Emerging from two years of isolation, we know that certain events, like commencement ceremonies or staff retreats, depend on the connection that comes from meeting in person. But the pandemic has also shown us that many events can, and should, be moved online—not just right now, but forever. Why? First, virtual events offer greater versatility, flexibility, and accessibility for participants. On top of that, moving events online can significantly reduce your organization’s carbon footprint. In a 2016 study, researchers found that the average three-day conference with 1,000 attendees generated 584 tons of CO2 emissions. That’s the equivalent of driving a car for more than one million miles.
Whether you want to save the planet or make your meeting more accessible for attendees across the globe, hosting a virtual event is the answer for many event types. Here are five events we recommend you move online this year, if you haven't made plans to do so already—and keep virtual.
1. Shareholder Meetings
In 2020, when virtual shareholder meetings (VSMs) became the norm, many board members were concerned about fulfilling their commitment to environmental and social governance (ESG) online. However, as IR Magazine contributor Cathy Conlon notes, those board members were focusing on the governance aspect alone—when moving shareholder meetings online can also significantly reduce a company’s environmental impact. Additionally, VSMs frequently improve communication and participation between shareholders and business leadership. Whereas in traditional meetings many shareholders who can’t attend in person send a proxy to vote on their behalf, VSMs allow all stakeholders to share their insights and become an active part of creating company policies.
Tips for moving shareholder meetings online: Allow ample time ahead of the event to ensure your VSM is compliant with SEC guidelines. It’s also important to find a platform that fosters discussion and active participation among attendees.
Conferences may seem too unwieldy to move online, but many platforms are specifically designed to streamline planning, registration, and facilitation of even the most complex conferences. You can opt to host only live sessions, develop prerecorded content, or provide a mix of both. Virtual conferences are often easier to fit into attendees’ busy schedules and allow participants to tune into sessions after the fact, so they can still gain valuable insights into their industry after the event is over.
Tips for moving conferences online: If you develop prerecorded content, it's important to work with a production partner to create professional and compelling content that supports your messaging and marketing goals throughout the year.
3. Trade Shows
For many of us, trade shows evoke the image of thousands of people milling around a massive exhibition space, sharing business cards and learning about new products. How do you take such a free-form, networking-focused event online? Many organizations have found success by creating a comprehensive schedule that allows attendees to move seamlessly between discussion sessions, product demonstrations, and networking events from the comfort of their office chairs. Participants can choose the programming that interests them and connect with presenters and fellow attendees by scheduling one-on-one meetings.
Tips for moving trade shows online: Make sure your platform offers attendees plenty of opportunities to network. Break-out rooms, one-on-one appointments, and private chat features enable communication outside formal sessions.
4. Career Fairs
Like trade shows, career fairs may seem challenging to move online because they focus on networking and social connections. However, a well-designed virtual career fair offers attendees the chance to visit virtual booths, speak directly with recruiters, and even attend informative webinars on industry trends. Additionally, virtual career fairs allow companies to significantly expand their reach. Whereas they might only get candidates in one metro area at an in-person event, a virtual career fair could attract eligible workers from all over the world—a huge asset in today’s tight job market.
Tips for moving career fairs online: Fair-style virtual events often have many moving parts, so it’s crucial to provide a clear schedule with relevant links to ensure attendees know where to go. You can also consider this event format for benefits fairs, university fairs, and more.
5. Annual Summits
Annual summits offer employees the chance to connect, discover what their company has accomplished that year, and learn more about what’s coming down the pike. They also offer leadership the chance to ensure all employees are aligned with the company's vision and mission. Particularly in our new era of remote work, virtual summits make it easier for everyone in your organization to attend—and they can provide considerable cost-savings, too. But just because you take a summit online doesn’t mean you can’t make it fun. For example, Stagedge recently worked with international biotechnology company Biomerieux to host their annual hybrid summit, which included many live sessions, elaborate staging, and even a live band.
Tips for moving annual summits online: An annual summit is celebratory, so don’t forget to make it feel special—even if everyone is tuning in from home. Consider offering team-building games, playing music, hosting an award show, or mailing grab bags to add to the fun.
Choosing to move a meeting online is about more than convenience. It can also be a critical part of an organization’s commitment to ESG, or diversity, equity, and inclusion. Online events also open the doors to innovation, especially when you partner with a production expert to support your virtual and hybrid programming. By going virtual, you can foster connection, experiment, and play in ways you might never have dreamed for a traditional, in-person meeting. As an added benefit, you can flip the cost-savings into more flexibility, better speakers, and extra goodies for your participants––a win-win for your organization and your attendees, alike.
If you’re ready to take your online event to the next level, Stagedge offers an interactive, fully customizable studio where you can bring your event to life—or we can build a stage at your venue. From branded, high-definition content you can stream live to on-demand for attendees tuning in late, we make any virtual event look TV-professional. Learn more about how to book our broadcasting studio at https://www.stagedge.com/stage