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How to Think Outside The Box When You’re Limited to a Screen

In need of some virtual meeting inspiration? Meet members of BCD M&E’s brand experience agency, The Collective, as they provide tips on how to incorporate those creative wow moments throughout the virtual event experience.

Emma Coleman of BCD M&E's The Collective presenting on stage during a Virtual Event

Tips for creative virtual meetings

Virtual meetings have been the hot topic within the industry for the last 18 months. Because of this, we now have a strong understanding of the logistics and impact of digital experiences.  But, how can we approach them now that the basics have been covered? It’s time to up the virtual game and we’re going to the creative forces behind The Collective to tell us how.

Mindy Hanzlink_head shot

Mindy Hanzlik, Senior Experience Designer

Part of making sure your virtual event is engaging is keeping laser focus on what content should be live and what can be on demand or delivered via a compelling communications campaign or other format. Live events give you time to achieve a lot at once but time is not on your side in a virtual world if you want to keep people engaged. It helps to focus on powerful delivery of the most important messages, and then deliver the details separately.

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Joe Cooper, Executive Creative Director

In my role, I help customers understand all the possibilities for engagement and storytelling with virtual events. We shouldn’t be producing events and content in the same way we were when the pandemic started; we’ve had plenty of time to learn and evolve. Here are a few things I do to help customers make their events and content as creative as possible:

Push for as many varied segments in the event as possible. One powerful video that opens the meeting isn’t enough, by a long shot. An opening video, an outside keynote speaker, interstitial commercials, a comedic segment with a few speakers / hosts, emotional videos that tell relevant brand stories, transitional animations, animated graphics – that’s a good start. More is even better.

Take as many pages from the book of TV as possible. When we are viewing live content on any screen, our brain uses the same receptors, and makes judgments using all of the content it’s seen before. So when our attendees are watching our customers’ shows, they are implicitly comparing it to TV. So we should make it look as much like TV as possible. An establishing wide shot showing the studio. Commercials that tee up upcoming segments. Thoughtfully produced videos that introduce speakers and segments. All of these touches go a very long way when it comes to emulating the medium we’ve all grown up with, and against which our customers’ events are being compared.

Sandra Collins-1Sandra Collins, Director of Strategic Communications

Whether an event is virtual or face to face, for me everything starts with the communication. It’s so important to engage your audience pre-event and ensure they have everything they need to get the most out of their virtual experience. Getting them to register to attend through a dedicated website means they can access all the relevant information and start to engage with the content, and other delegates, before the actual day. Your communication plan should include opportunities for interaction through things like gamification, networking, surveys, polling and pre-event teasers in the build-up. Remember to use different media like video and podcasts as well as branded emails, the virtual platform and website.

Don’t forget you can also expand the delegates’ virtual experience beyond what they see on the screen by providing them with a welcome pack in advance that includes refreshments, snacks, branded items like notebooks, pens and perhaps an event t-shirt to help them feel more involved.

Kate Bek Headshot

Kate Bek, Associate Creative Director

With the boom of virtual events, we see clients investing in event communications more than ever, and that’s likely because virtual has to hurdle more noise to engage and attract audiences. Humans, by nature, want to be taken on a journey – and any event needs to deliver just that: a compelling story with a beginning, middle and an end. Your story starts with an intentional event brand and stand-out identity that aligns with your business objectives and engages your audience.

Challenge your creative directors to develop a memorable identity that helps tell your story more deeply and seamlessly, and use it as the unwavering premise for your promotional campaign, event website, messaging, content, virtual platform design and production elements. Not only are you committing to the experience for your audience, but you’re helping to better connect integrated planning teams along different facets of the planning process; so all elements of the experience are closely aligned. We’ve seen some incredible virtual experiences in the past year, but the most impactful are designed around a lasting and highly cohesive narrative.


Benjy Wax headshotBenjy Wax, Associate Creative Director

With so much media at our fingertips competing for our attention, it is essential that companies level up their virtual events in suit. For me, the best “wow factors” come in layers of multi-dimensional content; keeping the audience on their toes—guessing what might come next.

This past month we produced a virtual awards show for a global beauty brand. While a small number of executives were present in-person, most presenters and recipients were tuning in virtually from around the world. We melded a vision that echoed elements from traditional awards shows (such as delightfully funny MCs and “red carpet” type interviews) with other fantastic content ranging from a breakdancing troupe, to live polling, to a professional songwriter penning an entire original song about the award winners! Our producers deftly navigated the coordination of numerous virtual speakers from every region, and the result was a truly dynamic, global event experience.

The show was an impressive display of broadcast production capability, and the immersive creative segments stitched throughout the program kept viewers energized and engaged. I’m proud to have been part of putting together such a superb production—and helping propel the story of an iconic, world-class brand.


Al Howard-1

Al Howard, Director of Production

Have a well-recognised person play the role of MC during the event. Benefits include professional non bias facilitation as well as a ‘pull’ to the audience if this person is advertised pre event. VIP sessions/prizes can be won during the event to have a virtual meet and greet with said person during breaks etc.

Why not send some cool ‘stuff’ to viewers homes during the virtual event. For an evening awards show why not send Pizza/drinks to keep people engaged throughout? Cocktail making kits are good and you could have a professional bar tender walk through making a bespoke cocktail online with the audience.

Use a wide range of media assets to communicate the message as opposed to everything being presenter and PPT. Make it like TV and include plenty of breaks with optional activities for delegate free time.


Originally published Aug 2, 2021 10:08:01 AM
Last updated on Dec 28, 2022 4:07:57 PM

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Written by BCD Meetings & Events


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