The alternative to live captioning is using an AI software to automatically transcribe all speech-to-text. Again, AI tech can generate a transcription into the original language, or a translation into other languages. AI Speech-to-Text Software is advancing all the time and can be an ideal option for making translations available into all languages with a widget plug for attendees to choose from.
However, live captioning is recommended for single translations (eg. English speech to English text, English speech to Spanish text). The final result will be a more accurate and smooth speech-to-text experience for virtual attendees.
Including captions to any video content, including a live broadcast, is always an advantage. Captions and subtitles are now common practice on social media, and is a simple step towards accessibility. As a society we are accustomed to and almost expect the option for captions on our content.
Ideally we assume attendees are watching and listening to a broadcast in a quiet space, with headphones and no distractions. However, a part of the appeal and advantages of events in the digital space, is that attendees can attend from wherever they find themselves at that time. For example, on public transport, or with their children running around, or outside in a park ect. Having captions will significantly allow attendees to stay engaged with the event program in the circumstances that they are unable to fully hear the audio.
As an alternative to an ASL interpreter, having live captions is a necessary and welcome addition for any attendees who are hearing imparied. Find a blog dedicated to adding an ASL interpreter to a virtual event here.
If the livestream is only being shown in Zoom, anyone who has experience typing speech-to-text should work. However, if the livestream captions are intended to be shown on an external website or inside the Vimeo / YouTube player live, then the captioner also needs special equipment.
Typing fast is hard work and to improve work conditions as well as quality of output, we should let the captioners switch off every 30 minutes. In this case, always hire two people instead of just one. The only exception to this might be in a one hour meeting.
It’s really important to let speakers know that there will be captioning and a script will be helpful to the captioners. No script? At minimum, share the run of show with the correct spelling of speaker names.
Conduct a tech rehearsal just with the captioners to test that you can get their captions into the player and/or website. Zoom is very easy. Broadcast is not and requires specific captioning equipment from the captioner.
The Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 is not your average fashion runway show. It is a video experience that showcases the best of the brand's lingerie alongside leading models, influencers and performance artists. Oh, and it was completely pre-recorded and designed with a virtual-first distribution strategy in mind.
By going virtual-first there was no division between a privileged onsite audience and the rest of us who would traditionally watch a livestream and get a second-rate runway viewing experience.
With the Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3, no matter who you are or where you are from, we all equally experienced (and can continue to equally experience) this event by watching it on Amazon Prime. The reach and impact of a virtual-first event is tenfold with the event accessible to an estimated 200 million Amazon Prime subscribers.
This runway show was not an onsite event. It did not have an onsite audience and it was not live streamed. It was a completely digital-first production that was pre-recorded and premiered online for a virtual audience and the world to experience together.
By taking out the ‘live’ element and designing it to be a pre-recorded event, you have more creative control over the viewer experience. From a production, strategic, and creative standpoint, you are able to guide the viewer’s experience in a completely different way with multiple takes and editing. The final result will have a higher production value, more opportunities for storytelling, and enable you to turn a product launch event into a comprehensive brand experience.
Pre-recording content creates a highly polished viewing experience where you control every frame that the viewer is focusing on, how your product is showcased and how the brand is being represented. By the way, we see this with Apple product launch events, too.
Image: Symone, Winner of RuPaul's Drag Race S13, slaying at Rihanna's Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 Presented By Amazon Prime Video. Getty Images.
The talent lineup of models and artists alone deserves a standing ovation. We are talking about a balanced and curated diversity of body types and sizes, diversity across the gender spectrum, a range of ages represented, a showcase of different skin colors and ethnicities. Basically Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 was a realistic representation of their consumers and a true display of their brand ethos of inclusivity.
As event professionals, you can instantly understand that diversity must have been the number one priority for the team when curating the talent. What industry professionals can learn is that this event is a gold standard of what talent diversity looks like - especially in an industry where diversity in all its forms has been infamously inadequate. If your brand can authentically embrace and understand diversity - age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status - then you will be celebrated for it.
Image: Rihanna's Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 Presented By Amazon Prime Video. Kevin Mazur/ Getty Images.
Essentially the Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 is a film experience that was released as a product launch event. Most notably it reflected marketing that we are more familiar with in the entertainment industry and the release of a Hollywood movie.
Prior to the Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 dropping on Amazon Prime, a premiere-style red carpet and onsite party was held for the press; one in Los Angeles and then another in New York City. In attendance were all the talent, models and performance artists from the show - just like a movie premier.
They announced the event via the Savage X Fenty Instagram and other socials with teaser videos exactly one month prior to the show release. Then two weeks before they dropped trailers and behind-the-scenes footage to continue to tease and generate excitement. A week before they distributed assets that each of the models/featured talent could post on their own socials to further amplify the show through their network of influencers/micro-influencers.
This is another benefit of pre-recording content - you already have engaging footage from the event to edit into little ‘sneak peeks’. You can drip feed your socials with visuals from the event to build momentum and capture an audience (and the media!) in the weeks prior.
As some readers might remember, in the early days of the internet it was really hard to understand what this new, strange thing called ‘the world wide web’ was. We can now watch old archival footage of experts trying to explain the internet to the public and chuckle at their baffled expressions. For the common person, it was nearly impossible to fully understand how the internet would forever change every aspect of their life.
We are in the very early days of the Metaverse, so in the same way as the birth of the internet, there is no single, all-illuminating way to define it. Now that we are fully accustomed to the internet and technology has skyrocketed since then, it is a little easier for us to imagine what the Metaverse could be, than it was for people back then to understand the idea of the internet.
Video: “Ready Player One” the 2018 sci-fi film, offers a stylized and dramatic glimpse into the future technology and the idea of the Metaverse.
Basically it is the term used to describe the anticipated next incarnation of the internet, and where all our advancements and increasing familiarity in social technology is organically leading us. The term Metaverse combines the Greek word ‘meta’ meaning ‘beyond’, and the suffix ‘-verse’ from ‘universe’.
We must emphasize that the Metaverse will not replace the internet, but rather simply expand it. At the moment we have ‘access’ to the internet through our computers and mobile devices. The Metaverse will allow us to be ‘within’ an embodied or 3D version of the internet.
Here is a definition by Matthew Ball, a prominent thought leader in the space:
‘The Metaverse is an expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations that support continuity of identity, objects, data, and entitlements, and can be experienced synchronously by an effectively unlimited number of users, each with an individual sense of presence’.
It is important to remember that how the internet was understood in the 90s is a lot different than it is understood by us today. Despite all this talk about the Metaverse, it doesn't technically exist yet. We don’t know what it is because the technology is still advancing in its direction, and we as a society are still learning how to use the Metaverse through our familiarity with social technologies.
By that last part we are referring to the idea that as a society we are not fully capable of using and embracing the Metaverse just yet. To summarize an example by Matthew Ball, the very first Apple iPhone did not need to have a dedicated ‘home button’ at the bottom. Having it there was not about technology capabilities - it was about our user capabilities at the time. It was not till a decade later that we were ready to adapt to having no dedicated ‘home button’ on our smartphones.
The short answer to that is both. AR is an interactive experience of a real world environment with those real world objects enhanced by computer-generated information and graphics. The game Pokémon GO really helped to bring the concept of AR into the mainstream all over the globe.
On the other hand, VR is a completely simulated and enveloping experience into a computer generated environment, that can be either similar to or completely different from the real world. VR tech companies such as Oculus, as well as the gaming industry, are again leading the way on our understanding of virtual reality.
The Metaverse will likely be a communal cyberspace, which connects augmented reality and virtual reality. This combination is referred to as mixed reality (MR).
Video: Microsoft Mesh is an example of an emerging mixed reality product.
The Metaverse is not a user-generated virtual world or virtual world platform. For example, Facebook is a social network focused on user-generated content (UGC). The Metaverse will not be solely driven by UGC experiences and it is not a social network.
The Metaverse is not a video game. Of course, there will be games in the Metaverse, but it is not the Metaverse itself.
The Metaverse is not software like Unreal, Unity, WebXR or WebGPU. This is similar to the internet being more than just TCP/IP, HTTP, or a web browser.
Yes, you will be able to enter the Metaverse as an avatar. Thanks to the gaming industry, we have become increasingly familiar with the idea of an avatar that represents our physical presence in a digital space. Those avatars may look a little different than we think of at the moment. Perhaps they will be a more realistic representation of our physical appearance and less cartoonish. Or maybe your avatar will look any way you want it to.
The evolution of the Metaverse is ever growing and all the components have been slowly - and then very rapidly - coming together for years now. The first mention of the idea of the Metaverse was in the early ‘90s, and the ‘00s - ‘10s have seen an increasing rate of developments and milestones within the space - even if some of them barely got off the ground.
Over the last few years there have been many platforms and innovations that have been constantly trailblazing and pushing the boundaries to bring the real world and virtual reality spaces together, and thus, organically forming the Metaverse.
Together with crypto-currency, NFTs are making way for a revenue model for Metaverse. Non-fungible tokens, aka NFTs, are rapidly increasing in popularity and social acceptance. NFTs are collectible digital assets that can be owned in that digital form. Anything that exists in a digital form can be sold as an NFT; like digital art, video, music, even Tweets and more. And just as it were a real-life object, the value of an NFTs can go up in time. The same way that Bitcoin is ‘digital money’, NFTs are ‘digital objects’.
The wildly popular virtual reality game Fortnite by Epic Games, hosted a concert experience of rapper Travis Scott in April 2020. It was attended live by approximately 12 million Fortnite players, with a further 3 million viewing it via stream. This empathizes how the gaming industry has been and continues to bring virtual reality experiences to the mainstream.
Video: Trailer for Travis Scott’s Astronomical on Fortnite
We have also seen the rise of ‘ubiquitous computing’. This brought about the ability to access the internet through everyday objects such as speakers, refrigerators, watches or a pair of glasses. Back in 2013 ‘Google Glass’ tried to show us how to access the internet hands-free with smart glasses. However, as a society, perhaps we weren’t ready to embrace it. Same goes for the launch of Snapchat’s ‘Spectacles’ in 2016. Fast forward to 2021, and the launch of Facebook and Ray Ban’s ‘Stories’ smart glasses. Although it is not there yet, these glasses are seen as taking another step towards augmented reality glasses that seamlessly overlay graphics onto the real world. The development of this tech will be important for the Metaverse.
Video: Marketing campaign for Facebook and Ray Ban’s ‘Stories’ smart glasses.
This is all to say that the Metaverse is being formed and introduced all around us. In 2021, so called ‘big tech’ such as Epic Games, Microsoft and Facebook have all announced their intention to actively develop towards the Metaverse. In the next few years we can expect some big strides to be made towards it. However, when will society at large fully embrace and understand the Metaverse? That may take a little longer.
At Happily we anticipate that the Metaverse will enable the ultimate experience of a hybrid event as the real world and the digital space will harmoniously meet inside the Metaverse. The onsite attendees will have a seamless augmented reality experience, and the virtual attendees will have a truly amazing virtual reality experience.
Virtual sets and costumes are going to be bigger and better than ever. We can all flyyyy now!
Collaboration will be easier. We won’t just be sharing ideas and data, we’ll be building and playing with them in real-time, from anywhere with digital projection and natural language processing combined.
Physical demonstrations of products will be more enhanced with added layers of information. You’ll be able to see inside the tiniest products, put heavy objects in motion with ease, and test products in a variety of environments.
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 disposal. 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 ”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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 alternation 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.
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.
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.
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.”