How event planners are targeting geographically dispersed audiences

As we live in global workforce, companies and event planners alike have to account for their audiences being geographically dispersed across nations, countries, and time zones. With this rise in globalisation and business expansion we're witnessing more and more event organisers look to innovative ways to still engage their audiences in the most cost-effective way. Tim Chapman, General Manager of Digital at Staging Connections explains the satellite event phenomena and what it means for Australian Professional Conference Organisers (PCOs).

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At the recent MEA Conference 2016 held at the Melbourne Conventions Centre, I was invited to speak on webcasting and the benefits of digital innovations in facilitating more meaningful connections with our audiences, across the globe. Whilst webcasting is not a new technology, what has been interesting to see and something that has become a hotly discussed topic is the rise of satellite events using webcast technology.

Satellite events are smaller, geographically dispersed events which run simultaneously to the main event which is being live streamed to the smaller venues. For example, your conference may be held in a convention centre in Melbourne and be attended by 300 people while there would be 5 different boardrooms, with 50 people positioned in each, at each of the 5 metros watching the main event take place.

Satellite events are popular amongst professional conference organisers in the UK and US and we’re starting to see this trend permeate the events industry here in Australia. Why?

Satellite events increase webcast engagement and decrease drop offs

Webcasting is an essential element of your event if you want to maximise attendance. It lets you reach attendees in different countries, at more convenient times and sometimes in perpetuity depending on your webcast hosting plan. Webcasting has a huge potential to positively impact your event, however, the key is how you shape your event and communications around webcasting from the outset.

When attending a webcast, the average person’s attention span is 90 minutes. That means if you are webcasting an event that runs over this time, you are likely to lose a large portion of your viewers. After 90 minutes your satellite attendees can take a break, go and enjoy some light refreshments and discuss with fellow attendees what they’ve just learned. This break away from your content, means your attendees will come back re-energised for another round.

Satellite events make webcasting more social

Human beings are social creatures. We need interaction for us to feel engaged. Expecting a viewer to sit alone and watch an event on a screen all day is unrealistic. Satellite events are mini-events in that the attendees get the experience of attending your main event but with fewer people in the room. One of the biggest pull factors for conferences and association meetings is the opportunity to network and mingle with your industry personnel. Satellite events make networking possible. Medical meetings, technology conferences, union announcements these are some examples of events where attendees enjoy networking and meeting people within their field. Networking at a satellite event might lead to new ideas, new business or simply, new friends.

Satellite events achieve higher content retention

Just like in-room audiences, webcast audiences need to be engaged through tailored presentation tactics and interactivity. An event webcast has higher content retention when watched in a group environment. When you are able to actively and openly debate and discuss the content you have just watched, you are more likely to remember what you have just learnt. Even better, you also have the ability to build upon it by listening to the questions and opinions of other attendees. For an educational seminar or conference, you could plan for your attendees to break out into groups to complete activities relating to the content. Then when the session recommences, you could discuss the findings of each group.

Satellite events still allow for live participation

Despite being held in different locations, satellite event attendees still have the option to participate in Q&A sessions and live audience polls via Event Poll, in the same way as the main event by using live audience polling.

In some respects satellite events create opportunities for greater attendee engagement because attendees can even join the conversation happening over social media thanks to Event Feed technology which scans social media platforms for pre-determined hashtags and displays them on a screen for your audience.

If you are hosting a product launch event via satellite events, your webcast attendees can still ask questions, answer polls, or tweet their teaser posts just like as if they were in the room.

The key to making satellite events successful

As with any event being webcast – the key is shaping the event around webcasting from the outset. This means developing a communications plan to ensure it is adequately promoted, RSVPs are managed, reminders are sent etc.

Some things you can do to be sure that your satellite even will be a success is to make sure your speaker or presenter engages your satellite audiences by addressing these attendees personally. As attendees of your satellite events will have dwindling interest after 90 minutes, it is best to ensure that, at each of your satellite venues, there is a break room. You can also go the extra mile and organise catering for the break.

You can also maximise the success of your satellite events by organising content-related activities for your satellite audiences to complete during their break. These activities should encourage thought-sharing and networking between the attendees of your event. The content for your event should also include audience interaction via live polling using Event Poll and should encourage social media use amongst the attendees of your satellite events, via Event Feed.

Is webcasting right for your event?

  • Is your target audience widely spread across a country or the world?
  • Are you hosting your event during office hours?
  • Do you want to sell access to your event recording after it concludes?
  • Is your event part of a series you wish to make available over a long period of time?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you should consider webcasting your next event. 

Staging Connections offers Australia’s most customisable webcasting platform, which has the ability to stream your event recording alongside the synchronised presentation slides on a branded website. It even has the ability to embed downloadable documents, advertise sponsors, and encourage Live Chat and social media integration. Webcasting is becoming a common feature to most events even awards nights and gala dinners. In this day and age where time is precious not all of your intended audience can physically attend your event. Webcasting allows them to experience your event at a time, or place that suits them. Plus depending on your content, even planners can even increase their return on investment as we’ve previously explained. If you’re interested in discovering more about webcasting your event, speak with a Staging Connections representative today by calling 1800 209 099 or by sending an online event enquiry.

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Written by Tim Chapman, General Manager of Digital, Staging Connections.

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