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Are your events digitally secure?

5
Mins Read
Kishore C S

It's clear that digital events are here to stay, either as a completely virtual one or as part of a hybrid event. With companies hosting and sharing a lot of information on such events, one of the important factors that marketers must take note of is the level of digital security of the event platform. This post can serve as a reality check on the present state of a company's events and also suggest improvements to fortify security.

Virtual events came to the world’s rescue during the pandemic. They served as a safe way for companies to continue to engage with their internal and external stakeholders remotely. Later, when in-person events came back into the picture, companies still found it valuable to retain a virtual element as part of their event, as the latter proved to be a scalable, cost effective and measurable way of running events. The insights that planners were getting from virtual event platforms changed the way they strategized events; and this created the perfect situation for hybrid events.

Virtual elements are here to stay

Virtual events are here to stay

What can we learn from these developments? It’s simple; virtual events or elements are here to stay. Their relevance has gone beyond the pandemic. Companies have acknowledged the unique benefits of going virtual or hybrid. Now, since we’ve already highlighted the boons of virtual events above, one must wonder what are the more challenging aspects of going virtual? For one, of course, it’s the need to upskill and understand event technology; this is where a robust virtual event platform plays a huge part. However, there’s one more crucial aspect to any event that organizers cannot compromise on - the security of an event.

Event security needs have evolved

Event security needs have evolved

Different ways of running events bring their own challenges. You can see why a virtual event is a desirable cyberthreat target; cyber criminals stand the chance of tapping into important attendee data and company information if the event is not robust enough to keep them at bay. In the past two years, there have also been instances of cyber criminals posing as attendees and joining a virtual event. Once they succeeded s, they were capable of doing anything from sharing risky links and inappropriate content with attendees to heckling the speakers at the event.

We’re sure that all this information is scary enough for planners to make sure they prioritize event security and not take it for granted. Thankfully, securing your event doesn’t have to be difficult. 

Here’s an easy checklist of best practices for you:

  1. Choose a virtual event platform that is certified and highly secure so that there are no chances of software vulnerabilities within the platform.
  2. Ensure that the event platform you choose has periodic audits in place to ensure the confidentiality and security of event data.
  3. When picking the event platform, another thing you should look for is how much control it gives you as an organizer; you should be able to restrict and limit the content shared during your event.
  4. While inviting guests to your event, generate unique URLs for each attendee and unique access codes too.
  5. Inform your attendees that all communications related to the event will only come from your official trusted email address and information from any other source must be ignored.
  6. Inform attendees whenever you plan to record a session; it always makes them feel at ease when you get their consent.

How attendees can make sure they attend secure virtual events

If you’re an attendee, you can add another layer of safety to your event experience by ensuring the security of your personal information by:

  1. Verifying the source of all the emails and communications you received about the event
  2. Using a reliable browser that is aptly patched to handle security vulnerabilities
  3. Creating a password that you don’t use anywhere else (if the event requires you to create one)

To sum up… 

As we see the world embracing virtual elements in every walk of life from education to large-scale events, it is our responsibility to be aware of the risks of going virtual in order to reap the many many benefits that virtual events bring us.

Want to make your next virtual event secure? You can't go wrong with Zuddl - book a demo today.

Virtual Events

5 virtual event platform issues that need to be solved ASAP

6
Mins Read
Pavi Sagar

Here are the top 5 grievances organizers have with virtual event platforms - and one single way to solve them all.

Necessity is the mother of invention.  

Over the past two years, event organizers have had to quickly adapt to the changing times, and embrace two years' worth of digital transformation in about two months. This has meant figuring out how to use broadcasting software, and streaming platforms like GMeet, Zoom, Skype and more to host conferences, summits, sales kickoffs and more literally overnight. 

This had led to many great boundary-pushing virtual experiences being held, such as Tomorrowland Around the World which had eight stages for performances by artists, chat rooms, games, and interactive meetings, and was attended by more than one million people. Another example is  Salesforce Live: Australia and New Zealand that had keynotes, interviews with industry leaders and partner product launches, which was held for over more than a month.

As a result, organizers are now fully aware and appreciative of the benefits that only virtual platforms can afford such as increased reach, improved engagement and better analytics. 

But that is not to say that it's been all smooth sailing. In many cases, organizers find themselves compromising on event vision or messing up on event execution because of the platform they are using. 

Here are the top 5 grievances that if solved would make life so much better for organizers.

1. Not being able to prefigure sessions

When you create a live session at your virtual or hybrid event, you pull together speakers and content, make choices, react to changes, and generate a professional livestream in real time.  

The classical way to achieve this is to familiarize your speakers with the platform, create transition videos, prepare content to share during the session etc, and then pull it all together on the day of the event, praying that nothing goes wrong. 

But today’s event organizers need a better option than relying on crossed fingers. 

https://giphy.com/gifs/RosannaPansino-ro-rosanna-pansino-8GmUS2rjYl3aZ6e3vy

2. Getting it done yesterday

So much to do, so little time. With each event - regardless of size - consisting of 100 and more moving parts, event organizers are always pushed to the maxim, especially since B2B companies typically spend only 5-8 weeks planning events

Organizing virtual events can add to this stress because organizers - besides confirming the line-up of speakers, overseeing registration and email follow ups, and promoting the event on social media - have to set up the entire virtual venue on their virtual event platform of choice. For organizers unfamiliar with this type of technology, it can take weeks to set up their event - time that they just don’t have.

An ideal solution? A platform that enables virtual events to be set up in minutes instead of days or months, so organizers can concentrate on finessing  rather than implementation. 

3. Customizing your event without coding

Coding is ubiquitous; it is used everywhere, from the website you are on right now to the app you use to order your groceries every week, and is central to many essential services and online solutions offered today. This is why many event platforms too require some knowledge of coding - to make the virtual venue look a certain way for instance, or to create online forms for attendees to fill during the event.

However, coding is not as ubiquitous as literacy - as yet. Many people just do not know how to code - as yet. So to make coding a requirement of building and customizing a virtual event is just another source of frustration for event organizers. 

In a perfect world, a platform would not require event organizers to become amateur coders in a span of a month in order to create a virtual event exactly the way they envision it. 

4. Making the event look professional and high-quality when you have a small budget

All event organizers want their hybrid and virtual events to have professional production quality but unfortunately often end up with PowerPoint visuals. 

This is because it usually takes a team of studio professionals or requires the hiring of expensive tools to produce an experience that is polished, cohesive, and sleek - think branded backgrounds and sharp graphics, different stage layouts to present speakers - similar to TV news segments.

So if event organizers were ever granted three wishes by a genie, we’re sure one of them would be spent wishing intro reality a way to create a high-quality professional livestream  without having to break the bank ie. a solution that democratizes production like a pro, just like how Canva made beautiful design accessible to everyone.

5.  Dealing with a 30 second lag 

It is a truth grossly unacknowledged that lags or delays are part-and-parcel of most streaming platforms  used to host virtual and hybrid events. 30 second delays between speakers and attendees is simply considered the norm - when they really shouldn’t be. These delays mean that your virtual attendees will only be able to consume and react to content later than in-person attendees…

… which can make them feel like second-class citizens, and which contributes to a negative event experience.

One of the most critical needs for an event organizer is a zero-latency live streaming platform that seamlessly connects remote and in-person audiences in real-time.

So what’s the solution?

Event professionals like you will be pleased to hear that there’s no need to rely on prayer, wishes, crossed fingers or anything of the like anymore. 

Zuddl’s new solution ‘The Zuddl Studio’ is here to address all your virtual and hybrid event woes and fulfill all your event needs. From ZERO LAG to NO CODING REQUIRED, it’s guaranteed to be your new favourite go-to for virtual and hybrid meetings, conferences, sales kickoffs etc. 

The best part? It’s fully compatible with all manner of streaming platforms, from Microsoft Teams to Zoom and Hopin to Hubilo. 

Curious? Sign up for the beta launch of the Zuddl Studio before spots run out. You may also win a chance to get an annual subscription for free!

Virtual Events
Hybrid Events

Six challenges faced by virtual event organizers

7
Mins Read
Kishore C S

Virtual events have introduced a whole new world of benefits to event organizers worldwide, but this hasn’t necessarily come easy. Find out the typical obstacles that event organizers face when running a virtual event.

The virtual realm has not only been a savior to companies since the pandemic but also become a beneficial addition to their event strategy. Virtual and hybrid events are all the rage today because they possess the ability to make any event inclusive, scalable, accessible, convenient and insightful.

However, as with anything else, hosting a virtual event comes with its own set of challenges and limitations, especially if you’re running it on widely popular but basic streaming platforms.

Here are 5 challenges you’re likely to face or have faced as an event organizer while running a virtual event:

  1. Engagement 

Your virtual attendees are typically individuals who have been working and attending meetings virtually for a long time now, so it’s no surprise that the phrase ‘Zoom fatigue’ is being mentioned more and more these days; they’re tired of attending meetings online, and this is why engagement is one of the biggest challenges faced by virtual event organizers today.

Going virtual is not just about knowing how to run an event virtually, but more about knowing how to make the event engaging and interactive. When companies run events on basic virtual platforms, the scope for engagement is very limited.

In order to overcome this, event organizers must prioritize features such as Chat, Polls,Q&A and live networking if they want event attendees, exhibitors and sponsors to all have a fulfilling experience.

  1. Technical know-how

There is a common tendency for event planners to assume that a virtual event is no different from another Zoom or Microsoft Teams meeting, and who can blame them. With these basic tools, they may be able to run day-to-day activities just fine, but that’s about it.

To overcome this obstacle, organizers need to not just upskill themselves but also have access to the right technology as well as the right tech support in order to produce studio-quality events without breaking the bank. 

  1. Lack of control over proceedings

As an event organizer who’s working with basic technology, you’re left with no option but to make the best of what you have. What this implies is that you’re restricted by limitations of your tool when it comes to managing your speakers, sessions, attendees and of course, the overall event experience. 

The only thing that can make a difference here is a virtual platform or tool that allows you to take charge of the event behind the scenes - that way you can control the event rather than the other way around!

  1. Lack of scope for branding

One of the most limiting things about a virtual event that’s run on a basic virtual platform is that every event pretty much looks the same. You can never really make your brand’s presence felt since the scope of customization is quite low. 

This can be a deal-breaker especially if you’re expecting a good return on investment from your virtual event. Branding at a virtual event can only be enhanced when you have a powerful virtual studio on your side.

  1.  To go live or to pre-record

This is the question that would boggle Shakespeare’s mind if he was around today.  As an event organizer, it’s important to understand how your attendees like to consume their content. While live streaming  offers a real-time experience, pre-recorded content offers flexibility and an on-demand edge to your event that is sure to appeal to today’s Netflix-watching audience.

This is why many organizers are going in for a blended approach these days. However, you need to have the right technology to make this possible.

  1. Latency, latency, latency

Last but not the least, most streaming platforms are vulnerable to latency. This one problem is powerful enough to derail a virtual attendee’s entire event experience. With engagement already a challenge on its own, latency can just pile up to the problem and make an attendee feel totally lost and disconnected.

Banking on technology that can give you near-zero latency streaming capabilities is the safest way to dodge this bullet.

So, what’s the solution?

No matter how much event organizers upskill themselves, they will always be limited by the technology available to them.

If your business has  already invested in an event platform or streaming tool  like Hopin, Hubilo, Teams or  Zoom, can you still find a way to upgrade your event production and attendee experience  without breaking the bank?

The answer is yes!

Zuddl Studio is built for the modern day event organizers. Seamlessly manage the backstage speaker transition to and from the stage, add lower thirds animation - all this while retaining complete control of your brand. 

Zuddl Studio will work seamlessly with your existing event stack, and change your event game forever.

Psst... join our waitlist before May 31st, 2022 to get special privileges and early-bird giveaways!

Engagement

The 4 types of people you'll meet at virtual events

5
Mins Read
Pavi Sagar

Have you encountered DOVEs at a virtual event? How about PEACOCKs? Dive into the 4 types of attendees you'll meet at virtual events and also learn how to come up with a strategy that ensures that they all have a great experience at your virtual event.

Know your customers. 

Know your attendees. 

Know thy audience. 

It’s basically the first commandment of good marketing. 

In fact, where there is a marketing team, a blog about the importance of understanding your target audience is sure to be a stone’s throw away (case in point: there are over 38,70,00,000 results on Google about this topic).

But when it comes to understanding the make-up of attendees at virtual or hybrid events, it’s a little more complicated.  

But before you keep reading, let’s pause for a moment. Why exactly is it important to know your audience?

Why it’s important to know your virtual event audience

Today’s virtual event attendees come in all shapes and sizes, and of different ages and countries. They have different pain points, challenges, goals, and desires. And critically, some are digital natives whilst others are digital immigrants. That’s why you can’t treat all of them in the same way.

Going the traditional route with stereotype-based alliterative-named personas might not help because you’ll need to go way beyond basic demographics. Virtual attendees have a complex mix of needs that they’re looking to satisfy at your event, and online and digital behaviours that they expect will be accommodated. More than ever, the name of the game is different strokes for different folks.

But the reality is that while they’re all unique individuals, it’s simply not possible to cater to your attendees at an individual level. Instead, you identify several types of attendees based on their behavioral patterns, and then plan in spaces and content that really resonates with them.

So, what are the different types of attendees you can expect at your virtual event? 

We’ve done the work for you. Keep an eye out for these formidable virtual attendee types’ (we were inspired by Dean Peter’s ‘Dangerous Animals of Product Management’ and make sure you have a strategy in place for each of them.

The different types of attendees you’ll find at your virtual event 

OWL (Obsessed With Learning)

Like their figurative namesake, OWLS are knowledge seekers who value information. They’re at your event to update their professional knowledge and upgrade their skills. They want to delve deep into topics of interest with knowledgeable experts, learn about industry best practices and pick up new tips and tricks that they can put into practice right away.

How to cater to OWLs:

Leverage the capabilities of your virtual event platform to help attendees gain as much knowledge as they hoped. A fantastic line-up is the first step but there’s plenty more you can do:

  • Give attendees the ability to “talk” during sessions! Chat, Polls, Emoji Reactions, and ‘Raise Hand’ have democratized participation. Both introvert and extrovert OWLs can ask questions and chat in real-time with speakers to learn more about topics.
  • Nurture more focused conversations. Set up virtual Rooms for some good ole’ fashioned group discussions, brainstorms, or workshops so that OWLs can ask other attendees about their insights or solutions and further cement their understanding of the topic.
  • Accommodate busy lives and different learning styles. Your OWLs may have a range of learning styles so share content in different formats so everyone can engage with them. For instance, besides sessions and group discussions, set up Expo Booths with videos and downloadable material like guides and checklists so that attendees can absorb content as per their preferences. Also, make video recordings of the sessions available for attendees to watch whenever their schedule allows it. 

MACAW (Most Active Conversationalists At Work)

MACAWs are excited about and effective at building relationships and making connections. You’ll generally find them around or actively participating in group discussions, easily and impressively making conversation with people they’ve met only a few minutes earlier. So the MACAWs at your event want plenty of opportunities to meet and connect with attendees who can help further their business and career.  They have a specific aenda and will actively search for the right people at your event.

How to cater to MACAWs:

Give your attendees an easy way to connect with other attendees (right from their couches!) by organizing plenty of interaction opportunities.  And even better if you find a way to help MACAWs meet the right people who can help them reach their goals: Here’s how you can do this:

  • Create different ways for attendees to connect with each other. From small discussion groups to ice breaker networking sessions, plan in small activities during the event that’ll give MACAWs a foundation for easy conversation.
  • Make networking more effective. Leverage AI-powered matchmaking to maximize the chance of MACAWs being paired with relevant professionals who share similar interests and complementary goals, for conversations that ultimately lead to business leads or employment opportunities.

DOVE (Distracted Online Very Easily)

Distractions abound for the DOVE. As there’s so much to do at home and work,  they’re often found glancing quickly in every direction at tasks that require their attention. You’ll spot them with plenty of tabs open on their screens, switching easily from answering their email to purchasing something on Amazon to working on a office task to replying to a message on their phone. This means that keeping a DOVE’s attention on your event will be challenging. 

How to cater to DOVEs:

Use the features of your virtual event platform to the utmost to grab and retain a DOVE’s  attention and improve ‘virtual event stickiness’:

  • Use gamification to make participation fun! Gamification is a fun and powerful way to nudge <name of birds> towards taking part in more activities at your event by rewarding their actions. For instance, for each poll answered or each question asked, DOVEs can win points or prizes, which will then encourage them to keep participating. Hopefully, over time, you can use gamification to turn these actions into habits, resulting in sustainable engagement.

PEACOCK (Prefers Exclusive And Customized On-brand Content + Keepsakes)

The PEACOCK is a brand fanatic. They’re passionate about all things involving your brand and are the biggest supporters of your business. They’re proud of being a customer and enjoy the status or prestige that comes with it. So when attending your event, they’re expected to be “wowed” by the brand experience you provide. And they’re also looking to be rewarded for their loyalty.  

How to cater to PEACOCKs:  

Create a unique event experience that is rewarding, share-worthy, and memorable. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Customize your virtual venue to be completely on-brand. Completely brand the Stages, networking areas, breakout rooms and Expo Zones  with your designs and colours to amplify your brand and reinforce your messaging. And play your attendees an amazing Welcome Video that looks and feels like a movie trailer to get PEACOCKs excited from the get-go.
  • Give them something to crow about. Share exciting and exclusive news first with PEACOCKs at your virtual event or give them access to high-profile brand ambassadors (imagine setting up a virtual cooking workshop with Nigella Lawson or a virtual meet-and-greet with Rafael Nadal!)or let them be the first to purchase a product from your Expo Booth with one-time-only discounts.  
  • Make them feel appreciated. Gamify activities or actions at the event to let PEACOCKs win brand merchandise or experiences that reinforce brand loyalty.  Giveaway little extras like virtual swag to make them feel special and valued.

Key takeaways

Your virtual event will be full of all kinds of people, each with their own reasons for attending. Some may not fall into any of the four categories mentioned above, while others may fall into more than one. Nevertheless, being aware of these possible types of attendees, knowing what each type wants and how to create a fantastic experience for them will make your event more welcoming, valuable and memorable for everyone.  More than ever, it’s different strokes for different folks. 

How to be an eco-friendly event planner

5
Mins Read
Pavi Sagar

Do your bit to address the climate catastrophe by following the 4 tips in this piece to host a more eco-friendly event.

2022 is expected to become the eighth hottest year on record according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) - which really shouldn’t surprise anyone anymore. 

Humanity has been continually chipping away at the climate catastrophe for decades now, spurred on by record-breaking levels of atmospheric CO2 generated by the burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of natural ecosystems. And while there have been small steps towards tackling the climate crisis - the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, COP26 for instance - we can all agree that there’s a lot more that can be done. 

While most of this effort does need to come from governments around the world, businesses, NGOs and citizens can do their part as well - that includes the humble event organizer too. It may seem like a challenge to host an event that is sustainable while not compromising its quality. Right off the bat, you’re probably thinking you need to limit the number of attendees or even cut down the length of your event.  But there’s no need to do any of that. Instead, just follow these effective tips to host a more climate-conscious event post-pandemic.

1. Add a virtual component to reduce your event’s carbon footprint

Adding a virtual element to your event reduces the carbon footprint

If there’s one action you can take to make your event more sustainable, it’s adding a virtual component to your event. In fact, research by Cornell University shows that the carbon footprint of in-person conferences might be reduced by an incredible 94% if held entirely online instead. Here’s how:

  • No flights necessary: The EPA found that 29% of greenhouse gasses emitted in 2019 came from the burning of fossil fuels by cars, trains, ships, and planes. So the first and perhaps the most obvious outcome from hosting a virtual event or making virtual attendance to your event possible is the huge reduction in resource consumption in travel to the venue. As your attendees and speakers no longer need to take a flight, train or cab to your event, this drastically reduces the total carbon emissions created by your event. The University of Michigan found this to be the case when they compared their May 2020 AirMiners virtual conference to previous iterations, noting that their online conference “produced 66 times less greenhouse gas emissions than an in-person gathering in San Francisco would have.”
  • A reduction in accommodation and catering costs: Did you know that the famous music festival, Coachella, generates 107 tons of solid waste each day. To put that in perspective, that’s the weight of a space shuttle when it goes into orbit. And to make things worse, only 20% of the waste created at the event is recycled.Virtual attendance lets organizers cut down on or completely eschew accommodation and food for attendees, which means fewer or no electricity, heating, food and beverage emissions which can rack up depending on the length of an event. To illustrate, let’s assume that one attendee will use 6 single-use plates and cups over a 2 day period, and drink 2 bottles of water per day. Multiply this by 2000 attendees. This results in 12000 plates and cups and 8000 plastic bottles that will be thrown away. And this is just what would result from one conference in a million happening every year.
  • Going digital means less paper waste: By encouraging attendees to use a mobile app at an  event to check in, navigate the event schedule, interact with speakers and connect with other attendees - both those at a venue and those tuning in virtually - you can avoid a lot of paper waste. There’ll be no need to print out paper tickets, or put up a lot of signage.

2. Host small-scale hybrid events

If you’re intent on having some part of your event be in-person, consider hosting a hybrid event setup for a limited number of attendees. This means that instead of one large gathering, you can hold smaller regional events connected via technology. Remember that long distance travel is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Giving attendees the option to travel shorter distances helps to therefore offset this.

Vlad C. Coroamă and Friedemann Mattern, in this article, give the example of the 2009 World Resources Forum to illustrate this. Conference organizers successfully reduced intercontinental travel by hosting the event at connected hubs in Davos, Switzerland, and Nagoya, Japan. Attendees were able to make short trips within their own continent.

3. Offer carbon offsetting options for attendees

Carbon offset schemes can help

Carbon offsetting is a way for individuals and companies to compensate for their emissions by funding an equivalent carbon dioxide saving elsewhere; for instance, investing in the installation of wind turbines or in the planting of moringa trees (they absorb C02 at a 20x higher rate than any other tree). It’s important to keep in mind that carbon offsets are not a carte blanche to act as environmentally unsustainable as you’d like. Instead, it’s a way to help mitigate the harm you are causing when there’s no other way around it. 

So if you are hosting a hybrid event that involves your attendees flying in, you could give attendees the option to invest in an environmental project to cut down their footprint, and offer to match any donation they made as part of your initiative to go greener. For example, the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2020 decided to financially support the Jacundá project which helps protect 95,000 hectares of native Amazonian forest to offset the emissions caused by their event.

4. Choose eco-friendlier options for venue logistics

Reduce, reuse and recycle should be at the centre of logistics

When planning the logistics for your hybrid event venue, go as green as you can. Here are a couple of simple ways:

-  Choose green hotels (look for sustainability accreditation) for  attendee accommodation

-  Use reusable or biodegradable cutlery at the event instead of plastic utensils

-  Set up water drinking stations as an alternative to bottled water

-  Encourage attendees to recycle their waste by setting up recycling bins at the venue

-  Offer sustainable food options for consumption

But what about the emissions generated from virtual events?

In most cases, virtual events generate a smaller footprint than in-person events. 

Global CO2 Initiative researchers at the U-M College of Engineering found that 60% of emissions generated from a virtual event comes from network data transfers ie. uploading and downloading data such as video calls, and streaming. 

So to make your virtual event more sustainable, organizers can look for virtual event platforms or tools that do not require attendees to have their webcams on during event sessions (this can reduce the environmental footprint in that meeting by 96%), and which enable text-based communication. 

And this is where Zuddl can help.

  • Stages: Speakers take centerstage with their videos on so that they can talk directly to hundreds of virtual attendees. Attendees do not have their video on and can interact with speakers via our easy engagement tools. 
  • Live engagement tools: Text-based functionalities such as Chat, Q&A, Emojis & Polls let attendees ask questions to speakers, comment on the event proceedings, respond to Polls and interact with other attendees. You can effortlessly get your event buzzing with participation without making video mandatory.

To sum up…

With the climate clock counting ominously down, every little action we can take now can help. For event organizers, that means actively looking for ways to be more sustainable. Pivoting to virtual events is the first step. 

Virtual Events

4 virtual wellness activities for remote teams

5
Mins Read
Pavi Sagar

A quick look at some ways that HR teams can use online events to boost mental health for their remote workforces.

Stress. 

Burnout.

Isolation. 

Anxiety.

This vocabulary has been seeping into our lives over the past two years. 

The new and multifold challenges brought about as a consequence of the pivot to remote work and lifestyles - of balancing work and childcare, working longer hours, or feeling socially isolated to name a few - have been brutal. 

People are unable to focus and are unproductive, they’re lonely or are utterly exhausted. Employed workers are 3 times as likely to report mental health problems now than before. 

Fast forward to today and most lockdowns have been lifted, businesses are reopening and people are returning to offices; a new era of a hybrid mode of life is being ushered in.  People are bouncing back, but as the world confronts new waves of COVID-19 variants, ongoing political disruption and uncertainty, the struggle will continue to be real.

That’s why HR teams cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to creating a supportive employee mental health environment for hybrid workforces or remote teams. It’s easy to slip into an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach but you risk a brain drain if you do, especially considering most companies are beefing up their approach to wellness.

So how can you keep your remote team from becoming too fried, frayed, and frazzled? 

Let’s dive in.

1. Organize a mental health awareness online training session  

Whilst this may seem quite basic, it is probably the most important activity you can carry out.

Being able to talk about mental health is a must.

Employees who experience unanticipated mental health consequences may be unable to describe their challenges and can be uncomfortable discussing them with colleagues. They may not know when to ask for help. And as with a remote team, when video-on calls are rare and most communication happens over Slack, it’s entirely possible for a team member to appear well, but struggle with these issues internally. Team members may not be aware that a person needs help.

Hosting a virtual training session that’s led by a mental health professional will:

  1. Reduce stigma
  2. Help employees better understand a) risk factors and triggers of mental health issues b) how to recognize signs and symptoms
  3. Provide insight into different assistance and accommodation measures
  4. Leave team members better equipped to know how to offer support to each other

Protip: If you’re using a virtual event platform to host the session, gamify the event to make the event a lively conversation-filled one. Set points for questions asked, Polls answered, and any other activity you can think of, and then reward those on top of the leaderboard. This is a simple but effective way to gently encourage and embolden your team members to speak up and clear their doubts. 

2. Host well-being Mondays

Or any other day that ends with a y during the work week, actually.

On each wellness day, plan activities or workshops that give employees a chance to take a break from work, and which helps boost their morale and workplace attitude. 

There’s no end to the different kinds of virtual activities you can plan; a blend of stress-relieving activities, energy boosters, and positive self-motivation would give employees something new to look forward to each week. And if there’s an overwhelmingly positive response to any activity in particular, you can offer it weekly. Here are some quick examples:

  • Morning yoga flow to settle into better posture
  • Mid-day meditation to refocus and get back to a calm mental space
  • An evening Zumba break to lift team spirits 

 The more your employees feel looked after, the happier and more engaged they will be.

3. Launch team fitness challenges

We all know we should probably exercise more even though we don’t want to hear it. But just to illustrate, 50% of remote and hybrid workers have reported an increase in lower back pain, 48% in shoulder pain, and 52% in eye strain as a result of a more sedentary lifestyle.

So a fun and smart way to get your team to stop being a bed/desk potato and to get up and move around more is to launch a team fitness challenge. Simply set some fitness goals that the team can work towards together within a specific timeframe, and introduce a lighthearted sense of competition through gamification. 

Using a virtual event platform, you can set and award points for different goals from step challenges to squat challenges and reward those with the most points on the leaderboard! Remember that the goal is not to turn your team into fitness freaks. It’s all about building mindfulness about living a healthy lifestyle and building camaraderie along the way.

Protip: Physical fitness challenges might not be everyone’s cup of tea, so plan for different kinds of micro-challenges that remote employees can work towards. This can be anything from getting 7 hours of sleep each night to doing kind things for team members or even drinking enough water.

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4. Use virtual booths as gratitude hubs

Just so we’re on the same page - a virtual booth that you set up on a virtual event platform looks exactly like it would at an in-person event. 

A zuddl virtual booth that you set up on a virtual event platform looks exactly like it would at an in-person event. 

You can customize the booth as per your needs and requirements, with company branding and signage.  And you can equip the virtual booth as per your use case. For example:

Information booth

So for instance, you could create a central on-demand hub for employee mental health awareness information, you could upload any relevant documents to the booth, such as company policies to the latest health advice. You can upload a video of your mental health awareness online training session. And you can upload videos of team members taking part in the activities you’re holding as well as a leaderboard tracking the progress of employees engaged in team or company-wide challenges. 

What’s great about this is that all the employees in your organization will have easy access to important information and constant motivation to prioritize their mental health any time they need it.

Gratitude booth

We’re all a little needier than we’d ever state. In fact, a Deloitte study found that a whopping 85% of workers want to hear a simple thank you in their day-to-day interactions.  At the most basic level, being appreciated makes us feel valued; it’s validating and energizing.

Using a virtual booth to share gratitude and appreciation is perfect for teams of all sizes, but could also work great in a conference setting or company offsite. Then all you need to do is ask employees or teammates to write down notes of appreciation to each other, and upload them to the virtual booth. There’s something very uplifting and binding about being able to look at a collection of thank you notes written between your team. 

To sum up…

As you can see, there are a variety of activities you can incorporate into a virtual mental wellbeing program for your remote team. Whichever you choose, empathy is key.

When employees have the ability to openly talk about their challenges and struggles in a safe work environment and management puts in the time and effort to make sure that everyone feels taken care of and valued, it builds trust and keeps them healthy and engaged. And this will result in a healthier and happier organization.

Virtual Events

Virtual event organizers, here are the 4 new key skills you need to know

6
Mins Read
Pavi Sagar

The future of events is continually evolving. With changing times comes the need for event marketers to learn and stay updated about the tech and skills crucial to hosting successful and impactuful events. In this piece, we break this down for you.

A new era of events requires a new playbook. 

Today,  events of all shapes and sizes - from business conferences to a virtual  tradeshow, music festivals to company offsites - are now increasingly virtual  or hybrid. These formats are the future of events. But you already know this.

The upside is that this gives an event marketer the ability to capitalize on the many benefits of these new types of events, from increased reach to better return on investment. 

However, this sea-change has meant that many event professionals, who have traditionally organized in-person events, do not have the requisite knowledge or skills to leverage virtual or hybrid events effectively. You simply cannot copy-and-paste in-person strategies and formats to virtual experiences.

So the need to upskill, and reskill for event planners and marketers has never been more urgent. 

So what are the most critical things you now need to know to ensure that you’re well ahead of the curve rather than being left behind? Keep reading to find out.

1. Event production and platform technology 101

According to EventMB’s The Future of the Event Industry 2021 Outlook,  only 53% of event professionals consider themselves “comfortable or savvy” with virtual event technology. That’s a huge number.

It’s understandable because there are different aspects to producing virtual and hybrid events; you’ll need to know how to work with audio, video, light, broadcasting and your chosen virtual event platform. But, to give your attendees the best experience possible, familiarity with the technical equipment used for virtual or hybrid event production is essential. There’s no way around it. 

Virtual events

Let’s look at an example. Say you need to plan a virtual university alumni reunion. You’re looking for a way to have an introductory session, play videos about the university, notable alumni, and projects requiring alumni support. You’d like to set up ways for alumni to reconnect in class groups and 1:1 as well. And you’d also like a way to enable alumni to donate to the university. 

Unless you have a familiarity and an understanding of a virtual event platform’s capabilities and crucially, the ways it lends itself to new online attendee behaviors and needs, you won’t be able to pick the one that best suits your requirements and delivers the results you want. 

For the virtual university alumni reunion, here’s what the platform will need to have:

“It’s important to start training on the latest technology available to us. We have been using AI-powered matchmaking platforms to connect with potential customers and have meetings throughout the year, which eventually results in a face-to-face business opportunity at a live exhibition.” – Nick Dugdale-Moore, European Regional Manager, UFI.

Knowledge is power. 

Hybrid events

Organizing a hybrid event will require you to not only work with a virtual event platform but with lighting, sound, and broadcast equipment at your in-person venue. 

You can, of course, take the easy way out by working with an event production company (like Zuddl’s partner, Entertainment Technology Partners) that will handle all aspects of the production for you. Using studios and set design, production companies can enhance the visual experience and immersive-ness of your event and showcase your message and branding. 

But it’s best to know about the various parts of the production so that you can guide your partners to achieving the experience and results you want.

Troubleshooting

It’s inevitable to experience some hitches before or during the event, so having a solid understanding of the tech involved will help you quickly fix any issues. 

2. Digital content strategist 

It’s just not feasible to apply in-person strategies and processes to virtual and digital experiences. The two are worlds apart. 

For instance, while previously a 5-hour in-person event may have been the norm, it’s unreasonable now to expect virtual attendees to sit in front of a screen for that amount of time. Or, while your in-person attendees may have been content to sit in the audience watching an interview between two speakers onstage, it’s very probable that your virtual attendees will get bored in 10 minutes watching this online and will just switch to another tab. 

This is why an event marketer or organizer needs to be able to wear a digital content strategist ‘hat’ so to speak. In a virtual event environment, attendees no longer have the in-person distractions of a large and noisy venue crowded with sessions, expo halls, and plenty of other attendees. Their focus is going to be solely on the content you provide and the experience you curate.

As a digital content strategist, you’ll learn how to :

  1. Create content that supports your event goals
  2. Make your content more accessible and participatory
  3. Plan content delivery to accommodate online behaviors

To illustrate, let’s say you’re planning to host a virtual summit. Giving attendees a mix of content formats during the event can help to hold their attention and boost engagement with your content. For example:

  1. Host thought-leadership sessions around your event theme.

Pro-tip: Use your event platform engagement features to give attendees the ability to ask questions and interact with speakers and get exclusive insights they won’t find anywhere else.

  1. Organize virtual workshops based on event sessions

Pro-tip: Send attendees into virtual Rooms for post-session workshops. Give them problems or activities to discuss in small groups, and then invite them back to the Stage to present their findings. 

  1. Make content recordings and supplementary info available at all times

Pro-tip: To accommodate busy work days and different time zones, make your content available on your virtual event venue for attendees to access at their convenience. Virtual Expo Booths are a great way to house case studies, white papers, video tutorials, and other forms of shareable online content. You can even make this available throughout the year to extend the life cycle of your virtual event.

With the right mix of content formats and engagement spaces and tools, you can fight the dreaded ‘goldfish attention span’ and keep attendees interested and invested in your content. 

3. Data analytics

One of the biggest benefits of holding virtual events for an event marketer or organizer is the ability to track the movements and actions taken by your attendees in real-time - something not possible with in-person events. You’ll be able to see how long attendees stay at your event, which sessions drew the most interest, which content formats are getting higher rates of engagement, etc. 

But you’ll need to have a grasp of analytic tools in order to take advantage of the data you collect, make changes on the fly, and improve the ROI of future virtual events.

4. Speaker Management     

At in-person events in the past, you may have just needed to brief speakers before their event and called it a day. Managing speakers for your virtual event however requires a little more care and effort. 

Keep in mind that your speakers will be unfamiliar with a virtual platform and will need help accessing and utilizing its features for their presentations. So to ensure that your speakers have a great experience at your event and to empower them to host engaging, interesting sessions, you’ll need to spend some time taking them through the platform and the tools they can use to drive better audience participation. 

A dry run or two will be indispensable in building their confidence and yours as well. 

Zuddl’s Backstage is a game-changer when it comes to Speaker management (#shamelessplug). You can use this virtual greenroom to prep speakers before they go ‘On Air’, and have a direct line of communication with them during the presentation. This will let you help with any unexpected issues, keep them on schedule and assist with audience engagement.

To sum up…

With virtual events here to stay, event marketers and planners need to reskill and upskill in order to stay ahead of the competition and reach more customers. There’s plenty to learn, but a fundamental understanding about tech, digital content, and management is a good start, coupled with stepping out of the “not how things are done” mentality. It may be a pain now, but it is sure to pay off in the long run. 

Virtual Events

Why asynchronous communication will save your virtual event

5
Mins Read
Pavi Sagar

It's no surprise why on-demand content has gained popularity in the world of virtual events. The control that it gives the audience is unparalleled. Through this post, learn why you need to factor in asynchronous content before rolling out your next event.

We are no longer prisoners of geography.

This means you now can have attendees from Palo Alto to Perth joining, participating, and collaborating at your virtual event. That’s incredible.

But once you’ve (virtually) high-fived everyone in the marketing team, and start thinking about the logistics of it all, there’s one big challenge that you’ll notice immediately: how can you create an engaging and exciting virtual event experience for all your attendees if they’ll all be tuning in from different places and different times? After all, when your attendees are all set to go at 10:00 AM in Palo Alto, other attendees will be snoring away in their beds at 2:00 AM in Perth. Hardly ideal.

And even if your attendees were all located within your timezone, it’s still improbable that every single one of them will be able to stay throughout your event. Thanks to busy workday schedules as well as the blurring of home-work life, we are all working more nowadays which means that your attendees may have to miss out on parts of your event.

So, how do you ensure that all your attendees are able to attend your event and derive value from it? 

Asynchronous content delivery.

Wait, what does asynchronous mean?

‘Asynchronous’ simply means not existing or occurring at the same time; it’s the opposite of something ‘synchronous’ which is used to describe something happening in real-time. For instance, if you send someone an email and they reply hours later, that’s asynchronous while a video call, a phone call, a face-to-face meeting is synchronous.

How do I use asynchronous content at my virtual event? And why should I?

In the context of virtual events, this means that you can plan in some asynchronous content that everyone can consume and engage with regardless of different time zones i.e. instead of specific times for a live session or conversation, attendees can watch pre-recorded content or consume pre-made materials like PDFs or presentations and answer questions or prompts on their own time (think Netflix vs. TV).

The  advantages are undeniable:

  1. Offers flexibility and convenience for organizers and attendees

Organizers no longer have to deal with the headache of finding times that work across multiple time zones. And attendees don’t have to deal with having to join an event at strange times; there’s no need for anyone to tune in at 3:00 AM. Everyone can enjoy the convenience of joining when they can, engaging and contributing on their own time.

  1. Gives people the ability to learn at their own pace

Asynchronous content gives your attendees more time to digest information and formulate ideas, and as your event content can be produced in multiple formats— such as blogs, research reports, and video presentations — your attendees have more freedom in the way they want to learn about a topic. This is “very learner-centric. It’s for me to consume when I can consume it and how I want to consume it,” says Derrick Johnson, director of event strategy and development and chief diversity officer at Talley Management Group.”

  1. Enables diverse input

By giving attendees from different geographies and disciplines access to your event content, you can receive broader and deeper responses and insights. Additionally, because there’s no pressure to immediately respond, more attendees and especially introverted participants can feel more emboldened to share their opinions. 

It’s very clear that ‘anytime, anywhere’ content is integral to ensuring that no attendees miss out on important parts of your event, and in this way, it helps to build a shared experience for all your attendees. 

But this is not to say that your entire virtual event has to consist only of asynchronous content.  When speaker and attendee dialogue, or real-time attendee connection and collaboration are essential to the goals of your event, planning in synchronous content is needed too. 

Striking the balance between asynchronous and synchronous content 

The appeal for blending learning and engagement is that your attendees will benefit from the advantages of both: content they can access at any time and real-time meetings that are focused and productive.

Derrick Johnson, director of event strategy and development and chief diversity officer at Talley Management Group, sums this up succinctly, commenting: “For me, in this event space, the best model is a collaboration between synchronous and asynchronous learning, where you have the opportunities for the learners to [learn] at their own pace, at their own leisure, engage with the pre-recorded content that exists in the space,” he says. “But you’re providing opportunities of adapting this synchronous learning together so that people can connect at a later point and build upon the learning and on the concepts that they’ve gathered during that independent time.”

Here are some simple ways to incorporate both at your event:

  • Simulated live sessions

With a simulated live session, a speaker or panel’s presentation is pre-recorded and played on a specific date and time during the event. But it has a live component as well. While the presentation is played, a speaker/speakers will be available to talk in real-time with a virtual audience and answer their questions. Simulated live sessions can accommodate different regions and time zones - with local presenters available for the real-time chat - to generate the same excitement and immediacy for all your attendees.

  • Pre-recorded stage presentation + live workshops/group discussions

Playing recorded content on Stages or creating a content hub using a virtual Expo Booth is an easy way to get all your attendees to consume the material as per their convenience. Then organize workshops in each time zone for attendees to discuss the pre-recorded content and share their opinions with each other. 

Pro-tip: Zuddl’s virtual Rooms enable you to host and moderate small group conversations. This feature is particularly useful as it has an option to view the content playing on a Stage, so attendees can refer directly to it during their discussions. 

  • Training sessions

You can turn the last suggestion on its head. Hosting live instructor-led training sessions for attendees in each of your timezones is a great way to drive value, especially since it gives attendees the ability to ask questions and get real-time feedback. You can record these sessions and make them available to attendees in other timezones as well, so everyone can learn from each other.

Real-life examples of asynchronous and synchronous content at virtual events

Example 1:  The University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland’s Kongress zur Begabungs- und Begabtenförderung (IBBF)

FHNW, one of Switzerland's leading universities of applied sciences and arts, hosts an international event every three years for all teachers and specialists interested and involved in the promotion of talent. Usually, talent centers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland hold sessions with world-leading experts to enable an exchange beyond regional and national borders; international speakers present current school developments and findings for discussion.

With the pivot to virtual, the organization had to rethink routine practices. With experts from the US as well as teachers with busy school schedules joining the event, organizers needed to bring in some flexibility within the fixed schedule. So live presentations, as well as pre-recorded workshops, were on the agenda and organizers made the program available as a recording for several days afterwards. Attendees could also download the presentation slides from the virtual event platform.

Example 2: German Society of Periodontology DG PARO’s hybrid 2020 Annual Meeting

DG PARO is a leading German dental organization that hosts a meeting for professionals every year. Responding to the challenge of the pandemic, the organization decided to host a "hybrid congress" instead, combining in-person and online events. This meant that up to 100 attendees could attend the event from the physical venue in  Stuttgart while virtual attendees could join via a virtual event platform. 

Organizers were careful to ensure that all attendees were able to derive plenty of value from the event; networking and chat rooms were set up throughout to encourage attendees to get to know each other and make professional connections as per their convenience; furthermore, in-person attendees were able to attend live presentations that were streamed to the virtual venue so attendees joining in from home could also access and engage with the content. The sessions were recorded and made for subsequent on-demand viewing for those tuning in from other time zones.

To sum up …

With asynchronous content, you can spread your event over longer periods of time, hold repeated sessions for attendees in different time zones, and keep that content available for consumption and lead generation after the official event ends. This gives your attendees more flexibility in selecting and consuming content and can help you drive more registrations,  participation, and member value.

But it’s not a be-all.

It’s important for organizers to consider both synchronous and asynchronous content delivery in planning, and be purposeful in creating opportunities for both to complement each other. Without asynchronous content, attendees in multiple time zones can feel like second-class citizens, but with synchronous content you can add more energy, excitement, and real-time feedback.

Providing both options offers attendees a balance between content and community and gives them the ability to choose how to consume and interact.

Virtual Events

Virtual event tools: how to make your events more efficient

5
Mins Read
Pavi Sagar

What do a carpenter, a chef, a coder, and a virtual event organizer have in common? Well-made tools that make work more efficient and streamlined. Learn the must-have tools for virtual event hosting such as registration & ticketing software, landing page builder, email tools etc. that you should already be using.

At first glance, planning a virtual event can seem pretty easy. All you need to do is curate an amazing line-up of speakers, rope in a fantastic virtual event platform partner, and you’re good to go, right?

Well, not quite. 

Just like catching a roadrunner, organizing a virtual event can seem deceptively simple. Think through all the activities associated with the event lifecycle: from making an event landing page to setting up ticketing, and creating your virtual event venue to sending out post-event emails, there's quite a lot to do (not that we’re trying to scare you).

But the fact of the matter is that every part of your event lifecycle is a separate activity in itself. And if one fails, it’ll have direct consequences on every other activity - in the end, impacting the overall success of your event. 

The best way to cut through the planning and logistical stress: virtual event tools that make your work more efficient and streamlined. Here are the essentials that you should already know about:

The virtual event tools you need to use

Ticketing

As you know, the event experience starts as soon as your prospective attendee shops for tickets to your event, which means that you can’t afford for the ticketing experience to be anything other than smooth and clear. That’s where an event ticketing tool can be invaluable. 

Tools like Aventri, or Eventbrite will streamline the entire ticketing process for you. You will be able to 

  • Create a dedicated landing page for your event with ticketing incorporated (the amount of customization offered depends on the tool you choose)
  • Put different ticket tiers, and corresponding prices in place
  • Set up payment options
  • See real-time ticketing performance data so you can improve and optimize sales.

The tool you choose will determine how creative you can get with ticketing; some organizers for instance are offering  NFTs as a virtual/hybrid event ticket which is a unique and exclusive way to drive sales and nurture brand loyalty. (Click here for more on the inventive ways NFTs are being used in virtual events).

Payments

In the world of ever-increasing impatience and frustration, speed and effortlessness are the name of the game. If your attendees face any issues at the point of purchase, they’re likely to back out and have a negative view of your brand. That’s why domestic and international payment tools like  Stripe, Razorpay, Paypal or PayU are so important. A fast, easy and reliable checkout shortens the time from interest to purchase and helps to create a good brand impression. 

CRM

Today’s attendees are more demanding than ever before.

Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer” report spells this out, stating that attendees expect “proactive service, personalized interactions, and connected experiences across digital channels.” And 71% of those polled said that they would make a purchase decision based on experience quality.

What this boils down to is once an attendee purchases a ticket, you’ll need to make sure that they feel like a VIP. To this end, CRM tools such as Hubspot, Marketo and Salesforce are an organizer’s best friend, enabling you to manage your attendees through the entire event lifecycle and streamline communication with them. This means you’ll be able to:

  • Send out automated ticket registration emails, event notifications and reminders, and session recordings post-event to create a personalized experience - there’ll be no chance of attendees receiving an email addressed to the wrong person.
  • Keep tabs on attendee activities throughout the event and provide more opportunity for fostering leads 
  • Automate tasks and optimize your time and effort

Leverage a CRM tool to its utmost and you’ll be able to give your attendees an event experience that’ll earn you rave reviews on social media, make them more open towards a future purchase, and foster brand loyalty.

Streaming

An overload of virtual sessions with talking-head programming just won’t cut it anymore. For your virtual events to be more engaging and impressive than a PowerPoint presentation, you’ll need to be able to play video during your sessions. Here’s why its indispensable:

  • With the help of a production studio, you can leverage technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Extended Reality (XR), and other virtual sets to create a unique and immersive experience
  • Live-streaming also helps to build community. Speakers can interact with attendees, and answering questions, and taking Polls which bring an immediacy to the proceedings
  • Playing pre-produced video content ensures that there are no hitches during the event

Thanks to streaming tools such as Youtube, Vimeo, GoToWebinar, Zoom, and Teams, you’ll be able to stream videos in and out in real-time with ease.

Translators

One of the biggest advantages of virtual events is the ability they give you to reach a larger audience than was previously possible; one that is spread throughout your country or even around the world. 

However, with this ability also comes a responsibility that all your attendees regardless of location or the language they speak, are equally able to access and consume your content. 

This is where translation tools like Interprefy, SyncWords, and Google Translate can make a big difference:

  • Multilingual audio support enables attendees who speak different languages to still be able to read and digest the content presented at your event
  • Live captioning allows you to make every spoken word in the videos you share at the event consumable for attendees who are hard of hearing

What’s the secret to getting all the tools you need for your virtual event?

From making your life easier to creating a better experience for your attendees, it’s easy to see the benefits of virtual event tools. So why aren’t all event organizers using them? Sadly, not all virtual event platforms offer integrations with these tools forcing organizers to depend on paid tools to manage such integrations, which is neither a flexible or scalable solution.

To resolve this integration headache for organizers, Zuddl offers out-of-the-box integrations to the most popular CRMs, ticketing systems, payment gateways, and translation tools which means that you’ll have every tool you need in one place at your fingertips. And furthermore, our team will also work hand-in-glove with yours to build custom integrations for homegrown systems.

To sum up

While creating  a virtual event experience that your attendees will remember for all the right reasons can be challenging, virtual event tools can play a vital role in getting it right. But this can be made more complicated by clunky integrations or the lack thereof for your favourite tools. 

Which is why Zuddl will work with you to develop the integrations your organization needs specifically. Working together, we can ensure that your next event is dynamic and impactful. 

Want to learn more about Zuddl?

If you’d like to discuss how Zuddl can help you produce a flawless event experience, book a demo with our team today. 

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