Using virtual events to stay engaged in the wake of COVID-19

Transform your event into a digital reality.

By Sarah Maunder, Director of Marketing

A blurred computer screen showing participants interacting during a virtual meeting. To the right there is a sharpened focus of a vine-like plant.

Health concerns over COVID-19 are increasing around the world and causing significant business impact—particularly when it comes to delivering events. Major conferences such as Mobile World Congress and the HIMSS Global Healthcare Conference & Exhibition have had to cancel. For HIMSS, this is the first time they’ve had to cancel in the conference’s 58-year history. With the increasing number of cancellations for in-person events, businesses need a compelling alternative—and an outstanding virtual event experience can be just that.

Adapting to virtual events

There is a big difference between delivering a digital event and delivering a live event. Some may think the value of an in-person event is lost when you go digital, but there are several unique benefits to digital events, as well. Digital events are flexible, reliable, environmentally friendly, and not time-bound.

Virtual events allow a greater number of people to engage with your content and brand, all from the safety and security of their home location. However, while your audience may be bigger, it’s more difficult to keep everyone's attention.

Attendees are physically out of reach and much more susceptible to distractions in their local environment. You can't expect large numbers of people to stay engaged for extended periods of time in the same way they would at a live event. With a change in delivery format, there needs to be a change in the way content is planned and delivered.

Creating the experience

The great thing about digital experiences is that they can be completely customized to best fit your goals. Ask yourself, “How do I want my audience to experience my company’s brand?” We’ve outlined a few of the possibilities to show you a glimpse of what’s possible.

Customized streaming

Easily transition your live in-person event agenda onto a streaming platform and center the whole experience around the individual viewer. When you do this, viewers feel like they are being personally invested in. The event can have different tracks, a print invite, a community hub, depth content, and live speakers all packaged up and delivered digitally. This is a great opportunity to make your viewers feel special.

Keep in mind that a virtual event doesn’t have to be your usual webinar. Make it exciting and interesting with a full-on production to grab the audience’s attention and keep it. Create a new stage to host a panel discussion or just recreate the stage that everyone already associates your event with and loves.

3D virtual conferences

Give control to viewers by letting them experience the content in their own way with an independent immersion experience. Imagine displaying a room, either from an event location or elsewhere, that is as interactive as if it were in real life. Users easily navigate by clicking around the space intuitively to access video feeds, tutorials, collaboration platforms, content hubs, and much more, all from the comfort of their home.

Episodic touchpoints

This experience changes the idea of events. You don’t have to leave town for two days in order to receive the same benefit. Stretch the event out over time in a programmatic order to put less demand on a single moment. This is more realistic to learn something, gives a better rhythm for viewers, and gives you the opportunity for continuous improvement.

What people want from events

Digital events still allow you to deliver the main benefits of physical events. We’ve boiled this down into three main groups:

  • Exclusive news and updates

  • One-to-one engagement with experts

  • Networking and community

Exclusive news and updates

Event attendees want exclusive information, thought leadership content, and access to training. A virtual event can deliver these types of information very effectively. Make sure to consider session length carefully and plan an extended schedule with flexibility in mind.

By allowing interactivity with content, digital platforms can also help you deliver more immediate value for the viewer than an in-person keynote. Viewers can raise questions directly and easily download related content instantly. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

One-to-one engagement with experts

Access to one-to-one conversations with experts is a key part of in-person events and is integral to building long-lasting business relationships. Don’t worry, transitioning this experience to a digital format is possible. You can combine the ability to launch an ad-hoc conversation with a schedule approach, where attendees can book a call or video chat with a named person at a time that suits them.

Live Q&A sessions are another great way of continuing group communication. You can even share the Q&A after the event and maintain an open channel of communication if attendees want to send a follow-up question.

Networking and community

Networking and socializing are a key part of live events and often the most fun! While you can't offer free food and drinks to digital attendees, you can still give them a place to chat and make personal connections with peers. Creating an online forum space for specific areas of interest will help attendees know where they can find like-minded people.

Indigo Slate can help!

Events are expensive and often take months of planning and preparation. Transitioning these major marketing and sales opportunities to virtual events can seem like a huge task, but you don’t have to do it alone.

With our platform expertise and robust creative and storytelling skills, we can support you in executing a powerful end-to-end digital event experience. This includes planning and promotion, infrastructure, content strategy, production, live support during the event, and post-event follow-up and reporting. There are endless opportunities to make your virtual event shine, and we can help make it happen.

Interested in more details on how to plan, manage, and execute your transition from physical to virtual events? For a free consultation and strategy workshop, contact our event team at

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