When not to do an online event (and why)


The pandemic has split the world in two.
The world of events, at least.
It divided it between those who – for lack of alternative options, necessity, entrepreneurial spirit or simple sheer resourcefulness – converted to online events and organized, perhaps, even more events than they would have in presence, and those who, by choice or out of necessity, stopped, postponed everything and are waiting to resume theorganization of in-presence events.

Who is right? Both.
In fact it is not a matter of courage, valor or primacy. But rather of the quality of the event, of the actual possibilities and of the expected results.
An example? Bring online a theater show and you will hear people snore like you’ve never heard before in any theater. Online theater is not theater, you might say. It’s something different that may or may not start to happen but that certainly cannot be created by just clicking on a button. It requires to be something completely new that’s suitable for the online channel since it has been specifically created for that platform and use. In a year of pandemic we have seen good and bad examples of this process: shows that bored us completely and intelligent experiments. And what is true for theater it is true for many other contexts, which have tried to react to the unexpected.

Precisely for this reason, and because we think we can afford it after more than a year of experimenting with events of various sizes and sectors, we feel we can now say when it is not really the case to do an online event.

And, just to be brief, let’s try to summarize it all in three points.

1. Don’t do an online event when the same event works best in presence

Monsieur de La Palice is turning in his grave, so much what we are saying is self-evident. But it is as obvious as it is true that the two things do not always go hand in hand. There are events that will never work online as they do in presence, even if they are completely rethought, redesigned, dismantled and reassembled. For example: if your event’s purpose is to have people taste wine, or choose fabrics, you will probably have a very hard time, even with the best technology, to bring an equally satisfying experience online.

2. Don’t do an online event when you’re not willing to get involved completely

Unknowns? Many. Certainties? Few, especially the first time. We could bring you dozens of experiences from just the last 12 months of companies that have faced the transition from in-presence events to online events not only without knowing what to expect, but above all with the handbrake on, rigid, afraid and moreover unavailable to change their operating modes. Certainly the last few months have seen people working remotely from home and that this has not made it easier to change procedures and protocols. And, also certainly, if event managers could choose, they certainly would have gone through one change at a time, not all together. True. But moving from in-presence events to online events is a bit like learning to ski. The steeper the descent, the more you need to stay soft on the joints, flexible and ready for any jolt. Otherwise you’ve already fallen. This means you shouldn’t do an online event if you’re not an online event expert already? No, you surely have to start from somewhere. But you also will need to rely on good guides and trustworthy equipment to reduce the risk of getting hurt, that’s what we are saying. This way, all you’ll need, then, will be a little planning (we’re joking, you will need a lot of it) and the desire to experiment. But above all, you’ll need not to think that you’ll be doing online what you do offline, and that you’ll be doing it the same way, because no, that’s not going to happen.

3. Don’t do an online event if all you need is a green screen

Do you think that all you you need to go online is a technical service, a good graphic designer and a green screen? Well, then you don’t need to do an online event. Because making an online event is much more than making a video with one or more people, albeit with original graphics, high quality tech support and excellent direction. Making an online event means designing an experience around the users who will have to live it: it means giving the speakers the engagement tools to communicate with their audience, to activate them and to really do effective training and information. It means giving exhibitors virtual spaces which are as beautiful as physical ones, within which their products and services can shine and be explored, tested, discovered by current and potential customers, where meetings and business appointments can be held, where networking can be done and new partnerships can be created. It means giving all the sponsors the opportunity to have a sensitive, effective and demonstrable return on their investment. In short, it means doing a lot of work before, during and after the event, and investing time and money. The results, of course, will be evident, then. But the workload must be worth the type, quality and value of the event you expect to create.

Have we convinced you not to do online events?
Well, then call us to start planning your next in-presence or hybrid event.
Otherwise, call us anyway, so that we can start planning together your next, memorable, online event.

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