2021 will be the year of virtual event design. Last year, the event space plummeted into crisis and we all had to make quick changes from live events to virtual spaces. Making quick changes and ‘pivoting’ due to necessity doesn’t always guarantee quality. Important elements to event planning, such as design, structure and consumer engagement, weren’t always considered. However, 2021 promises something different and more intentional. We have had the time to test ideas, make mistakes and learn from them. Now, event planners can go into the virtual space with a better understanding of what is needed, and how to host a virtual event that guarantees maximum engagement and interest.

Flock explores the latest trends in event design and how event planners can use the basic principles of design thinking to plan an event that is human-centered, even though it will be hosted online.

1. Shorter Events, Over a Longer Period of Time

Virtual events need to be designed according to how long people are able to concentrate. Due to people tuning in from home, they may have planned other activities for the day or need to tend to children etc. A virtual conference, for example, isn’t like a live one where delegates are often flown to the event for a weekend. Virtual events need to accommodate for everyday life. Shorter events, say two hours, over a five-day period, will allow people to fully engage for the full event and have the rest of the day to consolidate the information while carrying on with other work or home activities.

2. Mirror Theme with Design

“Say it without saying it” is key. You don’t want to shove your brand’s message down your guests’ throats. They already have to stare at a screen for a number of hours, they don’t want to be receiving the same message over and over again.  Use design to subtly reflect the theme of the conference or event. This is your chance to get creative and try and play around with the concept. You can include the message in more than just the backdrop of your virtual event. Why not send your guests SWAG bags before the event with goodies that highlight your brand’s ethos and message? The opportunities are endless for innovative and playful ideas.

3. Command Attention

Virtual events need to command attention from their audiences. They need to grip you from the start. Because they are online and not live, event planners can’t rely on hospitality to do that. Instead, they need to think outside the box and take inspiration from virtual spaces that command attention and keep viewers engaged and online. Focusing on what the guests want to see is important and more often than not, they will want to see themselves being acknowledged. Taking inspiration from an online giant, such as YouTube, is useful here. Think live chat feeds during a web event, like YouTube’s live chats during live broadcasts. People feel validated when they see their name on a screen and this validation will keep them tuned in for a lot longer.

4. Focus on Personality

To keep your viewers engaged, hire speakers and presenters that have personality! Make your speakers a key element of your production as this will add structure to your event and can make your event more memorable. Treat your online event like a TV or film production — your speakers need to be camera trained and ready and know how to engage the audience.

5. Be Empathetic

Empathy is at the centre of all design processes. You need to think about how your target market will experience your product, event, new app and so on? By being empathetic towards the people you are designing for, it allows you to put yourself in their shoes and think about what they would want while experiencing an online event. What would make their experience more enjoyable so that they stay tuned in and experience the event for longer? It’s only been one year of virtual gatherings, yet we are already hearing terms like ‘zoom fatigue’ being used more frequently. The only way to change this, as event planners, is to create events that are well-structured, engaging and keep the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the experience.

Flock Eventing Platform strives to be people-centred and plans events that are engaging and fun!

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