Taking your conference virtual can sometimes feel like you are just taking it to your living room, literally. But going virtual also allows organizers to try a whole bunch of stuff that could never be done live. Like, filming on hundreds of different stages worldwide, or adding yoga breaks, or running a conference for 48hrs straight. We took a look at 7 recent virtual conferences, and made some notes on all the awesome stuff they got right!
The movie magic approach.
Apple’s WWDC went all virtual this year and as expected there wasn’t a pixel out of place. The whole thing was pre-recorded, so right off the bat the production and editing was flawless. And each session looked like it was filmed on a different sci-fi movie set. (Which was actually just where they design apple products and not where they are building a spaceship, we think…) For organizers looking to match this style, consider filming near interesting public spaces — like outdoor sculptures or observatories. It’s all about things that look just plain cool. Which is pretty much Apple, right?
The non-stop conference.
Microsoft Build delivered 48hrs of live, non-stop, developer focused content — broadcast in real time from hundreds of webcams all around the world. There was constant screen sharing between presenters, live video feeds spliced together, DJ sets, educational animations, studio quality entertainment, and no less than 6 yoga breaks. Build was experimental, a little quirky, fun, and honest — and it set the standard for how many different kinds of content you can put in a live virtual conference. If there’s one thing that organizers take from Build, it’s that everything is on the table in virtual.
Industry of Things World
The speakers make it shine.
Industry of Things World, which brings together the Internet of Things’ (IOT’s) most influential executives, predictably went “all internet” this year… Or all virtual. Same thing, right? The event production was relatively simple — clean webcam feeds and screen sharing. But the speakers are what really made it shine. Such as Mark Relph from AWS, who illuminated the interconnected world of delivery, entertainment, and data services that are constantly humming and ticking in the background of daily life. This event proved that as long as your speakers are interesting, and at the top of their game, all it takes is a webcam to pull the audience in.
Virtual events = content.
VMworld recently brought together the best and brightest in IT for 48hrs of non-stop virtual event content. Some of VMworld’s stats included 80,000+ Attendees, 900+ Sessions, 1,000+ Speakers, in over 180 Countries. Which are some impressive numbers, even for the IT crowd. Not only that, these sessions are all still available to watch on their website, on demand. This is a great example of how virtual conferences create hours and hours of unique content. Organizers can then keep this content on their website, or post it on social media, or maybe even edit it with some cool graphics and effects. Either way, it’s always good to have hours of original content on hand.
The curated style.
This year’s virtual INBOUND conference brought together artists, musicians, marketing professionals, media figures, and everyone else that makes marketing…well, marketing. Some production techniques included studio quality interviews in an empty baseball stadium, zoom calls with John Legend and Chrissy Teigan, super crisp screen sharing to show off new software, and much more. INBOUND was a great example of mixing up lots of different styles, all while keeping the vibe relaxed and creative. Organizers who want to recreate this style should look for well lit, open spaces to film their sessions, and maybe even work with a designer to keep everything in the same look and feel.
Make it about the future.
WAZEON, a virtual conference created by the driving map giant WAZE, was predictably dedicated to beating traffic. The visual production was top notch — in particular, there were some really interesting videos of streets currently without traffic (due to social distancing). WAZEON mostly talked about using this traffic-free time that we’re all in, to rethink our streets, cars, and commutes — so that we can enjoy the open road into the future. This event was a great example of how a virtual platform can inspire people to make the world a little brighter when we all start meeting in person again.
The forever event.
Elevate SIX (Elevate Social Innovation Exchange) is a year round virtual hub that includes all things tech, innovation, and sustainability. Earlier this year Elevate scraped their traditional conference, Elevate Live, and went all-in on this “on going” format, which we think is really cool by the way. With so much changing day to day, virtual events allow us to create conferences that don’t need a clear start and stop date. Ideas can flow day in and day out, and everyone can stay connected — including astronaut Chris Hadfield and Forest Whitaker (who we did not have on our virtual conference bingo card this year, but it’s great.)
It can happen, and it might be awesome.
For organizers thinking about going virtual, all we can say is that whatever you have in mind — it can happen. We’re seeing people push the envelope on a daily basis. More importantly, virtual conferences are easy, safe, and fun right now. Give it a try. It might be awesome.