Regardless of the amount of inhouse resources you have, somewhere between lots and none, you should be looking for a production and management firm to make your virtual event a success. This is a company who handles all aspects of the events’ production and technology needs; including speaker recording, live broadcast, platform design & execution, production timeline, graphic design, video editing, technical support and guidance on best practices. Sometimes you have the inhouse resources to fulfill some of these needs but your production partner should be flexible enough to fill the gaps from some of these areas to all of these areas.
Choosing the right virtual platform (the venue)
There is a strategic advantage to finding a production and management firm prior to purchasing a virtual platform. That is as long as the firm is platform agnostic or platform neutral. This type of production partner can give you guidance on which platform to use based on your event. For example; a gala may only require a simple microsite where a conference or tradeshow may need a more robust virtual platform such as; Hubilo, Swapcard or Accelevents. A good production partner can not only guide you to the right platform for your event but may also have partnerships with the best-in-class software solutions and have intimate knowledge of working closely with their software engineers. A production and management firm that offers their own inhouse platform is not likely to provide the same impartial guidance that you would receive from a platform neutral firm and the inhouse solution will likely be inferior to the virtual platforms offered by software companies.
Project Management and Planning (the conductor)
This is the glue of the event that makes sure that every detail is accounted for and nothing is missed. A good production firm will assign a Project Manager to your event who has the experience of organizing several dozen events annually. They will coordinate with you and your staff for the duration of the project. They will discuss show flow, strategy, content delivery, hold regular meetings, make recommendations to control costs, and create a project timeline. They will include dates and deadlines for file submission, editing of content and launch dates. Additionally, they will highlight dates that will need to be identified early on such as, speaker recording sessions, rehearsal dates and training webinars.
Design and Integration (the artist and architect)
You could purchase a virtual platform and design it yourself but how much experience do you have doing this? How much time do you have to invest in learning, designing, and programming the software platform to make it into a professional venue for your event? The other option is to have your production firm assign a Creative Director and Integration Team. The Creative Director will provide overarching creative concept design, artistic and graphic development and screen graphics. While the Integration team will build out the platform with the event agenda, speaker bios, social media links, exhibit hall and publish a live virtual landing page. They can also take care of making the plenary and breakout sessions available as VOD content on the platform on the conclusion of the event.
Broadcast Engineer & Streaming Studio (the magician)
This is the “Meat” of the Meat & Potatoes when partnering with a production and management firm.
No matter how engaging your content is, it just isn’t easy to get a virtual audience to stare at a screen for hours or even days unless you make it interesting. A Broadcast Engineer runs the Virtual Broadcast Studio so the content of your General Sessions (and breakouts if desired) resemble a live TV news broadcast with lower thirds, graphics, “picture in picture” (PIP) configurations, animations, combining live and pre-produced content, Q&A, polling, chat, surveys and capability of switching multiple video streams allowing simultaneous on-screen speakers or presenters.
Speaker Preparation, Rehearsals & Support (the coach)
A good production partner will provide a professional Green Room Manager for both rehearsals and live show days. Rehearsals will focus on the speakers’ equipment, lighting, positioning and microphone. During the event, the Green Room Manager will greet speakers as they arrive for their presentation, perform a quality check of their studio configuration and escort them into the Virtual Broadcast Streaming Studio. In addition to rehearsals, a good production partner will provide access to a virtual training resource library.
Live Technical Support (the emergency response team)
Have you ever attended a virtual conference and the tech support was an email form in which you need to describe what event you are attending and on what date? Sure that may help the software developers fix future problems but what about your attendee that is trying to attend your event today? No matter how good your content or production of your event is, it is worthless if your attendees can’t get into the platform or can’t find the session they are looking for. A good production partner will not only provide a live tech support team but provide a help desk widget all over the site for easy access to live humans.
Are there additional areas that could assist in making your virtual event a success? Of course there are but the critical areas that we discussed should never be missed. It all starts with hiring the right Production and Management Firm and deciding which areas you have inhouse resources, if any, and which areas your production partner will execute as an extension of your staff.