Photo courtesy of documentarist

Gone are the days when it is acceptable to merely point a camera at a speaker and stream footage to the internet. Today’s virtual audience demands to be actively involved in your event or else they will not only walk away…but talk, tweet, and text their discontent.

Unfortunately I hear many instances where meeting planners and conference organizers complain that there is not enough budget to provide a truly audience focused virtual or hybrid event. Fortunately many little things can be done that make a big impression…and they don’t cost any money at all!

So make sure that you do not fall into any of the bad habits listed below that can alienate your virtual audience…

PRE-EVENT

  1. Promote the event and open registration…and then do not publish the agenda until the night before
  2. Ask for everything and the kitchen sink during the registration process…and then bombard the attendee with unwanted solicitations
  3. Send event emails from a random account that goes into the SPAM folder…and do not have an alternative way to relay the information
  4. Provide a system check prior to the event…and do not have anyone available to answer questions or solve problems
  5. Have a ridiculously long web link to access the virtual platform…and do not provide multiple clickable ways to access it or a shortlink to remember it
  6. Only send 1 confirmation email upon registration…and force the virtual audience to dig through their inbox to find access to the event.

PLATFORM

  1. Create a non-intuitive, non-user-friendly virtual platform…and force your virtual audience to constantly be searching for where to go and what to do
  2. Use a virtual platform that is not streamlined…and force your virtual audience to continuously open new windows
  3. Have open “rooms” on the virtual platform where nothing is occurring…and enable your virtual audience to get lost
  4. Promise an engaging and interactive event…and then not provide any readily available platform tools for your virtual audience to use to participate
  5. Schedule concurrent sessions…and then make it difficult and cumbersome for your virtual audience to find them or to move in between them
  6. Have speakers provide visual aids and/or hand-outs during their presentation…and then not have a dedicated, easy to find area on the platform for your virtual audience to access them

DURING-EVENT

  1. Create an agenda based on 1 time zone…and then force your virtual audience to wake up really early or stay up really late
  2. Use every “shiny new object” you can find…and confuse your virtual audience to the point of defeat, giving up, and walking away
  3. Do not take into account every minute of the live streamed program…and force your virtual audience to be puzzled and perplexed by “dead-air”
  4. Never provide how-to instructions or a tour of the virtual platform…and then get annoyed when your virtual audience asks what to do and how to do it
  5. Lose the live stream…and do not have a sense of urgency in getting it back
  6. Have error messages…and do not provide instructions on what to do or how to fix them
  7. Have a resource for technical help…and do not have a live person there to provide assistance
  8. Make announcements…and do not have a resource to help if they are inaccurate
  9. Sell tons and tons of sponsorships…and then allow your sponsors to “sell” tons and tons of times to your virtual audience

PRODUCTION

  1. Do not have a unified crew and rehearsal…and force your virtual audience to see and hear chaos
  2. Have audio problems…and do not have an audio technician on-site to correct them immediately
  3. Have multiple speakers during a session with different vocal projections…and do not have an audio engineer who is working the board to maintain a consistent volume amongst them
  4. Have speakers put their lavaliere microphones on themselves…and force your virtual audience to stare at unattractive and distracting wires
  5. Do not light the stage/front of the room/broadcast studio…and force your virtual audience to peer into the darkness and miss what is occurring
  6. Do not design a set or a backdrop behind the speakers…and force your virtual audience to look at distractions in the background
  7. Have engaging and interactive speakers and sessions…and hire a camera operator who does not know how to “follow the action”
  8. Have physical audience members ask questions or tell stories…and do not provide them a microphone so your virtual audience can hear what is being shared
  9. Hire a crew who has no live broadcast experience…and force your virtual audience to watch who is listening and not see who is talking
  10. Do not inform your speakers on what to wear and what not to wear during a broadcast…and force your virtual audience to view something unpleasing and distracting to the eye

EVENT ENGAGEMENT

  1. Charge your virtual audience an attendance fee…and then force them to “WATCH the live stream”
  2. Have an “ask a question” button…and ignore all the questions
  3. Provide a Twitter hashtag…and never have anyone monitor it and respond to it
  4. Provide chat rooms dedicated to specific topics…and not have a subject matter expert present to assist with the conversations
  5. Ask your virtual audience to take a poll…and then do not give them enough time to input their answer so they can feel as if they are a part of the group
  6. Hire speakers who never make eye contact with the camera…and make your virtual audience feel unwelcome and unwanted
  7. Have speakers who provide audience interaction for the physical audience…but do not allow your virtual audience to participate
  8. Have a delay on the live stream…and never allow the virtual audience to catch up
  9. Do not provide dedicated content to your virtual audience…and force them to watch the backs of the physical audience’s heads or “dead-air”
  10. Promise the virtual audience that they will be able to network amongst themselves…and then never provide them the ways or the means to do so
  11. Hire a virtual emcee to be the voice of the virtual audience…and select someone with whom the virtual audience doesn’t identify, like, or trust
  12. Hire “on-camera talent” who cannot think quick on their feet or facilitate conversations…and force your virtual audience to feel as if they are being read a script
  13. Do not provide white space for your virtual audience…and force them to miss some of the action since they will have to schedule their own time to step away

POST-EVENT

  1. Promise that an archive will be available…and then wait more than 1 week to post it
  2. Use a non-integrated system or vendor for the archive…and force your virtual audience to create yet another account for access
  3. Do not post professionally shot footage for on-demand viewing…and force your virtual audience to become irritated with what they are seeing and hearing
  4. Encourage your virtual audience to share the content found in the archive…and do not provide any ways or means with which to do so
  5. Promise continuing education credits after on-demand viewing…and do not provide them quickly and easily
  6. Send your virtual audience a survey…and then take none of their comments into consideration at your next event
  7. Have a live Q&A during a re-broadcast…and do not ensure that the speakers are available to participate

Your virtual audience expects to “experience” your event much the same way as your face-to-face audience, so it is up to you to provide them with an “experience” that they will never forget. Keeping all of these things in mind will help ensure that you provide your virtual audience with an experience they will never forget…in a good way!

What have you witnessed as a virtual audience member that frustrated you?.