How Virtual Events Will Evolve in the New Norm – A Conversation with Michael Hoffman and Kate Bradley Chernis

Michael Hoffman of Gather Voices and Lately’s very own Kate Bradley Chernis sit down and chat about all things virtual events. Michael and Kate have both been to their fair share of virtual events, and it’s safe to say that not all of them knock it out of the park in terms of keeping everyone interested. It is absolutely crucial that people learn the ins and outs of making a great virtual event, because honestly we don’t know how long it will be until we can all cram into a conference hall again… hold your tears!

Virtual events have skyrocketed in popularity during this pandemic, and being many months in at this point (haven’t we all lost count?) we have to up our game and make these events interesting and beneficial. You can’t go around and create a virtual event that mirrors your kids middle school math lecture! As Michael puts it, “A day-long webinar is NOT a virtual conference”.

Step 1: Prepare for Liftoff

It’s smart to have at least a few things prepared before you hit the “go live” button. This will minimize the awkward pauses like the dreaded, “Does anyone have a question…….” (insert cricket noises here!)

Most of us can agree that not being face to face makes everyone a little more uncomfortable, so running a put-together event can make the situation more pleasant for everyone involved.

One way to do this is to follow a method we saw at SXSW, where people were able to submit questions beforehand and then vote on the questions they wanted answered most. That way, the questions are already accumulated so you don’t have to shout “Bueller… Bueller” while earnestly looking at the camera praying someone will ask ANY sort of question.

And by providing the guests with an opportunity to vote beforehand, you’re giving them a way to show you what THEY want to hear about, which makes them feel more engaged in a time where virtual engagement is fairly limited. Doing all of this before the event even starts helps create a community of people, which will make for a better experience overall.

Step 2: All Systems Go

Ok. So your virtual event is underway, hopefully you’re not reading this while the event is going on because ooooh boy that sounds boring!

It can be easy to feel like you’re just talking to a bunch of screens, which (while feeling kind of fun and futuristic) can get old and can make your audience feel like they are just attending a lecture and not something that is actually interactive.

So how do you make things less robotic? Well, as Kate says, “Be the water cooler break at your own meeting”. Ask personal questions, go off on tangents, talk about that one show that has made you neglect 90% of the work you should be doing right now! These things will make people interested not only in being there but will make them more interested in you, the speaker.

Step 3: Blastoff

Your big virtual event is done! Have a drink, sit back and relax, you did great. You had 30 people show up! Not bad, not bad… but what if you could turn those 30 sets of eyes into 30,000 sets of eyes? Sounds intriguing right?

Go back through your footage and find those “golden nuggets” of information, gather up the quotes and clips you loved. Oh, don’t know how to do that? Well there IS a place called Lately.AI that could help you out (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Anyways, you can start rolling out those perfect moments onto your socials, so that those who were unable to attend can get a bit of that greatness as well! Schedule it sporadically over a long period of time to make the absolute most of it. That way more people will be interested in you, and maybe even attend your next virtual event!

And now you’re ready to tackle the wondrous world of virtual events, I am so proud of you. Don’t forget to write, give me a shoutout when you make it big *snif*. Oh, they just grow up so fast!

Want to hear the whole conversation? OF COURSE YOU DO:

More About Michael Hoffman

Michael Hoffman is the CEO of Gather Voices, a company that automates the management, creation, and publishing of video content. Michael is also an advisor to organizational leaders on engagement strategies, he is truly a brilliant man! You can get more info about Gather Voices and all the amazing things they do at their website:

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