Finding the right virtual event platform.

CSG has been taking a close look at a variety of virtual event platforms on behalf of our clients organizing digital experiences.

With virtual events up 1000% in 2020, the marketplace can be overwhelming and we want to be able to provide recommendations for clients as they look for brands to partner with for their upcoming virtual and/or hybrid event. The comparison tool will become available soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share three old lessons that apply to our new normal:

  1. Less is more.
  2. Bigger isn’t always better.
  3. And you can have too much of a good thing.

The live events and tradeshow industries have done a tremendous job moving experiences online to create crucial opportunities for attendees to remain connected and engaged. However, if I could change anything, it would be what I perceive to be a lack of decisive editing and trimming when designing these virtual events. Needless to say, taking an event online will not offer the same type of experience as in-person events, and I believe we should stop attempting to replicate live events in this way – instead, focus on providing concise content your specific industry needs at this moment.

When I spoke with CSG’s president, Paige Cardwell, about the concept of focusing a virtual event on the immediate rather than leveraging online platforms to “replace” an in-person experience, she agreed and offered an anecdote of her own. She had recently signed up for a virtual professional development program. The platform the organization chose to deliver the content was minimalist in its intent and design. Instead of offering as much as possible, they kept the mission of the experience clear and concise. While it did not have all the bells and whistles of some platforms, the organizers invested in a sleek production set-up with focused, strong content and great speakers.

This was in contrast to a different online event we both had participated in where it was clear the organizers wanted to offer as much as possible believing “bigger is better”. However, we found that there were too many sessions to choose from and it was difficult to determine exactly how we needed to personalize our experiences. Ultimately the platform was confusing, cramped and clunky – leaving us overwhelmed and uninspired.

I understand that there is much to consider when organizing a virtual event, but I strongly advocate creating a very clear, and achievable goal before you even start shopping around for platforms. Virtual events will not replicate an in-person experience and in my experience, no one expects them to. Lean into the strengths and offerings available only through a virtual experience and focus on delivering quality content with intent, rather than delivering as much content as possible in order to interest as many people as possible.

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