22 October 2020

Staging a professional in-person, hybrid or virtual event

EventsAIR

Within the five fundamental aspects of event staging (Audio, Lighting, Vision, Production, and Content) there are a number of factors to consider in order to keep your audience informed, engaged, and entertained. In this post, we share some tips to ensure your event staging is on point and your event is a success.

1. Planning and preparation

Careful planning and attention to detail are vital to the success of your virtual, hybrid, or in-person events. When planning, consider all aspects of event management from software, lighting, and sound requirements, marketing, registration, sets, speakers, and venues, through to safety protocols and contingency plans in case of technical difficulties.

2. Use a reliable event management system

The production quality you require will be dependent on whether you plan to host a simple webinar, live streaming event, or a more complex interactive virtual, hybrid, or in-person event. Consider how much interactive content you require and source your event management software accordingly. Look for a product that is scalable, secure and reliable.

With the EventsAIR 6th generation event management system, which includes the award-winning OnAIR virtual and hybrid event solution, you’ll be able to professionally manage entire in-person, hybrid, and virtual events from a single, secure, user-friendly platform. The latest version of OnAIR also includes our proprietary new ultra-low latency (sub 5 seconds) streaming solution, AIRCast, and AIRCast studio that allows you to stage and manage your virtual events like a pro, complete with green room and breakout rooms.

3. Audience size and location

Are you catering for a global, national or local audience? The size and location of your audience will determine the budget required, the venue selection, and the best medium to reach them (virtual, hybrid or in-person).

4. Event format

Are you planning a conference, discussion session, or performance, or a mixture of all three? The type of event will determine what type of venue and format your event should take. For example, a live stage performance may require a theatre, whereas an address by the chair of a global company may be delivered online to reach a wider audience.

5. Event medium

Will this be a virtual, hybrid, or in-person event? The size and location of your audience, global travel restrictions, and budget available will all impact on this decision. For example, virtual events tend to be more economical than in-person events and offer the benefit of extended reach with little additional cost.

6. What value are you offering for sponsors and exhibitors?

Sponsors and exhibitors are an important part of most events, and movement away from physical events does not mean that they should be neglected. Ensure that you provide opportunities for your sponsors and exhibitors to connect with online audiences by including a virtual exhibition marketplace, ePoster presentations, breakout sessions, meeting hubs, and/or video chat rooms in your virtual or hybrid event program.

7. Audience engagement

Content is indeed king, and informative, interesting, relevant content is undoubtedly the best way to attract and engage your audience.

Audience engagement is especially important for hybrid and virtual events where distractions are a mere mouse-click away. To ensure your attendees stay engaged and obtain maximum benefit from the experience, ask your speakers to keep PowerPoint presentations to a minimum. Be sure to include items such as live polls, Q&As, and gamification that will allow your audience to interact and reduce screen fatigue.

8. Networking opportunities

These are an essential part of the event experience and should be included in the agendas of all in-person, virtual and hybrid events. For virtual events, include opportunities for live engagement that allow people to interact with presenters and with fellow attendees such as video chat sessions, networking sessions, breakout rooms, meeting hubs, virtual exhibition marketplaces, and ePoster presentations.

9. Employ creative branding techniques

Present your brand tastefully without overwhelming your attendees. Incorporate your brand into the stage or backdrop design or display it as an interactive 3-D artwork.

Try novel ways to promote your brand. One example is to use tactile experiences such as theme-related goodie bags with branded products to reach out to your online audience and promote your brand. These can be delivered to online delegates before a virtual or hybrid event. For example, a health and fitness conference may send out goodie bags containing products from their sponsors such as protein bars, electrolyte powders, pamphlets with free trial offers, or discount cards, and branded merchandise such as shakers, water bottles, and exercise towels.

10. Stage and screen

Whether it’s a simple platform for speakers to stand on while presenting at a virtual event, or a more complex set-up for hybrid or in-person events, the stage has an important role to play in attracting the audience’s attention to the speaker. The type of stage you need depends on the nature of your event.

For virtual events, a physical set, such as the ones we see on TV breakfast or news shows can really bring the event to life. If your budget allows, you can hire a studio, create your own set and decorate it to promote your brand and the theme of your event. This works particularly well if you are creating a series of virtual events as you can reuse the set several times over.

11. Backdrops

Tasteful, but vibrant backgrounds (that are not too overwhelming) help to focus the audience’s attention on the stage/screen and make it easier for them to remember the information being presented. Advances in technology have made it possible to use backdrops in creative new ways, including as textured walls or videos with designs and images that promote your brand and support the theme of your event.

Greenscreen environments add depth to your virtual stage. The background can rapidly be altered to suit different brands or themes and allows people to appear to be sharing a space when, in fact, they are miles apart. However, not all presenters feel comfortable in this setting as they cannot see the background being projected onto the screen which makes orientation difficult.

Of course, your virtual event could also be staged from the comfort of your office, provided you have access to good quality sound, lighting, and event management systems. However, even in such cases, backdrops remain important. At the very least avoid a cluttered background and remember that bland backdrops do little to stimulate or engage your audience. A simple way to attract the attention of your online audience in such cases, is to send printed backdrops or greenscreens to your virtual presenters. This adds consistency to the presentations across the event, and it is a great way to promote your brand.

12. Virtual viewer experiences

You can further enhance your virtual event through encouraging viewers to use larger screens. Remind viewers prior to the event that they are not limited to laptops but can also take part in the event using their home cinemas or smart TVs.

13. Sound

Whether online or in-person, poor sound quality makes the audience feel uncomfortable, and you’re likely to lose the attention of both your attendees and your presenters. If the sound is unclear and the presenters can’t be heard or understood, virtual attendees will simply surf away from the presentation and move on to other things. When attendees at in-person or hybrid events become distracted, they may start separate conversations, fidget, or move around, which will affect the speaker’s ability to deliver their presentation.

An additional sound tip is to include music in your event as it has a powerful energizing effect on the mood and functioning of your audience and presenters.

14. Lighting

Like music, lighting has a profound effect on the mood of the audience. For virtual and hybrid events, it is important to have the lighting around the presenter set up correctly so that the online audience can see the presenter’s face and receive non-verbal cues. This will draw the audience’s attention to the presenter. Lighting can also be used to promote your branding and your theme and to energize your audience.

Lighting at a venue should provide adequate visibility while also creating ambiance. Very stark lighting could make people in the audience feel uncomfortable, and lighting that is too dim may make the audience feel sleepy or make it hard to take notes. Using a variety of lighting effects will help keep your audience engaged and interested.

15. Seating

For in-person and hybrid events, it is important to consider whether there is ample seating for your audience. The seating layout is also important and should suit the type of presentation/event. For example, banquet seating may be good for discussion groups, but may make visibility difficult during stage productions, in which case row seating is preferable.

Ensure that all seats have line of sight visibility to the stage to prevent frustration among attendees who cannot see the presentations. Also, make sure that the seating arrangements meet COVID-19 social distancing and safety requirements.

Conclusion

Event staging plays a crucial role in the success of virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. To find out more about how you can stage manage your virtual events using the latest version of OnAIR, the virtual and hybrid event solution by EventsAIR, book your demo today.


EventsAIR has been at the forefront of Event Technology and Innovation for over 30 years, continually pushing the boundaries of what an event management platform can do. Built by event planners for event planners, EventsAIR is a secure, scalable, cloud-based solution that can manage everything from in-person, virtual to hybrid conferences, meetings and events in a single online platform – anywhere, anytime and on any device. In use in over 50 countries by multi-national corporations, professional conference organizers, government departments and tertiary education institutions, EventsAIR is also used in global congresses such as G20, APEC, CHOGM and ASEAN, as well as sporting events like The Olympic Games, World Rugby, Commonwealth Games and Pan Am Games. EventsAIR is trusted by event professionals around the globe. For further information, visit www.eventsair.com