Image: A behind-the-scenes shots of Billie Eilish's WHERE DO WE GO? virtual concert performed live from the company, XR Studios LA.
XR is part of the augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) world of evolving technologies. XR stands for extended reality and combines virtual with a real-world environment. This means that a human can exist within a virtual space, directly feeding into their own experience of that pre-designed environment. So, again, no uninspiring green screens here.
XR technology means that the virtual space is designed first, and then the filming of the talent is done within that extended reality environment. Not the other way around. The talent can then see the virtual extended reality environment they are in, allowing them to work within that space and fully perform and be present in the moment. It also allows for more integrated lightning, camera movements, object placement, and all those little filming details that make a shot feel 1000% more realistic.
Video: Katy Perry on American Idol performing live with a custom XR experience from Silent Partner Studios, with set designed by Yellow Studio. Discover the behind-the-scenes into Katy's XR performance here.
XR borrows and adapts technologies and software developed by the gaming industry. Software such as Unreal Engine, which allows a complete animated 3D world to be designed.
This custom 3D environment is then placed in real-time on large LED screens that make up the film set and studio. Using cutting-edge camera tracking technologies from companies such as Stype, the movement of the camera is directly connected to the 3D environment on the LED screen. The camera becomes a view into this 360° space, similar to the perspective experienced by a player in a game.
Video: ‘Why 'The Mandalorian' Uses Virtual Sets Over Green Screen’ via Insider
For the future of events, XR has many exciting possibilities for our clients As an events company that thrives in the space where technology and creativity meet, here at Happily we are excited to bring this ‘Hollywood magic’ of XR to our virtual and hybrid events, and make this tech accessible to our clients.
Depending on whether you are looking to go ‘Full Mandalorian' or something a little more low-key, Happily can help you take advantage of the virtual-first wonder of XR.
The future of work will mean transforming underutilized physical spaces into the foundation of your remote office environment. So basically, if your office has a conference room that is barely used these days, why not turn it into something way more useful and practical - like, your own custom broadcast studio.
With your own Happily XR Studio you could professionally film and broadcast from your office at a moment’s notice. This will give your brand full control over the production environment to generate better creative, increased content and enriched storytelling.
As a Happily XR Studio is fully customizable to the space, goals and budget of an organization, each one will be unique. We would love to chat to you about what a Happily XR Studio could look like in your office space, as well as our Happily team of specialists for on demand support, so get in touch with us today.
Our Happily Creative Team are video content creators. Our video editors, scriptwriters, artistic directors, animators, producers, music composers - and so many more that make up our on demand services - are at your disponsal. So if any of the video types catch your eye, reach out to us and together we can make it happen!
A ‘sizzle reel’ is a quick summary and visual story of an event, encapsulating the mood, motive and the resulting outcome of it. When an organization produces an event - no matter the type - there is a lot of work, resources and money that goes into it. So it makes sense that they should brag about their event and how successful it was.
The Objective: To summarize an event by showcasing the highlights in a way that is entertaining and informative to watch.
What They Could Look Like: As a ‘sizzle reel’ has a lot of information to convey, they are best edited to a fast-pace, and a 60 second maximum is a good duration for viewers' attention tolerance and to be published on social media. If necessary, there can be an extended version of a ‘sizzle reel’.
Side Note: For a multiple-day event or summit, we often make a ‘sizzle reel’ for each day, as well as for the event as a whole.
Why They Are Impactful: They allow a brand to continue to drive brand awareness through an event, even if the event is already over. A ‘sizzle reel’ expresses the level of energy and engagement that the event had, connecting that energy and engagement to the brand. However, to achieve this the ‘sizzle reel’ should be edited and distributed as soon as possible for maximum impact while the energy of an event still lingers.
Where They Can Be Used: They serve as ideal visual assets for any media outlets reporting on the event, allowing you to control the narrative of your event. The footage from the ‘sizzle reel’ will be valuable when promoting and marketing similar events in the future.
While a ‘sizzle reel’ is very general and focuses on the event as an event, the ‘TED Talk concept’ zooms in on the content and adapts it for an online audience. This we refer to as the ‘TED Talk’ because TED Conferences really popularized and perfected the transition of a live keynote presentation into polished online learning content.
Instead of simply allowing filmed content from a summit, workshop or virtual event to only exist within a livestream, the ‘TED Talk concept’ takes that raw live footage of that juicy content and edits it before publishing it online.
The Objective: Add a higher production value to footage of live learning content through the editing process to make the final result more engaging for an online audience.
What They Could Look Like: In the editing process you are able to cut out anything that may disrupt the flow of a presentation for an online audience. The uniquitous ”um” “so” “like”, for instance. We are also able to edit in different camera angles and build a more dynamic viewing experience, as well as make sure the footage and audio are respectfully looking and sounding their best. Cutaways to slides, graphs or video from the presentation can also spruce up a dense information session.
Furthermore, and most importantly, you are able to professionally and fully brand the video with an opening sequence, a watermarked logo and include any credits that should be mentioned. This is valuable if the video is shared, embedded or downloaded by someone else to ensure that your brand (or your sponsor’s) is not lost.
This is the most classic 30- or 60-second marketing video. The details and breakdown of a product are not the focus, but rather using emotion and storytelling to generate brand awareness and intrigue to learn more. Apple’s livestreams make beautiful spots that get dual purposed in their event to cue up a new product unveil, as well as in product pages on their website.
The Objective: To spark interest in your brand or product through immediate engagement.
In a world of YouTube ‘How-To’ videos and turning to Google for answers to all questions, an ‘explainer’ video is familiar, breaking down and exploring the service or product. It can be more general, or it can go in a more instructional direction.
The Objective: Teach the consumer how you want them to interact with your brand or product by showing a user-friendly experience, through language and messaging that is accessible, clear and casual.
While an ‘explainer’ video focuses on explaining the ‘how to use it’, the ‘product demonstration’ is more centered around ‘how it will change your life’. This usually includes placing the product in an ‘everyday’ situation that allows them to instantly understand how that product will positively impact them.
The Objective: Demonstrate a benefit (or multiple benefits) of a product in a way that is relatable to your target audience.
A ‘company culture’ video isn’t really about a particular product, but is rather focused on establishing your brand identity from the inside out. Typically it could answer questions like; what your brand stands for, your mission, what drives you, and what your brand cares about. It is like the ‘LinkedIn’ of video content; talking about your brand as a company first.
The Objective: There are really two. The first is to highlight the ethos of your brand to potential customers, building brand trust through transparency and personal connection. The second is to establish the brand as a modern, inclusive workplace. This will capture the interest of new talent to grow the company, and also enable a deeper connection between the brand and the consumer.
Why They Are Impactful: More than ever consumers want to know who they are giving their money to, and want to support brands that believe in the same things they do; such as equal opportunity, social issues, climate action, LGBTQI+ rights, mental health, women’s rights, fairtrade etc. The power of a ‘company culture’ video is saying ‘we care about the same things you do and our brand is an active force of good’.
What They Look Like: The most straightforward examples will center the employees as the stars. Netflix even created a whole brand around this idea called ‘We Are Netflix’, which has its own content and social channels on YouTube and Instagram.
In general, people just love to experience new and interesting things, and that can mean learning about processes that go into what you make or do. Through the lens of storytelling, this could be anything from showcasing the craftsmanship, creative development, the manufacturing, or distribution of your goods or services.
The Objective: Connect quality, expertise and trustworthiness with your brand and product.
Why They Are Impactful: The more an audience feels involved and knowledgeable of the processes, the more invested they will be in your product or service.
People love to feel like they are getting an exclusive look into a brand or company. The ‘behind-the-scenes’ concept has always been popular, and that is because it works so well. It can be a video that is simply filmed behind-the-scenes and casually shows the office spaces. Or it can be more of a direct exploration and tour of the behind-the-scenes.
The Objective: Create a closer and more familiar relationship between the creator and the consumer.
Why They Are Impactful: Just like a ‘product development’ video, people will connect more with a brand that they have a fuller understanding of - even if it is something as trivial as seeing the office spaces, the product warehouse, design workshop or whatever it may be.
This is all about connecting satisfied customers with your brand and product. These customers could be people of influence, other brands, or simply a member of the public.
The Objective: Showcase how your brand has created success stories and that it is trusted by other people outside of the company.
Why They Are Impactful: By associating success stories and satisfied customers with your brand, people are more likely to feel secure in their decision to engage with your products.
People are social creatures. We connect deeply to the emotions and personal stories of other humans who are ‘just like us’. This type of video takes the power of storytelling, generates strong emotions and then directly connects those feelings back to your brand.
The Objective: Show the ‘heart and soul’ of the company, allowing viewers to connect with and relate to the brand through human-to-human empathy, compassion and shared experiences.
Why They Are Impactful: Viewers can engage with you on the most human of levels, by bringing your brand ‘down to earth’ and away from values of money and profit. It says ‘you can trust us, because this business is made up of passionate, genuine and hard-working people’. The ‘employee portrait’ video is also notably appropriate for nonprofits that are rooted in local communities, to strengthen their ties and trustworthiness in the community.
Feeling connected in a workplace, in a community - to other people in general - is important and powerful. A ‘community’ video showcases an array of faces, emotions and greetings that brings people together with a shared experience and team. These people could be employees, or a group of people united in a common goal. It could be grids of faces saying a message in unison, individual greetings, or a group filmed together. There is a lot of room for creativity in this video.
The Objective: Create a sense of interconnectedness and family by seeing and/or hearing from everyone in it.
What They Could Look Like: The most straightforward example of a ‘community’ video is each local team, branch or department of a national or international brand, recording little videos that are then edited all together. This type of video can also be particularly relevant for remote workplaces as well, bringing together people who may otherwise be separated by distance or offices.
Where They Can Be Used: It is ideal for more inward-facing purposes - that’s to say, not for external marketing content. They are perfect for virtual events, onsite summits or communal gatherings where the brand itself is being celebrated.
Producing a web series is an ever growing popular way for brands to create a collection of video content that is unified in a common goal or message. You can think of them as short videos that take place in or orbit around your brand. These days, ‘web series’ can be more commonly attributed to a Playlist on a brand’s YouTube account, or on IGTV.
The Objective: Create continuous or evolving content that explores a single idea or theme that is advantageous for the brand to be associated with, or to be giving a voice to.
What They Could Look Like: The content could be a continuous story or a series of one-off episodes, with each video having a standardized template and aesthetic to unify them. It could focus on something a little more trivial, such as showcase standard questions with each episode featuring a different guest answering them. Or it could be something a little more instructional, such as training or cooking videos.
The creative ideas for the concept of a ‘web series’ are endless, however, no matter what, they should be entertaining and engaging for your audience. This should be done not only with the content, but also with a high production value, with motion graphics and professional editing.
This is like the ‘company culture’ and ‘web series’ joining forces to create an extended film that feels and is produced much more like a cinema experience. It would typically take a company value and use the storytelling style of a documentary to deep-dive into it. Although the content may not focus on the company or product, the film and its message is directly associated with ‘being important’ to the brand.
The Objective: Give resources and a platform to a topic that a brand wants to be positively connected to, and be seen as a thought-leader or advocate in that space.
Where They Can Be Used: This would be treated much more as a feature film, then a video. A brand could build and host a premiere event around releasing the mini-documentary, with accompanying branded panel discussions or Q&As. This is an ideal opportunity to continue connecting your brand with being a thought-leader or advocate of the topic of the mini-documentary.
This is like an extension of the environments, moods and storylines that brands seek to create in a ‘spot’ video. In the same way that music videos can be extended into more ‘short film’ territory, so can a brand with a commercial. These films seek to turn a brand into a cinematic-worthy story - into a work of art.
The Objective: Use storytelling and the art of film to connect brand identity to an aesthetic, emotion or style.
Where They Can Be Used: Just like the ‘mini-documentary’, a ‘branded short film’ should have a premiere event and be treated like the piece of art that it is. It could also be screened as part of an onsite summit or virtual event. Once it is premiered, it can then be made available on social platforms, such as YouTube, to be actively engaged with by your audience through shares and comments.
As marketeers and event planners, we know how vital exhibitors are to a summit event. Attracting and securing exhibitors is easier when you are able to offer them creative, engaging and worthwhile exposure during your event. Video content can create that offering for you to bring to a potential exhibitor.
The Objective: Use video content to craft more brand mentions for exhibitors.
What They Could Look Like: There are many ways that you get creative and incorporate an exhibitor into any of the video types mentioned above. For example, adapting the ‘employee portrait’ into an ‘exhibitor portrait’.
For a virtual event, something closer to the ‘community’ video that edits together messages from all exhibitors works really well. The idea could be that exhibitors send in a 15 second video that introduces themself, their brand and their product or service. It is then all edited together, or into several smaller videos, and played between program items and used as little ‘breaks’ throughout the broadcast.
This is less of a ‘video type’ as we have described throughout this blog post. However, social media still needs a separate mention and a little examination as viewing video content via Instagram is different than it is on YouTube.
The rules of thumb when it comes to editing a video for Instagram is a 60 second maximum duration and a 1:1 or 4:5 ratio for the Feed and 9:16 for IGTV or Stories. Bonus points for including text captions for any speech, which is ideal for accessibility and viewing without sound.
The Objective: Adapt content to be optimized for viewing on Instagram.
What They Could Look Like: A prime example of what adapting content for Instagram looks like is the ‘sizzle reel’. It should be edited primarily in a 16:9 ratio for a standard screen size and for YouTube. However, an adapted 1:1 or 4:5 ratio version should be used for sharing on Instagram.
When it comes to longer form content - which in the case of Instagram is content more than 60 seconds - you have two options; publish the whole thing on IGTV, or ‘slice it up’.
For example, let’s look at a 15 minute keynote presentation from a live event (aka the ‘TED Talk concept’). On YouTube it would be published in its full cinematic 16:9 ratio. However, that is not optimal for Instagram. So one option is to edit a vertical 9:16 version and upload it to IGTV for people to watch the entirety without leaving Instagram. On the other hand - or maybe both? - that learning content can be ‘sliced up’ into a 60 second, 1:1 or 4:5 ratio ‘golden nugget of information’ from the presentation. It functions both as a taster for people to want more, and as a standalone piece for viewers to feel that they just learnt something new.
Video editing, video production and graphic design are just some of our expertises and passions at Happily. Our own Happily Creative Team is here to elevate any experience or content with full service and multi-dimensional creative services - including on demand motion designer services and on demand animation services.
If you are a brand, we hope they show you the potential and beauty of motion design for your next project with Happily. And if you are a freelancer creator, may these fellow creators inspire your own creativity.
Learn more here about being part of the award-winning network that puts on the best in events.
So why, when it comes to events, do we think of the internet as the secondary platform, and onsite as the headliner? If you ask us, virtual is the main stage.
As we explored in ‘What is a Hybrid Experience?’, harnessing the power and potential of broadcasting is the magic ingredient for hybrid online-offline interactions. Today, we are going to think through what a virtual-first program looks like, and explain how critical this approach has already become to modern productions for events and any kind of content.
Image: The Portal room at AREA15, Las Vegas. A 6,584-square-foot space with floor-to-ceiling projection mapping. Can you imagine digital attendees mapped along the walls?
If you focus on an onsite audience and leave the online audience as an afterthought, you are not directly communicating and engaging with as many people as you could be.
An online audience lives in the present, and they also live in the future. A virtual-first event can be fully experienced by a virtual audience long after the studio lights have been turned off. It can be shared and replayed across the country and around the globe, and there won’t be any feeling of having ‘missed out’ on something.
However, if you create a hybrid experience for an onsite audience, it is more likely to live and die in that moment. It was a ‘you had to be there’ thing.
Image: Virtual Audience Wall on Britain's Got Talent
By planning virtual-first, your fresh ideas and creativity for audience engagement will pour into the places that most leave as an afterthought. Live chat can be a fun and powerful experience that onsite guests will actually miss. Some of our favorite moments of a talk happened in the audience comments, not on the stage.
Take a little extra time to creatively leverage the capabilities of technology - both familiar like chat and fringe like augmented reality - to spark more conversation both onsite and online.
At Happily, we’ll work on both sides of the fence. Sometimes we are helping event organizers develop their sponsorship product strategy and other times we are helping sponsors make a splash and get the most out of their sponsorship dollars.
A virtual-first hybrid model allows us to offer strategic value for our partners with evergreen content products, tailored to their brand and target audiences.
Exclusive sponsor content can have endless uses for remarketing, future promotional material, community engagement and allow your event to live on well beyond the day.
Image: Inspiration of a VIP room? This is a Instagramable room from Winky Lux, a NYC cosmetics brand, designed for customers who enjoy creating social media content. Source: Beautycounter.
Just like any onsite production, the venue is selected, designed and planned to achieve the goals and accommodate all the various elements of the event. A hybrid event that puts virtual first will certainly reflect this as well.
The venue of a virtual-first hybrid event will combine your stage, space and studio all in one. The location should offer a visually appealing backdrop and ample open space for a stage that can be equipped for sound recording, lights, and cameras to move easily across the space.
The layout of the room and placement of all the AV tech should allow panning shots of the audience, as well as what is happening on stage. Just like a TV set, these audience shots will allow virtual attendees to connect to the onsite experience.
And, don’t forget to ask about the wifi - both the cost and the speed. The higher the upload speed, the better the quality of your live broadcast will be. We recommend two dedicated lines for every tech table - one for comms and one for broadcast with a minimum upload speed of 100mbps.
You’ll also need to consider how many dedicated lines will be required for any hybrid exhibits or activations. We’ve seen costs for wifi quickly surpass the cost of renting the venue! So make sure to get your wifi quote before signing your deal.
Going virtual-first will look differently, for different events and clients. So let’s chat about what it could look like for you!
Each of our Happily productions is unique to your brand. Whether you’re looking to host a hybrid fundraiser, a hybrid webinar, a hybrid summit or even a hybrid podcast live event! You are soooo close to making it happen.
The specific tasks and responsibilities of an Event Marketing Manager will depend on the scope, complexity and types of experiences, of course. So below is just a general outline to understand how a Happily Event Marketing Manager could contribute to your event.
Event marketing is the experiential promotional strategy of a brand, service, or product through memorable experiences or events. This can include giving out free samples at a festival, sponsoring a social mixer, hosting a weekly book club, organizing an expert talk, having a pop-up shop and much more.
It differs from ‘traditional advertising’ in the sense that instead of bombarding a crowd with details about your brand, event marketing takes a more personalized approach that is anchored in an experience.
Here is an example of event marketing from one of our Happily Case Studies with Louis Vuitton.
In general, an Event Marketing Manager will lead a brand’s event marketing plan. They can work directly with marketing and sales leadership to outline key events, marketing messaging and event goals. As well as determine the return on investments, coordinate the registration process, and develop ideas for promotional initiatives.
They can also build relationships with customers and sponsors, as well as negotiate and execute contracts with vendors, and all pre- and post-event communications.
An Event Marketing Manager can develop strategies with leadership based on brand objectives, and be responsible for ordering and tracking event collateral. They can also analyze, track, and report ROIs and MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) metrics, as well as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems such as email marketing.
Hire our specialists on-demand to help with ongoing experiential marketing and media production tasks that don’t require a full-time employee. For a low monthly fee Happily makes it easy to expand your team with friendly, talented, and responsible team members just in time.
There are over 50 different types of specialists roles across Happily’s five studios - Strategy, Creative, Web, Broadcast, Experiential - that you can tag in. Such as a Event Marketing Manager, Program Manager, Producer, Sponsorship Strategist, Video Editor, Technical Director or Web Developer.
If you're an Event Marketing Manager join Team Happily to be a part of the award-winning network that puts on the best in events.
The advice I would give would be to worry less about what cameras you're using and how you're filming it, then what you're talking about and how clearly you're articulating it. That's where you'll get people engaged.
Jason Wishnow, Founding Director of Film and Video, TED
Image: Jason Wishnow
He is the filmmaker who launched the iconic TED Talks, which is a Peabody Award winning video series watched over 1B times around the world!
Before joining TED, Jason created the pioneering film website ‘New Venue’ in the mid-’90s (an entire decade before YouTube). The site screened a web-ready short film each week, making it the first ongoing Internet film festival. In 2000, he organized ‘The Aggressively Boring Film Festival’, which was the first handheld or mobile film festival, whose name was inspired by the technical limitations of its time.
Also a film director, Jason has many award-winning short films and videos. He’s most recent is a controversial sci-fi film made in China, ‘The Sand Storm (沙尘暴)’ starring celebrated Chinese contemporary artist and activist, Ai Weiwei.
Image: Still from Jason Wishnow's 'The Sand Storm (沙尘暴)', starting Ai WeiWei. Find more info and watch it here.
‘The Sand Storm (沙尘暴)’ is “low-fi sci-fi” art-house short film about a mysterious smuggler navigating a dystopian city where water is as scarce as honest communication. It was made in China - in secret(!) - is one of the most successful short films in Kickstarter history.
Jason is also the latest addition to Happily's stellar group of advisors. He brings his vision and talent to make learning content interesting and interactive for online audiences.
For most of us, and perhaps now more than ever before, much of our lives are online and so it makes sense that our events should be experienced there, too.
Onsite productions are (cautiously) becoming an option again, and these days the benefits of a virtual production are more widely understood and experienced by both the industry and the general public. So hybrid experiences, it is your time to shine.
Image: Worre Studios in Las Vegas. Photo by Jerry Metellus.
Simply put, most hybrid events at best will connect in person and virtual audiences to a stage but will fail to connect virtual and onsite audiences with each other.
In a hybrid event, the onsite audience might see interactions from the virtual audience, but they can’t engage unless they log into a virtual platform to interact in the same environment that the virtual audience exists. Technically, once you log into a virtual platform, you are a virtual attendee. This ultimately disrupts - not enhances - the onsite experience.
In order to move from a hybrid event to a hybrid experience, we need to create ways for onsite attendees to stay out of platforms and hands-free from their devices. And we also need to find ways for virtual attendees to more freely navigate online to build ideas and relationships that emotionally tie them to the community.
Is that even possible?! Yes, with the right technology for broadcasting in place.
In the diagram above, the happy face in the circle represents the audience at an onsite event, and the rectangular faces are a virtual audience.
At an onsite event, it is much easier for an attendee to build a shared experience. They can navigate through spaces with more fluidity, host an unofficial event on the fly, and have more sensory inputs to feel connected to the people around them who are sharing the same time and space. If you’ve ever sat around a firepit to hear someone tell their story, you’ll know that things just hit differently. The glow of the light, the smell of the flames, the heat warming your skin, the tiny vibrations you hear in the narrator’s voice… All of this contributes to really experiencing a story.
With virtual events, technology reduces our ability to create shared narratives to a ‘call and response’ format. Sure, you might be able to hop from breakout room to breakout room or you may be able to spin up a new Discord channel to kick-up a new interest-based conversation, but you are dependent on a bunch of 0s and 1s to get you there. And, oftentimes, in a virtual space you are reduced to a username in a chat box.
Adding a virtual event platform as an offering to your onsite event will technically make a hybrid event, but you’d be still very far from developing a colorful hybrid experience. Virtual guests in a platform are simply never seen and heard by an onsite guest unless the onsite person logs in (effectively making them another virtual attendee) OR we bring the virtual attendee to life in the physical space.
Happily adds an interactive layer to broadcasting to join the onsite and virtual audiences together in the same room - whether that’s online or onsite. This fixes issues on both sides of the platform: virtual guests are now visible to onsite guests without requiring those in-person to glue their eyeballs to a personal device.
Broadcasting is the critical component that closes the loop and can turn a one-directional hybrid event into a multi-dimensional hybrid experience. So let’s first break it down a little into the basic kinds of broadcasts.
A Studio Broadcast happens in a controlled, indoor space, and with the possibility to have a live audience who can be heard clapping and laughing, etc. The content is being made in and broadcasted from the Studio.
A Field Broadcast is brought to where the content is, and broadcasted from that location. For example, a live sports event, a festival, summit etc.
A Virtual Broadcast is where the entirety of the production - the audience, the team, and the talent - all meet in the digital space. The production is not exactly broadcasting from an anchored location in the way that Studio and Field do. Virtual broadcasting and livestreaming is the most recent innovation in the industry.
A Hybrid Broadcast pulls from any number of these broadcast studios.
A hybrid experience allows the embodiment of everyone in the same space. Video games like Fortnite are wildly successful experiences because everyone is together, roaming free to express themselves. Of course not everyone is willing or able to fire up a gaming console or put on a VR headset and show up to a professional event as an avatar. And the technology to allow thousands of individuals to stably show up in HD camera quality at once exists primarily in Zoom.
Virtual guests are going to be ok - maybe even prefer - not to be seen by onsite attendees, but churn will slowly rise the more that they are not engaged. Event organizers who partner with creative production teams like Happily who are testing the latest interactive video technologies and programmatically know how to evoke social behaviors across media platforms will be the most successful at turning hybrid events into hybrid experiences.
The immediate future of hybrid productions lies in our ability to embody both virtual and onsite participants in the room. This can be either onstage, with large screens behind a presenter but it can also be on the sidelines with screens in the room perimeter.
Image render by Happily
In the diagram above, the stars represent the talent, the happy faces in the circles represent the onsite audience, and the rectangular faces are a virtual audience. The boxes are the broadcast as a whole; the solid one is the Studio and the hollow one is the virtual, both working in sync. By bringing everybody together in that same place, built around and feeding into and out of the broadcast, is when a hybrid experience can happen.
Talent is also able to come in either virtually, or into a studio and onto the main stage. The talent, onsite audience and virtual audience are all able to see each other and feed off each other's reactions. For example, there would be chats, comments, faces and emojis from the virtual audience brought into the physical space, via screens curated into the set design. This would all be seen and interacted with by the onsite audience and talent. That is when we actually are starting to have a high rate experience again and the central broadcast element is vital for that.
We’ve already learned the hard way on hybrid events so you don’t have to. For more on producing a hybrid experience with Happily, please reach out to us below click here.
Representative Bella Abzug (a kickass American lawyer, U.S. Representative, social activist and a leader in the women's movement) championed a bill in the U.S. Congress in 1971 to officially recognize August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.
Women pay more for basic items than men do (such as shampoo, razors and socks!), and the ‘pink tax’ means that all kinds of things targeted to girls and women cost more, (like toys, adult clothing, kids clothing). A ‘the tampon tax’ has thankfully been abolished in 20 US states, but the 2019 Pink Tax Repeal Act was stopped in Congress.
Compared to their male counterparts American women still make less money, earning 84% of what men earned in 2020. On a global scale, women make only 77% of the amount paid to men, and at the current rate, it will take 70 years (!) for the gender pay gap to close. Think that’s grim? For Black, Latinas, and women of color, the pay gap is a lot worse.
Women make up only 27% of the US Congress in 2021, still making it the most diverse in American history. Around the world, just 25.5% of all national parliamentarians were female (as of March 2021). At Fortune 500 companies, women currently account for just 8.1% of CEOs, and make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math.
When it comes to producing an event and sustainable event management, there are so many things that can be done to lessen the carbon footprint and reduce the impact on the environment. Productions come in all shapes, sizes and budgets, so making whatever changes to combat the climate crisis that are possible for you is something to be commended and to be proud of.
Air travel is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, and it is the biggest contributor to an event’s carbon emissions. Out of all the types of transportation, and all the components of an event, if guests, talent, and shipping are flying in to attend, the carbon footprint will increase by about 95%.
If a lot of the audience is interstate and/or international, there are a few simplified ways to decrease or eliminate air travel.
The first option is to go completely virtual. The second is to have a virtual component and go hybrid, allowing the audience to be a mix of onsite and online. The third is to have smaller and more localized events, instead of one major event.
Virtual events have a very small carbon footprint. At Happily we make them carbon neutral by measuring the carbon emissions of a Happily event and offsetting any emissions from computers or tech by planting the corresponding number of trees in our Happily Forest.
For more, check out these Happily Virtual Case Study.
Image: Graph adapted from this original article by Shawna McKinley.
Having drinking water readily available for attendees is important, especially for long, onsite summits.
Traditionally the most convenient way is to hand out plastic water bottles. Even though plastic water bottles are recyclable, the majority still end up in landfill. It will take about 1,000 years for them to break down, and not to mention the devastation it can have on marine life if found in the ocean.
Rethinking how attendees access water during the event can be a big step towards sustainability. We suggest having multiple water stations (no one likes to wait in a long line) with biodegradable cups, or use it as an opportunity to have some cool, branded bottles as swag that attendees can take home and reuse as well.
Wherever the event may be, make the recycling bins a point of pride.
Make them clearly labeled for people to understand what they can put into it, with a rubbish bin right next to it for everything else. Have them easily accessible and brightly colored so they are not difficult to spot.
Decreasing the amount of paper that is handed out to attendees or used by staff is a good step in reducing the carbon footprint of the event. Plus, converting to tech can create a better experience for attendees and a more streamlined process for staff.
Building a custom event app or microsite can create a place where attendees can access all the event resources and information that they could need; eg. schedules, registering, downloadable PDFs, venue map, COVID-19 safety protocols, menus - whatever is appropriate.
The best thing about going digital is that it can serve every and all functions that you need it to. Whatever would normally be printed as a handout, or information pack, can be digitized and conveniently at the attendees' fingertips. Optimizing the use of QR codes will also contribute to the user experience.
For more, check out this Happily Case Study.
Travel in general is the biggest contributor to an event’s carbon footprint, and the less cars and the more carpooling, the better.
By clearly communicating any public routes that will take attendees to and from the venue, you will get them to consider public transport as a good and reliable transport option.
Image: Comparing NYC commuters Co2 emissions every year, compared to CLIP, a bike pedal assist via clip/bike.com
If public transport isn’t available or the venue is a little out of the way, then consider offering a shuttle service.
If you can, go green with the vehicle. Electric cars and vehicles have zero harmful CO2 tailpipe emissions compared to regular gasoline-powered vehicles, which produce environmentally harmful CO2 emissions
The same goes for hybrid, as they are still better than gasoline-powered vehicles, and technology advancements have also made diesel a clean, green option for high-powered engines.
Think of it as a way to not only to get less cars on the road, but also to create a stress-free and more accessible experience for attendees.
If the event is catered, there are so many ways to ensure sustainability. Many catering companies are environmentally conscious and will do most of the sustainable work for you, if you find the right vendor.
At Happily we have a list of Sustainable Vendors throughout the country that include catering, and also other areas such as printing and fabrication. Just let us know and we’d happily connect you with some.
Some attributes of a sustainable catering vendor include:
Image: The Carbon Footprint of the Food Supply Chain via Visual Capitalist
Where ever there is an opportunity to ditch single use plastics, use plant based recyclables and find an alternative to non-biodegradable materials, then take it.
Ask suppliers and vendors about the materials they use and how sustainable their products are. Usually suppliers and vendors will proudly display their eco-friendliness so it shouldn’t be difficult to find the right one for you.
Here are some things to think about when it comes to sustainable materials used to create them:
Venues come in all shapes and sizes and will depend on the needs of the event, like, if it is a massive multi-day summit, or a smaller workshop scenario.
Here are some things to take into consideration or ask of a venue:
Proudly explain and promote the elements that are sustainable and eco-friendly, and how it is contributing to the fight against climate change.
It will elevate the esteem of your event, and also advocate the importance of climate action in general, and encourage others to follow your lead.
Every Happily event is unique, and Happily teams are customized, so below is just a general outline to understand overall how a Happily Producer will, can or could contribute to your event. (Spoiler alert! They are amazing.)
They really take the wheel behind-the-scenes of a production. It could be an onsite or virtual event, an intimate fundraiser or a massive week-long summit - no matter the scope or complexity, an events producer can be involved.
In event planning they supervise and coordinate all practical aspects of an event and oversee the ‘ground forces’ that will be present on the day of the event, such as the AV team, keynote speakers, Backstage Leads ect. The level of communication between these ‘ground forces’ is the responsibility of the Producer.
A Producer typically creates a detailed run of show (ROS) for the event or live broadcast, manages the ground staff, and schedules, as well as leads all those team meetings. If the event requires (eg. a live broadcast) they can call cues and ensure that every beat of the ROS is met by the right person.
What a Producer doesn’t usually do is have much involvement in the creative, strategic and overall vision of a production. They take the goals, concepts and general outline established by the leadership or the client and get the wheels turning.
An Executive Producer is a different type of producer. They would be part of that leadership team, sitting above a Producer. An Executive Producer will co-create the experience with the client. They oversee all the components of the project, from creative vision and pre-recorded videos to custom micro. An Executive Producer is more ‘bigger picture’ than a Producer.
They'll manage and be thinking about the 10,000 little details that create a successful production so you don’t have to. You can keep your energy for the ‘bigger picture’ stuff, or so you can take a step back and enjoy the event, knowing that the behind-the-scenes will be running smoothly without you.
No matter the scale of an event, there is always a very long and growing to-do list. Having a production that is organized is vital. Producers will bring structure, be delegating tasks, providing detailed production documents, ticking things off that to-do list, and just get. stuff. done.
Producers will resolve any issues that may come out of nowhere during the middle of the event. They are decision makers, who are assertive and capable if something unforeseeable were to happen.
We all know how important strong communication is, just you know, in life. A large part of a Producer's job is to create and support wonderfully harmonious communication between any various teams, as well as with you. They will keep everyone on the same page, and make sure everyone has the information that they need to do their job.
They are the ship captain who can see an iceberg from a mile away. Sometimes things just won’t go according to plan, and if that happens they can anticipate any issues and have already thought about or discussed or planned what to do in that situation.
For example, if a microphone onsite stops working, there will be a spare one handy. If someone cuts out during a virtual event, they might have a video ready to play.
Producers are event professionals who will be able to provide for you the expertise and knowhow of putting together an event. They can bring all the experience you need for a successful production, offering advice, presenting alternatives or explaining any bumps in the road they foresee.
Hire our specialists On Demand to help with ongoing experiential marketing and media production tasks that don’t require a full-time employee. For a low monthly fee Happily makes it easy to expand your team with friendly, talented, and responsible team members just in time.
There are over 50 different types of specialists roles across Happily’s five studios - Strategy, Creative, Web, Broadcast, Experiential - that you can tag in. Such as a Producer, Sponsorship Strategist, Video Editor, Technical director or Web Developer. For more about our On Demand click here.
If you're a Producer, join Team Happily to be a part of the award-winning network that puts on the best in events. Create an account here to get started.
We live in a digital world where everything can be done online. Virtual events are not just a product of the pandemic; they have their place and can be really advantageous to any organization. You can read more about when and why virtual events are awesome here, and you can check out some of the virtual events produced by Happily here.
There is no need to create an entire microsite just for a straightforward event, if you already have an established website. By placing the stream on your website, it makes it much more of a branded experience. Use Vimeo or YouTube as your broadcast platform to easily generate some embedding code to add to a page on your website.
By dedicating a whole page to the event, you can create more of a branded experience for your audience, with your org’s graphic line. It will allow you to have a single place to direct your audience, as well as any accompanying information and links right at their fingertips.
The most important element of a virtual event is to keep your audience engaged. By giving some thought to the layout and the flow of your event, it will allow you to find ways to keep the momentum going. We recommend taking your audience on a ‘journey’ with an introduction, middle and a conclusion.
Think about it as a talk show, with lots of “coming up soon”, “stay tuned because next up we have…” or “we have so much exciting stuff for you tonight…”. This is also where we strongly suggest a written script to accompany your storyboard. It is not meant to be a script that you stick to word-for-word, but rather a way to stagger information and ensure that you are using language that will keep your audience engaged.
If you have a Zoom Business account that you are using for your event, you can take advantage of Zoom’s Immersive View. With it you will be able to place a custom banner as a background, creating a more branded experience.
We have all the info you need on how to do this over here.
In the days before the event, have a full read-through with all the staff, behind-the-scenes people, and any guest speakers. This will ensure that any hiccups in the program are caught, that any wrinkles can be ironed out, and so everyone knows what to expect when the event comes around. It will allow the end result to feel more polished and professional.
By using a platform like Canva you will have all the resources you need to easily create polished and chic designs for social media, presentation slides, banners ect. that you need for your event. There is a paid version that you can upgrade your Canva account to, however, the free version will certainly give you what you need as well.
The production quality of any virtual event will improve 1000% if the speaker is looking their best on the screen. We are talking about amazing lighting, a well composed background, clear audio, strong internet and a high quality camera.
Some of these things you might want to invest a little money in, however, there are also free things you can do. We have a whole separate post on this, that you can read here.
The Delta variant is still circulating in the United States and the globe. The COVID-19 vaccine is still being rolled out and the vaccination status of event attendees could vary dramatically. All of us in the public, as well as event organizers, should be keeping an eye on the current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for Activities, Gatherings & Holidays.
With all the continued uncertainty brought upon by the pandemic, producers and the events industry must continue to do what we do best; take everything in our stride, and focus on what can be done. A strong level of understanding and communication of established safety protocols, is one thing that you can control.
There will now be elements of a venue that you will have to understand that you didn’t need to before the pandemic. More detailed knowledge about outdoor spaces, capacities, traffic flow, air filtration systems (including MERV numbers) and cleaning processes, will need to be understood to fully align the event with the safety protocols.
Basically, the higher the MERV rating (from 1 to 16) the better that filter is at catching certain types of particles. It will be a solid go-to number for understanding the quality of a buildings’ filtration system. MERV 13 or higher is recommended for viruses.
These new contactless norms aren’t just about maximizing the safety of the attendees, they will also maximize the production process of the event and the overall guest experience.
Here are some examples:
Safety guidelines and standards should be created or updated to include an event’s official stance on COVID-19 measures, and how they should be handled.
Here are the main COVID-19 measures to outline:
Safety measures will need to be way more accessible, distributed and visible than pre-pandemic. They should be given more prominence on event microsites, email invitations, social media ect.
You should include questions about the attendee being vaccinated (with proof provided) as well as them checking a box to indicate having read, understood and agreed to any new safety protocols for the event.
If the production will have onsite testing, in order for you to have access to those test results, each attendee and staff member taking a test must sign a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Release Form. Just something to consider for the registration and pre-event communications.
If it comes to your attention of a COVID case at the event - whether it was through onsite testing or elsewhere - making this known to all the attendees via an email blast is important. This way attendees know that they should go get tested.
It is rapidly becoming a requirement that all attendees and staff need to be 100% vaccinated in order to be onsite. This will include providing proof of both vaccinations. Here at Happily, among the safety requirements for our staff working on onsite productions is that they must be 100% vaccinated.
I like to think that I'm exceptionally good at making everyone feel welcome, a valuable part of the team, listening to client's needs, and making a plan to move forward. Building relationships and executing a plan.
I do triathlons - I train for Ironman triathlons and also running/marathons. I get a little obsessed so if anyone wants to talk about swimming, biking, or running - hit me up!
My side hustle related to this was as a triathlon/running blogger and influencer back when Instagram was taking off. That's why my IG handle is "yousignedupforwhat" - my blog was called You Signed Up for WHAT?! because I love big challenges.
It was really popular but it's been quiet there for a while because I started managing social media and doing event work for triathlon-focused organizations and got busy! I'm about to start blogging again since I miss it - it will expand into hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and other adventures. I sign up for ALL the things.
I love working as part of a team to bring a project to a successful, high-quality completion. I've been exposed to a range of topics, industries, and people working with Happily that I never would have experienced before the virtual space!
It's hard to pick just one, but I loved the Techstars Staffcon. It was a big, complicated, interesting event and we had a great team from Happily, as well as great partners on the client side. It made me miss working as a team to produce live events.
My career has been focused in the performing arts and also endurance sports (running and triathlon). I worked in orchestra management for many years, and the past year and a half have been devastating to the arts. I'm really looking forward to in-person music, theater, dance, and festivals/competitions.
There is nothing like the first note/beat/step in a live performance! Also, it has been challenging to run arts competitions virtually since artists have varying degrees of access to spaces, technology, editing expertise, and equipment.
I have three kids who make me really happy! Also, the aforementioned running and biking, along with hiking and backpacking and anything outdoorsy. Also I've learned to sail the past few years - it's such a cool endeavor to learn to harness the power of the wind and the mechanics of the boat to move forward.
Tune in to Coffee O’Clock every Tuesday 10am PST as Sarah Shewey jumps on Instagram Live at @teamhappily, to give a quick update on all things Happily and chat with one of our Happily specialists. Here is a playback featuring Cynthia from Tue 27th, July.
He is an audio engineer and videographer from New York. He has a strong passion for technology, the arts, and all of the places they intersect.
As a side hustle Josh fixes bikes and is very passionate about music. He plays the bass guitar and has played shows throughout NYC and the North East.
I consider myself to be a very multifaceted person. I am very curious and I love to learn, because of this I have been able to serve a lot of roles within the production industry.
I have worked as a sound engineer in live, studio, and video environments, as well as working on the post production end. I have also worked on the video end as a camera operator and editor. One of my biggest accomplishments as an editor was working on a music video called “Cold Cold Coffin” by Dennis Dunaway, which went on to win several film festivals and was screened at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I have a lot of side hustles and hobbies, most recently I have gotten very into cycling. It’s a great activity to stay in shape, socialize, and for me it really helps with my mental health as well. I will be doing a bikepacking trip around The Finger Lakes with 2 of my best friends later this summer. I have never gone on a trip like this before and I am super excited!
Working on bicycles has also been a side hustle for me. One of the impacts of the pandemic has been a shortage in bicycles, I am very handy and taught myself how to repair bikes. First building some old mountain bikes and hybrids up for my family, and more recently for friends and neighbors. It has been very fulfilling to make old bikes ride as good as new, getting people back into the sport, and keeping bikes on the road and out of landfills.
I enjoy the freelance element of production as variety is the spice of life. Events have been a big part of my life for a very long time. As a teenager I was very active as a musician. My band played everything from local fundraisers and venues throughout NYC. I have always felt such fulfillment by bringing people together and bringing joy and entertainment to them.
After college I shifted gears to streaming concerts, and running live sound. Doing so has allowed me to meet so many incredible artists, make new friends, and travel to beautiful places. Working with different teams, tools, and environments keeps me on my toes and allows me to explore different opportunities and interests.
Shifting gears to more remote projects in this past year has allowed me to reinvent myself and really explore my passion for streaming which I have really enjoyed. I look forward to seeing how streaming will be integrated in hybrid events as COVID restrictions lift.
Out of all the projects I have worked on with Happily, I am most proud of the most recent, Herman Miller’s Virtual Pride. Editing on this project was a challenge as we had a lot of content to put together on a very tight timeline. I put in some long days which led to a really wonderful event which showcased many talented performers and artists from the LGBTQ+ community. Attending the virtual fundraiser was incredibly moving for me. It was so nice seeing people from around the world brought together by this event, as well as raise funds for Outright International.
When editing for Happily I like to get a nice early start to my day. I feel sharpest in the morning so I like to front load my work as much as possible. I start my day with a nice healthy breakfast and sit down at my desk. Once I have completed my first round of edits I will send those out to the client for review. At this point I like got get some exercise in and have some lunch. By the time thats done I fine tune the edits based on the feedback I have received from clients.
I’ve been working from home long before COVID so I have built out a really nice work space. I custom built a studio desk, acoustically treated my room and I have 2 nice big displays and a great pair of studio monitors that really immerse me in my work.
What makes me happiest in life is the wonderful people surrounding me: my family, friends, and my partner. They bring me so much joy through their humor, wit, and kindness. I sincerely appreciate their support of me to try new things and take risks. If it wasn’t for them I would not be where I am at today.
Tune in to Coffee O’Clock every Tuesday 10am PST as Sarah Shewey jumps on Instagram Live at @teamhappily, to give a quick update on all things Happily and chat with one of our Happily specialists. Here is a playback featuring Josh from Tue 13th, July.
We recognize that our workplace is our microcosms of the general society, right? And so whatever is happening in our world is probably also going to be showing up in our workplaces. One of the main issues we're helping to solve is ‘why aren't workplaces working?'
Fatima Dainkeh, Learning and Development Manager, She+ Geeks Out
Fatima is the Learning and Development Manager at She+ Geeks Out, which is based in Massachusetts. They take a holistic approach in providing education and support for organizations to build a strong foundation of diversity, equity and inclusivity within their workplace.
She created a short film, Stories of Black Motherhood (2018). It centers around three mothers in Boston as they talk about the ways in which their lives have been affected by race, class, and gender, and how those topics also influence their feelings and fears about motherhood and the healthcare system in the US.
Fatima received a Master of Public Health in Community Assessment, Program Design, Implementation and Evaluation (CAPDIE) and Maternal and Child Health from Boston University School of Public Health. She also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Anthropology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
I've been doing facilitation for close to a decade now, and so for those of you who aren't familiar with facilitation work it's basically a way to create space for folks to discuss any issue.
I specifically focus on diversity, equity and inclusion related issues and that's what I do at She+ Geeks Out and so part of me being a Learning and Development Manager is to critically think about what do our current programs look like, what's the content that we're offering, and how is that supporting not just individual contributors or our community members but also our client and companies. And so one of the key things we do at She+ Geeks Out is really thinking about how do we abolish inequity in the workplace?
We recognize that our workplace is our microcosms of the general society, right? And so whatever is happening in our world is probably also going to be showing up in our workplaces. One of the main issues we're helping to solve is ‘why aren't workplaces working?’ Why are they not working specifically and especially for marginalized identities or folks with marginalized identities. And what can we be thinking about, what can we be doing, what can we be changing to make sure that we're not just creating an inclusive culture, but we're also using an equity lens.
So what do our policies look like? Who's being supported, and who's not? Are we using language unintentionally or intentionally that might be making some employees feel marginalized? These are the questions that we help clients and companies answer and then provide them tips, tools and strategies to begin changing that culture.
When She+ Geeks Out was founded a lot of the work was supporting women in tech and tech adjacent. And so what would it look like to support these groups of people who are in tech spaces but aren't feeling as included or feeling like they're the only?
She+ Geeks Out has evolved to not just support women but anyone who identifies as a woman. But also really expanding beyond the binary when we talk about gender, right? And so She+ that plus is saying like ‘hey this is how we started out foundationally and we have expanded our understanding and idea of gender and are including brave and safe spaces for folks who might identify along the spectrum to come into our community events and spaces because we know that if we work on one type of inequality - like gender inequality - there's still so much more to do. We talk about this from an intersectional standpoint so we can't just talk about gender inequality without talking about homophobia, without talking about transphobia and racism and so forth so that plus really is bringing those concepts together and really you know highlighting intersectionality.
Image: Fatima Dainkey. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi.
It's not the easiest to facilitate virtually, it's not. Because we are talking about topics that are both personal and professional and when we're talking about identities or topics, like, privilege, power, oppression - it's sometimes hard to see what's happening behind the screen. Sometimes videos aren't on, sometimes you don't know someone's actually paying attention and I'm saying that to use that lens as a way of thinking about just working virtually in general, especially if you weren't working virtually before.
And so one thing that we've been thinking about as it relates to culture and how it's changed over time, it's first building trust, right? We often talk about trust being a key component to creating and maintaining inclusive workplaces and if you just started working somewhere and let's say you weren't part of the company until after they became remote, it's really hard to build trust with your manager or to even build trust with your colleagues.
And so what can we do virtually is really think about ‘what can we have conversations about during our one-on-one meetings? For example, what does it look like to have check-in? I know it's so easy to jump into business and say ‘okay what have we done? List all the tasks. Check them off’ And I always say, okay sometimes you might not have an opportunity to check-in, but if you do and when you do, do so, because there's so many things that can be happening in our personal lives that we're not aware of and because we're not in person and because body language is sometimes hard to take note of virtually.
It's so important to take a step back, even if it's five minutes, to say ‘hey, how are you doing? How's it going? What do you need support with?’ and so forth.
Part of trust is also holding ourselves accountable when you mess up and what we know is that that hasn't always been the case within government structures - at least for folks who have marginalized identities and so when that has happened over time and nothing has been done or we don't feel like adequate measures have been taken, you can see how people begin to look at corporates or businesses because perhaps they feel like the language feels inclusive they've been really transparent about their commitments.
We saw that since summer of 2020 a lot of companies have committed to anti-racist practices. I think there was a recent article that came out this year that said ‘hey let's do a check-in and check on all these companies that said they were going to do x y and z. Let's see how much they've done so far?’ So building trust a lot of times people say you have to earn trust, right? But also you have to show what you're doing and when we think about doing these workshops or supporting our clients one of the things we say is being very clear and intentional with the language right and so whether that's verbal you're just having a meeting virtually or you're typing up that email or you're responding to a social event or unrest that's happening in our society. I'm gonna be able to trust you because I know that one you're paying attention, you care and so these are pillars of trust where it's like, ‘okay you care about who I am as a being, at least, and I'm seeing that messaging.
I work with an awesome company named Envision Productions and basically I was in grad school focusing on maternal child health and really looking at health inequities. And being in the classroom hearing folks say ‘hey black mothers or black birthing folks are dying and their kids are dying’ is a lot to take on as someone who identifies as a birthing person but also as a black woman.
And so I wanted to really dig into the data. We always talk about the numbers and it feels so generalizing and it makes black folks look like a monolith and it's like ‘what's the story’, right? What's actually happening within communities? What's supporting, you know, black birthing folks? To support their children and family and what's not supporting them? And so that's sort of what I wanted to get into and using storytelling as a tool to really amplify those voices because they're always there. And so I’m just a really strong believer of ‘what questions are we asking folks?’. And the mothers in that video were so amazing and being open and sharing their experience of being a black mother in Boston.
We have to ask ourselves ‘who is benefiting from going back to the workplace? And who's benefiting from a hybrid model? And who's benefiting from a virtual model? And let's be fair, virtual workplaces have always existed before the pandemic. Folks have been figuring out how to develop and build and maintain awesome cultures in virtual workplaces, so it's not brand new - it's been done, it's possible. And if you find that you weren't virtual and you're thinking about going back into the workplace, the first question that we often ask is ‘can you, sort of, first check in with your employees?
I have been in contact with so many of my friends who said ‘hey, we just got a message from the company that said we need - we're going back to work next week, there was no discussion about it or, at least, with my colleagues or with my friends, it was just like made at the top level and there was no transition.’ It was, like, 18 months you've been out of the office, next week you will start and you'll be in the office five days a week...
You just don't do something for 18 months and then drop people in and expect everything to go back the same. We are social creatures and it takes time for us to build habits, so if we've been, sort of, getting used to virtual working and we are parents, we're caregivers, we're trying to figure out what's happening in a virtual world. It's going to take time to be just as effective if we were effective virtually and to feel like we can engage in that in the workplace.
So one thing we say is ‘what does it look like to have a soft transition?’ Meaning ‘okay, can we do a quick survey? Or, a really, you know, focus group? And to just see who wants to go back and who doesn't. If we find that most people are around the hybrid model, well, let's do a soft transition maybe - twice a week people can come into the office.
There's so much to consider and I'd say, you know, for the hybrid model finding ways to make sure that people still feel engaged. One of the things that a lot of companies talk about, especially if they were remote before the pandemic and then they became hybrid later, is that the virtual group doesn't get as much love.
So if you're not going into the office it's, like, you're missing out on the water cooler conversations or you're not being able to hang out with your colleagues. And so how can you merge that? How can you do games online, for example. And then have, like, in-person so that folks who are comfortable going in-person can do so, and folks who aren't or have other priorities, can also engage. So there's so so much to consider. I just think it's really important to get a pulse with employees first before making a decision like that.
Recently we produced a webinar to release and discuss the findings of the American COVID-19 Vaccine Poll to national print and digital media outlets. At your leisure, you can read more about that case study here.
Even as the possibility of in-person events begin to appear on the horizon, going virtual with a press event has everlasting advantages.
Your event can be attended by or shared with all media outlets that you need to target; local, national and international. There are no limits to where they are based.
Also, we love the accessibility that online events allows to smaller, community based and start-up digital or print media outlets.
With an in-person event generating a quality video of the event - a video that you would be proud to send to the media and out into the public - will likely require hiring a videographer and will take time to be edited.
With a virtual event, the recording is done and ready the moment that event has ended. This means you will have it instantly to share in an email blast as a reference to attendees, and to anyone who could not attend live.
The fact that journalists can tune into your virtual event from anywhere and that they don’t necessarily have to turn on their camera, means it is easier for them to find the time to attend live. A lot of people in the media are time poor, with rather busy daily schedules, and them having the option to multi-task can be welcomed.
The planning and pre-production stage of a virtual event can be much more condensed than an in-person event. This is dependent on the complexity and scope of the virtual press event, of course, however, at Happily we know how to hustle and bring together an event asap.
You can curate a diverse panel of guests to contribute, as no travel is required for them, and they would have to commit less time to the event.
Depending on how you would like to gate or divide the event, there will be a way to do it in the digital space. For example, there can be a separate viewing platform for media outlets to allow them to interact and submit questions, and have a platform for the general public to enter and view the live broadcast.
If you would like to have a Q&A element to the press event, there are various ways that can be produced depending on your needs. For example, a simple way is to have a chat box function in which journalists and media outlets submit a question, and they can be answered systematically at the end. Or we could craft a process to allow them to submit a question verbally with their audio and camera switched on.
Just like any in-person event, a virtual press event can be as basic or as dynamic as you need it to be - or as your budget will allow. It can be a fully branded experience; from the registration roll-out to the event itself, and to any follow-up correspondence. We can keep it real simple and use Zoom as the viewing platform, or we can build a fully custom microsite for attendees to watch the event.
Pro Tip: When we say we are experts at event planning, we mean every aspect of it that you can think of - including marketing, registration, experience designers, IT security - so if you have a concern or need extra help in any area, just chat to us about it.
Together we can craft a run of show that has all the elements that you need - maybe even more - for a press event.
We’re talking graphic presentations, video presentations, a pre-recorded message from someone who can’t attend, panel discussions, an open Q&A session, private interview breakout rooms with media outlets - whatever other element you need, we can find a way to make it happen.
Having any event translated into multiple languages and/or American Sign Language live during the broadcast is a must for accessibility and reaching more communities - and countries. If your press event needs to reach multiple language groups and audience, then that progress is straightforward when going virtual. We have a blog post all about the ways to have a spoken language translations, and another one for ASL translations.
With over 10 years of experience as a director for event production, Arthur's work focuses on collaborative and community-driven initiatives.
He is also the Founder and Operations Director of Community Bread, a queer-owned livestream and resource platform for marginalized artists aimed to offset economic hardships caused by the pandemic.
I would say that I am great at facilitating collaborative environments in which teams can objectively communicate through any obstacles that we may encounter, collectively.
I founded and run Community Bread, a livestream & resource platform dedicated to queer & marginalized artists aimed to offset economic hardships caused by the pandemic. Together with my two partners, we’ve been able to raise over $20k for struggling artists and LGBTQ+ charity orgs across the world over the past year.
Pride is not bound to a single month, but to our collective existences as we share our stories, our struggles, our victories and come together to celebrate the beautiful world and the vibrant people that help shape it.
The Door Dash IPO launch was the most challenging and exciting project that required creating, managing and ensuring 20 live experiences happened simultaneously and flawlessly over the course of one hour. This required careful planning to account for all possible variables that could affect each stream and virtual room, in addition to training and managing teams and talent across the country. It was incredible to watch it all come together so smoothly!
My approach to working with many different teams is always to facilitate a level of trust and transparency amongst the groups I am involved with. Every individual comes from a different background and provides various skills, and in order for a project to be successful, we must all work together and be honest with what we can and can’t do. There is always a way to provide support if everyone is clear about their capabilities and limitations. Communication is key!
What really makes me happy is watching people explore, create and share their visions, especially in collaborative ways which produce something much more special than if it was created independently. I believe that the magic of our existence is sharing the joys of life, and facilitating these collective initiatives is what truly brings me joy.
Tune in to Coffee O’Clock every Tuesday 10am PST as Sarah Shewey jumps on Instagram Live at @teamhappily, to give a quick update on all things Happily and chat with one of our Happily specialists. Here is a playback featuring Arthur from Tue 22nd, June.
We are talking about a Happily team booking flights, making custom itineraries, arranging for under 18 travel, international travel, ground transportation with door-to-door pickup, hotel check-ins, and we can even build a special web application just so we can keep travel plans updated.
We’ve managed VIP travel experiences for some big deal companies, such as YouTube, H&M, and TikTok’s Make Black History Summit 2020.
Not only are some people still not ready or able to prioritize work travel, you’ll be reducing carbon emissions by up to 97%. For flights you can’t avoid, we always book non-stop to reduce carbon and calculate our emissions to offset those in our Happily Forest.
For us at Happily, this means 70% of the city is fully vaccinated. Also that the venue has comfortable outdoor spaces, with clear guidelines on entry and exit.
Create a dedicated space online to publish COVID safety requirements and updates local to the area, your venue, and your program. Use plain, even fun English to prepare folks to get temperature checks, wear masks indoors, and using hand sanitizer.
This might sound extra, but we recommend it. Ideally, your travel insurance covers COVID related health expenses, flight changes and delays, and all the stuff that travel insurance should cover. (Pro Tip: book well in advance for that flexibility.)
In the (g)olden days, we used to save some money here and there by putting two staffers to a room, two guests in a car ect. and it just does not work out that way anymore. If you’re going to spring for an all-expenses event, just go for it.
A tagline of NOWHERE is ‘experience online events with real life feels’ and that is really what is going on; it is a platform to connect in immersive 3D worlds that prioritize face-to-face conversations, and re-creating in-person interactions in a digital space.
Yes - it is brand spanking new! As a company they are still in their beta stage. They are open to feedback to continue to develop, build and refine the platform for the needs of event professionals and the events industry. So, we are eager to watch it grow, and flourish as a product.
There are no apps to download, it is all web browser based, and hosts and guests can find all they need at urnowhere.com. You create a ‘space’ with a ‘station’ (venue) and you can pick a templated ‘environment’. Similar to Zoom, you can invite people as a guest, or as a host.
Currently there are 6; Blackbox, Cherry Clouds, The Base, Arco Santi Vaults, 6th Boro, Golden Pines. All the environments seem to be built with a certain type of event in mind (eg. a presentation, a reception, a party...).
There are no avatars here. Your live video is streamed into a little pod-esque shape, like a wondrous floating head, and this is referred to as your Orbit. When a first time user is invited to a NOWHERE space, they will fill out an ‘Orbit Card’, which is basically their profile, with all their contact details ect. These ‘Orbit Cards’ act as digital business cards that are collected and stored away when you interact with someone.
Just like in real life, the further someone is from you, the less you hear them. This happens in NOWHERE too. If you move your Orbit away from someone or a group of people, the less they can hear you, and the less you can hear them. At the same time, it does well to create that ‘conversation buzz’ of a room, and be able to approach a group engaged in conversation.
The rim around a person's Orbit will light up when they are talking, and there is a 'God Mic' function that enlarges a person's Orbit and has them clearly heard by all, no matter where the audience is in the environment. This allows a 'keynote speaker' feel and brings the focus to a person/s within the group.
Yep! It will project into the sky like a hovering cinema screen for all to gather around and look up at. In NOWHERE this is referred to as a ‘Movie Screen’. It includes audio sharing which you can customize the audio range as ‘Near’, ‘Global’ or ‘Far’. Please note, only the host has access to this feature.
Absolutely. There are some basic Mobility Settings that allow you to increase or decrease the speed in which you can move through the environment, as well as the speed in which you can turn around.
However, having a client come at the 11th hour is a reality, and just part of our job as event professionals. Keeping the team in sync, feeling confident and constantly checking stuff off the to-do-list is always vital, and never more so than in times like these.
When there is so much that needs to be done, we know there is a temptation to get ‘straight down to business’. However, whether it is an in-person or Zoom meeting, consciously spending the first couple of minutes with positivity and casual conversation will really boost morale, and strengthen the bond of the team - and having a team that is a ‘united force’ is exactly what you need.
You can check-in with the wellbeing of each of your team members, tell a joke, get them to smile, make some general chit-chat - just whatever feels natural and appropriate.
When people feel appreciated, and that all their hard work is being seen, they feel good and that confidence will spill over into the project. So, sign off meetings with a sincere ‘thank you’ to the whole team, and with a few words of motivation. It will go a long way, and ignite a sense of pride in their work and the feeling of ‘we are in this together’.
When you have to ‘hit the ground running’ with the pre-production of an event, every hour needs to be spent moving the project forward. You need a seasoned team where each member works with initiative, has strong problem solving skills, and knows exactly what they are doing. Pick each member based on their experience, their ability to get stuff done, and who you know can handle some pressure. Which describes every Happily team we build for a Happily event, actually… ;)
Emails are important, of course, and so many will be sent and received during these days leading up to an event. However, don’t make that the only form of written communication that the team has with each other. Emails are not always the place for those quick and informal questions, queries or conversations that need to happen when moving swiftly, and with instant replies.
There is no time for confusion about who is doing what in the team. Be as clear and open as possible about each team member's tasks, and their responsibilities for all to know. A basic spreadsheet of this information can be a great source for people to know exactly what is expected of them, and who to go to for what, if they have a question, or need something.
Crafting ways to keep your audience ‘right there with you’ is key to the success of an event, and one of the best ways to achieve that is to give their brains a break sometimes, and have a little fun. By a ‘break’ we are talking about a short 10 to 20 minute segment in between items (eg. in between panel discussions), or to commence and conclude the day.
There are many ways to add a little ‘break’ to your run of show, and they should be personalized for your virtual summit. The best breaks are entertaining, maybe a little quirky, align with the purpose of your event, and would directly connect with the general interests and profile of your audience.
A guided morning meditation can be a great way to bring your attendees together ahead of a day full of content. Meditations can come in many forms, such as a classic verbally guided meditation, through breathing exercises, or through the sound of singing crystal bowls. We have a menu of talented mindfulness experts and artists that we work with if you are looking to include something like this.
This popular game format is a perfect way to adapt the ‘never have I ever’s to your audience with quirky and specific things that only they could relate to as a collective.
(GIF below) For example, we recently included a ‘Never Have I Ever: Breast Cancer Edition’ for the Young Survival Coalition Summit and it was a big hit!
There are endless options for including a break that is a little higher energy, to get your attendees to their feet and shake out any restlessness. From classic workout classes, belly dancing, salsa, hip hop, or just a moment to dance along to some classic hits, we can bring to the table a teacher or DJ to make it happen.
How about a comedy night to conclude the day? Having a comedians that understand your audience, or perhaps can relate to them, is an absolute bonus.
(GIF below) For example, the YSC Summit had an all-female line-up of comedians, some of whose lives had been touched by breast cancer.
Chances are that your attendees are going to spend hours in the same position for your virtual summit - which is what you want! However, you do not want them to get stiff and sore. Some casual yoga stretches that can be done from the comfort of a desk or chair, will give your summit attendees a moment to ease any body stiffness.
This is a must for animal lovers. Hosted by a pet adoption center, attendees can meet and greet with some animals that need homes, and hear some heartwarming stories from people who are doing amazing work for animals-in-need within the community.
Also, it is a great opportunity for attendees to show off on camera their beloved dogs, cats, and pets (who are probably already hovering around their desk at home as they watch, let’s be honest).
We all enjoy some quirky fun facts and to have our general knowledge challenged. Just like a classic bar trivia night, the questions can be as random or as specific to your audience as you like - just as long as they are also fun, of course. The key is to make it visual with some awesome slides.
On the microsite (GIF below) for YSC’s 2021 Summit, attendees could at any time drop into the YouTube live feed of the Puppy Playroom at Warrior Canine Connection.
It was a huge success!
Amanda's passion for event production stems from her love of collaboration. It's her joy to be a driving force in seeing a project come together. She creates a calm and organized atmosphere where individuals can present their best work. Plus, she is fluent in Spanish!
In both life and at work, I’m exceptionally good at being kind, calm, and being the voice of reason in a sea of crazy. ;)
When I’m not in my show calling super hero outfit, my side hustle is being “Maestra of the Realm” (aka HR Manager) at an amazing water and supplement store in Orange County, CA. Check us out thewaterbrewery.com and @thewaterbrewery on IG
Virtual events allow a unique kind of intimacy. The speakers are right in front of the attendees faces instead of far away on a big stage. I’ve seen how virtual events have been more impactful because of this.
Seeing a CEO give a keynote presentation right in front of you hits a little different. But don’t get me wrong, the in-person component is still crucial, especially for team building and bonding. And I personally can’t wait to be back in-person more often!
I loved working on both the 'Youth Survivors Coalition' for youth survivors of breast cancer and on 'We are Home with FWD.us' where members of congress met with individuals to hear how immigrant communities are being directly impacted by certain policies or lack thereof.
Both events served important causes and I was able to see the direct impact they had on their respective communities. I think it’s amazing that Happily prides itself on working on altruistic events such as these and I’m excited to be involved with more!
My work space is also my bedroom. I’m fortunate to have a good sized room so I can angle my camera in a way that doesn’t show my bed. Right next to my desk I have a 3-gallon glass container of water from @thewaterbrewery of course! So I don’t need to go far in the middle of a show to stay hydrated. There’s also plenty of sunshine and plants in my room, which makes it a nice environment to be in for some of those longer days.
A work day with Happily usually starts off with a cup of tea, opening up Zoom, and renaming myself to Happily | Role | Amanda. You’d be surprised how many people think my name is Happily. :)
I spent most of the pandemic avoiding virtual events. I decided I would wait until things came back to in-person. I figured I would only be waiting a few months… Thankfully, a colleague and friend of mine, Laurea De Ocampo, told me about Happily and the Shadow Program so I decided to give it a shot.
I’m glad I did because now I’m working on plenty of virtual events. My advice to anyone starting out is to check out the Shadow Program!
Sunshine, hiking, fresh healthy food, clean water, vacations, teamwork, music, family, friends, a great book, traveling, unity <3
Tune in to Coffee O’Clock every Tuesday 10am PST as Sarah Shewey jumps on Instagram Live at @teamhappily, to give a quick update on all things Happily and chat with one of our Happily specialists. Here is a playback featuring Amanda from Tue 1st, June.
Please personalize and adapt them in whatever way you need to suit your event.
This is an ideal icebreaker for attendees to get to know each other a little better.
In this game, the host crafts a number of questions to ask attendees along the loose idea of ‘where they are from?’. For example 'Are you from a musically talented family?'
If the answer applies to them, they’ll keep their camera on and if it doesn’t, they’ll turn their camera off. The questions can be topical and used as starting points for conversation (eg. 'Are you coming from attending a protest this week?'), or they can be light and fun (eg. 'Are you from a multilingual family?').
Ideal for work meetings for existing and new team members to get to know each other a little. Or a casual gathering with cocktails in hand.
GIF from our 'Happily Hour with Jensen McRae'
This performance game is stepping things up a level.
Teams break out into groups with an even number of people, whatever works for your event. They’ll have time to select a song and practice their performance to present to the whole group.
Ideal for themed parties, or high-energy gatherings.
GIF from HUMAN's (formerly White Ops) I Wanna Dance with Zoom-body.
This is a modern spin on a timeless game.
It is played in the style of Pictionary where the host privately sends an emoji to a contestant, and then they have to ‘act out’ that emoji for all the others to guess. People then send the emoji that they think it is in the chat. The person who guesses correctly, is the next contestant.
Ideal for a quick icebreaker at a work meeting, in breakout rooms or a workshop.
A party game based on the idea that what we drink can say something about our personality.
How it works is that guests privately message the host to tell them what they're drinking that evening. Guests can be as specific as they like. The host reads out the drink and asks the audience ‘whose drink is that?’
Ideal for social gatherings in a setting where alcoholic drinking is acceptable.
This is a trivia game that is based on quotes from famous philosophers, activists, world leaders, or whatever makes sense for your event.
It is played in the style of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ where if they get the question right, they can choose to carry on, or to take the prize and tap out. Contestants can win cash or gift cards or whatever prize you’d like to offer, with increasing value for consecutive correct answers.
Ideal for themed parties, or a lighthearted social get together.
This is a virtual spin on a classic linguistic game.
The original Mad Libs books are short stories with many keywords left blank. Beneath each blank is a specified category such as a noun, verb, place, celebrity, exclamation or a part of the body. You can either make up your own base Mad Libs short story or get your hands on an original book. Writing your own is an opportunity to personalize the game for your workplace, your audience or the theme of the virtual event. Also, an alternative is just Mad Libs sentences, instead of a full story.
Depending on how many attendees you have, they can either be broken up into rooms or kept all together. Then, without revealing the context for that word, the host asks the others to contribute a word as indicated with the category (eg. a noun, a place...) The host notes them down and finally, the completed story is read aloud. (Pro tip, make sure there are enough blank words with at least one for each attendee.) The result is usually a comical story or sentence that takes on a nonsensical tone.
Ideal for an icebreaker at smaller, social gatherings.
Quick note: We have a specific blog post about how to integrate an American Sign Language translation into a virtual event that you can read here, as it is a little different.
Language groups will each have their own Zoom link in which the broadcast will be streamed, and their language will be translated onto that stream.
This is ideal for translating a live broadcast into multiple languages and is a good way to bring niche-communities or cultural groups together within your audience and allow them to connect with each other. However, if you prefer to keep your community altogether in order to connect across languages, this may not be the option for you.
You can have the translation captioned live onto the stream. This is an ideal option for translating your event into just 1 other language.
We can integrate an automated translation widget into the streaming platform that can provide captions in 50 languages. Attendees can simply select which language they would like the captions to be provided in.
We used this technology in the Survivor’s Summit 2020 which you can read more about in this case study.
Zoom enables different audio channels to be created for language translations. The human interpreters on the other end then have their voice (and the translation) fed into that audio channel. The attendees can select which available language they would like to hear the event in, with the option to mute the original audio, or to hear it in a lower volume with their chosen language overlayed.
Image: Zoom's Interpretation Feature
Subcultures by definition, [are] underneath the view of the mainstream and I think I have always found a lot of value in these spaces that maybe people overlook or stigmatize.
Michelle Lhooq, Independent Journalist
She is a music and drugs journalist and the author of WEED: Everything You Want to Know But Are Always Too Stoned to Ask and writes a Substack newsletter called Rave New World. Her work is centered on the themes of counterculture and politics through the lens of underground parties, street protests, and drugs.
After studying Comparative Literature at Columbia University, Michelle covered electronic music and global nightlife as a music editor at VICE. Now residing in LA, her work has appeared in major publications such as The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg, New York Magazine, GQ, The Guardian, and Pitchfork.
Michelle has also hosted podcasts, documentaries, and panels for Boiler Room, VICE, Red Bull, Thailand’s Wonderfruit Festival, and CTM Berlin. She also works as an consultant on emerging trends with clients including WGSN and The Future Laboratory.
"Over the summer I did go to a lot of protests… I was really interested in how protests were maybe funneling some of the energy that would typically be vented through nightlife, but was kind of being challenged into the streets and what that kind of meant about GenZ and how that’s shaping, you know, a new political culture."
"I feel sort of vindicated now because as the psychedelic and drug movement becomes more and more legitimized by research I’m finding that a lot of the observations and knowledge that are communal in the rave scene are now being proven by evidence, you know, through the research that this is something that has meaning beyond just pleasure.:"
"These alt-right people just crashed through and it was so funny because I had specifically set up a whole barrier to entry with a door girl screening people and stuff… it feels extremely invasive, it really actually literally feels like someone came into your space."
"What I really enjoy about virtual events… it’s the community that you create is global. And I am very interested in global scenes. I think cannabis and nightlife are both global stories, so to have different perspectives beyond California / LA weed culture join is always super refreshing."
"What’s cool about Asia right now is that there is an Asian ecosystem that’s forming that’s outside the American/European dialogue."
"I think that there is definitely a subculture in Asia as well, especially in places where there are really authoritarian regimes, I feel like there is more at stake [compared to the US]... but in a place like China, or Singapore, where, you know, being gay is actually illegal, I do feel like there is a hightened risk and that risk creates a completely different energy."
They still feel grateful and want to remain connected to the community, to the educational programs, the medical services, homeless shelters, fundraising events and all that good stuff that communities are built upon.
Are you raising a capital campaign to build or improve a building? People love to take tours! Share a video walkthrough or a guided tour of the new or old spaces. Just do not forget to highlight the donation wall!
We are not fans of simply plonking a laptop at a place setting, however, we do love hosting a special virtual dinner table! An event with a special performance, with a special guest, Zoom games, or a hearty agenda for all those who attended.
If the community you serve are not all native english speakers, translating your program to your base’s mother tongue(s) will do wonders for strengthening your connection with more people.
Take this fresh approach to fundraising that utilizes the proven buying techniques of e-commerce. Open up a 24/7 shop with exclusive time-based drops (and give member discounts!)
With the lower price point of virtual broadcasting, you can keep your community updated on a quarterly basis, you can add live Q&A to get feedback and help ensure everyone is with you.
He is a passionate growth and digital marketer having worked in Big Tech, political campaigns, nonprofits and the underground music scene. Plus, he can speak Chinese and French!
Images via Instagram @lindon
I've spent my adult career working in the digital marketing space (at an agency, at Hillary for America, at a measurement startup and at Facebook) and became a SME in paid media advertising and data analysis. For a while, I combined those skills while working in sales, so I had fun selling advertising solutions to help businesses grow with advertising and data.
In life, I pride myself on being a link what connects and brings people together - whether that's working cross-functionally between sales, product, marketing, etc., introducing my creative friends to each other to work on awesome projects or bringing a group of wonderful humans together for a party - I love when I can build a community of like-minded people to get stuff done!
The queer techno community in Brooklyn is so important to me - they are my chosen family away from home. Before the pandemic, I used to work in nightlife as a promoter - using my digital marketing skills and network of ravers - to help femme promoters bring more people to their events and maximize their ROI. Before coming onto Happily, I've worked as an event producer too! I used to book and throw concerts and raves in college, and continue to help party planners in Brooklyn execute their logistic plans.
An exciting development recently, I've been being cast for editorial and commercial photo shoots, in which I'm feeling happy to uplift the visibility of Asian Americans during a time when it's most needed! I'm also very active on social media in sharing resources and information about what's going on the world politically - I enjoy using my political science degree to truth-share and educate my followers on injustice and inequity, in hopes of ushering a better more peaceful world.
I'm finding that for a lot of B2B companies like ourselves, in-person promotions, like trade shows, are becoming less and less relevant vehicles for marketing your goods and services because of the pandemic. Building a slick and informative website that speaks to each of your target personas and takes them through their unique customers journeys is becoming paramount. At Happily, we've recently overhauled our marketing website to follow these digital-first shifts and with the help of amazing content marketing content from Stories, we're able to hook more people into our brand using an inbound marketing content machine.
As advertising budgets are shifting away from traditional media (like TV and Out of Home), digital marketing acquisition channels are becoming more and more crucial for business growth.
At Happily, I've had the chance to put on many different hats... I started off as a social media coordinator, which evolved into being a Marketing Director for our TEDx conference and the brand, and now I'm working in unchartered territory as a Growth Marketing Director!
I love that I'm afforded the opportunity to learn, grow, and expand my skill set as Happily is growing as well. What I find most amazing out Happily is how mission aligned it is - as a queer person of color, it's really important to feel welcomed, represented, and embraced for being my authentic self. Seldom do you find that at any company! I'm happy to see that many of my queer friends have come on board at Happily to fill various specialist and executive positions to make Happily an even more authentic and diverse place to work.
I was half-joking about this the other day in one of my Instagram posts as I was squeezing a Rilakkuma bear, holding a shopping bag from Berghain (Berlin's most iconic techno club), and had a facial mask on - the 3 things that bring me joy are techno, kawaii/cute things, and skincare/self-care.
To help me feel grounded in an increasingly chaotic world, taking the time to take care of my skin, to work out at the gym almost every day, and nourish my creative mind with the music I like bring me the long-lasting joy throughout the days. To be able to celebrate and appreciate those things with my friends makes them even better
Tune in to Coffee O’Clock every Tuesday 10am PST as Sarah Shewey jumps on Instagram Live at @teamhappily, to give a quick update on all things Happily and chat with one of our Happily specialists. Here is a playback featuring Lindon from Tue 18th, May.
The role is the same, but the ‘producer’ part refers more specifically to the organization and leadership in the pre-production stage of an event. The ‘show caller’ part is more specific to the ‘day of’ direction and management during the broadcast.
This is a senior position and will take on a huge leadership role. The producer is the main connection between the client and the Happily team, communicating the needs and desires of the client with the various event specialists requires clear and open conversation and delivery. Plus, of course, those strong communication skills need to ensure that the client and the Happily team have all the information, direction and support that they need.
The reality of any event is that even with the most organized run of show there is always something that could veer off track, and always something unexpected that could pop up. You must prepare for the unpredictable. Having something pre-planned up your sleeve in an ‘emergency’, such as a video or crossing back to a presenter, will mean make or break in the heat of the moment. (Bonus tip: share this Plan B with the team!)
The pre-production of a virtual event means a lot of emails and a lot of chats on slack. The producer is responsible for keeping the whole project moving forward, so answer those questions from the client and reply to those doubts from a team member promptly.
Essentially the producer’s primary responsibility is to create the virtual event that the client is asking for, that meets their requirements and reflects their brand. So actively listening to the client is vital in producing an event that meets and exceeds their expectations.
We believe that diversity is the reason we at Happily are able to produce the contemporary and dynamic events that we do. We are committed to our diversity goal of having at least 50% representation of women, 30% of black, indigenous, and people of color, and 10% of people from the LGBT community.
Clearly outline anti-racism into the proper practices, norms and expectations of an event. This way all those involved, including contractors, will be clearly aware what values the behind-the-scenes of your event should be built on.
Do not leave black, indigenous and people of color talent as an afterthought. Start with booking them first and consciously lining up a diversity of talent. An event cannot have ‘too much diversity’.
Do some basic googling and social media research to make sure any guest speakers are not publicly (or even privately) racist. Basically, do not give a racist a platform.
If there is a mistake on your part, own it and apologize. Publish a plan to make changes, and publicly learn from a situation or issue. It’s ok, we are all learning and growing.
Hopin is a virtual venue that has multiple interactive areas focused on connection and engagement. Their free show and podcast ‘Back of House LIVE’, co-hosted by Anthony Kennada and Lauren Sommers, is an events industry talk show that includes interviews with thought leaders from the events world. Happily was honored to have our Founder and CEO as the first guest!
When Sarah and Colin’s wedding was abruptly cancelled due to COVID 19 in early 2020, the pivot to a virtual wedding was quick and mighty. Sarah describes how she fully embraced the challenge to create a truly unique experience and wondrous cyber wedding celebration unlike anything you would have thought possible. Plus, she explains how their story came to headline the Daily Mail in the UK, and why the experience helped her discover the power and potential of virtual events.
The creative process and the wonderful experience that I had with the cyber wedding helped me to commit to virtual and continue to rethink experiences in an online format.
Sarah Shewey, Founder and CEO, Happily
It’s great to be able to schedule people on different time zones, so we get assets and project direction on the west coast, it moves over to the east coast, moves over to Asia, moves over to Europe, and then you have a final pre-record edit that is ready the next morning.
Sarah Shewey, Founder and CEO, Happily
For anyone who did events before [the pandemic] you remember it was always ‘how do we keep our community together throughout the year’ and it was like ‘maybe a Facebook group?’ We all laugh now because of course we are just going to be doing lots of virtual events…
Sarah Shewey, Founder and CEO, Happily
Whether you are in a business meeting, speaking at a virtual event, or just having a social chat, leveling up your digital presence in Zoom is always a power move.
A fast internet connection for high video quality is essential. To check your speed visit www.speedtest.net and run the test. It will give you two metrics; your download and your upload speed, in that order. In this case, what you need to focus on is your upload speed. 5Mbps is the absolute minimum for a video stream, and of course, the higher your upload speed the better.
We would argue that a smooth audio stream is the most important on a Zoom call, so if your internet upload is below 5Mbps (as mentioned above) just disable your video and keep all that upload for the audio.
1. Control your environment and make sure that you are signing into a Zoom call in the most quiet space possible.
2. Buy an external usb microphone to dramatically improve your sound quality. There will be a mic out there for all budgets, and even a basic one for as little as $30USD will be a huge improvement. If you are looking to level up your digital presence, we recommend an external mic as the first step.
In this era of selfies, we have all come to understand the importance of ‘good lighting’ and how it can change how we look through the camera lens. If you are not looking to upgrade to an external camera, as we will come to below, by giving some attention to how you are lit you are sure to see some good results.
1. Natural lighting is always useful and a wonderful source, just as long as it is actually lighting you (the subject). This may mean you will have to move your desk or space so the window is in front of you and natural light is falling on you. If you are trying to light yourself with just natural lighting, don’t put the source behind you.
2. Use external key lighting to light your face. We know that ‘ring lights’ have become popular, but we recommend just any desk lamp or standing lamp that will provide a diffused, even light source across your face. You will have to experiment with the position of the lamp, but at an angle, above and slightly to the side is always a good start. You don’t want any dramatic or unflattering shadows across your face.
3. Use external accent lighting to light your background. This is an extra if you really want to get serious about how you look on Zoom. Using a smaller or softer light to illuminate your background will provide depth, create a warmer environment, eliminate any harsh contrast between the foreground and the background, and really allow your face to shine.
If you are not looking to buy an external camera, it is worth checking your Zoom and computer settings to ensure that your in-built computer camera is working at the best to its ability.
1. Check the camera settings on computer / laptop, and depending on what you have you may be able to adjust the quality
2. In Zoom follow zoom.us > Preferences > Video and make sure that the HD is ticked, and you can also use the ‘Touch up my appearance’ function, as well as the ‘Adjust for low light’
3. The ultimate upgrade is using an external camera or webcam. Zoom makes it really easy to change the ‘video source’ at any time. Just like with the microphones, there is a range of price points that you can find for external cameras, and in the end, even the cheaper ones will make a huge difference compared to your in-built computer camera. If you really want to upgrade your digital presence like an absolute pro, in the tutorial above, Sarah Shewey, our Founder and CEO, details the exact products, camera and whole set up that she uses everyday, all day for Zoom.
Generally speaking I’ve always gravitated to organizations and nonprofits with a really strong mission. I kind of found that out from a very young age, like in college, that I wanted to do something that was going to make the world less stupid and more empathetic.
Janet Lee, Senior Production Manager, VICE Audio at VICE Media
She has spent over a decade in digital media with a proven track record of developing, producing, and launching high-profile, editorial programs including TED Radio Hour on NPR, WorkLife with Adam Grant and Sincerely, X.
After 7 years with TED Conferences working her way up into different roles, Janet has now found herself in the world of podcast production. She was at Patreon as the Creator Partnerships Lead, and now is currently the Senior Production Manager at VICE. So, Janet knows a thing or two about what makes a successful podcast.
Asian women reached a 20-year high of 4,827,000 in Sept 2019, however, dropped nearly 17% (that’s a loss of 787,000 jobs) due to the pandemic. This is compared to employment dropping 15% for women and 12% for men in general across America. Graph: 'The Economic Status of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women' via Center for American Progress
1.4 million AAPI women in 2019 earned below $15 an hour. It is worth noting that there are wide differences of common occupations among AAPI subpopulations, driven by differences in culture, immigration patterns, generational wealth, and continual prejudices around gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and language. Graph: 'The Economic Status of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women' via Center for American Progress
AAPI women working full time, year-round earned 85c for every $1 given to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts in 2019. Graph: 'The Economic Status of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women' via Center for American Progress
44% of Asian women over 16yrs who lost their jobs during the pandemic were out of work for at least 6 months as of December 2020. For Asian women 20+ yrs, the unemployment rate in 2020 jumped from 3% in Feb to 16.4% in May. As of Jan 2021 the unemployment rate for Asian women is 7.9%, compared to 5.2% of white women. Graph: 'The Economic Status of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women' via Center for American Progress
It needs to be intentional and thoroughly thought over in order to craft a virtual event that will give attendees all they need to feel engaged with your content, and to feel connected to the experience of the event.
Engagement success can mean a lot of different things to people when it comes to virtual events. It can be the amount of comments people write, the amount of shares of a link, the amount of people that tuned in, or the average duration of the event that people stuck around to watch. If you ask us, the latter is the most important; how long a person stays to watch a virtual event is the most meaningful engagement metric.
Think about it, if a person is watching a virtual event in their home, and they are not enjoying it, there is little stopping them from just shutting the tab and moving on with their day. If you have convinced your attendees to stick around to watch your virtual event, you have already successfully engaged them.
Pro tip: We have put together a really handy tool for calculating the ROI for a virtual event that you might find helpful.
Summary: Holding someone’s attention is the ultimate engagement success.
Scripting an event is something we always do with our Happily virtual events. Looking at the whole event as a story, and storyboarding it as such, will allow you to craft those engaging moments for your audience and to build momentum, with the goal of keeping people watching for longer.
Once you have a detailed ROS (run of show) you can look at it, and identify moments you anticipate that the energy will drop, or people’s attention might drift, and edit the program accordingly. You want your attendees to feel like the event is constantly moving forward, and that there is so much more good stuff to come. It may not always matter how notable a guest speaker might be, the event around them needs to be packaged and teed up properly.
Summary: An event program needs to hold someone’s attention at every turn, just like a talk show.
Most of the time, no one wants to write the first comment in an empty chat box. So it is always a good idea to have people dedicated to adding comments and building some chatter in that space. This could be as simple as asking some of your staff members to create that energy in the chat, to add emojis, to make a basic comment, or agree with other people’s comments. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated sentences or questions. Most people will feel more comfortable contributing in the chat if they see other people doing it first.
Summary: Someone needs to be the one to break the ice and start the conversation.
Finding the right platform that people feel comfortable with talking in, commenting in and engaging in is really important. A digital space that is familiar and comforting to an attendee will naturally allow them to feel more confident to engage and chat, it’s that feeling of ‘I know how this works’. Which is why at Happily we utilize Zoom more than any other platform.
Summary: People will find it easier to engage in a way that is already familiar to them.
Images via Instagram @feleciafierro
She is a performance-driven, tech-savy, passionate events professional with over 14 years experience. From trade shows to executive retreats and weddings to galas, both digital and live - Felecia can produce it all!
I would have to say how to build a network and knowing when to use it.
I'm a creative, so of course! Outside of owning a creative events company, I also dabble in photography.
I love that despite us being in a pandemic, virtual events has enabled people to continue to come together - which we all crave! And as a bonus virtual events allow people from all over the world to meet in one place from the comfort of their own homes.
I have been with Happily for about 4.5 years. I have extended the types of events, managing onsite for a festival and adding speaker prep and management to my skill set as well as producing many virtual events over the last year.
As cheesy as it may sound, I'd have to say all of them! It is truly an honor to be trusted to help a company grow its brand and be able to deliver a high-quality experience for attendees. I will say the wedding I produced for a Happily client does hold close to my heart as I was able to build a personal relationship with the couple and still keep in touch with them today. We do tend to have the best clients!
Image: Screenshot of Felecia as a Happily Backstage Manager with Stacey Abrams and Gary Stewart for the 2021 Startup Grind Global Conference.
My home office style I would describe as clean and chic. Lots of clean lines with pops of color and overly organized! I'm a planner so it no surprise there! Working on a Happily event the day starts with lots of coffee as I run through the run of show and double-check the flow of the show. Then it's snack prep and go time! I always end with a giant thank you to my supporting team because without them I can not produce a great event!
I had already started to include a virtual component to events I was producing. However, COVID was a major push to go all digital. Producing a digital program is much like producing an in-person event. However, there is an element of surprise as to when speakers will show up and the quality of internet connections, lighting, and sound that you just have to be ready for. Plan for the unexpected and always have 3 backup plans on the ready and if all else fails be ready with a video to run!
Without a shadow of a doubt my daughter! She is a sassy 16-year-old with a giant smile and proves to be my motivation day in and day out. And also coffee!! :)
Tune in to Coffee O’Clock every Tuesday 10am PST as Sarah Shewey jumps on Instagram Live at @teamhappily, to give a quick update on all things Happily and chat with one of our Happily specialists. Here is a playback featuring Felecia from Tue 27th, April.
Depending on the event and the requirements, streaming engineers could be in charge of the main broadcast, or simply a breakout room.
As you are responsible for building and giving life to an event, so many of the tiny little details are in your hands, and it could mean make or break to the success of the event. From the correct Zoom settings, the video quality, audio sync with the livestream, and the exact timing of all the motion graphics, videos, presenters ect. into the broadcast. Every little detail needs to be checked, and then checked again.
We recommend an ethernet connection (not wifi) to maintain a steady bitrate throughout the livestream. A 'bitrate' is the quality of the video and/or audio being uploaded to the chosen platform, and it is so important. Your internet speed will determine what bitrate options you have. Platforms such as Ookla Speed Test will tell you what your current internet speed is.
Streaming through OBS is resource-intensive, and can be really hard work for a computer, or laptop. If your computer crashes, that would be disastrous for the live event. So, having a reliable desktop computer that can easily handle a complicated livestream with multiple programs running is e-ssen-tial.
The ROS (run of show) is basically your step-by-step, second-by-second manual of the livestream, and is your everything. In broad terms, your job is to follow the ROS to the T, and bring it to life. So, knowing, studying, clarifying and asking questions about the ROS of the event is crucial as a streaming engineer.
We have all the basics you need to start using this view for all your Zoom related activity. Plus, we have some inspiration for how it can be used as a quick and easy way to add some pizzazz to a virtual event.
It is a large global virtual background that allows the host to gather multiple participants together into the one screen or ‘scene’ as Zoom calls it. At the same time it erases the background of each participant in the Immersive View.
The Immersive View is only available to those with the latest version 5.6.4 (765).
Please Note: Participants who have an older version will not be able to experience the Immersive View when it is enabled. Instead unsupported participants will see the Gallery View or Speaker View as usual, and those with the update in the meeting will view these unsupported participants in the Immersive View scene with their original, solid backgrounds.
Like most other features on Zoom, only the host can enable the Immersive View in a meeting. The co-host and other participants will not even see the option on their screen under ‘View’.
If you’ve got the latest Zoom update and you are the host of the meeting, simply click ‘View > Immersive View’ and a new window should open up.
From here you can browse a collection of scenes to be ‘immersed’ into. Each scene will have a maximum number of people that it can accomodate, which is indicated by a little number in the bottom right hand corner of each thumbnail. The maximum that an Immersive View can hold is 25 participants.
Please Note: All other participants who you did not select to be in the Immersive View, or if there are more than 25 attendees, will be placed in their usual little boxes above the Immersive View. And by the way, this does not mean they are automatically muted.
You can place participants in view automatically or manually. Clicking ‘manually’ will allow you to elect which participants you want to immerse, which is ideal for keynote speakers and panel discussions.
There are currently 8 scenes to choose from, plus the host’s own video stream. They include an ‘art gallery’ (5 seats), an ‘auditorium’ (25 seats), a ‘boardroom’ (6 seats), a ‘fireside chat’ (2 seats), a ‘cafe’ (2 seats), a ‘classroom’ (25 seats), a ‘kitchen’ (2 seats) and ‘learning pods’ (25 seats).
You can add your own custom background image to use and in this view you can move participants around and resize them, which is perfect to create a custom branded space. Please Note: You can only add custom images, so you will need to use OBS for video.
Image: The 'Fireside Chat' Immersive View
As the host, you can not be visible in the Immersive View and run your OBS at the same time. This is only an issue for video and if you want to be seen. If you add a custom image to the Immersive View without OBS as mentioned above, you will not have this issue.
No, not within Zoom. When you record a meeting in the Zoom system the Immersive View will not appear, instead it will be recorded in Gallery or Speaker. The view that is recorded will depend on your recording settings, or the view that was used before starting the Immersive View. If you really want to capture the Immersive View in a recording, the way around this is by using a screen recording program, like Quicktime.
As host, you can easily revert back to Speaker or Gallery View, or change the Immersion View scene, at any time without disruption.
It is currently not available in Breakout Rooms.
For best results, participants should have a plain background with a solid color; a basic green screen would be ideal.
For even better results, participants should have their camera far enough from their body that it does not cut off any parts eg. shoulders, top of their head, gesturing hand movements.
GIF: Star Wars watch party using OBS and the Immersive View
You can have all the keynotes speakers (or perhaps a special guest and an interviewer) in the one screen to simulate a ‘main stage’ format, in which the rest of the participants (the audience) are focused.
There are now even more opportunities to add custom branding graphics to Zoom, meaning a touch of personalization, such as brand colors or logos, are streamlined for hosts.
Imagine participants dropping into a customised digital space with a fully branded backdrop for a fun and quirky photo op with others, or by themselves.
You can have the reaction to a video or movie of participants right there on the same screen and more integrated than ever. (Although, remember we mentioned you will need OBS for this.)
As there is now more interaction with participants - you can move them around, drop them into scenes and resize them, for example - there is plenty of opportunity to have some fun and create a dynamic experience.
GIF: From 826 Valencia's Bookeaters' Bash
Think of the virtual fundraiser as a place where you can visibly recognize and celebrate those who give donations, and having a few pledges already helps others feel comfortable to donate online during the event, too
This will allow people to start bidding on them and raising money, and then you can close the silent auction right before the start of the event, encouraging people to show up for the live virtual fundraiser
Make sure to have a few staff on hand to bring the chat to life, to share comments to encourage others to do so, and, of course, thank people for coming. Also, if you have an audience larger than a few hundred, spring for even more engagement and consider dedicated viewing rooms where people can watch together.
Text to donate and opening donation windows in a new browser really helps keep attendees watching the screen while donations are happening. You do not want to move people completely from the platform of your virtual event, and lose the energy and momentum of the experience.
The user experience design of the website needs to be simple and draw attention to only one of three calls to action at a time; watch, donate, or join. Use a main stage broadcast for live auctions and give the live MC cues for what to do next, eg; donate or join an interactive networking space.
For the content of the virtual fundraiser experience, work with our Happily specialists to tell the story of your program. A good mixture of emotive stories, a few words from any notable guests, celebs, employees, and the constituents of your nonprofit, is a winning recipe.
A rolling ticker at the bottom of the broadcast can help keep the focus of the event on your story, on the all important mission of your nonprofit, and connect the money given with what it is going towards. Plus, it will build excitement as donations flow in throughout the event, and the numbers tick closer and closer to your goal.
GIF: From 826 Valencia's Bookeaters' Bash
Get in touch with us and let’s chat about your virtual gala, virtual fundraising event or any virtual fundraising ideas you may have. Together we can produce a Happily virtual event customized for your nonprofit.
Plus, he introduces us to his startup, CLIP, a revolutionary device that will be a must-have for the urban commuter and anyone wondering how they can help the environment in their daily life.
Image: CLIP Co-founders Somnath Ray and Clément de Alcala
Having grown up in India, Som understands just how bad air pollution and urban congestion can get. When he found himself living in New York City he decided to start using biking as his primary mode of transport. Biking is awesome for a daily commute. It is way better for the environment than cars and they do wonders for easing traffic congestion. However, biking every day is not always easy. It can get real physically taxing and motivations can wax and wan, so that is where the pedal assist of an electric bike makes all the difference.
As a concept, the pedal assist of e-bikes makes the biking experience easier, quicker and ensures you don’t arrive at your destination all puffed and sweaty. However, e-bikes are not accessible to most people; they are expensive, they are heavy and their value means they often get stolen. Also, as Som points out, most of us already have a bike; personalized, wonderful bikes with diverse designs that reflect us. This is where CLIP comes in.
CLIP is a clean mobility startup that is creating a portable e-motor device to easily attach to any bike, instantly turning it into an e-bike. Founded in 2018 by Som Ray and Clément de Alcala, they want to democratize access to the benefits of an e-bike, and build an option much more low-cost, user-friendly and accessible. Plus, empower urban commuters and city dwellers to take on biking and significantly slash our impact on climate change.
Image: CLIP prototype on urban bike
As a sustainability conscious company ourselves, we loved that Apple products are now made with 100% recycled aluminum. Circular economy for the win! However, what we really wanted to highlight was the flawless event production of this 2021 Apple Event with so many beautifully executed best practices that we do here at Happily.
Storytelling is emotive, powerful and a format that is universally understood. Crafting the flow of the entire event and consciously planning an overall arch will help you find opportunities to bring a story together, connect with your audience, and build a solid structure for the event. We have storyboard artists and scriptwriters at Happily who are experts at curating an event to bring that cinematic and polished feel.
For more on that, check out this past LinkedIn Live with Kevin Cohen, Creative Director, Stungun Productions.
Combining strong elements of motions graphics and curated sets enables you to seamlessly bridge the real world with the virtual. We do custom motion graphics for our Happily events, with this more and more becoming a standard. This also includes translations between presenters or items; static transition slides feel like a presentation, motion is cinematic!
We love the rainbow!
This transition, though!
Something a little more simple, but still awesome.
By creating a simple one-way content website for your event and all the details, it can live their forever and feel timeless, acting as a base source for the product launch. When people watch the playback on the site it may kill that all important ‘this is something fresh, brand new and so exciting’ product launch buzz by including past comments and audience engagements that happened during the original live broadcast.
You don’t need a platform to create engagement around a broadcast, as chatter and conversation can happen on Twitter and other socials. Also, we can put YouTube live chat on a microsite so your comments can be consolidated in one place.
Each presentation sprinkled with short 30 - 60 second commercial-style videos to add more action, and successfully tease and recap product unveiling. This is also a really clever way to present the same information again in repetitive and refreshed ways for retention.
We loved meeting Carolyn, Cindy, Navpreet (and all the other included Apple staff) as they enthusiastically spoke in technical detail. This gives you a chance to form a personal connection with the audience, showing off the passion of the people who have helped bring the product to life. Plus, it can be a great opportunity to proudly display the diversity in your company.
Of course we know that for most people, speaking in front of a camera is not as easy as the Apple employees made it look. At Happily we can bring in speaker coaches for the more camera shy folks who may not be familiar with presenting in a situation like this. The goal being to give people the confidence and personalized advice they need to shine. We did this for a fundraiser with 826 Valencia by bringing their program managers on camera. It was something they had never done before and absolutely loved it.
Images via Instagram @jayco_tv
With over 10 years of experience at the intersection of major media, live-streaming, and technology, Alex prides himself on his versatile skill set. He describes as someone who is able to adapt to almost any need within the rapidly increasing industry of virtual event production.
I like to think, and have been told, my greatest skill is improvisation and adaptability. It may sound silly but it happens a lot with tech! Feeling like I just pulled a Doc Brown and seeing three computers come together and work in tandem, with wires hanging from my ceiling and threading over my room because that's just how to get the best quality... well, it appeals the 7 year old in me who always wanted to be a mad scientist.
I'm actually a talent manager! I have an agency partner in LA who has some really cool TV clients while I focus on finding social media creators that have the potential to make it in the traditional acting world (with some training, of course), and I help them curate their content to grow in a direction that'll help them make that transition. I also occasionally am a casting producer for various gameshows when they need me, like Match Game, Game of Talents, and The Hustler!
For me, it's the vision of where this can lead. In my mind, genuinely 90% of live TV could be produced remotely. It would make the industry so much more accessible for aspiring talent and crew, and it would make it so much more do-able for people who don't want to "move to Hollywood for the dream!" sort of thing. With my setup now (thanks to Happily) and the stuff I've played around with alongside Chris and JC, it's something I want to champion to the industry: Why even use a studio for more than the main talent if anything? It's cheaper, MUCH more environmentally friendly, and allows for far more eager minds to be a part of the team.
I was brought over by a friend of mine, Brielle. She's a Happily stream engineer pretty often, too. I used to stream on Twitch as a hobby (But secretly hoping I'd be Twitch famous, of course) and she was like 'Hey! The DNC needs livestream people'. and I'm just not the kinda guy to ask questions, and just said 'okay I'm down'. Best decision ever.
I think it would be the Startup Grind summit. Working three days back-to-back at roughly 14 hours each... that brought me back to being on-set... but from the comfort of my own desk. I loved every minute of it. And what a cool event to be a part of!
I'm someone with pretty severe diagnosed ADHD, so I have a pretty strict routine with myself so I don't get distracted and can stay on track. Every morning I wake up and steam 4 eggs, make a piece of toast, and air-fry 6 strips of bacon. Then I go down the street to my local coffee shop and get a Lucky Charms latte. Only the healthiest. On Happily event days, since I live in a Tiktok Content House that I manage, I make sure to announce to the house that it's an "on-air" day and everyone has to be quiet between X-Y hours. Then I get set up on my PC's and get ready for the show.
Image: Alex's monster set-up!
The transition kind of came by force with COVID. I was an events manager for a tech startup until Feb of 2020, then, well, we all know what happened next. Fortunately, my love of streaming and tech made it very easy to transition, since I was already using the tools that we would end up needing.
For advice... hmm... I would say try to be tech-forward. I know that sounds a bit generic, but what I mean by that is to really be aware of technology and learn as much of it as you can. This space is going to stay here and only continue to grow with time. And tech can be very hard for some folks to understand, but honestly, you can learn just about any of it on YouTube. If there's something you want to learn or don't know, take the 15 minutes to watch a video on YouTube that explains it. I promise it'll come in handy.
I am happiest when I'm outside adventuring or entertaining people via performing arts. Living in Arizona, one of my hobbies is exploring abandoned gold mines. (Don't try this at home) and there's something about the Indiana Jones feeling that brings me a special joy. As for acting and entertaining, it comes in all forms. If I have anyone laughing, I'm doing what I'm meant to be doing! Daily for me is my mom. She's had such a life of trials and tribulations that her strength inspires me every day to keep going and anything I can do to make her proud brings me daily joy.
Tune in to Coffee O’Clock every Tuesday 10am PST as Sarah Shewey jumps on Instagram Live at @teamhappily, to give a quick update on all things Happily and chat with one of our Happily specialists. Here is a playback featuring Alex from Tue 20th, April.
As part of our core values at Happily, we are actively dedicated to diversity in the workplace and all Happily events, as well as reinvesting in local and forgotten communities. This chat provides some practical advice and insights that all of us should listen to and be reminded of.
Yes kindness. Yes peace. Yes Equailty. Yes Love.
What I see in the MICE industry - or what we call meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions and even local events that happen - is there is a lack of supplier diversity. So when you’re looking at the different venues, and the different professionals, speakers, and panelists, or chef and DJs, there isn’t diversity amongst those businesses that we go to.
Zoe Moore, MS, CDP
She is an Army Veteran and a Certified Diversity Practitioner with an M.S. in Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism. Zoe engages with leaders to operationalize DEI assessments, resources and strategic action plans, and is an advocate for supplier diversity to encourage economic empowerment and sustainability.
Zoe is a former Event Resource Broker at LB Alliance, an event resource group that supports underrepresented professionals in the MICE industry. She is also the Co-Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for Meeting Professionals International (MPI).
She co-founded CADAZO Consulting Group, a women and minority owned business that is evolving the meetings and events industry through DEI dialogue, coaching, workshops. She is currently developing courses, content and workshops to contribute to the 2030 Agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
If you’re putting together an event and will be needing to hire supporting staff, entertainment, catering, performers - whatever it may be - prioritize finding and supporting local talent.
You’ll go into a city and they’ll use national brands. A national company will come in. They will get paid and they’ll take their money right on out. But if you bring local businesses and freelancers, like Happily does, into those events, they make money, they spend it locally and then it does something I call ‘toughen urban sustainability’. Strengthen that local community because they’re part of these events that are happening and not excluded from them.
Zoe Moore, MS, CDP
Do an honest and complete survey of the current demographic and diversity of employees. This detailed assessment will allow you to understand the relevant benchmarks you may need to set, any goals you may want to meet, and what areas you may need to focus on.
You have to acknowledge what the landscape of what the workforce looks like.
Zoe Moore, MS, CDP
Hiring a diverse array of employees is not sustainable if the working environment they join is not inclusive. Only by actively fostering a culture of belonging can a business allow their staff to feel comfortable and let their diversity shine through and their voices be respected. That is when true representation, diversity, equity and inclusion happen.
Now you have to identify ‘what am I gonna do to make my organization or this place inclusive?’ because a lot of people are working backwards. They’re like ‘okay we want diversity. Hire this person. Hire that person’ and they get into the environment and it’s not inclusive and there is no upward mobility so the effort becomes stagnant because you have a high attrition rate.
Zoe Moore, MS, CDP
Businesses have to be committed to diversifying staff, and not expect a diverse group of candients to come to them. Based on your goals around DEI, you need to be intentional by going into the community and places in which those underrepresented voices in the company can be recruited.
As you begin to hire it has to be intentional. You cannot post something on LinkedIn and say ‘hey, we’re hiring’ and expect people who have never seen your company as diverse or making any true effort. You have to be intentional. Go to the HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities]. Go to neighborhoods. Go to the community centres.
Zoe Moore, MS, CDP
We care deeply about the future of our planet, and that is why we use technology to create unique and fun events that are carbon zero. Our core values as a company, include representing diverse voices, reinvesting in local and forgotten communities, and reducing waste. For the moment let’s focus on the latter, although you can find more on the others here.
Image: Graph adapted from this original article by Shawna McKinley.
When we say we’re committed to combating climate change, we mean it. After each Happily event, we calculate the carbon emitted from the desktops of talent, tech, team, and guests. Then we take a percentage from our profits to plant trees in the Happily Forest, which is located in Tanzania and stewarded by our reforestation partner, Forest Nation.
By fully embracing a virtual-first program, you can reduce emissions by 90% or more. Virtual events are a format that everyone is increasingly more comfortable with, and businesses now understand the lasting benefits of them, even beyond the pandemic. They can be easily scaled, they can fit any budget, a wider audience can be connected with, there is greater opportunity for accessibility, and they often mean less time commitment for attendees and speakers. All this allows a business to justify virtual events being held more often, enabling a thriving calendar of virtual summits, virtual galas and virtual gatherings.
On average, virtual events reduce 97% of carbon emissions compared to an in-person event. This is largely due to a lack of travel of people and goods to and from a city and/or venue. All that movement would usually account for 90% of an event's carbon emissions.
Local clustering of events can reduce emissions by 75% or more. An example of this would be, instead of a single major in-person event in which participants would fly to from all over the country, have several smaller events in relevant cities, collectively reducing the amount of travel required for attendees.
Other than a forest fire, air travel emits the most carbon emissions per hour than anything else. Incredibly, 1% of global frequent fliers are responsible for more than half of those emissions. Of course, we do not wish to vilify air travel, nor should anyone be shamed into flying less. However, decreasing a need for air travel is a very real way to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your event, as over 90% of an event's carbon emissions come from flights.
The benefits of community for a business is something that is understood and utilized more each year. Actively building, nurturing and guiding a community in line with your business goals means that you can consolidate in person tentpole events down to one time a year.
The power of community for businesses is a wonderfully immersive topic. So rather than go into all of it here, we are going to guide you to some recent Happily Live interviews with experts in this field. For more on the benefits of community for your business, you must check out this chat with David Spinks. And this conversation with Gina Bianchini is essential for learning how to build a community online for your business.
Happily is powered by the largest, most diverse network of tech-savvy, environmentally conscious event specialists. We bring tech, talent, and team together for custom, carbon-zero virtual events. Contact us for a chat and together we can produce an eco-friendly virtual event!
She has a powerhouse work-ethic backed by organization and a passion for music. She specializes in being able to keep projects on track, connecting the dots, and finding creative solutions. Kat prides herself on her ability to plan for the unexpected and integrate philanthropic thought into business.
Being able to prepare for situations with a solid plan and pivot when things change!
I absolutely love camping, hiking, exploring, and traveling.
I love being able to have less impact on the environment and climate change through virtual events. I also think virtual events allow for more collaboration from people who are across the country and around the world.
I heard about Happily from a friend who I worked on a few events with and decided to join the team because the events that Happily produce truly make an impact.
I worked on 826 Valencia's Fundraiser and it was by for the most memorable one. It was my first event with Happily and I thought it was amazing to see people who were all great at their craft come together to help support a non-profit who is amazing at what they do.
I transitioned to virtual events due to the pandemic and the need to continue to work and bring meaningful connections to people. While virtual and in-person events are very different, they also have a TON of similarities. I found the best way to transition was to dive in head first, do the research, trust my gut, and listen to experts around me. Just do it and make sure you have good internet.
Connecting people and giving back makes me happy! I always try to make sure I check in with the people I care about and help out those around me when I can.
Tune in to Coffee O’Clock every Tuesday 10am PST as Sarah Shewey jumps on Instagram Live at @teamhappily, to give a quick update on all things Happily and chat with one of our Happily specialists. Here is a playback featuring Kat from Tue 13th, April.
Hiring a solid video editor is a make or break position for the success of your event.
Kari Mulholland, Producer, Happily
They make aesthetic and creative decisions that will greatly impact the internal workflow, the final outward-facing product and the lasting entertainment value of the event.
As they are usually only in the early pre-production stages of an event, their actions will affect the rest of the production team. The Video Editor’s understanding of the creative and technical flow of the team after they are no longer actively needed, will ensure that the video files can be easily utilized and understood by various team members down the pipeline.
You are editing a video to represent a client, or company, or brand - so you must stick closely to their established brand guidelines and graphic line. Although there is always room to add your own creativity and flair, it must be consistent with the client’s brand styling and overall aesthetic.
Your edited video files will be handled by many other team members and roles. Having all your files and exports well organized and correctly named will ensure there is no confusion or headaches caused by them down the production pipeline.
Remember that video editing is not just cutting several shots together in random order. It's telling a story. No matter how ‘simple’ a video edit may seem, finding a way to bring emotion and entertainment through building a narrative is what makes an engaging experience.
We all think we know what loneliness is. However, in this digital age, we are experiencing a particular type of loneliness that started long before social distancing, lockdowns, and the isolating year that was 2020. Friendships are the answer to happier, healthier and more productive lives both at work and outside of it. So, why hasn’t the average American made a new friend in the last 5 years? And why is only 4% of our time spent with our friends?
The definition of loneliness isn’t how many followers you have, or friends you have on Facebook, or how active your social life is, it’s actually the disconnection between what you want to be feeling in terms of connection, and what you actually feel. It’s that gap. It’s that subjective gap.
Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author
He helps companies attract, retain, and empower the next generation. As a prominent keynote speaker, Smiley inspires and guides thousands of professionals on how to be more connected at work and why those social bonds are fundamental. He has addressed companies and organizations such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Unilever, Deloitte, and Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Smiley has advised heads of state and foreign leaders about millennial talent, multigenerational engagement, and fostering belonging in the digital age. He has also spoken in front of 50,000 people in 20 countries, and his video ‘Refusing to Settle: The Quarter-Life Crisis’ for TEDx Talks has over 1.5m views.
In 2017 he launched The Women/Womxn, BIPOC, and Inclusivity Speaker Initiative, which has grown to over 4,000 members. Its goal is to increase opportunities for women and other underrepresented keynote speakers, as well as ensure that they are paid competitively.
He is the author of 3 inspirational books, The Quarter-Life Breakthrough: Invent Your Own Path, Find Meaningful Work, and Build a Life That Matters (2014), The Breakthrough Speaker: How to Build a Public Speaking Career (2018), and Friendship in the Age of Loneliness: An Optimist's Guide to Connection (2021).
For the past 20 years our daily lives have been fundamentally changing along with the rise of technology. A shift in how we socialize has happened, and it no longer prioritizes in-person, real life, regular meetups with like-minded people in your community. Loneliness has grown along with this shift. 80% of Gen Z’ers, 70% of Millennials and nearly two thirds of Americans (of all ages) are lonely.
We used to have bowling leagues, we used to meet up with people at the local church, or the VFW, or the town hall, or these Elks Clubs, having kind of these neighborhood-based places where you would just see people and regularly talk.
Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author
The ability to connect with like-minded people that technology has allowed us is truly wonderful. However, we need to be more conscious of how we use it. Only when we use social media as a facilitator can it enable us to nurture or create friendships. Think of it more as a wayfinder; the means in which you can easily find direction, to organize and meet up for conversations and interactions in real life.
Social media can contribute to your wellbeing, but if it’s just the end place, if it’s just like ‘I’m on here and I’m on here’ and I never get off the hamster wheel, it’s really really unhealthy for you.
Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author
If you have at least 1 close friend at your workplace, you will be 7x more engaged. Friendships in the workplace are so important, especially as we increasingly use technology more and more to communicate and collaborate. Casual conversations as you both make coffee in the staff kitchen, or exchanging ‘good morning’ smiles in the hallway is something we are experiencing less as the world moves away from traditional office spaces.
1. Enable moments for people’s uniqueness and individuality to shine through in conversation. For example, spend the first 10 or 15 minutes of a Zoom call just chatting before getting into the meeting agenda.
Allowing people to bring their full selves to work, allowing people to share who they are, allowing people to have these moments talking about their hobbies, their passions, things that they’re working on, so people get a sense of who their colleagues are.
Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author
2. Don’t shy away from smaller sized and more personable conversations and meetings.
I also think facilitating more one-on-ones is important, it’s hard to develop a best friend when you are 20 people on a Zoom.
Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author
3. Celebrate each other and lift each other up. Everybody feels good when they feel seen, heard and appreciated, and as a result, the team as a whole will feel more connected. There are even platforms such as tribute.co that have made it super simple to create a collaborative video montage.
Affirmation and celebration and praise is really important especially right now during the pandemic. Feedback is always important, but right now having channels where people can give praise, give gratitude, celebrate their people is really remarkable.
Smiley Poswolsky, Millennial Workplace Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author
Image: The word 'happily' in American Sign Language (ASL) signs
Live captioning is when captions of the spoken languages are transcribed in real time, resulting in a seamless and more accurate experience than automated captions.
This is referred to as CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) and nowadays there are many companies that specialize in this service and it can be easily integrated into digital platforms, including Zoom. Live captioning is ideal for forward-facing broadcasts, where attendees are simply observing and taking in what and/or who is on screen.
If the focus of your virtual event is around discussion and verbal interaction of attendees, then most often an ASL interpreter is preferred over live captioning by deaf and/or hard of hearing individuals.
This is perfect for an event via Zoom. However, it is worth noting that this is a little tricker for a broadcast if you would like to reuse any footage across some social media platforms.
The final product will be forced into a 16:9 ratio (horizontal) with ASL and so it will be tough to reuse content for social media platforms that ideally require a 1:1 ratio (square) or a 9:16 ratio (vertical). We are mainly talking about Instagram and TikTok. The workaround for this is to pre-record segments that you want to show later on your social networks or plan for added time and budget to make an alternate in post-production edits.
This option is straightforward and clean, especially if you are catering for an audience mix of ASL users and non-ASL users. However, having multiple stages will increase costs and affect the budget. Even though it can get really pricey, in the end the result will be an identical event experience for all your attendees.
This will add some cost, although not as much as Option #2 described above. Ultimately the event experience will not be identical for all attendees, and may create feelings of isolation and social cohesion.
This option is a hybrid of having live captions (CART) during a broadcast and an ASL interpreter for any following verbal interactions (eg. in a Zoom breakout room or a Q&A format).
As we mentioned up top, live captioning is ideal for a broadcast as generally the focus is on visual presentations and guest speakers and not on direct interaction with the attendees. If a following item in the event schedule is intended to generate discussion then the live captioning can be switched out for an ASL interpreter.
The RespectAbility website is a wealth of knowledge on how we can all contribute to advancing opportunities for those with disabilities.
They are a nonprofit that works collaboratively with organizations to educate and guide them on ways that people with disabilities in communities can be included. Here is a practical guide they have for creating virtual events that are accessible for all.
In whichever way your Happily virtual event needs to be more accessible, together we can design tailor-made UX experiences and custom-built digital platforms for your Happily event and your attendees.
Contact Team Happily to chat about any requirements and let’s create something truly special.
I have more than 6 years managing Event Production from experiential events, pop-ups, and major conferences. I oversee the day-to-day logistics of everything; production from behind the laptop to the event site. I have also successfully launched a drive-in theater in August 2020 as the Production Director.
I am high energy and all smiles! In life, and at work, I am exceptionally good at spreading a positive vibe and keeping the energy up in the room!
I am also a Group Fitness Instructor! I have experience teaching HIIT, Circuit Training, and leading youth dance fit classes.
I enjoy how virtual events have the same capabilities to keep audiences engaged with main stage events that have breakout sessions various rooms for participants to join, and the ability to have direct interactions with participants through video and chat features. Virtual events allow companies to have these intimate interactions with their participants that they may not have had at all at an in-person event.
I heard about Happily through an internet search and signed up right away! I loved the idea of joinging a network of indusrty peers! We all share the same interest to create and produce rockstar events all year long!
The Doordash event was most memorable for me. I had the opportunity to Manage one of the rooms available for participants to join during the event. The talent for the room was also a fitness intructor and we had such a great time woring together building the run of show (RoS) and creating engaging cues and talking points to execute during the event. I loved seeing it all come together once the event was live and the particpant response was really great!
I work in my living room and usually open the patio door so I can pretend I am outside! And typically once I open my laptop in the morning, it stays open for most of the day! When working on a Happily event I really don't have too much else going on, I even turn off anything else in my house that uses wifi, to be sure I am operating at the best speed for the event.
2020 was a crazy year, and really forced people to make unexpected changes. I was one of those people, I had never thought I would be working in the virtual event space, but when the opportunity came about, I knew it was something I could succeed at. I had a lot of experience working Zoom and online platforms and was anxious to try something new! For anyone who is thinking about getting into virtual events, PLEASE go for it!! There is so much to learn and many new experinces to have that are just as fulfilling as in person events!
In my daily life, I find happiness in FOOD! Seriously, a hot bowl of Raman or crispy brussels sprouts truly bring me pure bliss!!
Tune in to Coffee O’Clock every Tuesday 10am PST as Sarah Shewey jumps on Instagram Live at @teamhappily, to give a quick update on all things Happily and chat with one of our Happily specialists. Here is a playback featuring Tiffany from Tue 6th, April.
Understanding where we might encounter variables that don’t necessarily fit our plan and how to navigate them and communicating that; I think adaptability is one of the biggest things we need on a project like this.
Arthur Kozlovski, Associate Producer, Happily
An Associate Producer is added to a broadcast team when the event has 5 (or more!) breakout rooms. They work closely with the overall Producer, leading the ROS of the Breakout Rooms and managing all staff involved with the Breakout Rooms.
Be open to feedback, listen to your team and be flexible to how things are approached. In the video interview above, Arthur expands on this idea and explains why it is so important as an Associate Producer.
More often than not, no two breakout rooms are the same. Have a baseline set of requirements for all the Breakout Leads, but also customize directions based on the experience (eg. a panel discussion vs a cooking class).
As the buffer between the Producer and the Breakout Leads, constantly check-in to make sure that everyone has the knowledge and direction that they need.
Seek and fill any holes in the Breakout Leads’ understanding of the ROS, altering your own instructions to ensure they have all the guidance they need.
A sense of belonging, connection, shared purpose, feeling like you are connected to a group of people. And that’s the foundation of this work, you need that, that’s the fuel that makes it all work. And businesses are starting to become aware of that and make community a really core value for both internally - how do we make employees feel like they belong - and then externally - how do we make customers, partners, investors feel like they are all connected and they belong.
David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy
As a 3x startup founder and an experienced community leader, David has spent a decade advising and training hundreds of organizations (such as Google, Facebook, and Airbnb) in community strategy. Simply put, he is an expert on the intersection of community and business.
In 2014 he co-founded CMX, an international hub for community professionals to support each other through education, and events. Bevy, an enterprise software to power community-driven events, acquired CMX in 2019. David now serves as the Vice President of Community at Bevy to assist companies launch and scale event-driven community programs.
David is now an author with the release of his book, The Business of Belonging, How to Make Community your Competitive Advantage, which is the #1 New Release in Direct Marketing on Amazon! He shares all he has learnt about what makes a winning community strategy, from the fundamental concepts to practical engagement techniques.
Instead of constantly explaining or showing the value of your business or product to people, a strong community will allow members to create and share that value for you.
Traditional businesses have always been about marketing and building an audience and to build an audience you essentially just help people, you create value, a product, something that they consume. To build a community you help people help each other. You create spaces and platforms for them to create value for each other rather than you, the business, having to create all the value for them.
David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy
The sweet spot to build a community is the place where the value to the business and the value for the members balance. It is the space where they overlap that opportunity and success can be found.
If you go into building community and you are only optimizing for profit you’re not really focusing on how you serve members and really give them a true sense of connection and belong and value, then your community is not going to have engagement...
David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy
By their very nature, a community grows towards a level of self-sustainability. Starting with a solid foundation of business goals for the community, and a clear understanding of the ways in which you want community to benefit the business, is essential in knowing how and where to guide this ship once it leaves the dock.
If you only focus on creating engagement and you’re not starting with an understanding with what is the business objective you’re trying to drive, how it will ultimately result in ROI, you’ll end up having a community that is engaged but you can’t justify the investment, you don’t know what the return is…
David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy
Being able to clearly see the value of your community to your business will give you the confidence and information you need to justify and invest more in it. Although gathering these metrics can be tricky, David has developed a framework he refers to as The SPACES Model; Support Product Acquisition Contribution Engagement Success. He dives deep into that in his new book, and has a summary here via the CMX website.
Largely due to the pandemic, virtual events are a format that both companies and participants are now more comfortable with. Businesses have seen the lasting benefits of virtual events; they are highly scalable, they are more affordable, more people can be reached, it has much greater accessibility, and they can be held more frequently than in-person events.
I think virtual events themselves are here to stay because they provide a really scaleable balance to the very time and cost intensive in-person events.”
David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy
Moving forward event programs for communities will be a mix of virtual and in-person events. There will always be a certain sense of magic that happens when a group of people meet in the same physical space, and so, in-person events are important to communities. Ideally the yearly events calendar for a community would have some events as 100% virtual, and others as 100% in-person.
The reality is that virtual tools do not give you the same sense of proximity, connection and serendipity that you get in-person.
David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy
The idea of a hybrid event that simultaneously creates an equal sense of connectivity for both the virtual and in-person participants is not something we are likely to see a rise in. They are really two separate events happening at once with two separate experiences for those participating. If the goal of an event is to nurture connections between members, it is ideal to separately utilize the strengths of in-person and virtual events.
[A hybrid event is] a lot harder to do than people think, it’s a lot more expensive to do than people think, it’s not an ideal experience for people because people who are watching online generally just feel left out from the in-person experience, people in-person feel overwhelmed by all the online people and they just wanna talk to the people there in-person.
David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX and Vice President of Community at Bevy
However, the pandemic abruptly caused many nonprofits with long standing fundraising formats to pivot and seek new avenues. That is where virtual fundraisers were given the chance to shine. A virtual fundraising event is so much more than an ‘alternative’ to an in-person event and their benefits reach long after the passing of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Social media is a great tool to optimize donations by connecting with your established followers in a format they are already familiar with.
You can spread the word about your cause to more people in your community and across the country, and then make it so easy for them to donate as they wish. This is a huge win for fundraising goals as you would not be excluding anyone who, for whatever reason, would not have been able to easily attend an in-person event.
A customized user experience and giving people options are always important, and both those things can be fully optimized with virtual events.
Staying connected with your community of donors and engage supporters, making them feel involved and in the loop, is a great way to build trust and inspire them to make a donation.
Seeing donations made in real time, watching that pledge counter go up and up, having a donors name pop up on the screen; it all generates a sense of collective excitement that makes participants feel instantaneously fulfilled when making a donation.
Team Happily recently worked with LEAP, a nonprofit based around mentorship programs for youth in low income communities. We were able to successfully transform an annual fundraising event that they had been hosting for 25 years into their first virtual gala.
You can read all about the challenges, solutions and results in this LEAP Case Study, as well as a video summary of the event.
Get in touch with us and let’s chat about your virtual gala, virtual fundraising event or any virtual fundraising ideas you may have. Together we can produce a Happily virtual event customized for your nonprofit.
I define community very narrowly… which is; are you creating the conditions by which people can meet and build relationships with other people? Think about it as member to member connections.
Gina Bianchini, CEO and Founder, Mighty Networks
She is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Mighty Networks, a flexible web platform and community management tool that ‘brands with purpose’ can use to embrace and nurture their community via online courses, events, memberships and subscription content all in one spot. Their mission is to guide in a new era of digital businesses that are built on the power of community.
The precursor to Mighty Networks was the 2004 pioneering social networking website, NING, which Gina is the founder of NING with Marc Andreessen. It is a platform which allows an online presence and community to be built from the ground up.
Think about building a community like hosting a dinner party. Not all your guests know each other, but you know all of them. You know what they have in common and what makes each one of them amazing human beings.
So as the ultimate host you would carefully craft an environment in which organic conversations can be fostered, in which your guests feel comfortable and especially in which connections can grow independently of you - so the party can continue even while you step away into the kitchen to check on dinner.
What is our ultimate goal? It is to create a community or a network of people that gets more valuable to every member with each new person that joins and contributes and we are gonna use many different tools in our toolbox to make that network as valuable to as many people as possible.
Gina Bianchini, CEO and Founder, Mighty Networks
Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are, as Gina describes, ‘moving in the opposite direction’ to building communities. They are certainly powerful digital marketing tools and important for brand awareness.
However, they are mostly one sided conversations without much significant relationship building happening. If your business goal is to build a thriving community with a sense of belonging, social media platforms are wonderful tools in your box, but they are not the best ones for this job.
So if you think about DMs and the fact that you have Stories and DMs, that’s actually, ‘I talk out at you, you talk back at me’, but nobody's meeting or building relationships with each other. The comments sections, people continue to try to build communities in comments sections but the reality is, it’s really hard.
Gina Bianchini, CEO and Founder, Mighty Networks
All successful communities, as Gina explains, have cultivated the same sort of environment and culture for strong online community engagement and connecting members. Here are some common threads:
A community with intention blossoms in the digital space, and in-person events are just another way for members to connect with each other through their common interests. By saying ‘online community’ we are focusing on ways in which a community stays connected and interacts in the digital space, in-between or in spite of real life events.
When you focus primarily on the online interactions of the community you are cultivating lasting connections by establishing strong patterns of communications for long after an in-person conference or event has passed.
When you’re thinking about a conference you are better off thinking about how you get people before they come. Before they come. The energy around joining something online that is digital, is before the event, not after.
Gina Bianchini, CEO and Founder, Mighty Networks
Overcommunicate. So if you have any questions, ask them early and ask a lot of questions - no one at Happily gets mad if you ask too many questions. It’s always better to be overprepared.
Kevin Rabinovich, Clock and Timekeeper, Happily
During a Happily broadcast this role is referred to as the clock, but in a breakout scenario it’s the timekeeper. Tasks vary slightly between these two settings, which Kevin explains in the interview above.
You’ll need the Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and the My Stream Timer app. Both of these programs are free to download.
Consider setting up a one-on-one with the producer or livestream engineer (eg. there may be a particular speaker they anticipate will go over time).
Fully customize and add slides for a Happily virtual and/or speaker based on notes from the producer, or any issues you anticipate. (eg. adding an additional slide to gently nudge a speaker into the next item).
Even before a team Happily rehearsal, go through the full ROS on your own. This will help you anticipate any problems, ensure your tech is good to go and ultimately that you come off as the professional that you are.
If you’re feeling the fatigue just thinking about planning your annual sales kickoff virtually, chances are that you just need a little help refreshing your programming to make the most out of your time in 2021.
Happily has produced thousands of hours of virtual team meetings for startups with small founding teams to global tech giants with tens of thousands of employees. We’ve taken enough creative risks and made enough mistakes to promise you that your virtual meeting can be really great and maybe - gasp, dare we say it?? - better than ever.
It’s tough joining a team these days, so designing a special experience for the noobs can go a long way:
Virtual events will end up as a recording you can simply press play on, so the narrative quality of your experience is more important than ever.
Curb your desire to bring everyone at exactly the same time and instead embrace a regular work day schedule on the regional level.
Sarah: Camille, can you introduce yourself, where you work, your role, and what kind of events you are organizing right now?
Camille: Sure! Hi, my name is Camille White-Stern, I am the Executive Coordinator at Splash which is an event marketing software company. My role is unique. I am sort of like the right hand to the CEO, so I work very closely with him and the rest of our executive team, and I also plan a ton of events. I plan events for our team - their internal events like our all-hands, cultural events, our annual offsite holiday events; and then I also get to work closely with our marketing team and produce events for our customers. I work with sales sometimes to produce events for prospects that we’re targeting. And a lot of the events that I’ve been planning recently are workshops, they’re webinars, and sometimes it’s just a party, just to party, kind of virtual events. So kind of all over the map. But the goal of these events is really just to create human connection, especially in this time. We are all working from home in quarantine, so it's been really interesting to navigate the virtual event landscape during this time.
Sarah: And can you tell us a little bit about… when do you use Happily to help you with your event?
Camille: So, I have learned that I just need to reach out to Happily as soon as I know what the next date is for my virtual event. I am reaching out to Happily and I am securing them as my tech support. The reason that I love working with Happily, and using them as tech support on my virtual events, is that it really just gives me one (or sometimes more than one) less thing to worry about. As an event planner we all know it can get crazy, and navigating virtual events is something new for me. So, to be able to have Happily on these events with me, and providing just invaluable tech support really takes a lot of the stress and anxiety out of planning and execution of events for me.
Sarah: Awesome! Can you tell us a little bit more about… what are the things like Joy does for you that is a really big help? Just describe a little bit more in detail what you’re delegating.
Camille: So, Joy is amazing. Joy is on the Happily team. Working with Joy, she basically works with me as a sort of like a technical event producer. So she’s, right off the bat, asking important questions and helping me figure out... ok, you know I’m obviously gonna tell her what the format of the event is going to be - but she will then walk through and make sure she has a clear understanding of the run of show for me.
If we have to figure out any cues for breakouts, or for launching poll questions in Zoom, (we use Zoom a lot at Splash for our virtual events but there’s a ton of other great tools out there). And Joy is... she knows so much more about Zoom and how to produce a successful event on Zoom, that it just takes a lot of time out of the planning process for me. If I have a question, I can just slack Joy and say “Hey Joy! Is it possible for us to open up 30 breakout rooms in a second breakout, but only 5 breakout rooms in the first breakout?”. So, whenever I have a technical question I can go to Joy or the Happily team.
And in terms of executing the event - once Joy has gotten this very clear rundown of the event not only for the content side but the technical side - then during the event, she is in constant communication with me. If things need to change on the fly, she’s just adapting and adjusting immediately, which, you know, happens a lot in events.
Before the event, she’ll send me a recap... We do a tech check - a rehearsal - to make sure everything is working, we test all the settings. She’ll send me a recap - very detailed, so that I can review it and confirm, or I have the opportunity to say “actually we’re gonna change this thing in the run of show.”
And then after the event, she always offers the opportunity for me to get my feedback: what went well, what could be better for next time, we can do a debrief if there’s any major issues that we really need to investigate. Even if I don’t ask, Joy is going to follow up and say “Hey, I realized why we had some difficulties with breakouts in the last event. It's because these people joined the Zoom, and they left the Zoom, so they didn't have an assignment to a room.” So just having that extra level of insight and support, and just the detail-oriented work that Joy does is… it’s just unmatched. I honestly don’t want to do virtual events without Happily!
Sarah: We love you! For our last question: what kind of events or what kind of customers, or maybe both, do you think should consider using Happily?
Camille: Seriously everyone. If it’s a meeting, you might not need tech support. But if you are planning a virtual event - even if it’s on the smaller side and you only have, you know, 15 to 20 people - it’s just really nice to have Happily’s support on a call, because like I said, you can focus on the content and engaging with the attendees, while Joy (or someone else from the Happily team) is focusing on making sure your event is still running smoothly. And like I said, if anything pops up, I can slack Joy on the side and ask her to look into something for me, or if she notices an issue she’ll reach out to me and bring it to my attention.
I really think no matter the size of your virtual event, no matter the size of your company or your team, you want to have tech support, and I think Happily just provides the best support out there.
And, I also can’t stress enough: running a virtual event is so different than an in-person event. In the past, I was able to execute events sometimes entirely on my own, with no support - but it would really be impossible for me to execute a virtual event on my own, without support. I can’t play host and - let’s say we have the waiting room enabled - I can’t admit attendees, and be present to welcome guests and make sure I’m checking them in on my Splash app, and things like that. So you know like I said, regardless of the size of the event, I really think you need to have one dedicated tech person - and Happily provides that. So why would I go anywhere else?
Sarah: Awesome! That would be it, unless there’s anything else that you feel like you wanted to mention?
Camille: I mean, you tell me what you want me to say and I’ll say it. I will literally sing your praises from the mountain tops!
Sarah: That’s it. I think that’s great. We love you. Thank you so much. Thank you so so much for using us. We just love helping you and your community honestly, and, like, Joy is in the video but she’s like, “Camille is so great!” So, truly, we love working with you. So thank you!
Camille: The feeling is mutual and hopefully this is a long long partnership.
Sarah: Yeah I know, looking forward to it. So thanks again, Camille.
Camille: You’re welcome.
Before Happily On Wordpress
After Happily With custom code
Companies fly Amy Jo all around the world to have her teach them the Game Thinking process, but about three years ago she decided to go exclusively online as she saw her teams achieve more progress with her clients in online workshops that she facilitated. In her conversation with our CEO Sarah Shewey, Amy Jo shared some lessons learned from helpful tips on how she structures her own workshops to maximize small group learning online.
Turn your all-day workshops into a sprint: a dedicated period of time with a key focus that has a beginning and an end. During a sprint, independent work is supported by daily touchpoints with the group. Sprints help big goals feel less overwhelming and empowers participants to feel confident that the outcome of one sprint will lead to the foundation of the next. It takes a bit more upfront work to layout all the content, but ultimately a sprint achieves better results and is much easier to fit into busy workdays for your executives.
Be clear on which parts of your event are in broadcast mode (eg. one presenter to many listeners) vs discussion mode (eg. small group sessions with participation). A helpful exercise is to think about the interactions you want participants to experience with each “Aha!” moment and then decide whether or not you want that to be open for broadcast or discussion.
With workshops, broadcast mode is often much better delivered in pre-recorded, micro-learning segments of no more than five minutes made available for replay. Discussions are also best when done in groups of four to eight, so that everyone can have a chance to speak up. Be sure to design your docs and templates for the screen rather than a printed page, taking aspect ratio into account when you layout your slides.
As Amy Jo explains, game thinking is “developing the right products for the right people and having it drive engagement with a coherent customer journey.”
Originally published on TechCrunch
A well produced experience provides a great way to reach outside of your existing networks, build a pipeline of new customers, transform existing customers into superfans, and position your brand as a thought leader. In 2017, only 7% of marketers said that events were their most important marketing channel. Last year, that number rose to 41% according to a survey done by Bizzabo.
As the founder of Happily, the largest network of event producers in the United States, I’ve had backstage access to thousands of events - some wildly successful like TED and others that didn’t ever get traction in building an engaged community.
The experiential marketing industry has long struggled to measure success in a meaningful way. They propose all the same KPIs (key performance indicators), but rarely do those KPIs provide a benchmark to determine if an event is successful or give marketers the ability to tell what worked and what didn’t. They especially fall down when customers aren’t won until months after an event.
While increasingly important, events require a lot of time, resources, and exhausting weekly meetings to do them well. The per person cost for a modest conference with lots of donated services will cost around $350 and an upscale conference experience costs about $1,500. For one day. Per Person. So how do you know when putting on an event is worth the effort?
I started kicking around this question with one of the members of Happily’s network of executives called the Braintrust. Dustin Varty, who led experiential marketing campaigns at Impossible Foods and Samsung. Together, we came up with an ROI calculator to help you determine the efficacy of launching an event marketing campaign. Read on to step through our top line thinking behind the numbers.
How many people do you know who have met a co-founder, employee, or even life partner at events? Now, how many of those have you met through an ad? Probably very, very few.
A simple way to calculate this is take the average purchase size and multiply that by both the frequency rate of purchase and customer lifespan.
So, if your customer usually spends an average of $1,000 once a month on your product and stays loyal for 6 months, your LTV will be $6,000.
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is historically the most accurate measure of a consumer's perception of an experiential event. A high NPS score of 10 means that a customer is extremely likely to recommend your experience to someone else, increasing network efforts that contribute to organic growth and reduce your cost of acquiring new customers.
NPS measures customer experience and predicts business growth in a very effective way, but what it doesn’t do is take into account your event’s performance relative to cost.
For a successful event where your average NPS score is 10, we know from industry research that 85% of people are likely to purchase your product.
$6,000 LTV x 10% conversion x 1,000 attendees = $600,000
This suggests that your well-received event would yield $600,000 in increased revenues in the future.
When calculating expenses, we add up these costs:
Most people don’t take this third factor into consideration, but we caution against that. One of the most expensive parts of an event is the time to plan. At Happily we’ll see an average of 100+ hours of planning time for every 1 hour of event time.
So for example if you made $600,000 in revenue and spend $350,000 on production, marketing, and staff hours then your net profit would equal $250,000. Your ROI would then be $250,000 / $350,000 = 71.4%
The simple calculations above are also supplemented with logic around any social and PR media impressions earned as well as weighted by the duration of your event. Try it out and let us know your feedback!