tweak that might help it work next time?
People are returning to in-person events. But the audience doesn’t look the same. One reason might be because the majority of Americans care more about their mental health, physical health and family than they did before the pandemic (Source: The Harris Poll, “The Great Awakening”), by 67 percent, 71 percent and 72 percent, respectively.
It’s clear that if you want to expand your in-person event’s reach, adding a hybrid element is the way to go. According to the Spring 2022 Encore Planner Pulse report, 25 percent of events will continue to have a hybrid component through the end of the year. For associations, that number may be as high as 50 percent, if recent PCMA research is any indication. True, 70 percent of people surveyed prefer attending events in-person, but do you really want to shut out 30 percent of your potential audience?
That’s why event organizers should start to think about hybrid as being ‘in-person+’: A way to enhance the in-room experience and make sure that everyone who wants to can attend your event.
Maximizing virtual event management
There are three things every hybrid event needs:
- Event Platform
Chime Go is a fully supported, quick start event site that the Encore team can configure in multiple ways. Setting up a Chime Go microsite is an easy way to add hybrid functionality to your in-person meetings. Think of Chime Go as a dedicated website that we create just for your event that brings the essential elements together in one location that your in-person and online participants can access from their own device —mobile, laptop, desktop, tablet, etc.
- Branding and theming
- Pre-event and onsite access
- Agenda with meeting map
- Q&A with audience upvoting
- Platform analytics
- Web accessible for screen readers
- Support for more than 10,000+ users
- Sponsor banners
- Fundraising links
- Chat & sentiment stream
- Closed captioning
- Creative services
- Broadcast or on-demand video
- and more.
Being able to engage participants prior to the event and after maximizes the ways you can connect with your audience to build excitement, leverage word of mouth marketing and keep them buzzing long after they return home. The functionality keep audiences tuned in and gives everyone a chance to have a voice, express their opinions and connect with the content and each other. And being able to self-register and build personal agendas gives event participants the tools they need to maximize the value they get out of the event. The data you gain from the event dashboard will tell you what worked, what didn’t and help you improve the experience for everyone next time.
With a conference, content is king, and context provides value. That’s why agendas play such a pivotal role in convincing people to attend an event. Once they’re there, you want to reduce any barriers to enjoyment and make it easy for them to navigate the experience and extract value from it.
Think about it: If someone is going to spend money on travel, or ask their company to do so, they need to know the event will be worth their investment. If you’re asking them to leave work and family obligations behind, you need to let them know what they will experience. And you need to reinforce that value onsite with seamless interactions with your event technology.
That’s why you should consider using an event site for your in-person meeting with robust agenda and audience engagement features that attendees can conveniently access with a mobile or other device, so they can check what’s ahead and where they need to be next. If you have at least three weeks to organize your event, Encore recommends the mobile-friendly event technology platform Chime Go℠ to take your in-person event to the next level.
Ideal event types
Chime Go is an ideal solution for in-person conferences with added touches that show participants you appreciate their attendance and want them to have a wonderful experience. This platform is a full-service option, which means that you don’t have to set it up by yourself. The Encore team can configure Chime Go in multiple way to support events.
Boundless possibilities for in-person events
Chime Go helps attendees navigate and participate in the event in a convenient, handheld format. Features can include:
- Event branding
- Agendas with the ability for participants to bookmark sessions of interest
- Venue maps can be added to help attendees get where they need to be
- Q&A submission with audience upvoting
Add-on options include sponsor banners, fundraising links, hybrid video stream, chat, and sentiment capability, closed captioning, on-demand content, and more. Chime Go can also be configured for remote attendees, if you plan on sharing broadcast or pre-recorded content. You can also include links to video conferencing for breakouts or collaborative sessions
Chime Go is an easy and affordable way to generate pre-show excitement around the content you’re offering, keep everyone at the show on track, and help participants find what they need to gain value from your event. Want to learn more about the boundless possibilities Chime Go offers? Contact the Encore team to schedule a free consultation.
In-person events are back. But there’s no ‘business as usual.’
“It’s evident that the events industry is still finding its feet, post-pandemic,” says General Manger of Concise UK Jim Hughes. “Whilst many venues and planners are seeing a return to near 2019 business … the world is different. The pandemic has encouraged even the least tech-savvy to master the basics of technology. We can’t think of returning to the old world of paper-based events and printed agendas.”
Additionally, audience attitudes have evolved. “Over 70 percent of Americans list Family and Physical Health and 67 percent list Mental Health as their priority over work, career development and travel opportunities,” Hughes adds.
The most successful events will be the ones that can integrate the easy connectivity and interactivity of virtual events into the in-room experience and cater to audiences with these new priorities. Let’s look at how organizers can do this by engaging audiences before, during and after the event.
- Pre-event engagement strategies and tools
- Event day engagement strategies and tools
- Post-event engagement strategy and tools
Pre-event engagement strategies and tools
Your event website is the best tool to use to encourage pre-show audience interaction. “Extend the access to your event site or event app platform,” counsels Encore Digital Solutions Product Manager Ryan Sheehan. “Your attendees can have access to sneak-peak content, surveys, even pre-work on the registration site. Going live before your event … allows attendees to learn about your speakers and sessions beforehand. You can generate buzz and by the time the event pulls into the [venue], excitement can be high.”
Gathering data pre-event can also help organizers customize the onsite experience. Encore Director of Sales Engineering-Digital Solutions Rob Wilcox says that pre-event engagement should be part of a multi-pronged and multi-channel marketing approach. “It is an opportunity to listen to your audience with polling and surveys. That helps event organizers gain input that addresses [audience] needs and ‘what’s in it for me.’ It sets the tone and expectations for the event.”
Pre-populating online event websites and app platforms with agendas and other tools that allow participants to plan their ‘personalized’ experience in advance, is another effective way to engage future event audiences. Wilcox recommends that in addition to event sites, organizers should also leverage social media and emails to increase event registration and build buzz and momentum.
Case Study: Using pre-event engagement data to increase the effectiveness of regional road shows
Hughes says that the engagement metrics collected pre-show or during previous shows can be used to increase the effectiveness of future events. One of his clients did this for a series of roadshows they produced.
“The organizers were able to identify what areas of the program and learning were consistently well-understood, and any topics needing more follow-up or support,” Hughes says. “From their data collection, they also realized that there were some regional differences that meant they needed to adjust their approach in those areas.”
The event organizers were able to subtly adjust elements of their program to embrace these regional differences and preferences.
“Their roadshow was particularly successful because the client identified their objectives and understood the data that they wanted to collect in advance of their event, and so were able to build a program that measured what they needed to know.
Event day engagement strategies and tools
During the pandemic, many event organizers relied on online polling and chat tools to engage audiences. The great news is the technologies developed to engage online audiences can be and are being adapted for in-person use.
Sheehan points out that Encore has several digital tools that can provide polling functionality for in-person events. “What you are looking for will determine which solution is best,” he says. “But at a high level, we can integrate polling into your event app, help you design content around digital audience response system tools or even engage your in-person and remote attendees with low-latency streaming.”
Hybrid Latency — the lag time between when something is happening on stage and when it reaches the remote viewing audience — is a huge challenge to engaging hybrid audiences. Current streaming platforms tend to have a latency lag of 40 to 50 seconds. That makes it hard to get remote viewer responses to polls, Q&A and chat responses that sync up to what’s happening in real time for the in-person audience.
“Encore is just about to release a new low latency streaming option, reducing latency delays to around three to five seconds, which will radically change the opportunities for interaction and gives remote attendees a near equitable experience,” Hughes says.
“When using the Chime Live℠ engagement platform’s new ‘Low Latency’ streaming service, we also [can] track an individual’s dwell time, and see who is participating, measuring down into two-minute time blocks. This means that you can see who has watched what, and if at any point there was a significant drop-off.”
Presenters often use polling to keep audiences engaged during presentations. But organizers can use polls to tailor the conference content.
“When you have too many experts or too much content for the time that you have available, you can poll the audience to identify the topics that are of most interest to them – before or during the event – and pick the content most relevant to them and focused on what they want to hear about,” Hughes says. Because adult learners only retain information they’re interested in learning, this technique enhances learning and retention as well as content engagement.
Polls also can be employed to take participants’ ‘pulse’ to measure sentiment throughout the event. “These check-in/check-out questions help the meeting planners understand where they need to focus their message, so that it connects as best as possible with the audience,” Wilcox says. “The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time and effort producing an event only for the message to fall flat.”
Audience engagement tools can also be used during presentations as knowledge checks to gauge the level of understanding on the subject they are presenting on. For example, presenters can ask the audience a question to test how much they know about a topic before diving into it, then test them after to see how much they retained. “This technique can help presenters customize how they deliver the content, which is another win for event participants,” Wilcox says.
Another technology that enhances audience engagement during the event is second-screen technology. “Second screen technology refers to the use of a mobile device to provide an enhanced viewing experience for a television broadcast or live presentation,” Sheehan says.
One technique event organizers can borrow from television producers is to embed the stream with special content that encourages the audience to interact with the stream as they’re viewing it live. An example of this is the ‘Story Sync’ content broadcast alongside “Breaking Bad” episodes during its fifth season. During the broadcast, an icon on the screen let viewers know that there was an Easter egg they could unlock on their mobile device. This special content included behind-the-scenes photos, trivia, interviews, and more.
“The coolest part [of] using second-screen technology, such as iPads, for events is the ability [of] your attendees to pinch and zoom presentation content to get a better look, skip backwards for a moment to catch something they may have missed, and ask questions right in the moment without stepping up to the mic,” Sheehan says.
One of the best examples Sheehan has seen of this was at a client event for doctors. “While facilitating the training, the presenter provided an image of an x-ray used for a diagnosis discussion. The doctors were able to pinch and zoom and get a great look at the x-ray,” he says. “Normally, they would have been limited to what was on a projection screen.”
Case study: Polling event day audiences for input and buy-in
Polling helps everyone at the event have an input and say in decisions that impact them. One client Hughes had wanted to revive and relaunch its company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) policy.
“They wanted to get more buy-in from the staff and collaborate on solutions,” Hughes says. “Teams worked in small groups to come up with ideas at an organizational level, branch level and department level that supported their ESG policy.
Then each team pitched their ideas to the whole group, who used the polling function to rate and prioritize the most appealing and viable solutions.”
Post-event engagement strategy and tools
How do you keep people from forgetting your event? Use a different version of the same strategy you used to engage them prior to the event, Sheehan says.
“Whether your event is fully in-person or mixed with hybrid attendance, you can provide extended access to an event site with cool stuff like archived or on-demand session recordings, PDF copies of speaker presentations, and even post-event debriefs with polling or surveys. To be honest, this is also the perfect time to start teasing about your next event.”
Wilcox points out that if you want to gauge event return on investment (ROI), post-event engagement is just as important as pre-event engagement. “The sales and real work happen after the event, so your post-engagement strategy is key to optimizing your results.” You want to keep the event’s themes and core call to action items front of mind until your next event.
Here are a few examples of how organizers do that:
- Send ‘thank you’ emails to those who attended
- Send ‘sorry we missed you’ emails to those who could not attend with an invite encouraging their attendance next time
- Encourage participants to share feedback through surveys
- Create a post-event page with relevant event highlights and content, key downloadable materials, and a post-event report out
- Create a community forum or other way(s) to facilitate networking beyond the event walls
- Celebrate key successes around high performance relevant to event goals
- Have sales or customer teams personalize their own follow-up/touch-base communications
Don’t forget to analyze the data received from your audience engagement efforts. “Going through post-event survey data to learn how participants felt about the event [will help you] gain insight on how to improve the next one,” Wilcox says.
In addition to the quantitative metrics of event platform dashboards and surveys, incorporate qualitative data, like anecdotal feedback gathered onsite through conversations with event participants, the pulse surveys, chat streams and feedback shared on social media about what participants liked, what went well and what needs improvement.
Case study: Using data to increase post-event revenue
A client using the event platform Chime Live for a product launch wanted to track post-event revenue. The client took the sales team through all the sales aids and support materials using Chime Live to house all the resources.
“Immediately after that session, they used a ‘Chime feedback form’ to ask the 200 attendees to identify three clients that they would pitch the new product to, in the three weeks immediately following the meeting,” Hughes says. “As the attendees had interacted with all the content, and felt confident in the product, it was easy for them to identify and capture 600 opportunities for the new product.
“The organizers had an action plan and immediately hit the market and generated opportunities and revenue as a direct output from that session.”
It’s clear the meeting industry has changed due to the pandemic, and this has a lot to do with the mindset and behavioral changes of event participants. What kind of strategies and tools are you using or planning to use to keep participants engaged at your events going forward? Let us know by commenting below or tagging us @encore on social media.
Are you tired of seeing attendees checking their phones during your event? It’s the surest sign that someone is disengaged from what’s going on. And when one person does it, everyone around them feels a need to do the same. The average person interacts with their phone nearly three times a minute or a staggering 2,617 times a day.
Why are your event attendees disengaging? According to Fast Company, there are several reasons why people might not be paying attention to your presentations, including:
- Difficulty paying attention to both spoken and written words at the same time
- Finding the presentation boring,
- Or not being able to visualize the ideas being presented.
Therefore, how do you nip extracurricular activity in the bud and ensure participants engage with conference content? One of the best ways is to provide them with a dedicated Chime Live℠ enabled iPad.
This solution not only keeps phones out of your attendee hands, but it also elevates the in-room experience by providing multiple ways participants can interact with the event, presenters and each other. Let’s take a look at the boundless possibilities for engagement this technology creates for meeting and event organizers.
Event technology that engages
Chime Live is a mobile event technology platform that delivers real-time conference content, interactive quizzing and polls, and essential event analytics. When attendees walk into a room where an iPad is waiting for them, it immediately makes them feel important. And it lets them know that this is an event that welcomes their participation.
Chime Live-enabled iPads act as a second-screen, and is a perfect in-person event solution, displaying the speaker presentations in an interactive handheld format. Attendees can pinch and zoom each slide to see details, go back to review anything they’ve missed, and take notes on content they want to remember.
By having an iPad in their hands, they’re less tempted to pull a phone out, especially since the iPad allows them to zoom in on what’s being presented. The ability to go back and review or capture the content also aids learning and comprehension. And the technology prevents participants from skipping ahead, so audiences remain focused on what is happening in the room.
The Q&A feature allows attendees to ask questions from the comfort of their seats. This encourages both introverts and extroverts to participate in the conversation. It gives everyone a voice and eliminates the need to wait for a mic to express it.
Additionally, the platform provides presenters with interactive tools, such as polls and quizzes, and heatmaps, which provide an interactive image for participant voting.
For example, presenters can display a world map. As attendees touch the countries they’re hailing from, the heatmap will display color-coded concentrations, with the greatest number reflected in warmer shades and areas of lesser concentration in cooler colors.
Event technology that connects
Networking tools are another compelling reason to utilize the Chime Live event platform for in-person meetings. Chime Live offers features to help your event attendees connect prior, during, and after your live event. Here are ways you can get your attendees to enhance their networking participation:
- After participants create a user profile, they can open the “Connect” feature, which uses a matching algorithm to suggest fellow attendees with shared interests or attributes.
- Event organizers can customize these designations to increase the relevance of these matchmaking suggestions for their group.
- The “messaging” feature then allows participants to contact and connect with people they want to meet.
Event technology that informs
Chime Live-enabled iPads can push out surveys and feedback forms to collect responses from event participants. The Analytics dashboard offers real-time insight into conference activity. Post-event reports also can provide the planner with insights into engagement levels.
One of the benefits of using the Chime Live platform is the full-service Encore event team that comes with it. In addition to helping event organizers develop and execute on their engagement strategy, the Concise team provides planners with an analytics dashboard that displays real-time information on how many participants are turned in, how engaged they are, and what live polling response levels look like. Onsite, Encore technicians push all these interactive elements to the iPads at carefully timed moments to keep attention levels high. If any metrics are lower than expected, the Encore team can cue notifications to boost in-room interaction. Post-event, Encore provides event organizers with in-depth analytics reports.
Interested in creating anticipation, increasing engagement and promoting two-way conversations between conference presenters and participants? Contact us for a free consultation on how Chime Live and iPads can enhance your next event.
When you’re broadcasting content during a hybrid or virtual meeting, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Why would you want to start with a set-up that’s doomed to fail? If you’re depending on Wi-Fi internet, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
“For hybrid, the success of the meeting is dependent on having a good internet experience,” says Alex Wedesky, Encore Director of Internet Operations. “You need a more reliable connection to hinge your meeting on.” That’s why wired internet solutions are superior to Wi-Fi ones when you’re producing a hybrid event.
The downside to Wi-Fi
Why does relying on a Wi-Fi connection make your meeting vulnerable?
- Even a small group of people can have an intense internet demand, and Wi-Fi forces your meeting to share bandwidth with all the devices in the space.
- The stability of your connection could be jeopardized by a group of people outside your room, if they have devices that are trying to connect to your Wi-Fi network.
- The strength of a Wi-Fi network’s signal relies on the number of radios in the space that act as access points, how old they are, how old or new the device you’re using to connect to the internet is, the number of people connecting to the same network and your distance from the access point.
Using a wired internet connection eliminates all these disruptive elements, Wedesky says. Plus, it provides greater peace of mind.
“Free is not always the best option,” Wedesky says. “Free often means unsupported. You can’t troubleshoot free stuff.” Paying for a wired connection gives you a real-time support team whose job is to make sure your event isn’t interrupted by internet glitches.
Questions for event technology providers
Wedesky recommends meeting and event professionals ask the following questions to guarantee they secure the best possible internet solution for their hybrid event.
- Is there wired internet in the space?
- Can the venue provide the right bandwidth for your meeting?
- Will you be sharing bandwidth with other events happening at the same time?
- Does the venue have a failover or backup solution?
You want to be able to secure your camera and laptops to a wired internet line. Having a dedicated pool of bandwidth guarantees you’ll have the exact amount of bandwidth you need, and it will not ebb or collapse as other connected parties join. Finally, networks are no more reliable than cell phones. If yours goes down, you don’t want your participants’ screens to go blank. That’s why every event needs a failover or backup solution, even if your internet is on a wired connection.
Tiered internet solutions
Think of the internet as a highway. When a lot of people get on the road, you end up with a traffic jam. But, if you’re able to ride in the HOV lane, you can quickly bypass any hold-ups.
In terms of tiered internet solutions, using a Wi-Fi network or sharing bandwidth with other events is like being on a highway. You may not have any issues. Or you might find yourself at a standstill as demand clogs the road. The cost savings might not justify the risks. These types of connections are available at 3MB and 5MB speeds, which are adequate for streaming content, but may not be able to handle complex demands, like video playback and product demonstrations.
Want your own HOV lane? Talk to your event technology provider about dedicating bandwidth to your event with a wired internet connection. To provide this service, they will construct a VLAN network specific to your group inside the venue’s larger network. This dedicated connection also offers perks that can enhance the experience and provide additional monetization opportunities, such as:
- Customized/company-branded network name
- Splash page with customized content (e.g., terms and conditions, COVID policy, etc.)
- Automatic redirect to a target site, such as a company homepage or product offering, after participants log in
The benefits of working with an end-to-end event solution
“Overall, if Encore is providing all services, there are efficiencies we can add in,” Wedesky says. For example, being able to increase the amount of bandwidth if the meeting is approaching its limit to keep the broadcast stream from hiccupping.
Another perk Encore provides is a cellular back-up solution that can be ported into any facility. If anything happens to the internet connection, the cellular solution adds a layer of safety and comfort around the meeting and ensures it stays online.
“Encore also uses a content distribution network for most of our hybrid broadcasts. That can lower the bandwidth demand in some instances.”
Working with an all-in-one team like Encore also means that you’re eliminating some of the problems inherent when you work with multiple vendors.
“We can communicate with each other and know exactly how to get your content from capture to broadcast, Wedesky says. “Plus, there’s lots of great data we can capture when Encore is providing the total solution.”
Encore offers a variety of wired internet connection options to help meet your event’s needs. Speak to one of our professionals to learn more today!
How wonderful would it be to attend one virtual or hybrid event without someone saying, “Can you hear me now? Audio is one of those key tech issues that no one thinks about until it doesn’t work. But when you’re organizing a hybrid or virtual meeting, it needs to be one of your top priorities.
Questions you need to ask your stakeholders
Design with the end in mind. Knowing what you’re trying to achieve and what the parameters of the event are will help determine your audio needs. Ask your key stakeholders and your event team the following questions:
1. Does the presenter need to be seen on video or are we broadcasting audio only?
2. Will only the presenter audio need to be sent to the offsite attendees? Or will there be discussion and/or Q&A that also needs to be heard? Will that discussion/Q&A be with in-room participants or remote viewers, or both?
3. Will the speakers be connecting to the event remotely? Will they need to be heard by participants meeting onsite? Or are they only connecting to other remote participants?
4. Will participants joining remotely need to be heard by in-room participants?
5. Will participants attending the event in person need sound reinforcement to help them hear each other in the space?
Think through your event scenario
Will your event be 100 percent virtual? Consider using a pop-up studio or multiple pop-up studios where your speakers can broadcast with full audiovisual support. This elevates the quality of your content and ensures that your troubleshooting team is onsite with your speakers, VIPs and entertainers.
Will your event be hybrid? In addition to pop-up studios, here are three common audio set-ups to consider, depending on the size and composition of your meeting.
Small collaborative meeting. If you’re hosting a small meeting where the in-room team can hear each other and they only need to be able to hear the virtual participants, the cameras and microphones built into participant laptops may not be sufficient. If you want a more professional look and feel, however, consider using an all-in-one camera that has a built-in microphone and speaker. These “smart” devices can swivel to capture the in-room speaker for the remote viewing audience while providing superior sound quality for the in-room guests.
Mid-size collaborative meeting. With a larger room, in-room attendees may need amplification so that they can hear each other speak as well as hear the remote participants. This requires microphones that can capture each in-room participants’ voice and broadcast it through loudspeakers in the physical space. Consider using external microphones and loudspeakers.
Dedicated presenter. If the meeting is more presentation-oriented, then you may only have to focus on amplifying the presenter, with options that can facilitate group discussion and Q&A. The best solution for this set-up is to secure a dedicated microphone for the presenter(s) and in-room loudspeakers. Consider employing additional wireless handheld microphones to capture impromptu comments or questions that might arise to ensure all in-person and virtual attendees can hear.
Work with your technology partner to choose the best solutions
Now that you’ve defined your goals and considered the different scenarios, work with a dedicated tech partner to decide on which audio set-up is best to keep your audience connected.
Need more guidance on selecting the right audio solution for your next hybrid or virtual event? Contact the Encore team or read about our solutions.
Your choice of camera and how you use it to stream content directly impacts how remote and in-person participants connect to and engage with your event. How much thought are you giving to the cameras you order? Read on to learn how to determine the best camera for your upcoming hybrid and virtual events.
3 core considerations
There are three primary aspects to cameras that you need to understand prior to engaging an event technology partner. Here are the main features that differentiate one camera from another:
- Connectivity. This describes how the camera connects to or integrates with other components of the streaming ecosystem. For simple meetings, the camera may be integrated into a laptop. A better-quality external web camera may connect via USB. And high-end, broadcast-quality events may use cameras that connect via SDI or HDMI*.
- Field of view (FOV). This is the maximum angle a static camera can see in relation to the camera position and area of participants. Some automated cameras swivel 360 degrees to capture a speaker while others may be fixed with an FOV of 155 degrees, 125 degrees or less.
- Zoom type and quality. How the camera zooms, or moves in or out of a close-up image, is an important differentiating factor. A camera that has optical zoom typically provides a higher quality image than one with digital zoom, regardless of the level of magnification. This is an important consideration for your viewers to see speakers or audience members as you choose to spotlight them.
*SDI – Serial Digital Interface: type of broadcast-quality cable used to connect cameras to other devices
HDMI – High-Definition Multimedia Interface: a digital audio/video/data connector
Now that you understand the key camera features, let’s examine the details that will help you determine your hybrid and virtual meeting and event needs.
Who needs to be in the camera shot?
Mathew Johnsen, Vice President of Product Management at Encore, says the first question meeting and event professionals should ask themselves is: “Who needs to be in the camera shot?”
- A single presenter?
- A group of people or panel?
- A segment of a horseshoe or conference table?
- Performers on stage?
- The in-room audience?
The answer will help you identify a camera that provides the correct field of view (FOV) needed for your event.
“It’s all about the remote attendees,” Johnsen says. “What they’re seeing is their window into the meeting.”
How far away is the camera?
“The next question to ask is: ‘How far away is the camera from the presenters?’” Johnsen says. “That dictates the kind of camera you need and its FOV.”
Something to bear in mind is that any time you make changes to your room set up, you need to alert your event technology provider.
For example, Johnsen says, your mainstage may be assigned a 125-degree FOV camera based on your original needs. Then, you decide to add two speakers, which means adding two chairs to the staging. For an in-person-only event, that’s not a big deal. “But if you make changes [to a livestream set], even if it’s just adding two chairs, the FOV needs may go up from 125 degrees to 155 degrees,” Johnsen cautions.
If you don’t communicate changes, then you may inadvertently eliminate important figures from the shot.
Who needs to be heard?
If your meeting size is fewer than 25 people, you may be fine with a camera that has integrated audio.
But it’s important to think about who needs to be seen and heard in the room. “All cameras have different mic systems so know and discuss who needs to be heard.”
What scenario are you looking at?
- Do you only need to hear the speaker?
- Do you want everyone in the room to be heard?
- Do you want the in-room audience to hear the virtual audience?
Each of these scenarios requires different camera and audio solutions.
What level of collaboration and interaction do you want to foster?
“Consider the particular type of camera you need based on the type of meeting you’re going to have,” Johnsen says. “There are different camera solutions out there. Some have remotes so you can pan, zoom and tilt to control what the viewer experience will be. Some provide a 360-degree view around the room, which is great for small meetings. But those can get distracting in larger meetings.”
Most broadcast-style events utilize a professional-caliber camera focused on the presenter or people on stage. Adding multiple cameras with a technician who can alternate which camera angles and views are broadcast creates a more engaging viewing experience for the remote-viewing audience.
Conversely, by placing multiple screens around the room and displaying gallery or speaker views of the remote viewing audience, event organizers can help the in-person participants feel more connected to their remote-viewing peers.
The more attendees can see others participating, the more likely they will be to engage with the experience you are creating.
How can you best leverage the technology you’re using?
This is where partnering with a trusted tech partner, like Encore , really pays off. Not only can your team point out areas of where cost savings are possible, they can also help you maximize your tech investment.
For example, Johnsen says, don’t just stream the conference content. Record and repackage it for post-event sale, learning management systems, rebroadcasts or other marketing purposes.
“Since you’re going to have cameras involved in your meeting, make the most of that opportunity by pre-recording content and additional messages that can be played back.” These pre-recorded segments can range from sponsored “commercials” or event recap highlight reels to full-length presentations.
“It’s not uncommon to record portions in advance that we can then drop into the livestream,” Johnsen says. “We can seamlessly integrate a recorded message or content to provide a flexible meeting experience that’s more than just a scheduled event everyone is attending in real time.”