Updated: Jul 24
Digital events are increasingly turned to by organizations in nearly every sector to leverage their thought leaders and executives. These events project a more nuanced and personal element than a white paper or a blog and can position the featured commentators as budding industry experts and insightful predictors of important trends. Content is king and video is the format that continues to dominate active engagement across numerous sectors.
Understanding the value of digital events and in turn the lost opportunities of poorly produced or ineptly executed panels, podcasts and webinars can change sales trajectories and better package the business for ongoing success.
But what does it take to make it happen?
Part I of How to host and produce a live event that people want to watch? We discussed the process of choosing a panel and topic, both critical elements in making your digital event gain traction. In Part II, we will address what preparation is necessary to elevate your panel from passive conversation to impact heavy discourse shared among analysts and potential customers.
We’ve all heard the phrase practice may make perfect. But who really puts in the time and effort? Who ensures all technical and personal issues have been managed to produce not just an all-right broadcast but more so, a truly memorable and fluid conversation?
The difference between a fleeting event on your contacts calendar and a shareable experience that makes waves across a broad network is often directly linked to preparation. In practical terms, the process can be divided into a number of manageable tasks, including:
Testing and optimizing the broadcasting platform.
Improv may be good for comedy but it's the enemy of cohesive video production. As a result, every effort should be made to find a user-friendly broadcasting platform well before taping. The functionality should be reviewed and every element which can be applied- from banners and transitions to visual placements and CTA links - should be run through before panelists join the event.
From Wave.video and StreamYard to Restream.io and Zoom there are countless products on the market to meet your broadcasting and budget requirements. The key here is to keep it simple. Gain familiarity with the platform and quickly master the basic functionality needed to frame your conversation with as few technical issues as possible. While it may seem overwhelming at first, taking the time to work out the kinks of your broadcasting platform can streamline your video production for not just this event, but the many others you can now put on moving forward.
Graphics and PR materials
Events gain traction when they are publicized by all participants and the iconography and event descriptions look polished. To ensure maximum exposure, allow ample time for graphic preparation and have them distributed by all panelists at predetermined times before the broadcast.
These graphics should include:
Banners properly sized for Facebook, Linkedin, and other social media platforms
High-quality headshots of the participants
Minimal text. The event will speak for itself, this is not the place for a long-form description.
Date and time as well as links for registration.
Preparation is a two-way street. To ensure panelists are engaged, knowledgeable, and not caught off guard by anything in the flow of the conversation, it is best to prepare a panel brief at least 1 week before the first rehearsal.
The brief should include:
Background on the topic
Biographical info about the other panelists
Building rapport with panelists breaks down subtle anxieties and provides for a more smooth and more fluid conversation. To optimize the dynamic, it is suggested to ideally have at least one personal meeting with the panel participant to explain and troubleshoot any issues with the topic and event itself and a second rehearsal with the entire group to gauge the personalities and interaction among speakers (to learn more about this please check out part I). When preparing the rehearsals it's important to consider:
Keeping rehearsals short.
The purpose is to manage any issues, fix lighting and address panelists' questions and concerns not to completely go over every minute detail of the conversation.
Make sure to ask participants if there are any topics they want to avoid or don't feel comfortable speaking about.
A good live event involves each participant feeling confident that their needs are being met. Chief among these are often not explicitly addressing touchy topics or issues corporate partners have not officially formulated a response. While spontaneity makes the world go round, some level of structure and understanding of the limitations of the panel can enable all participants a greater feeling of comfort and in turn ability to more genuinely share their ideas throughout the event.
Social Media Posting
Effective promotions can be game-changing by elevating your digital event. If managed strategically, cross social promotion of events, among participants and their organizations, can vastly expand the reach and impact of brand awareness of your event. When preparing social media posts remember to:
Optimize graphics for each platform
Coordinate the posting schedule among participants to optimize network reach
Include a link to the registration
Connecting the parts
Just like balancing the panel personalities (as discussed in part I) demands attention to detail and quite a good deal of foresight, the preparation process for a successful event requires time and commitment to ensure the event gains traction, has positive engagement, and ideally enhances brand reputation among all those connected.
Understanding how to bring all these parts together, on the timeline to reach the predefined KPI is no simple task. This is where it's important to ask:
How much time has the marketing team set aside to manage and promote the event?
What is the advertising budget to promote the digital event on various platforms?
Who is going to be the go-to person, managing all aspects of the event and ultimately being accountable for it?
How have previous experiences managing and attending live events impacted your preparation process?
Do I have the bandwidth and skill set to manage this process in-house?
Do I need to engage with a partner or third party to promote, moderate, or in some way take over an element of the event?
Prioritizing promotion and coordinating external factors
Setting your topic and organizing the panel are only half the battle in putting on a live event. What separates a panel that is interesting or insightful at the time from one that builds a conversation online that you can leverage long afterward is often preparation and promotion.
It's great to have a meaningful conversation where you can slice and dice into video clips and micro-content, it's a completely different animal when you connect that discourse with legitimate engagement. To optimize engagement and value, video thought leadership demands taking the time and understanding the limitations involved in effectively preparing and promoting an event and managing them before they can adversely impact your event.
Rome wasn't built in a day and neither are most live events that keep people talking. Consequently, it is essential to invest the time, money, and personnel necessary to transform a bland panel into an impact-heavy conversation.
From organizing panel briefs and graphics to managing social media cross-promotion and broadcasting platforms, every element plays a critical role in enabling your team to put on a live event that people want to watch.
Stay tuned for Part III of How to host and produce a live event that people want to watch? Where we break down the event itself. To check out the part I visit here.