Virtual Events Will Suck if Interactive is the Goal

Virtual Events Will Suck if Interactive is the Goal

Interactive virtual presentations, interactive virtual events, interactive webinars. Interactive democratic and republic virtual conventions…

We’ve all heard it. I don’t care if you’re a speaker, you’re an event, organizer or even if you’ve attended a webinar or a virtual event of virtual learning, everyone is pitching how interactive their event or experience is.

But the real thing they want is the presentation not to SUCK. So the question I’ve been asking when someone tells me they want something interactive is:

Is your audience prepared for interactive and is that what you really want or do you want to maintain the audience’s attention and include them in the virtual experience?

Here is the thing, there are very few ways to truly make something interactive. Not every presentation needs to be live – nor should it be! In reality, the only thing that a presentation needs to do 100% of the time is to keep the audience’s attention.

That’s it. Easier said than done, but that’s really it. So, how do you do that? In this 12 minute video not only do I cover exactly why this is wrong and the mistakes most are making but I breakdown how we can do this differently and some virtual presentation examples that are changing the virtual game.

Here are a few of my top tips that I cover in this video!

  • 📲 Manage Expectations (success is 50/50)
  • 👨‍🏫 Educate Your Audience
  • 🍿 Co-Consumption
  • 🗺 Choose Your Own Adventure
  • ❓ Answer All of the Questions
  • 🙋 Participatory Content and Conversations (when necessary)
  • 🏃 Have an Event Guide

Full transcript of video here.

I’ve done 48 of these, this year, I’ve done 3,500 live streams. If you’re building a presentation to be interactive, which means the content is going to be going back and forth and you’re using the Q and a, the chat.

And you’re going to use all of those things. You have to build a presentation specifically for that. Funny enough, almost everyone when we’re talking about webinars and virtual events, especially for the free ones, which a lot of them are. They’re like, Oh, don’t worry. Give us the same presentation you do on stage. Just make it interactive.

I mean, it’s like, where’s the interactive button. Is there an interactive button, like on my board or something that I can, doesn’t exist. And so here’s the, here’s what we have to think about. Right. What does interaction mean? How are we going to make an interaction part of this event, and is interaction what we want? Because here’s what I know for some people, there’s probably making them a little nervous seeing the monopod over here. Still, I can use the five cameras that I have set up here in my, in my office production of one to provide a very, you know,
change, different angles.


We can change the intimacy, you know, the empathy of that, you know, emotional connection with the audience, and I can maintain their attention without having them to be active in the chat or using what they’re saying too, you know, to, you know, impact you know, the presentation itself.
The other thing is I find very interesting on this concept is that we’re hearing lots of things about this is going to be a very interactive online event. And yet everything’s prerecorded. And now I will say I’ve done some interactive sessions where I knew that I was going to be prerecorded. And what I did was I knew I would be in the chat answering and engaging during my recorded session. And so in my recording, I actually was like, okay, you’re going to see me in the chat. I’m going to pull up a question in the conversation, and based on whatever your answers are, I’m going to get, you know, give you guys some direction from this part of the presentation. Still, I don’t think that’s what they’re looking for.


And so the reason I think that the, when someone says, Hey, you know that someone when most people say,
Hey, I want to interact with the presentation. What they’re really saying is we don’t want it to suck. We don’t want it to be boring. We don’t want it to be robotic talking head. And I think we’ve learned this the hard way, right? Like a great utuber is not often a great speaker. A great speaker is not usually a great YouTube or high on video or understanding live video. But here’s what I think of when I think of virtual events and reinventing virtual events. And the events that I’m working with. This is a lot of what we’re working into the content strategy, as well as the strategy for the overall event is if you want interaction, if the interaction is your goal, which means you want your audiences full attention, here’s what you have to do.


The first thing you have to do is you have to manage expectations. What I mean by that is you need to make sure the audience knows that there are 50% responsible for the success of this event. And the presenter is 50% successful at this event because I don’t care how amazing interactive a presentation is set up to be. If the audience isn’t planning on it, being on their laptop, maybe they’re just listening to it in podcast mode on their phone. I don’t care how great of an interactive presentation. It’s not going to matter. So you have to manage expectations. And the second part there is you have to educate your audience on, Hey, why is it interactive? What is the level of participation? Are you going to ask them to be on video? Do they need to be on their desktop so they can open a second tab?


Does it work on a mobile device? Right? Like, how am I going to make those connections? The other thing about this is, you know, if you’re doing like a multi-hour event, most of the events that I’m hosting or emceeing now are three to four hours. Some of them are eight hours. Here’s the thing. You don’t want an interactive event that entire time, you want presentations that are educational and
entertaining and, you know, and, and engaged, you know, and even that participant or element. But here’s what I think we also do wrong is that we just say, Hey, everyone stay in zoom. Or everyone stayed in Cisco WebEx throughout this entire day, but there’s only really one session that’s going to take advantage of that, right? We’re just gonna play the replays. What we need to do is we need to be very strategic with them when we send someone to an interactive hub so that they understand it is a different type of consumption, right?


Because one of the most significant missing pieces with virtual events is coal of content. I have a whole nother video, all on coconut assumption of content, but that’s a big thing that’s missing. We don’t have anybody to share our content consumption with, which is definitely something that we have to keep in mind. But with that being said, I can maintain the audience’s attention without having it to be fully interactive. And one of the ways that I do that, and here’s a, here’s a real practical one is I actually do a choose your own adventure, or I call it, choose your own experience. We’re about five minutes into my keynote. I put up three different pictures on the screen, like just like this. And I’ll. Actually, I’m using the same tool that I’m using to record this on right now. He cam live and I’ll say, okay, I want you guys to vote on one, two or three for the story.


I’m going to tell at the end of this presentation. And then I’ll say, while you guys are voting, I’m going to throw this too, a quick little transition video, which would probably be a three 60 video because I’m using a lot of three 60 videos of my three 60 bros. And what that does is it gives people, all the stuff, new attention. We’re like, Oh my goodness, this is what’s going on. The next thing I do right after I asked that participation, I set the expectations myself as a speaker, Hey, for the next 15 minutes, I’m going to be very, you know, education. I want you guys to be taking notes. You don’t have to worry about the chat. I will see the chat. So if you guys are asking questions, don’t worry about it. And you can really manufacture that another secret of mine.


And this is probably one of the ones maybe I shouldn’t give away. And my speaker agent might be a little upset if I give this away, but I’m going to do it. Anyhow. When the other things that I love to do is that you want to make sure that you let the audience know that, Hey, because here’s the thing we always say, we want questions and answers. Please bring all your questions. You’ll use the Q and a box. Use the chatbox for chatting and Q and a for Q and a, right? Like we’ve all done that, right? Here’s the thing.

There’s a, there’s a level of what we’ve been. We used to in webinars where we’ve all done it, right?

There’s, we’ve, we’ve submitted three questions ourselves. They tell us they have 45 questions and they have time for two. One of the other things that I do is very early on.

I say, here’s what I’m gonna do for everybody. I want you guys to you use that question box, ask me every question under the sun. And here’s my promise. If I can’t answer all of your questions during this presentation, or during my allotted time, I’m gonna do a personalized video answering every single one of these questions. I don’t have it up on my Instagram account or have it on my Twitter, even yet, I’m going to send it to the event host so that they can send it out to you.

Therefore you have no worries about your question, not being answered. Bring me on your questions, right? This is a big piece and I can, I can’t harp on it enough. And funny enough, if you want an interactive presentation, the entire piece back and forth is extremely important. But if you want an engage, you know, and get the audience’s attention, you also have to figure out that back and forth.


So here’s the language that I like to use. I believe all virtual events must be participatory content. If it’s just broadcasting, if you’re just doing a live stream and there’s no interaction, that’s called YouTube a Ted talk or TV, but if it’s going to be, Hey, these are prerecorded sessions, but we’re going to have the speaker in the chat. And then after their session, we’re going to have them jump on Q and a. Because remember I liked that, you know, check out that other video of mine, where I talk about the three types of video content that every virtual event must have. But here’s the thing. I believe that every virtual event must focus on participatory style content and conversations, not interactivity because participatory means, Hey, when I see you guys in the chat, make sure, you know, I’ll see your chats, bring them on here.
Right?

Some speakers are really good at seeing the chat, others aren’t for the event that I’m speaking at tomorrow, I’ve actually already, I have my community manager and she’s going to be editing and adding the questions to a Google doc that I’ll have on my screen right here behind the camera. And so, as I’m presenting, she’ll bring up those questions. She’ll highlight ones that I need to do that I need to answer.


She’ll delete them if I end up answering it during my talk. But having that, that, that element is extremely important and making sure the audience knows what to expect. I firmly believe the number one failure, maybe. Well, there’s two number one failures. The two failures that I believe virtual events are, are struggling with right now. The first one is they don’t invest in a host or an MC. I believe a host, an MC as the face of a virtual event is more valuable and more important than any speaker or any event platform technology.
I have a whole video on that, breaking out all those resources. But the other piece of this that I don’t believe we are focusing enough on is the education of our audience. I must educate them before the event, the day of the event, letting them know, Hey, for the first three hours of the event, we’re just going to be broadcasting some of our presentations. So feel free to listen to it on your phone, but around 1:00 PM, we’re going to have Brian Fanzo come on here. And he’s going to have an interactive choose your own experience, a presentation where we’re going to want to bring some people on video.


We’re going to want you guys to answer the polls because you’re going to be able to participate in the actual event. You’re going to be able to be part of Brian’s presentation. You’re going to actually shape how my presentation is delivered, because I believe if it is live, then it should be shaped by the audience.

If you are not allowing the audience to shape a live presentation, the question I asked you is why is it live? And I will leave you with this. I believe another shortcoming here that we have to think about is why is someone feel like they want to attend a live presentation? What’s the value for that? If I can just get it, the download later, we all are busy, right? And we all, we’ve all done it, right? Like we go like, Oh, I’ll just download it later. We download it. We never watch it again. And it goes into that saved folder.

What I believe how this should all work is that if you are educating your audience and you are understanding the differences between interactive and maintaining the audience’s attention, right?

Having that episodic feel the preview and the teasers with a great host and MC then what I believe this all comes down to is that the things that will give the audience a reason to attend live is that they will be able to shape the content and the conversation of the virtual event, because it’s participatory content.

Virtual Presentation Skills – Going from Passive to Interactive (Reinvent DON’T Recreate)

Virtual Presentation Skills – Going from Passive to Interactive (Reinvent DON’T Recreate)

No matter what you call it “pivoting to virtual” or “forced to work from home on video,” the one thing that won’t work is merely doing the SAME thing we do offline just virtually!

That is what causes content shock and adds noise to the already noisy world. We can all think of painful recent examples where a 60-minute zoom calls with one person talking into the camera puts us to sleep. The webinar that shares slides in full screen with a robotic voice speaking to us as though we can’t read what’s on the slides ourselves.

Here’s the thing…

I don’t believe virtual will replace what we do offline!

But I believe that by reinventing how we think about virtual and what a virtual experience is, we will discover new opportunities and experiences we never knew were possible.

One of my most popular talks over the years is titled: “Limitations Inspire Creativity,” which is especially true in this current environment.

What we can’t do is combine offline limitations with the new limitations we are presented within the virtual world.

The reason most virtual presentations suck and many fail when making this transition to virtual is they don’t reinvent; they repurpose. They create based on the old limitations and then blame the new for not being as good or the right path to the future.

  • Virtual experiences require a paradigm shift embracing a 360° perspective of what’s possible, rethinking everything from:
  • How we share our knowledge?
  • What format do we deliver our message?
  • How long do you require the audience’s attention?
  • What visually is best to convey the emotion and impression we desire?

Virtual experiences aren’t about having multiple cameras, or 3D avatars or interactive overlays flying across the screen.

It’s about discovering what is possible in the virtual world and reshaping the experiences we create to capture, maintain, and scale TRUST with today’s hyper-connected virtual audience.

Find more Virtual Presentation Resources on these pages:

How I’m telling stories in my presentations with Prezi Video Interactive on video overlays

The live streaming tool I went all in with in 2020 to live stream to Facebook Live, YouTube and Linkedin Live

Virtual Experience Media Hub and Resources

Presentation Tactics and Tips to Project Confidence in the Age of Virtual Meetings!

Presentation Tactics and Tips to Project Confidence in the Age of Virtual Meetings!

During this period of social distancing, you’re likely expected to speak on camera more than ever or if you aren’t excited it’s probably because you are being forced to speak at an upcoming virtual event or your teams next zoom video meeting.

See the video below for how Brian is using 360° Video in his pre-recorded virtual keynote presentations

Whether it’s for a Zoom call, a department meeting, a virtual speaking gig or a video storytelling project, it’s crucial to project confidence, calm, and authority to keep those on the other end engaged.

With that being said we are getting pressure to make sure our presentation is engaging and interactive and dynamic which lets face it makes the entire virtual presenting process extremely overwhelming. This is the reason I created this video below:

How to avoid the PLEASE GOD NOT ANOTHER WEBINAR with 4 Virtual Presentation Skillsets!

In this video you will learn how to: –

  • Evoke the right emotions through your body language and visual presentation
  • Establish authority and rapport with audiences of any size
  • Speak clearly and concisely without sounding staged or rehearsed
  • Beat on-camera nerves and project confidence and calm
  • Set the stage for an effective visual presence whether you’re on a webcam or professional camera
  • Maintain a high-energy presence and form a connection with your audience Whether you’re speaking to an audience of one or 100, you can’t miss this chance to unlock the secrets to a strong on-screen presence.

If you are looking for a dynamic host or MC for your next virtual event or you’d like Brian to speak one of his current keynote programs please email Michelle@MichelleJoyce.com or call 1-704-965-2339.

If you are looking for more virtual event resources please video this page which is updated weekly and our new YouTube channel dedicated to virtual experiences, events and presentations.

The One Asset Most Virtual Events Undervalue and it’s Not the Speaker or the Technology!

The One Asset Most Virtual Events Undervalue and it’s Not the Speaker or the Technology!

Virtual Event producers tend to get caught up in things like technology and speakers and getting attendees to sign-up…

Virtual Keynote Speaker Brian Fanzo Home Office and Stage

So much so that they tend to forget about the piece that brings everything together and no it’s not the theme or the branding. Not only does this role keep a digital event on track, but it also encourages people to attend, interact, and stay engaged.

All of which are invaluable.

This video will not be a popular one amongst my keynote speaker peers but I believe the value of virtual events is dependent on the utilization of this role and re-inventing how this role is leveraged throughout the event planning process.

The NFL Virtual Draft leveraged this role to perfection which is the reason I still consider it the best virtual event I’ve attended in 2020.

Do you have an idea of which role/asset I’m referring to? Let me know your thoughts in the comments on YouTube!

If you are looking for more virtual event insights or want to transform your never virtual keynote presentation make sure to visit the Virtual Event Resources landing page which is updated weekly.

Here’s a YouTube comment that I felt summarized exactly how I felt and what inspired me to create this video!

“I don’t think I have ever been more on board with a video before this one. You are 100% spot on! Over the last few months (and even a little bit before) I have attended and spoken at online events that don’t have anything anchoring the experience, guiding us through our time together, except for that opening email and closing survey.

This past week I attended my FIRST virtual conference that had a host doing exactly what you say they should do. It changed EVERYTHING! While I still would prefer in-person events, this was the first experience where I closed my screen on the last day sad that it was over, excited about what I learned, and WHO I MET! I actually felt like I was in a community of people, gathering to learn together, to create something new, and to walk away richer in connection than when we started the event.

Thank you, Brian! Thank you! I hope many people watch this and put into motion what you are sharing with all of us.

 Kate Fssbndr
4 Immersive Virtual Presentation Styles to Create with Prezi Video

4 Immersive Virtual Presentation Styles to Create with Prezi Video

I’m a big believer that Limitations Inspire Creativity

Created with Adobe Spark highlighting my Prezi Video Presentations

Forty-three days ago, I “googled upon” Prezi video, and although I had used Prezi in the past (2016 last logged in) I hadn’t heard about them launching a video tool in late 2019.

I tweeted them:

Since that tweet, I’ve delivered 18 virtual presentations and created 25+ videos using Prezi Video. On top of that, I also have another 6 Prezi Next templates in the “design brainstorm phase.”

The only limitations with virtual presentations are within our creative minds!

The feedback after each presentation has been fantastic, but I’ve also appreciated the access I’ve had with the Prezi Team. I’ve had multiple calls with the co-founder, the head of the video product, VP of Strategic Partnerships, and other members of the team to share feedback and have a better understanding of the use cases and roadmaps of Prezi Video.

Below are 4 of types of dynamic presentations I’ve given using Prezi Video.

But honestly, the most exciting part has been exposing Prezi Video to friends, executive clients, and fellow virtual speakers and seeing the unique ways they are leveraging it for their presentations, video meetings, and virtual keynote presentations.

If you are still working on the strategy for your next virtual event make sure to check out this post on what it takes to create a successful virtual event.

1. Customized hologram overlays with a shaded background

Customized a Prezi Next presentation and then converted it to Prezi Video as the video becomes the background.  This can be used to create the desired emotional connection needed to maintain audience attention and drive interactivity within virtual events.

2. Branded speaker program transparent overlays

Custom graphics and overlays for Brian’s Press The Damn Button Virtual Keynote Program.  As speakers, it’s important to stand out from the noise, be memorable but also demonstrate the high quality and value you provide with each virtual presentation.  This is a great way to do just that!  This screengrab is from the Socio Hackathon you can watch the replay and read the recap here.

3. Sponsored overlays with brand colors

Zoom presentation live-streamed to Facebook Live using overlays and interviews.  This is one of the 3 main types of video content needed when building a dynamic virtual event. You can watch the replay on Adobe Sparks Facebook Live Page!

4. Video templated graphics replacing webinar slides

Created from a Prezi Video Template much easier to customize and adapt for a virtual video presentation.  This can be done with pre-recorded, produced, and even live streaming video content.   When thinking about live streaming it’s important to go beyond the average Facebook live.  This screen capture is from Kerwin Rae’s K2 Business Accelerator event and you can watch it here.

Why Prezi Video?

For me what excites me the most about Prezi Video for virtual presentations as you aren’t limited to standard templates or just video overlays as you can leverage all of the Prezi Next catalog or even create your own from scratch.

The advanced editing functionality has really allowed me to up my game and the virtual cam connecting directly to Zoom, GoToWebinar, Facebook Live and every other platform I’ve presented on virtually makes Prezi the number 1 tool in my virtual presenting toolbox.

I’m sharing all this not to get you to try Prezi instead to open your mind to what’s possible as you never know what you might “google upon” if you are determined to shift the perspective and transform the way you share your message virtually. 

If you want to see how I created one of these Prezi Video presentations I did a walkthrough using eCamm Live directly after a virtual event hackathon for Socio where I shared the steps and mindset I leveraged here:

I’m such a fan that I’ve signed up as a reseller and created a landing page that I will update after each presentation with tips, tricks, and lessons learned with Prezi over at BrianFanzo.com/Prezi

Ps. I’ll be sharing more info over the next couple of weeks around the reseller partnership and services that we are working on together… In the meantime, feel free to send me an email if you want to jump in and give Prezi Video a try!

Virtual NFL Draft: 15 Lessons When Moving a Live Event to Virtual

Virtual NFL Draft: 15 Lessons When Moving a Live Event to Virtual

I’ve never been one to look at media companies or the top 1% of innovators for examples on how to transform or change. Because let’s face it, most of us don’t have the budgets, brand recognition, or resources.

But with the first-ever virtual NFL draft, an exception should be made as not only can we learn from how the NFL, ESPN, and The Walt Disney Co embraced this pivot but we can replicate what they did on very reasonable budgets. This virtual event experience was world-class in ways most didn’t even notice.

Now before you throw your hands in the air, I will admit yes, the NFL virtual event included over 600 camera feeds managed by 250 employees live streaming in the homes of 85 draft prospects, 32 head coaches, and general managers and was broadcasted across multiple tv and social media channels. And yes, they leveraged professional on-camera personalities who provided a sports experience to a sports starved social distancing audience.

Yet, if we abstract the broadcast and scale components from experience it’s very similar to every other pivot of an offline event to virtual.

It was hosted by Trey Wingo in a studio with 12 event producers connecting thought leaders and experts from their homes with limited tech, that couldn’t travel, and that was only as good as their wifi signal. That is the same scenario 1000’s of brands, events, and associations are facing today as they pivot their live conferences into virtual events.

Now, in all honesty, the NFL Draft is like a holiday for me as a Steelers fan. I was going to love the draft no matter what but when I sat down to watch it, I wrote down on my paper “3 things the NFL did good and 3 virtual experiences the NFL didn’t do good.”

To my surprise, I ended up with over 15 unique examples of what the NFL did great and 3 or maybe 4 experiences I would love to see integrated with future virtual sports events.

“The success of this year’s draft is a testament to the unprecedented collaboration across the NFL, ESPN, and The Walt Disney Co. in the midst of such a challenging time.” 

— Jimmy Pitaro ESPN President

Here are the 15 lessons with screenshots that I believe every virtual event can replicate and that I’ll be including for the virtual events I host, speak, or build a strategy for.

Watch the video above for additional context around each example and the exclusive debut of the “shoe cam” from my home studio in Virginia.

1. Change is polarizing and difficult for most but you must own that.

The change required everyone involved in the event to adapt from the production teams to the commissioner Roger Goodell to the players getting drafted not from NYC but from their parent’s living rooms!

It’s also extremely important to integrate traditional and familiar elements of the offline event into your virtual event as the Roger Goodell did encourage the live fans on the tv to BOOOO louder as they would in years past.

2. Test and tweak pre-event and document it for marketing

No doubt everyone involved with the virtual NFL Draft had to be surprised that there wasn’t a massive technical issue as I believe there is only one guarantee when it comes to live-streaming and that is that something will go wrong.

About 5 days before the draft pictures started being shared on social media of the coaches and general managers “home war rooms” and players started teasing out how they planned on replicating the New York experience at home.

For events, the pre-event marketing can be very forced and all about sales but if you document the setup, the process and give the audience access to behind the scenes this becomes great content. This content not only can this serve as your marketing but it makes the audience feel as though they are part of the process and in many cases, they’ll do the marketing for you.

3. Go all-in with one host from start to finish

Trey Wingo took on the role of in-studio host and the job he did over the 3 full days was nothing short of remarkable. His great job as host was noticeable by most but if you broke down the little aspects the role he played in the virtual NFL draft success was first class.

Trey Wingo A++ Job hosting Virtual NFL Draft

  • Reminding the audience regularly about the fact this is all new and we are doing the best we can while not making that a center point of the virtual event. 
  • Rolling with the 2–3-second delay when interviewing guests and adjusting the formats of questions so that guests could jump in without him having to interject each time, therefore, the delay was much less noticeable. 
  • Having high energy and passion throughout the entire marathon while keeping it light and fun as the event went on. 

The lesson here for everyone producing or planning a virtual event is INVEST time, money, and resources in a great host not multiple hosts or allowing an executive to host because they thought it would be fun.

Invest in one confident and dynamic host to be the face of the event before, during and after that understands how to roll with the punches, manage expectations and is focused on making others look good and be their best during the event while celebrating the production team that helped make it all happen.

4. Create virtual experiences where ever your audience is and it’s ok to multi-stream

Yes, the TV broadcast was the main product but let’s face it social and live video has been a vital role of all offline sporting events for the last 5+ years. But they could have easily broadcasted the same content across all channels instead not only did they change up the content across channels but they empowered the different teams to create unique experiences for their fans as well. 

Leveraging speakers, hosts, sponsors, and employees of the brands and associations around the event to create content and unique experiences. Not only is this great for marketing the event but it also provides a “choose your own adventure” aspect for the audience allowing them to consume content how they want, where they want and in the format they want. 

5. Create swimlanes & freedom allowing awesome to happen

Virtual is a drastic change for everyone and with drastic change, we naturally have a tendency to create rules and strict guidelines in an attempt to mitigate this risk. But in most cases that leads to very structured and boring copy cat content that no only is boring but limits the creativity of the talented people involved in the event. 

But I firmly believe LIMITATIONS INSPIRE CREATIVITY and to enable creativity you can’t limit or control the talent involved with the event. But having no rules or giving them a whiteboard of possibilities won’t work either. 

If you create a list of “swimlanes” that includes what you can’t do and what to avoid while also giving ideas and the freedom to try different things the possibilities are endless and in the case of the virtual draft the creativity led to dogs making draft picks and the families of the coaches being a massive part of the experience. 

6. The right mix video of live streaming with pre-recorded and production

On a majority of the virtual event strategy calls I’m on with clients the question is always asked “Should we do this event live-streamed or not?”

I believe that isn’t the right question to ask rather every virtual event should include a 3-way mix of video content depending on the goal of each segment.

  1. Production Quality Video
  2. Pre-recorded Video
  3. Live Streaming Video

The virtual NFL draft did this amazingly and the best example was prior to the Cleveland Browns draft pick they announced that Fletcher on behalf of St.Junes would be making the pick. Now they could have easily sent Fletchers family an iPhone as they did players and done this with live streaming but why take on that risk? 

Instead, they had a pre-recorded video of him sharing how excited he was and setting up the pick before kicking it back to the studio where the official “live draft pick” was announced. 

Having a mix of video content is essential for maintaining attention but also adding dynamic elements to virtual events but most importantly is understanding when and which type of video content is best for each aspect of a virtual event. I share more on this in a video I created last week. 

7. Include a variety of access and vantage points but only if they have a specific purpose. 

As reported on ESPN, the players that were being drafted were given two iPhones one to provide a tight shot and one for one on one interviews after they were drafted.

You might not have also noticed but they had the “live look-in” of the coaches, GM’s and owners letting us see their reactions but no audio was included which I’m guessing was for privacy. But what this allowed was the ability to have others in the room without worrying about them disrupting the broadcast. The end result was a family affair of dogs, friends and kids coming in and out of the draft room.

You’ll also notice no interviews were given via that wide shot as the emotion you want to convey with interviews and thought leadership level content needs to be intimate and much tighter. 

The combination of multiple shots was beautifully done but be warned this can be overdone as many speakers will buy multiple cameras, I have a 3 camera shot for my virtual events, which is great but only if each camera has a specific purpose and emotion associated with it. 

8. A strategic change of content formats including broadcasting, interview types, music

The area of entertaining or fun content is an area that almost all virtual events overlook as they include networking breaks and in many cases happy hours but seldom include musicians, comedians or influencers.

The NFL took this up a level with multiple pre-recorded videos from multiple different brands. Although there was some backlash on twitter when one of the artist’s video was played rather while draft picks were happening. The lesson here includes entertainment and fun but make sure it’s not disrupting what the audience is there for rather it should be complimenting and amplifying it. 

9. Manage expectations while rolling with the punches

Virtual events are not only new for brands and associations putting them but also new for the audience and it’s essential that expectations are managed and we educate the audience on what’s expected from them, the variety of content available, and the different engagement aspects that will be included.

Remember many attendees when they think virtual they picture a boring webinar that they usually move to another tab and ignore and it doesn’t matter how engaging and exciting your vide is if the audience has already put you on tab 1,310 in their browser. 

Must educate the audience before and during the event while managing expectations around technology and any changes to what was scheduled. 

With the freedom and swimlanes as discussed above, you also have to be prepared for some of the odd and risk that will be taken which was on display with Titans head coach Mike Vrabel although it was done all in good fun. 

10. Provide access you can’t get anywhere else

In my personal opinion, the reason Live Streaming Video is a gamechanger is when it’s used as participatory content not just one-way broadcasting. This means including comments and shootouts from those watching live and even better bringing on audience members and special guests to be a part of the experience and participate in the direction of the content. 

The NFL did this in a variety of ways, although I feel like the Facebook Live, Instagram and TikTok content could have done this more it was fun to see the #DraftAThon with Roger Goodell & Friends engaging the live audience.

11. Keep it fun and relaxed and lean into what works

As I mentioned before I believe Trey Wingo did a world-class job at hosting the NFL Draft but it was his report with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that stole the show in the fun and relaxed category. Early on the teasing and joking about Roger’s man cave was fun and witty sparking meme’s on social media. As the draft wore on into the 3rd day Trey doubled down on this making comments about Roger’s Sunday entire and Roger even going as far as making draft picks from his lazy boy recliner. 

This kind of banter and fun might sound easy and natural but it’s only made possible when the host and guests are provided the freedom to be themselves and then a good production team and host see’s it’s working and leans into it. 

@nfl

Hey Jerry, can’t believe I’m doing this but you asked… welcome to the league! ##goingpro ##nfldraft ##duet with @jeudyjerry

♬ Toosie Slide – Drake

Ps. The fact that the NFL social media accounts also got into the fun posting their own competitions made this even more of a success.

12. Up-cycle virtual content to amplify event & drive conversations

For offline events, the promotion and sales of tickets and attendance are 99% frontloaded to a pre-event activity as you need time for travel and manage attendance driven aspects of an event like seats, food and fire code. 

With multi-day virtual events, the ability to amplify the event in real-time and up-cycle content across different channels can not only drive additional sales for the event but it can also create social conversations putting the event in the feed of those that maybe knew about the event and forgot or didn’t know about it at all.

With virtual there are also lots of questions about integrating sponsors and one of the ways that this can be done is by including virtual badges, hashtags and swag within the virtual experience. The NFL did this by simply providing virtual backgrounds for all 32 teams which can be used on Zoom, your social media cover photo or the background of your desktop. 

13. Include sponsored content that connects with an event in real-time

When it comes to virtual events I believe the possibilities and value for sponsors can be massively greater than traditional offline conference but it requires a collaboration mindset that goes beyond just the day of the event to include speakers, hosts and even other sponsors. This can be done in a variety of ways from videos to swag to contests and more. 

The NFL has always done a great job of this and that was included in the social media content and #OneTeam charity focus throughout the broadcast.

14. Be social & connect your content across virtual experiences

Leveraging social media in collaboration with a virtual event is a no-brainer but to do it well it requires a unique strategy for each social network as well as multiple creators creating a variety of content. You can leverage everything from event hashtags to user-generated content to exclusive giveaways.

The NFL did a great job of this by sharing out unique content aspects from the main broadcast for teams to leverage on their feeds. They also went out of their way to create custom content directly on the platform including TikTok and Instagram stories.

The key to making this all happen is having a production plan beyond the live content and easy ways to share this amongst the different teams involved with the event which can be a shared drive or tools like slack. It’s also about empowering the right people that have the right level of access. I really enjoyed the different fans and players taking over the brand accounts or doing live videos throughout the draft.

During the draft, I was amazed at how quickly the broadcast level content was turned into 2 minute twitter videos and dynamic virtual videos being shared on Instagram. This doesn’t require a big budget rather a very strategic approach to sharing content across social media channels in real-time. 

15. Keep an open mind to the new possibilities 

Virtual events WILL NEVER replace offline events but if you create them from a virtual experience mindset the ability to create new experiences and amplify offline events is almost a guarantee.  Yes, it takes a team to put on a virtual event and I the fact the NFL draft went virtual in less than a month with only 250 people supporting it made the success of this event that more impressive to me. 

This video after the Virtual NFL Draft with Roger Goodell should be shared with every executive and leader that questions the value of virtual experiences both in the short term and what they can empower in the long term!

The question is what virtual experiences will you learn from as you create a virtual event and maybe even more exciting is what will ESPN, NFL and The Walt Disney company do for the next virtual sporting event that is no question coming as they’ve set the bar pretty high to start!

For more virtual event resources check out this page on my website that is updated weekly with virtual event resources, videos, and best practices

Also check out this twitter thread from Dave Feldman VP of Social Marketing for the NFL… Really love the transparency and behind the scenes access he provides in these tweets!