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Keeping Eyes on the Screen

Many online events I’ve seen have as much flair and creativity as C-SPAN.  In other words, the average attendee is tuning in for about 25-35 minutes – and that’s just out of a sense of duty. I think most of us are starting to understand that if you’re moving your event online this coming season, you have to understand that you’re competing against dogs, kids, Netflix or parents calling.

If we can keep in mind that an online event MUST work like a live TV “variety show” – with energy, pacing, humor, clearly laid out sections and entertaining messaging, then we’ll be producing highly effective events. Also make sure the folks logging in have the schedule highlights, so if they do wander around their home, they’ll be back for the most important parts. You can strengthen the interest in those key event moments by scheduling them right after your most entertaining and interactive components. Have your interactive game show, pre-recorded comedy piece, live auction, raffle draw, VIP Truth or Lie game – and then RIGHT INTO the key focus…and a dozen more ideas.   All you need is the right perspective and maybe an event entertainment professional to work with. Ok, time for the flashback:

For the first couple months of the pandemic, I spent all day every day climbing a steep learning curve. As my year’s worth of live performance contracts suddenly evaporated, along with my sessional teaching work at UBC, I knew I had a big choice to make (like a lot of you out there):

  1. dig deep and learn how to develop entertainment products myself for online gatherings.
  2. start looking for a new career.

I made the choice to dig in, dig deep. I didn’t change my schedule. Did you?  I kept getting up with Victoria (my wife) at 6AM, having a cup of coffee together, then up to my office for a 10-12 hour day.  I chose early on that 100% of my energy was going to go into pivoting into online events. I learned elements of graphic design and programming, marketed my heart out and practiced online entertainment concepts with my friends, family and favorite clients as guinea pigs. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to develop online products that were at the level I needed to start selling.

Here we are with October getting close, and we all know now that the reality of the event industry is that for this coming season, all the AGM’s, award ceremonies, conferences, symposiums, boardroom meetings, happy hours would be brought to you BY YOUR OWN ROUTER. Scary but true.  I really feel for all the amazing event professionals out there who are faced with this, not to mention the companies that need to keep making their mark through events.

This is where I come in. I’ve been joyfully creating online event content designed to keep attendees away from the fridge, the dog or Netflix – to retain them for the duration.  The key is breaking up your program with humor, interactive fun and energy. When I drop into a panel discussion break with my trivia game show…it’s a show. It’s slick, dynamic, interactive fun that connects your attendees and makes them feel like they really are at an EVENT.  They get to laugh, compete, enjoy the music, movie and TV references, sing along and even get up and dance sometimes (no, really).

Take a look:

Besides my game shows, I’ve been creating custom-made, pre-recorded online comedy ads. They are fast, super fun and the perfect tool to underline key themes, messaging, sponsors or products.  Clients can also have the use of the ads for their own social media content after the event.  Since I shoot these ads in my own home studio, they have no overhead except my creative work.  That equals very affordable, original ad content.

Like all of us out there in he event industry, I keep learning and keep moving forward.  Like you, I’ve had down days, existential crisis days, “end of the world” days (especially with the smoke on the west coast just to make things even more fun), but maybe in the long run, when it all opens up again, we’ll all have wicked new online event programming skills. Like you, I’m waiting for things to change, but in the meantime, let’s work together to make these online events sizzle.

Stay classy everyone,

Mike