Whether attending virtually or in-person, today’s attendees expect events to inform, inspire, and entertain them with a production value on par with their favorite TV show. They want more than to sit in front of the presenter and listen – they want to be active participants with a voice in shaping the event. With attendees’ new expectations in mind, these takeaways from our survey created for the Event inspiration: trends and ideation workshop come as no surprise:

I recently spoke to these concerns in a session at our annual flagship conference, WebexOne, about producing must-see events. I’m sharing my key takeaways below, but you can also watch the full session to learn how to host events that will impress your attendees and give them something to talk about long after the live experience has wrapped up. 

3 components to successful events

During the session, Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the largest global meetings and events association, discussed the transformation of events over the last few years. People see more value in virtual events and experiences, and those digital influences carry over to in-person events. MPI noted that event professionals should continue to incorporate virtual elements in their in-person events to extend their reach, enhance engagement, and capture even more data. 

When it comes to launching a successful events program, MPI shared three interconnected elements. 

  1. Platform: Adopting an end-to-end platform with robust digital capabilities is the first step to planning a must-see event, but you need to ensure your event team feels comfortable using the technology to ensure event success. A platform with built-in, reusable templates and a drag-and-drop interface offers scalability, enabling you to host all kinds of events, from simple webinars to large trade shows.
  2. People: How you engage your audience and understand their needs depends on what you know about them in advance and how you incorporate that event data into your content to personalize the event experience. For example, we leveraged the results collected from our ideation summit to design the event based on what was top of mind for our audience.
  3. Purpose: Knowing the purpose of your organization, how it scaffolds into the mission and vision of your event goals, and ensuring your content supports those goals are key components of creating incredible engagement for your attendees.

Measuring event success

When measuring event performance, start with the basics: create goals and objectives across every stage of the event life cycle that align with your organization’s mission and vision. 

But how will you set your goals and evaluate if you have achieved them? Through a full-cycle event data strategy

  • Pre-event: Determine the data points or intelligence you hope to gain, including what’s most important to sponsors and exhibitors, and build those data-collection opportunities into your event program. Collect data during registration to empower sponsors to better target their messaging. Align those data points with categories previously established in your CRM to help sales better target leads across all stages of the sales funnel.
  • During the event: Leverage attendee data to inform session content in real-time, such as allowing attendees to vote on a specific topic area or example they want the speaker to cover during the presentation. You can also set up a dedicated channel for attendees to provide real-time feedback. 
  • Post-event: While well-designed post-event surveys provide valuable information, event technology allows you to dig even deeper, offering a minute-by-minute analysis of every click, interaction, and engagement in the events platform. Mine your event data to look for trends, actionable insights, content ideas, and sponsor engagements.

5 must-have event production features

As MPI noted, an event platform proves critical for hosting successful events, but only if it meets your organization’s needs. With the rise of virtual elements, more players have entered the events arena, and today’s organizations face stiff competition for attendees’ attention. With many options to choose from, events with high production levels will stand out from the crowd and turn events into true experiences. Look for the following event platform features to elevate in-person, hybrid, and virtual event production. 

  1. Built-in studio: Professional-level production wows attendees and keeps them engaged. Look for studio features that allow for multiple speaker configurations, screen sharing and branding options, video clips, and overlays.
  2. RTMP capabilities: When collaborating with an AV team, an RTMP player embeds the live stream into the event platform so you can elevate production without adding another vendor to your tech stack.
  3. Simulive: Live broadcasts excite event attendees and allow them to interact together in real-time through chat or other channels, but going live introduces risks. By leveraging Simulive, event planners can reduce risk by pre-recording content and scheduling it to go live at a specific time.
  4. Video on-demand: Today’s attendees want flexibility in how they engage with content. Video on-demand allows your audience to access and engage with event content on their own terms. Or, an on-demand video can be released after a live event for in-person attendees to reference and people who couldn’t watch live.
  5. Closed captioning and translations: In order to engage all attendees, an event must be inclusive and accessible. Built-in accessibility tools, like live closed captioning and translation, offer more equitable event experiences.

Using event tools to keep attendees engaged and connected

Connecting and engaging audiences has become increasingly difficult with virtual attendees. Between virtual fatigue and household distractions, it can be challenging to encourage networking among attendees in different locations. But even with in-person events, attendees can feel overwhelmed and anxious by the idea of networking. Offering a variety of ways for attendees to connect with each other helps everyone feel included and comfortable.

In the event planning stage, decide what event elements to include to immerse your attendees and keep them actively engaged. Gain inspiration from these ideas for engaging at-home and in-person attendees to provide enhanced event experiences.

Bring social media into your event

Social networking helps connect attendees no matter their location. Use a social wall and encourage event-goers to share pictures of their workspaces, dream vacation spots, or even their pets. Attendees can like and comment on each other’s photos to keep the fun going.  You can also broadcast the social wall at your event venue through a live display. 

Incorporate chat, Q&A, and polling

Bring in messaging and video chat capabilities to help attendees stay connected before, during, and after the event. This helps drive networking, even when the attendees aren’t all in the same room. Use word clouds, polls, and Q&As directly in your event sessions to boost engagement.

Promote friendly competition with gamification

Include an event game to motivate and incentivize your attendees to engage more deeply in your event, and ultimately have a better experience. Include game challenges and opportunities to earn game codes throughout the event. Gamification also offers a compelling way to get attendees to interact with sponsor content or network with their peers. Plus, incorporating a game adds some friendly competition and fun to your event! 

The future of producing must-see events

With engagement and production top of mind for event organizers, event production value will continue to improve. Events that can’t compete may suffer from lower turnout or less engaged attendees. 

Now’s the time to raise the bar on virtual, hybrid, and in-person events and focus on creating outstanding event experiences. From pre-event engagement that encourages registration to analyzing post-event data learnings to continuing to level up your events program, event planning requires a data and attendee experience-driven approach combined with high production value from start to finish.

To learn more about Webex Events engagement tools and exciting new production capabilities, watch the full on-demand WebexOne session.